The Importance of Trust Seals for E-Commerce Conversions

The concept of buying a product online is a risky one. Any successful transaction relies on an impressive number of expectations.

To make a purchase, you need to send money to an essentially anonymous individual who may be in a completely different country. You then expect that store operator to act in good faith and ship out your product.

At the same time, you expect that your personal data is protected from prying eyes. You expect that the shipping carrier is going to act in good faith and deliver the goods on-time. You expect the website administrator to take measures against accidentally exposing your data to hackers.

However, the Internet is decentralized. There is no single, all-powerful authority capable of establishing trust between you and some distribution warehouse in Shenzhen, China. For this reason, e-commerce store owners go to great lengths to establish trust with customers – and you should too.

What is a Trust Seal?

Trust Seal Example

If you have spent any time on the Internet, you have seen trust seals. They grace most professional webpages and make specific, branded promises. Major security firms like Norton and McAfee are some of the most readily identifiable – because they’re the most popular.

These seals tell website visitors that your website is legitimate – that a reputable third-party has verified that your business is authentic and your website is not leaking data to hackers and cybercriminals. Importantly, this message is implicit – it’s something that website visitors feel when they visit your site, even if they don’t know exactly what the trust seal means or does.

How Do Trust Seals Affect Conversion?

Interestingly, trust seals have been found to affect conversion rates. CrazyEgg carried out several case studies using A/B comparisons on websites to find out just how much of a difference trust seals can make.

  • Blue Fountain Media replaced a generic privacy policy reminder with a branded Verisign trust seal and saw a 42% increase in sales for the trust seal-containing page.
  • Virtual Sheet Music experienced a significant drop in sales when its trust seal provider removed the seal due to a contractual disagreement. Upon reinstating the seal, the website saw a 31% increase in conversions.
  • Clean Energy Experts found that adding a trust seal increased conversions by 137%.

The statistics clearly show that online customers prefer websites that offer a branded security guarantee to website users. 65% of online shoppers feel that Norton’s Secured Seal is a reliable indicator that a website is safe to browse.

How to Obtain a Trust Seal

Trust Seal Example

Obtaining a trust seal is easy – so long as you meet the requirements of trust seal providers. Generally, if you have an SSL certificate and an EV code signing certificate for your site, you qualify for a trust seal.

Your provider will ask you to implement some code on your site. This code will take care of the verification process, ensuring that your site meets the standards set forth by that provider. Once your site is verified, the provider will give you the code for implementing the site seal, and you are free to place it anywhere on your site.

You may notice that some sites have multiple seals. This is because specific seals assure website visitors of specific security concerns. For instance, the McAfee Hacker Safe seals makes a different promise than the BBBonline Business Trust seal. The three main types of seals are:

Privacy Trust Seals

These seals verify and certify your website’s privacy policy and regularly check up on your site to ensure that you follow your privacy policy.

Security Trust Seals

These seals ensure that your website is reasonably well-defended against cybercriminal activity and malware. Generally, you receive a security trust seal upon buying an SSL certificate.

Business Trust Seals

These seals verify the identity of your business and assure web users that you authentically represent your business and try to keep customers satisfied. If your web reputation is too low, you may not be able to get this seal.

Importantly, e-commerce store owners follow the same basic process to implement these seals. The provider’s code takes care of managing and verifying your website’s data, and they contact you to either approve or reject the application for the seal.

Ensure Compliance

Since the trust seals offer rely entirely on compliance with industry standards, you must ensure that your site is compliant with these standards. In most cases, professionally designed websites hosted on reputable platforms pass verification – if your site doesn’t, the trust seal provider will walk you through the process of achieving compliancy.

The entire process is beneficial for all parties involved. Your customers want to be confident in your website, you want inspire greater customer confidence, and your seal provider has a clear incentive to sell meaningful trust seals.

 

Why is Responsive Design Important for SEO?

As the owner of an online store, you’re deeply aware of the effect that SEO can have on your visibility. You may also know that responsive design is a competitive advantage in a world where 62% of smartphone users make purchases on their mobile device.

