The First-Timer Problem & Your Store: What It Is, How To Beat It

Whether a dominant brand or a new Shopify site, all ecommerce stores face a sales problem — first time visitors probably don’t trust you.  

Even with great marketing campaigns driving targeted traffic your way, that traffic is less likely to convert if they’ve never otherwise heard of you.

That means weakened performance and money lost.

In the real world, consumers rely on many things beyond right price & probably-right product to make buying decisions. We go with what we’re used to and when uncertain, we let others like us indicate quality for us.

If we’re less devoted to a brand, we let the wisdom of the crowd drive our decisions. After all, nobody trusts an empty restaurant.

But websites don’t have visible crowds and loyalty takes time. I’m not strolling down Google Street looking through site windows to see which ones are popular.

Interesting side note: Google’s own original algorithm attempts to rely on ‘wisdom of the crowd’ too. They just think of links from other sites as that social proof and take it from there.

So what can you do?

Looking for: “a nice, educated, site I can trust.”

This social proof problem is why social proof apps are so popular.

When visiting a new website, we’re looking for various points of general ‘proof’ that help us trust the site a little more:

  • Does the design look like they took time with it?
  • Does the style match what I expect for this kind of site or does it otherwise ‘just ‘work’?
  • Is their written ‘voice’ personable and professional in a way I’d expect?
  • Do they look active?
  • Are things working correctly?
  • Does the site load fast and does it have the elements I’m used to?

Then there’s the kind of trust built with social proof:

  • What kind of reviews do these products have?
  • Are people addressing product concerns that I also have or is everything just useless, maybe-fake generalities like “wow great”?
  • Is this brand active on social media? Are people engaging with them? (Sometimes critical depending on niche)
  • Have I ever heard of this site through somebody I trust?
  • Do I get the sense that this place is busy and alive?

These are just a few of dozens of things you could consider for building trust with visitors. It all comes down to ensuring quality and aligning with their expectations.

Build early-stage trust with the right signals.

On your Shopify store, building initial trust is critical for maximizing conversions and decreasing how many visits it takes somebody to actually convert.

       this guy nests. —  credit: giphy.com

Consider these four complimentary strategies:

1. Align with a trustworthy external organization

Most customer groups have some kind of ‘culture’ that they’re a part of.

We certainly don’t recommend that every brand aim to become a lifestyle brand but there’s something to be said about aligning with that culture to build trust. If I come to a website and see they’re tied to some group I already know, I’m much more likely to trust them and buy.

Think of your target audience and consider ways that you could partner with a group they already know. Business partners are absolutely an option — browse platforms like DojoMojo for great co-marketing opportunities.

You may also find non-profit partnerships to be a great solution that’s cost-effective and doable when you’re just starting out.

For one of our own successful projects, our target audience was mainly women buyers and we chose to partner with a well-known women’s health non-profit to donate a portion of profits. Listing this partnership on our site (with approval!) had an immediate impact on sales (doubled conversion rate) and built our early-stage traction.

2. Build a reviews engine

Start getting reviews from Day 1. There are many ways to do this in your Shopify store and, to some extent, it’s less “which solution” you’re using than “are you doing it at all?”

BuiltWithShopify — which interviews successful Shopify store owners about their strategies — found Yotpo, Judge.me, Stamped and Product Reviews by Shopify to be some of the most popular with interviewees. Trustpilot is also very well regarded.

One thing to remember with any marketing solution you deploy; price is not the only differentiator and cutting corners with features may mean cutting corners on performance as well. Here’s a good breakdown of review apps for Shopify and what features each offers.

3. Use those testimonials

Covered by an industry journal or influencer? Say it front and center. Received an early-stage review with glowing praise? Embed that thing with heading tags. Make it highly visible and obviously a review.

As mentioned in this article by Neil Patel, conversions tend to go up when testimonials are easy to find.

With pre-built widgets and other sharing options, the review apps listed above make this easy. Beyond this, we recommend that you tweak your homepage design to ensure that your best reviews are shown in highly visible ways.

Remember, “make them real, make them clearly by a person, make them easy to find.”

BTW, concerned about design when adding these testimonials? Consider this quote by Ryan Deiss of DigitalMarketer: “Would you rather have a high-traffic, high-profit site or would you rather be ‘cool’ and win design awards?

Find your happy medium.

4. Deploy live social proof

Here’s the easiest thing you can do. Turn what’s already happening on your site into a sales machine.

No asking for it, just turn it on. When somebody purchases (or takes another action like leaving a review, filling in forms, etc.), these apps are capable of showing this off to other visitors as notifications

It’s the closest thing to building that “busy store” experience for your ecommerce store.

Fomo is popular with Shopify Plus and regular Shopify sites alike for its feature-richness, zero “by Fomo” branding, advanced reporting, and true customization flexibility (again, brand/design fit).

Interested in trying this kind of Social Proof? Use this link to try Fomo free for a whole month. (Usually just 7 days free trial)

There are other options as well and some free social proof apps (features vary) are now on the market. Some BuiltWithShopify interviewees have mentioned the SalesPop for example.

As with Reviews solutions, your site’s needs are unique so be sure to consider what tools will provide the most sales impact for you. We like tools that pay for themselves.

Social Proof Matters

For pretty much any industry, trust is an important factor in driving purchase decision-making. Whether it’s through ‘always on’ user activity notifications or ‘get them as they come’ reviews, social proof can do wonders for building this trust and should be a part of your Shopify store’s marketing approach.

Thankfully, launching and customizing these kinds of apps on your store tends to be very easy with Shopify. Select the right social proof apps for your needs and add more power to your marketing. Happy converting.

About the author: This is a guest contribution from Clay Griffith. Clay is the Head of Marketing at Fomo He is a long time Shopify store owner himself with a storied career in digital marketing and design. You can follow him and the entire Fomo team at @usefomo.

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