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What If Your Credibility Boosters are Your Conversion Killers?

Posted in Conversion Optimization on November 13th, 2013

Can I be honest with you for a minute?

Improving conversion rate of a website is sometimes not as simple as it sounds.

Take credibility of a website, for example. You can find endless studies that show how adding testimonials, trust seals or social shares improve website conversion rates.

And when you go on to implement them on your website — Poof! Your conversion graph just got a dent.

But these are all proven credibility boosters… they are sworn by conversion experts and are known to improve conversions of hundreds (if not thousands) of websites,” you might argue in your mind.

Then what happened? Why it didn’t work for you? Well, it’s all about the unique visitor set of your website.

Still, many times your interpreted takeaways from various conversion optimization studies and advice can also be a bit deceiving. As a result, you might proceed with half-known truths, only to see your conversions plummet.

Thus, in this article, I’m going to clear the air about credibility boosters that can sometimes backfire and kill your website conversions:

1. When You Use Data to Persuade (and Approximate Numbers)

Yesware odometer showing approximate data

56,995 or 57,000. How does that matter?

Neuroscience says it does matter, as a research showed, that precise numbers are more believable. Round figures seem to lack precision and often look improbable.

Tell me how likely is it for you to see a 300k mark on an odometer? In fact, Roger Dooley, a Neuromarketing speaker and blogger, mentions in his blog post:

“The visitor’s non-conscious doubt may be increased by the very precision one expects from an odometer – when was the last time you saw an odometer reading ending in five zeros?”

He says that even though he’s confident that even the 300k number will improve conversions (than having no number at all), but he’d like to test it against a more precise count of customers on the Yesware’s odometer.

Two popular CRO geeks, Brian Massey and Angie Schottmuller, also agree with Dooley:

Angie Schottmuller's tweet about the necessity to be precise to gain trust

Key Takeaway
Approximation kills credibility. Stop rounding off your numbers/prices. Give the exact number to show precision. (Click to tweet)

2. When You Use Trust Seals  (That are Alien for Most People)

Norton, McAfee, BBB, are all recognized trust seals. But there are so many other seals on the Internet that are not well recognized. When people do not recognize a badge, how will they feel secure about buying from you? It’s likely that such obscure seals will probably have little or no conversion difference for your website.

Here’s the data from the 2013 survey that revealed most trusted seals online:

2013 survey showing trust badge that is considered to be most trustworthy online

So does this mean that you should stick to popular trust seals only? Umm..not really.

Chris Goward, the lead conversion expert of Widerfunnel, mentioned about a case in his book, “You Should Test That!,” where adding a McAfee seal site-wide in the shopping cart area reduced eCommerce sales by almost 2%.

The results with trust seals have been mixed at best. Plus, subscription of popular trust seals is usually expensive and might not be a feasible investment for small businesses that do not receive high-traffic volume.  When stuck in such a situation, you can even test adding some assurance text like Wiltshire Farm Foods  does:

Assurance statement as an alternative to expensive trust badges

This text might be even a better option than trust seals if your customer base is elderly. As they are often not computer-savvy, I think it’s fair to assume that most of them might not recognize even the popular trust seals.

Placement of trust badges can also make a difference to the conversion rate of your website. Most people prefer to place them on the checkout page. But some skeptical visitors may have their doubts about the website’s credibility and drop off during the early stages of the conversion funnel.

In his recent post, Neil Patel recommends that you should have these seals displayed throughout your conversion funnel.

Key Takeaways

  • Always A/B test your trust seals. Even when you use the most popular ones, you never know.
  • If financially constrained or focusing on elder customer base, assurance text might help with conversions just as much.
  • Display your trust seals throughout the conversion funnel.

 

3. When You Add Social Sharing Buttons to Your Product Pages (with Gloomy Numbers) 

Low social shares on product pages can have a negative effect on conversions

Social sharing buttons on product or landing pages is the new trend that’s catching on.

The sad part is, the weak logic that supports it. The intent is to make your product/offer go viral. Really?

Ask this to yourself — how many times have you shared a marketing message in your social media network? It’s amazing how people love to follow the herd blindly. Even if you look at the most popular sites that have added sharing icons on their product pages, you’ll notice that they have embarrassingly low social share numbers.

