The payment methods you offer your customers has a massive impact on your online conversion rates. Offer the wrong payment methods in the wrong way and your visitors will leave your site and book a room through a comparison site or (worse) with one of your competitors.
In this blog, I’ll look at three areas of your online checkout system that you can tweak right now to improve your conversion rate.
Tweak 1: Payment Options
Once upon a time, the travel and tourism sector was dominated by cash. But that time is long gone and things are very different now. In today’s world, credit cards rule supreme and every hotel is (or really should be) set up to accept plastic payment at its reception, online and over the phone.
However, the payment landscape is changing. Alongside card payments, there’s a new rapidly growing group of payment options called ‘alternative payment methods’. This is basically anything that doesn’t involve a credit or debit card.
Right now, Worldpay estimates that there are over 200 alternative payment methods, ranging from prepaid cards and digital wallets to digital currencies and mobile payments.
With so many payment options out there, it’s essential that you offer the payment methods your target demographic wants to use. If someone finds that they can’t use their preferred payment option, they will go elsewhere.
Before deciding on a range of payment options, I recommend you talk to your customers and asking how they wish to pay. Then make sure you support those payment options during your checkout process.
Tweak 2: Site Security
With data breaches in the news almost every week, consumers are getting more concerned with their online security, especially if they’re handing over personal or financial details. In the past year, Coca-Cola, Macy’s, Delta, Whole Foods and Arby’s have all experienced some level of security breach.
When I’m talking about SME site security in relation to conversion rates, I’m really talking about two different things: security and the communication of security.
First, you’ve got to make sure that your site is actually secure. This is quite a technical point and is too complicated to go into here. As a starting point, I recommend you read through the PCI Security Standards Council’s website. The PCI SSC was founded by American Express, Discover, JCB International, MasterCard and Visa, and works to make payment security stronger and better understood.
Don’t worry, though, it’s not all jargon and has some really good advice for tightening up security on your website.
Second, now that your website is actually secure, you’ve got to communicate that to your site visitors.
One of the most effective ways to do this is by using trust badges. A trust badge is a little virtual badge issued by security companies and payment companies to indicate that your site meets a minimum level of security.
Some of the most popular ones include:
- PayPal Verified
- McAfee Secure
- TRUSTe Certified Privacy
- Norton Secured
Work these badges into your site — for example, in the footer — and highlight them during your checkout process. The idea is that a potential customer will see the badge next to the payment section and feel confident enough to enter their payment data thereby increasing conversions.
Tweak 3: Payment Gateways
A payment gateway is the bit of tech that allows your website to actually process credit and debit card payments.
Technically, there are two types of payment gateway.
- Shared/Direct gateway: A shared or direct gateway is one that you can integrate into the checkout process on your site.
- Hosted gateway: Hosted gateways are hosted by the company that provides the payment gateway. In order to process a payment, your website has to redirect a user away from your website to the provider’s site, have them enter their payment information and then redirect them back to your site for confirmation.
Hosted gateways are generally considered more secure as you send your customer to the actual provider’s website to enter their payment information and the provider tends to have crazy advanced security.
Unfortunately, sending customers to a separate website isn’t great for conversions.
Imagine you did the same thing in real life. A customer came up to your reception and asked to check in. However, in order to pay, you asked them to walk down the street to the bank and pay there. They’d probably walk out, wouldn’t they?
While shared gateways mean you shoulder a bunch of security concerns, they are great for conversions as your customer can complete the full transaction on one site.
Before deciding on a service, it’s important to compare payment gateway options to see what the market has on offer.