Deadly Conversion Busters: Turning Fear Into Trust

Is fear stopping your audience from engaging, subscribing or purchasing? How can you turn that negative into a positive, while helping you stand out in your market?

In this episode of The Mainframe Chris and Tony reveal:

  • Why unanswered fears might be turning away your customers
  • What you need to create a safe place for people to visit
  • How your community can help you to build trust
  • Why video can help build buyer confidence
  • Key elements that can mitigate risk for your audience
  • Creating trust-building case studies as content

Deadly Conversion Busters: Turning Fear Into Trust

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Tony Clark: This is The Mainframe.

We’re continuing on with our Deadly Conversion Busters. Welcome back, everybody. This episode, we’re going to be talking about turning fear into trust.

How are you doing there, Chris?

Chris Garrett: I’m doing great. I’m looking forward to seeing the new Avengers film, and I’m trying to not see any spoilers at all, which is difficult with the world of social media and everybody trying to get the scoop and everything. My fear today is that I’m going to see spoilers before I see the film.

Tony Clark: I know. It’s been really hard because it actually released in the UK a couple of weeks ago. I love reading spoiler sites, but it’s usually about what’s coming, versus somebody who’s already seen it and talking about it. I do enjoy the spoilers where people anticipating or guessing what’s happening. Over the past couple of weeks, trying to avoid the actual spoilers from the movie, but still seeing what people are anticipating, has been good.

Chris Garrett: On Facebook, you see the headline, and then you see an image. I’ve had spoilers that they think they’re not spoiling it, but the image actually answers the question in the headline. It’s like, “Why do this? Why do this to your fans?”

Tony Clark: Yeah, I know. Well, we’re going to see it today. Hopefully, I won’t have to worry about that, but that actually is a nice segue into the fear into trust.

Why Unanswered Fears Might Be Turning Away Your Customers

Tony Clark: Another area you see that kind of thing. Let’s say it’s an older thing. I used to joke that there are some books that I’m just now reading that other people have read, and I’m afraid of finding spoilers from a book that’s 20 years old or something.

There are some sites that do a good job of talking about things without spoiling too much. I love io9. They do a great job of talking about things without spoiling things. If they’re going to spoil it, they will tell you, clear in advance. It will be in the headline. There won’t be an image. It will be very clear that there’s a spoiler coming, and that’s helped build trust.

I know that I can go to that site, and I can get good information. If I want spoilers, I can find them. If I don’t want spoilers, they’re not there. That’s a good example of turning that fear of, “Oh, Gosh. I don’t want to stumble on anything and accidentally spoil this,” into trust. Knowing that this site does a good job of keeping those spoilers sequestered — you don’t have to worry about it, but they’re there if you want to go see them.

What You Need to Create a Safe Place for People to Visit

Chris Garrett:That’s a really good example of turning a negative into a positive. If everybody else has this atmosphere of ‘will they or won’t they spoil it,’ this risk of spoiling, finding that io9, that equivalent, where you’re confident they’re never going to spoil anything, gives you some extra warm and fuzzy feelings, that extra benefit — over and above the content — it’s a safe place.

One of the examples I use a lot of why people don’t get comments, why people don’t get interaction, why people seem to have crickets and tumbleweeds whenever they ask a question, is your commentary, your community, needs to be a safe place. It needs to be a place where people aren’t going to be criticized, mocked, attacked, or trolled.

It seems like an obvious thing, but how many commentaries have you found that have been just completely toxic, and it’s been “Back away! Back away!” as soon as you see it? It’s just terrible. I think another good thing about io9 is it doesn’t tend to be one of these commentaries where it’s just horrible, where everybody’s attacking each other and mocking each other and being negative.

Tony Clark: Yeah. Using that specifically, one of the things I love about the comments on io9 is that it’s nerds and geeks actually having discussions. Sometimes they’re heated discussions because it’s your view versus another view, but it always tends to be respectful.

That’s a way to build trust because, like you just said, there aren’t too many sites where I enjoy reading the comments. io9 is an example of one where I do. I actually get a lot from the other fans that are talking in there because they’re doing it in a way that’s respectful, but they’re still not backing down from their ideas.