But how does responsive design interact with SEO? More importantly, can errors in responsive design create SEO problems?

Responsive Designs Are Good for SEO

Responsive web design

A responsive design is any website theme that changes based on the browser or device using it. On a fundamental level, responsive design is good for SEO. The search engine indexes one page using one theme, rather than having to deal with a different URL or an entirely different HTML structure for the same content.

A mobile theme is different from a responsive design. BigCommerce offers both responsive and mobile themes, however, they recommend using a responsive theme if possible. Some of their older themes are not responsive, so they suggest turning on their mobile theme or upgrading to a responsive theme.

Some mobile themes create problems for search engines that can result in lowered rankings, but the worst scenario is not having a mobile-friendly website at all. A truly modern mobile-friendly site uses responsive design to achieve six goals, according to Yoast. Sites should:

• Load properly on smartphones and tablets.

• Load quickly regardless of the device used.

• Present content readably without requiring users to zoom in or out.

• Be spacious enough for users to navigate by touch.

• Offer added value to mobile users.

• Be understandable by search engines.

It takes an experienced web developer to achieve all of these characteristics – and that’s what search engines want.

The Effect of Responsive Design on Bounce Rates

To really get into why responsive design helps produce SEO results, we must cover bounce rates. As Rosy Strategies points out, Google measures the difference between mobile and non-mobile bounce rates. It uses this data to determine whether a particular site is mobile-friendly or not.

Google has made it clear that it favors mobile-friendly sites, so it will compare your mobile bounce rate to your desktop bounce rate to determine just how responsive your site really is. If mobile users are leaving your page faster and more frequently than desktop users, you can expect Google to downgrade your ranking.

This demonstrates an important point about responsive design – to produce results, it must be done right. The simple fact that a website changes shape to accommodate mobile devices isn’t enough – the site needs to be legitimately mobile-friendly.

How to Plan for Smart Responsive Design

Building Responsive Design

Think about the structure of your website. Rather than designing the site in a top-down manner – beginning with a presentation and moving down the funnel to conversion – you (or your designer) should establish a mobile-friendly architecture first.

The generic pattern for one-off sales pages goes like this: Build awareness at the top of your page, move downward to product information and demonstrations, then build on reviews and testimonials to land a conversion at the bottom.

However, if your mobile page has the same structure, you can be almost completely certain that you’ll lose the majority of leads before they hit the bottom of your page. Since you only have a few seconds (and a tiny screen) to grab their attention, you will need to plan for responsive design by editing out some content.

  • Only leave introductions and demonstrations that are short, punchy attention-grabbers.
  • Remove reviews, testimonials, user guides, tutorials and FAQs – or simply move them to another part of the site.
  • Don’t crowd the screen with multiple blog post titles – just your latest. Either use infinite scrolling or incorporate a simple sliding carousel to display multiple posts in a clean, organized manner.
  • Place touch elements far apart from one another. Even if you find your website easy to navigate, you can increase conversions by designing for fat fingers.
  • Remove full-screen pop-ups. Yes, they can pad your email newsletter, but users hate them, Google hates them, and chances are you hate them too.
  • Incorporate video. This can have a great effect on your conversion rates by combining multiple elements of your page in place – an all-in-one introduction, demonstration, and tutorial, for instance. Hubspot encourages this, yet stipulates that video content must be short enough to load quickly. Videos should not autostart. Allow the user the option to start the video.

Don’t Forget About Load Speed

HTML and CSS code Screenshot

One advantage to cutting out all the superfluous information crowding out your mobile site’s display is that your load time is likely to decrease. Most mobile conversion losses occur during site loading, so you should pay close attention to how your responsive site design elements affect load speed – especially if you incorporate video (remember, don’t have it autostart!).

Fortunately, Google lets you test your mobile speed using a web application. Type your website’s URL into Google’s mobile site tester and find out how you measure up to your competitors. Google will give you feedback on your site and tell you how you can improve it.

