Conversion Optimization: When & Where to Address Customer Anxiety

“New visitors” account for a large percentage of an ecommerce site’s traffic. It’s not unusual for a site to have 70% new visitors, with 70% of these new visits landing on a page other than the home page.

New visitors that arrive on a product page through search engines, paid search ads, comparison engines or affiliate links may be ready to buy today (and may be comparing your site against a few other options). With no prior awareness of your website or company – addressing fears, uncertainties, doubts and dealbreakers (FUDDs) about doing business with you is even more critical than if you’re a well known site business Target or Toys R Us. Common FUDDs include:

  • If there’s a problem with my order, can I return it? Will it be a hassle to return it?
  • Is this the best price I can get?
  • Can I trust that the product is as shown in pictures? (Sizing, colors, quality etc)
  • Is this the best website to do business with?

Some anxiety is felt earlier in the process – when evaluating a product or price, some is felt when deciding which e-store to purchase from and some is felt when deciding to go through with the purchase.

Anxiety on Product Pages

Many product pages do not address concerns about “why should I buy from this site?”:

If a site does link to information about value propositions like customer service policies and guarantees, links are often hiding in navigation menus (top, footer or sidebar) or otherwise out of the customer’s eye path. Don’t expect customers to find these assurances on their own. Consider incorporating them as part of the product information:

Another problem with links to information is they point to actual pages which hijack customers off the product page. Rollovers and pop-up windows to show more detail keeps the customer on the page.

Anxiety on Cart Summary Page

Add-to-cart is not a commitment to buy. Some people use the cart as a bookmark to collect things they like as they surf your site (especially if your wish list requires registration). And there are many other reasons why customers may abandon a cart – including anxiety about privacy and security.

Invesp Consulting posted an article including some stats about how important privacy and security are to customers:

When you consider that recent studies of the past few years suggest that 84% of polled Internet shoppers don’t think that online retailers are putting enough effort into protecting customers (Forrester Research, Inc), 75% of customers left sites because they didn’t feel safe (Internet Retailer), 90% would have completed sales if they saw security logos on the website (Internet Retailer) and 70% of online shoppers will not purchase from websites without viewing security seals or logos, the importance of website security should be glaringly obvious.

In our Ecommerce Checkout Report (2007) we found 56% of the top 100 retailers did not display a security badge (such as Verisign or McAfee Secure) in the checkout.

Even if you don’t use a branded security product like Verisign or McAfee (well-known sites may not want to advertise for other companies), a prominent lock icon that communicates “this site is secure” is crucial. For example, Walmart:

Unfortunately Walmart addresses security anxiety on the first step of checkout but not on the cart summary page near the “Continue to Checkout” call-to-action. Before a customer decides to proceed with a purchase, any anxiety about security and privacy is experienced before hitting “Continue” and should be addressed before checkout begins.

Perhaps Walmart’s brand reputation is strong enough that most people will continue to checkout without blinking an eye — but no e-tailer should ever take this chance.

The key is to address FUDDs when and where the customer experiences anxiety in the purchase process. Address concerns about the product’s condition, availability, return-ability, price, quality and your business’ reputation on product pages, and privacy/security on the cart summary and checkout. A next step would be to test the placement and/or wording of your assurances for optimal conversion rates.


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