That’s a way of balancing. That’s really what you’re trying to do when you’re building trust, is creating a place where your prospects or your customers know that they can come and get the information they need, without feeling like they’re going to get something else out of it that’s a negative.

Chris Garrett: Yeah. When we talk about trust in marketing and we talk about the conversion process, the first thing we always think about is, “What is going to stop somebody from buying.” But it starts way before then. Obviously, if you look untrustworthy, nobody’s going to buy from you, or very few people are going to buy from you. Some of them will take the risk. What you have to do is establish a safe place and understand what fears your prospect has.

Tony and I just discussed the fear of spoilers. That’s not necessarily something to do with your sales page, but it’s part of the overall environment of dealing with you. What fears do your prospects have? What worries do your prospects have? What are the things that are going to hold back your prospect and make you less of a guaranteed proposition?

In the next episode, we’ll be talking about objections. Fear is one of the key objections. What is stopping them from buying? If you can turn that fear around, if you can turn it into trust, then not only will you have locked in those prospects so that they’re more likely to want to work with you, but also you’re going to stand apart from a lot of the market — which is what we were just talking in the previous episode — which is standing out and being unique.

How Your Community Can Help You to Build Trust

Tony Clark: Yeah, and the main thing you need to do to really establish that trust is you have to have proof. You have to use different methodologies and different techniques and different technologies and tools you have available to demonstrate and prove that you are trustworthy. Social proof is a big part of that.

A good example is T-shirt sites. I buy a lot of T-shirts. Threadless was an early company that did this, and Design By Humans, and some of the others. What they do is they use their community of customers and artists that are creating these shirts to demonstrate and create social proof that these are quality items that other T-shirt collectors would want.

Using that social proof, creating a community that says, “Yeah, I love this image,” or “I don’t like this image,” “This one’s not that great,” “Don’t like this quality of the shirt” — having that social proof goes a long way to establish trust.

Chris Garrett: Yeah, and T-shirts is a really good example as well. There’s the social proof of seeing people walking around in them. It’s kind of its own ad. With people like Tony and I, if you see something really cool like that, that connects to something that is one of your passions, there’s an eagerness and an anticipation and an excitement. But there’s also the fear that it’s going to be ruined as soon as it’s washed. Or it’s going to fade, or it’s going to be blurry. The colors are going to be bad.

I’m actually wearing one right now, which is a series of robots. It’s got R2D2, Bender from Futurama, and a Stormtrooper in front of this lineup. Already the colors aren’t very good. It’s a shame. It’s one of my favorite T-shirts, but the colors have already started fading.

If you go to Amazon, one of the reasons you go to Amazon is because of all the reviews. It’s not the 5-star reviews, and it’s not necessarily the 1-star reviews. You look at the 3-stars, and you actually read them. That, in a way, is social proof. It’s also a form of evidence. On Amazon, it says that this person is actually a purchaser of that product. How many book reviews have you read where the person clearly never read the book, never read it in detail, or they’ve done the review based on chapter one.

It’s not just the social proof in terms of a thousand Likes on Facebook. It’s also the quality of the social proof that really has an impact. If you can get people to do good testimonials, not only is that social proof in that you’ve got somebody who will talk about the product and service, but the detail of that testimonial can really be a conversion booster — especially if you put the testimonial right in the sales material where it’s most appropriate. If you’re talking about the depth of your training, then have a testimonial that talks about the depth of your training.

Why Video Can Help Build Buyer Confidence

Tony Clark: Yeah. Testimonials are huge. What you were talking about, the quality, also makes up a big thing. One of the things you’ll see, too, is video walkthroughs, for example, for software or some other type of demonstration through video. Another thing that does is it shows, it proves how this fits, how this works.

You’ll see this on Zappos. They will do mini-videos of some of their shoes, and you’ll have other places that show videos of their product. The video reviews on Amazon are great, especially for things like luggage or computer cases because you can actually see people strapping in their computer or putting their stuff in.

Using video sometimes to demonstrate something that may not be as clear in copy — like how a product is used — is great. You’ll see a lot on Kickstarter. Sometimes the videos can make or break a Kickstarter. That’s just another form of evidence or proof of how this product is going to do what it says it’s going to do. Another way to build that trust.