Use Instagram to Help Drive E-Commerce Sales

You probably already know that Instagram is one of the largest social media networks around – with 500 million monthly active users as of 2016, it represents one of the most powerful platforms for promotion on audience size alone.
There’s more to Instagram than pure audience numbers, though – especially if you run an e-commerce store.

The major benefit Instagram offers is that it humanizes brands: 68% of Instagram users engage regularly with brands on the platform – more than double the number who do so on Facebook.

If your e-commerce store sells items that cater to the visual format – fashion, home goods, or tech gadgets, for example – then Instagram marketing can be a highly lucrative activity for your brand.

How to Promote on Instagram

First off, you should know that promoting on Instagram is different than promoting on any other social networking platform. Since the platform is primarily visual, you’ll need to invest some time or money in getting quality images. Which means you’ll need to:

1. Make Your Own Images

Taking Food Photos

Taking Food Photos

Making your own images is not that hard. Use a tool like Canva to make or modify simple, attractive images that play into the culture and attitude of your target demographic. These images should illustrate some characteristic of your brand’s value statement. Original quotes and inspiring imagery represent a cheap, easy way to get the content mill running.

The main drawback here is that quotes and inspirational imagery are indirect. You can never really establish yourself as a serious brand using only generic imagery.

2. Hire Professionals

Although you can get your Instagram presence started using generic imagery that appeals to your target audience, the time will come when you have to invest. This could mean hiring a professional photographer to set up a photo shoot that advertises your products, or having a graphic designer create high quality, branded imagery that showcases your online store’s value.

Newcomers to the Instagram marketing machine may balk at the prices professional photographers charge, but it’s important to remember that although Instagram is free for users, investment pays off for brands.

Fortunately, you can get great deals by working with aspiring photographers at the beginning of their careers – look for local photography students willing to develop a professional portfolio. Many will work for between $5 and $10 per image. Lifestyle photography works particularly well on Instagram, where users typically look for imagery that reinforces their culture and attitude – they follow brands who “get” them.

Use a tool like GramFeed to determine what your closest and most successful competitors are doing. This will give you an idea of the type of lifestyle content that works best for your niche.

3. Use Hashtags

Instagram Hashtag

Instagram Hashtag

Using hashtags effectively maybe one of the largest gray areas for newcomers to Instagram – and a reason why some users get frustrated and leave the platform. These users never cracked the power of the hashtag. The most basic utilization of the hashtag is Instagram’s Search tab. Think of hashtags as search keywords in a normal search engine. This allows users to browse all the posts that have the same tag they searched for. The most basic hashtag that should be applied to your posts is your company’s name, without spaces.

Some brands we have worked with didn’t even know their hashtag was already being used on Instagram – they had a head start! Other useful tags are areas of interest that revolve around your business. Last, add tags that are specific to that particular post. These three levels of tag sourcing gives users the various avenues to discover your posts and thus profile when browsing tags.

Achieving Worthwhile Growth on Instagram

Instagram Icons

If you have any experience with Facebook ads, you know that you can also incorporate Instagram advertisements into your campaigns. Facebook makes this a one-click affair on the Ads Manager screen.

The question is – should you do it?

For most e-commerce stores, the answer is yes. But there’s a caveat – to advertise selectively to niches based on layers of interest data collected by the platform, you need to link your Facebook account and run a synchronized ad campaign.

Otherwise, you run the risk of running a campaign too broad and too general to be effective. Instagram is the most global of all social networks – the platform makes no meaningful differentiation between users who come from different countries or speak different languages. For this reason, incorporating Facebook’s gender, location, and interest data into your campaign is a must.

For the same reason, using carefully selected lifestyle photography lets you address a specific group of people – ideally, a group that other brands are not meaningfully addressing.

Another thing you may notice about Instagram’s sponsored posts is that they do not necessarily result in a bigger presence on the platform. This is because users can’t follow you directly from their newsfeed. They need to actually type in your username, visit your profile, and follow you – even when introduced to your brand through a sponsored post.

A Word on Influencers

Another important way to achieve quick growth on Instagram is by leveraging deals with Instagram celebrities. If a very popular influencer in your niche promotes your brand, you can expect to generate a great deal of interest out of the arrangement.