Accept it — your social media buttons are nothing more than a distraction on your product page/landing page. Low social shares might make people feel that the product/offer is not hot or desirable. And thus, kill your leads or sales.

Key Takeaway
Unless it’s something exceptional, remove social media buttons from your landing pages/product detail pages. Your aim is to get more downloads/signups/product sale. Remember that. Reserve your social media goals for thank-you pages of your website.

4. When You Add Privacy Policy Statement/Link (That Adds Anxiety)

Adding privacy statement or link is a common practice to reduce anxiety whenever visitors are requested to submit any information online.

When Michael Aagaard of Content Verve tested a privacy policy statement on a signup form, he was confident about a positive outcome. He was taken aback when it reduced the conversion rate for his client’s website.

Adding privacy statement reduced conversions

He then tested different privacy statements on the same form. Finally, in his super interesting conclusion, he showed how the negative connotations of the word “spam” in the statement reduced conversions every time, even though the word was used in the right context.

On the other hand, use of an assuring word like ‘guarantee’ gave him the boost he was after. For his winning version, his statement was, “We guarantee 100% privacy. Your information will not be shared.” This statement on the form increased signups by 19.47%.

Key Takeaways
When adding privacy statements/links, avoid the use of words that have negative connotations like ‘spam’. Instead, test positive words, such as ‘promise,’ ‘guarantee,’ ‘respect,’ and so on.

5. When You Add Testimonials (That are wishy-washy)

Fake reviews everywhere

There’s probably nothing that persuades a prospect better than a good testimonial. But with fake reviews and testimonials ruining consumers’ trust online, you should be careful about the testimonials that you choose to show on your website.

The dissection of a fake testimonial is given below:

Fake web reviews

If you put testimonials that sound made-up or don’t provide exact details of your product/service, have no picture or credentials of customers, people are going to assume that they are fake even if they are genuine.

Here’s your checklist for hand-picking good testimonials/reviews that actually persuade visitors and improve conversions:

Ingredients of a good testimonial

 See the testimonial below from Weight Loss Triumph for Medifast, which is a weight management program:

Persuasive testimonial example

If you click to read the complete review above, you’ll see that it contains detailed persona information and also addresses several concerns that people on this diet are expected to face.

Just as trust badges, even the placement of testimonials can also affect your conversions. In another study, Michael switched two testimonials on his eBook landing page above the fold, which increased downloads by 64.53%

Adding two testimonials above the fold increased conversions

Underwater Audio used Visual Website Optimizer to conduct a similar test for the placement of their testimonials, which gave them a sales boost of 35.6%.

Key Takeaways

  • Know the personas that make your target audience. Then display at least one testimonial that each of those persona types could relate to.
  • Test the placement of your testimonials. Preferably, include them before your call-to-action button so that they are not missed in the eye flow.
  • Basics – Don’t forget to add the full name, picture, and persona information of the customer with each testimonial. It’s even better if it addresses any recurring anxiety concerns among your potential customers, or re-emphasize your value proposition.

 

Enough Said!

How does it go for you? Do you get influenced by these credibility boosters when you surf websites? Have you tested any of these credibility boosters on your website? Let’s catch up in the comments section about your experience(s).

Image credits:
Agbeat.com
Impactbnd.com
Agathaentote.com
Angie Schottmuller’s Slideshare

Smriti Chawla

Content Marketer at Visual Website Optimizer by the day, SEO enthusiast by the night. I love reiterating quotes and collecting weird people. You should follow me on Twitter.

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5 Comments
yeah they do make a diff!
November 14, 2013

Yeah it does work. Tried on my website and saw that the https seal does make a difference.

Siddharth Deswal @ Wingify
November 14, 2013

Happy to hear that Ankit.

Matthew Denos
November 23, 2013

This is a fantastic compilation of case studies Smriti. Testimonials, Trust Seals, Social Buttons, Privacy Policy Statements, all play such an important role. Where we place them, the exact words we use, and other factors, can affect conversion rates. Very educative article.

Smriti Chawla
November 25, 2013

Glad you liked it, Matthew! :)

Anupam Bonanthaya
March 1, 2014

Nice tips on how to keep testimonials and reviews real. Totally agree that the trick is not-to-do-any-tricks – keep them as real as possible !

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