Chris Garrett: Kickstarter’s a brilliant example because the fear of Kickstarters is, “Is this vaporware? Is this going to be another rip-off where they just take the money and run?” The video of showing a physical item that actually exists in the real world is huge.

It’s one of the reasons that the YouTube ‘unboxing’ videos are so popular. When somebody buys something, they unbox it on video. You can see them take all the packaging apart. They can take all the items out of the box. That’s giving people the experience of ownership before they actually purchase.

How the Right Testimonials Help Turn Fear Into Trust (and How the Wrong Ones Can Kill Your Conversion Rate)

Tony Clark: That’s a great example. The other thing that you have to think about when you’re giving proof is making sure that it’s accurate proof and that it’s not above and beyond. One of the things people would get in trouble with — and the FTC’s really cracked down on this a lot — is testimonials. Sometimes they were even paid testimonials or well above and beyond what the product actually does.

That can actually — just like the first thing we were talking about — that nobody will buy. It may work the first time. After that, the message gets out there and you’ve actually turned that trust back into fear, and nobody will want to buy from you. You need to make sure that your proof is an accurate depiction of what it is that you are able to provide — whether it be a testimonial, whether it be a video, whether it be social proof. Whatever you’re providing, make sure it’s accurate and real.

Chris Garrett: Yeah, and social proof works really well. People don’t want to be the first, or they want to know that other people have experienced a positive experience from it. Quantity helps a lot, and seeing a variety of names and faces works really well.

One of the things that you need to do is try and match your testimonials and your community to the people you’re trying to attract. I’ve found a really strange thing with a course that I used to run. I had a couple of testimonials and case studies that seemed too good to be true. When I took them out and when I edited them down, the conversion increased.

The proof was beyond what people were anticipating, and it made people worried. Rather than giving people comfort, it actually made people think that I was making it up. You have to find something that’s going to be persuasive but not — in the prospect’s mind — unrealistic.

Tony Clark: That’s a great example.

Chris Garrett: It’s like those Amazon 3-star reviews. Having the presence of those makes people comfortable that real people have purchased. They’re not all bought or made-up testimonials. What you can do is, with turning fear into trust, have the worry or the concern in the testimonial and actually get people to talk freely.

You could ask people, “What were you worried about before you purchased?” That’s a really weird thing to ask, but if you have a testimonial that says, “I was worried that I was going to be overwhelmed with content, but actually, Chris broke it down into bite-size pieces of material that I could really take action on,” that is turning fear into trust.

The fear is that you’re going to be overwhelmed and not going to be able to cope with it all, but actually, the way it’s delivered turns it on its head. It becomes a good thing. It’s broken down into manageable parts. Testimonials that turn fear into a positive can be really convincing. It just speaks to the prospect’s concerns.

Tony Clark: That’s a great approach. Really what we’re trying to do here is avoid risk. We’re all risk-averse, so the third item that you really need to focus on is how to mitigate risk.

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Key Elements That Can Mitigate Risk for Your Audience

Chris Garrett: When mitigating risk, the first place everybody looks to is the guarantee, right?

Tony Clark: Yeah. Guarantees are huge. It’s something that we are big proponents of. Here’s the thing. If you have a product that somebody doesn’t want after they’ve received it, they’re going to ask for a refund anyway. If they’re not going to get a refund, they’re going to go to get a chargeback, which is even worse.

If this is something that’s going to happen anyway, you might as well make it very clear upfront that you’re going to let them make that decision on their own. That’s a way to make them feel more comfortable about their purchase. By offering that guarantee — that they will be happy with their purchase, otherwise you will refund them — will give them a sense of trust that you really can’t build any other way. It’s that last barrier to purchase that you’re really trying to get through.

Chris Garrett: Yeah. We see guarantees and don’t believe them. That whole thing of, “Yeah, but you’re going to get me to fax in, in triplicate to some P.O. Box in Nowhereville,” and “You’re going to have to call on this telephone hotline that’s permanently engaged,” so it has to be a believable guarantee.

That’s why you have these guarantees that say, “For any reason whatsoever, even if you run the lawnmower over it.” It has to be a believable guarantee that’s fair and actually matches with what you’re offering. If the course takes six weeks to run through, don’t give people a 10-day guarantee.