While you may find that big-name influencers charge for this, you can also develop relationships with influencers who are happy to promote your products for free, or in exchange for product discounts. Influencers live off of great content, and are always happy to collaborate with brands that can provide that content.

In both cases, you can get a better deal working with established digital marketers like our team at oBundle – we can help you craft useful strategies for your Instagram audience.

How E-Commerce Retailers Use Lifestyle Photography to Generate Brand Value

Previously the exclusive tool of the world’s largest luxury brands, lifestyle photography has become the obsession of the Internet generation. The availability of high quality camera and image editing technology made this style a dominating element of digital marketing campaigns, which now can be harnessed by the e-commerce store owner.

Lifestyle vs. Product

Almost every online retailer with an e-commerce store selling physical products is deeply familiar with product photography. The need to accurately show consumers the product being sold is an integral part of the online shopping experience – without it, most Internet retailers of this kind could not exist.

Product photos favor clinical detail over showiness and pizzazz. Typically, they feature the product in question over a neutral or full white background. Alternately, they can feature the product in an attractive setting that speaks to the brand’s value proposition.

Lifestyle photos, however, are all about telling stories. These are the photos that not only describe what the vendor is selling, but also showing what kind of customer buys the product being sold. That extra layer of meaning is what makes all the difference in the world of online shopping.

How Lookbooks Work in the Context of E-commerce

The storytelling element that separates lifestyle photography from generic product photos is what gives it its unique power. Fashion designers have been using this type of photography for decades – incorporating narratives into fashion photography fashion statements called lookbooks for decades.

A lookbook is a collection of images showing an ensemble of products grouped together. Typically, they involve models and take place in exotic locations. Ideal for fashion editorials, they use photographs to illustrate the lifestyle a product’s consumer desires.

In the Internet-era, fashion is not the only industry that can benefit from a lookbook. Nearly any physical product retailer can use this medium to describe the type of customer it serves. That includes tech start-ups and kitchenware designers to furniture sellers and hygiene product manufacturers.

The lookbook gives consumers the information they need to distinguish between the products they would shop for and the ones that simply don’t interest them. It is a highly visual marketing tool that uses an environment, model, and narrative to describe the person who would buy the main product being advertised.

Use Lookbooks to Sell Online Products

By appealing to consumer emotion and imagination through lookbooks, online retailers can develop loyal brand followings. Social media users – especially on Pinterest – interact with and share lookbook content far more often than regular product photos.

Any product that addresses the need of a specific demographic can benefit from using lifestyle photography to drive home its value in the eyes of consumers. The more specific the demographic, the greater the potential benefits of incorporating lookbook photography on the website.

Follow these steps to make the most of your lifestyle photography campaign:

Step One: Use Demographics to Tell Stories

LifestylePhotography_1

Lifestyle photography needs to tell a story. Find out how customers find your products and what they do with those products to determine the personality of the customer. Once you hone in on a specific customer lifestyle demographic, you can create a story that matches.

In many cases, stories can come from real customers. This is the case for products that meet specific needs, such as sports equipment or technology products. Regardless of where the narrative comes from, it needs to address the specific demographic that the product targets.

Step Two: Don’t Skimp on Photography

LifestylePhotography_2

Since lifestyle photography has a completely different goal than product photography, it requires a different set of conditions for successful execution. Not only do e-commerce merchants need to hire a professional photographer, but they must also consider the location of the shoot and the specific model or models hired.

Good lighting and a professional make-up artist can mean the difference between a magazine editorial-quality shoot and a generic no-name lookbook. Faces tell stories and drive engagement on Instagram – and they’ll make or break your lifestyle campaign’s success.

Step Three: Ensure Website Compatibility

The simplest way to use high quality lookbook photos is by posting them on social media. If your website has a blog, you’re encouraged to ensure that it is compatible with the imagery in question.

For instance, if your website is based on BigCommerce, you can choose from a broad range of themes that support lookbook imagery. Themes are customizable templates that can profoundly change the look and feel of your site. The theme Lookbook lets e-commerce retailers tell their customers a story through mosaic-styled imagery.