Tony Clark: Yes. Also, another way to make sure that it’s legit is applying it to the right product. Another example is if you’re giving a live conference. A lot of times, after a certain point, you’re only able to give a partial refund because you’re actually having to pay for something, say, pay for the room or something else.

By making it very clear, “Look, up until this point, I can give you all your money back, but after that, there has to be something else because this is a real thing, a real-world thing, that is going to cost me money, or I can’t get a smaller room if everybody decided they don’t want to go.” That’s the other side of making that guarantee realistic in a way that you can really deliver on the guarantee. You don’t want to lose a bunch of money, but you also want to make it. It’s that balance.

If it’s a course, then like Chris was saying, make sure that the guarantee is after they can see the course or at least get a good part of it. Sometimes you’ll use a money-back guarantee — let’s say a 30-day guarantee — instead of a trial. You let them use it for 30 days, and if by then they’ve decided it’s not right for them, you can give them a refund back. You need to make sure it does match the product and it fits with the offer that you’re providing.

Chris Garrett: Yeah. It has to be fair to them, and it has to be fair to you. It has to make sense. Tony was just talking about if you’ve got a live event and you’ve already ordered the vegan meals, then it’s not fair to you to then have to give a refund so close to the event. Earlier out, before anything’s set in stone, of course you’re going to give a refund.

One of the things that you’re doing is establishing that you’re a fair person to deal with, but it can’t be all hinged on the guarantee. It has to be congruent and consistent with everything else, with everything that you’ve been doing up until that point. All the messaging, all the communication, all the interaction, it just fits.

Creating Trust-Building Case Studies as Content

Chris Garrett: One of the things you can do is case studies as content. Now, not a case study that says, “You’re awesome.” That’s just PR. That’s just advertising. What you have to do is a case study that is good content, valuable content, that people can learn from, but also positions you as a person who can deliver for this target market.

The way you do that is the before and after. This is where they were before. This is what they wanted to achieve. This is what they wanted to resolve. These are the challenges they went through, and this is the outcome.

What you’re doing is basically the hero’s journey. This was the ordinary world. This was the world of challenge and the difficult second act, The Empire Strikes Back, as it was. Then, this is the third act, the culmination of all that. Then, this is the happily ever after. But you make it about them, not about you.

You helped facilitate that, but you want the audience, the prospect, to go on that journey and feel the challenges and the outcome and perceive the sense of ownership. If you do that well, it’s both good, valuable, interesting content. It’s also mitigating the risk because they’re almost trialing, going through the process with you.

Tony Clark: Exactly. That’s the whole point of how you use a case study to mitigate risk. You allow your prospect to see themselves in the person who is in the case study. They can actually identify with somebody who’s gone through a similar process, and they’ve actually benefited from it. That’s the importance of using a case study that way because it allows your prospect to see themselves doing that same journey as the person in the case study.

Chris Garrett: And part of the case study can be talking about the objections. We’ll talk about that more in the next episode, but all the time you’re saying something positive and constructive, the audience is going to have in their mind, “Yes, but.” Those “Yeah, buts” can really ruin your conversions.

A case study is a way of getting them under the radar as part of a story and say, “I know how you feel, but this is what I discovered. I had this worry, too, but it turned out OK because … ” It means that you don’t have to directly hit them head on. Sometimes you’re raising an objection they never even thought of. Stories can really work well for that.


Tony Clark: Really, when we’re turning fear into trust, what are the main takeaways here? What are things that we really have to focus on that you can use to really make people feel that you are trustworthy in what you’re offering?

Chris Garrett: It starts with empathy — understanding where they’re coming from and trying to turn some of those fears into positives to show that you’ve addressed them, that you understand, and that you can really help. Empathy is key.

After that, you have to prove it. That can be social proof. It can be case studies. But it could be as simple as showing people behind the scenes in a video or showing how everything fits together. Testimonials can really help in terms of proof, but they can also work in mitigating risk. Obviously, the biggest way you can mitigate risk for your prospects is a really good, solid, believable guarantee.

Tony Clark: So really what we’ve been talking about here is trust is one of the big, main objections that you’ll encounter. In the next episode, we’re going to talk about some other objections. If you ignore those objections, that can be a big conversion buster. We’ll cover that in the next episode.