However, the most enterprising online retailers take product photography a step further by offering user interactivity – custom-coded lookbook photography can be designed to link website visitors to specific product pages when they click on the products featured. The fact that lookbooks combine products from different sources offers opportunities for valuable cross-promotion, as well.

Use Product Reviews to Drive Sales – Conversion Optimization

Sample Product Reviews

As any ecommerce customer knows, product reviews are a critical part of the online buying experience. Analytic tools give you a unique opportunity to learn about customer psychology and implement solutions for addressing their needs.

Reviews aren’t capable of driving sales on their own – they need to be understood through analysis. Analytics turn reviews into tools for conversion optimization. You can use reviews to generate conversions, ramp up product reviews, and sell more products.

The intersection between analytics and conversion optimization is important because of how usage data can lead to better decision-making. For instance, a website with a high bounce rate may be poorly designed or addressing the wrong audience.

This is a situation that calls for optimizing the store’s conversion strategy. Product reviews are an ideal place to start.

Get Good Product Reviews

In the world of ecommerce, few messages are more powerful than an excellent product review. Almost every e-commerce platform includes some sort of reviewing mechanism – whether in the form of a one-to-five star rating or via lengthy, descriptive, and often entertaining comments.

The greater task of conversion optimization relies, in part, on racking up excellent product reviews. This is because having large numbers of good reviews establishes a sense of legitimacy that is almost impossible to generate otherwise. As eConsultancy.com points out, user reviews increase conversions.

• Having more than 50 reviews per product can lead to a 4.6% conversion rate increase.

• Customers are 63% more likely to buy products from websites that offer user reviews.

• Reviews keep visitors on-site.

88% of consumers consult reviews when making a purchase.

Reviews can drive conversions – but how can ecommerce store owners increase the number of reviews their products generate? In short, by asking for them.

Get Bad Reviews Too

30% of online consumers assume that product reviews are fake if no negative reviews are shown, according to Vendasta. When creating a strategy for online reviews, ecommerce store owners need not be afraid of the criticism that an unfavorable review entails.

Unless the review is so scathing that it absolutely needs to be censored, including it is usually a good idea. Leaving the occasional negative review in with a mostly-positive set of responses is a good way to give the process a sense of authority and trustworthiness.

Importantly, brands need to respond to negative reviews quickly and decisively. More often than not, an unfavorable review is one of the best chances for a brand to gain a new, loyal follower and publicly promote itself in a positive way.

Doing this successfully requires solving the customer’s problem and demonstrating that the business is committed to continuously improving itself.

Test Post-Purchase Copy to Get More Reviews

Knowing that reviews help customers make purchase decisions and that having only good reviews is undesirable, e-commerce store owners have good reason to get as many reviews as possible. With luck, the percentage of good reviews to bad ones will be in the upper 90s, showing that, overall, people are happy with the products or services they receive.

One of the first ways e-commerce store owners increase review responses is through better handling of their post-purchase copywriting. Most customers are generally willing to sign up for email newsletters or other tertiary services after they’ve made a purchase with a specific brand. Asking for a review can be one of the most valuable post-purchase actions a customer can make.

Successful post-purchase copy asks for a review without seeming insincere. Generating a sense of authenticity will produce the greatest benefits at this stage in the conversion cycle.

The following strategies tend to produce results.

• Offering return customers a discount code for leaving reviews can help incentivize the process.

• Some online retailers reach out to customers on social media. Any social media user who tags the brand or mentions it is likely to respond favorably.

• Follow-up emails work when they are targeted and narrowly focused. Run A/B comparisons to get an idea of what types of email marketing campaigns work. Digital receipts, for instance, enjoy a 65% open rate and a 10.7% click rate.

Reviews Offer SEO Benefits

On a concluding note, product reviews carry significant SEO benefits. Each review consists of unique, often keyword-heavy content useful for search engines, which can increase ranking. One of the most useful keywords that reviews help boost is “[product name] + review”, which is a top-performing search term for most products.