Oli Gardner

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In this 56-page ebook, Oli Gardner shows you how to apply the Conversion-Centered Design principles to build high-converting marketing campaigns.

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Conversion-Centered Design

Principle #5 - Credibility

“I don’t believe you. It’s that simple. I don’t want to listen to what you have to say, and you can’t convince me to change my mind because I made it up the moment I saw your landing page, or read the supposedly real endorsements and testimonials for your product.”

That’s what happens when someone lands on your page and encounters any element that strikes them as untrustworthy.

To counter this, you should create/source/request content for as many types of social proof as are relevant to describing the trustworthiness of your business. 
Here are the different types of trust elements that can appear on your page, to give you an idea of which page elements you should be trying to create:

  • Tribes and relatability
  • Privacy policies
  • Seals
  • SSL - HTTPs
  • Testimonials
    • Quotes
    • Twitter/social mentions
    • Photos
    • Videos
  • Social Shares
  • Referrals
  • Reviews
  • Ratings
  • Customer lists
    • Photos
    • Logos
  • Your friends bought/tried/liked/shared this
  • Number of sales
  • Rankings
  • Endorsements
    • Photo
    • Video

That’s a lot of proof. My recommendation is to create a living document that you constantly update with fresh validatory content as and when it comes to you. You should be monitoring social media and doing regular outreach to your customers, industry partners and fans.

Congruence and Credibility example

Congruence and Credibility

Another reason pages often lack credibility is that marketers collecting testimonials is only half of the battle. Where you put them and how you use them is almost as important as the content itself.

If you study the Unbounce.com homepage (note: we’re constantly running tests so it may not look as shown to the right all of the time) you will see that feature-specific testimonials are placed under a description of that product feature.

There’s lots of talk about features and benefits and how to describe your features in terms that demonstrate the benefit. Letting your customer talk about it rather than doing it yourself is one way of adding extra Credibility.


This technique is repeated throughout the page to provide an experience that leverages three principles of Attention-Driven Design: Consistency, Repetition and Proximity. Check out my ebook on the subject to learn 
23 visual principles for designing more persuasive landing pages.
Hyperbole, relatability and believability example

Hyperbole, relatability and believability

It’s simple, really. If your testimonials sound vague, your entire page loses Credibility.

Consider the testimonials example to the right from a landing page that is selling an online photography course.

The first thing to note is the hyperbole-laced testimonials. We’ve all seen them before: statements claiming the product or service is life changing, amazing, mind blowing or a game changer.

I very much doubt that this photo course saved Cathy’s life. And that makes me start to tune out.

It continues in the fourth testimonial: "Reaching out to Megan is one of the best things I've ever done!"

I think it would be stronger if the first sentence was removed — hyperbole is a Credibility killer (luckily, our Dejargonator Chrome Extension can help with that, too).

Analyzing the testimonials further, I made several observations (see right).

I’m a photographer, and also a man, and seeing that all of the testimonials are from women makes me stop and wonder if it’s a course solely for women. It’s wonderful if that’s the case, but from the information presented I’m a little unsure.

Humans are tribal by nature. We tend to more strongly believe what people say when we have a relationship with them. A biker is much more likely to trust an opinion about motorcycles from a fellow biker than they would from an accountant.

Furthermore, the success of your social proof lies in your ability to demonstrate the transformative effect of your product or service on the lives of your users. There’s nothing in the testimonials above that points to the success of these course members as a result of Megan’s tutelage.

A great way to demonstrate this transformation would be to show the classic before and after shots of how the course improved a student’s photography by taking the course.

Specificity is also key, as specifics are more believable than generic statements. When someone gets specific, we tend to believe that the experience they are describing actually happened.

Here’s how I would optimize a testimonial for this landing page:

Hyperbole example

Now it contains a relatable photo of Cathy (she’s holding a camera!), specificity by referencing the lesson material and the transformative effect of what she learned. (Photos are mine).


One of the most potent types of trust is the personal referral.

A referral is a recommendation made by an independent party, often in the form of a social share. Don't be afraid to ask your customers to tell their network about your product or service. An especially effective way to to this is through manual outreach — it's time consuming but very effective.

You can also incentivize customers using a more formal referral program, perhaps giving discounted service when they refer other customers.

Referrals leverage tribal behavior — when you receive a referral from someone you relate to (someone in your industry, a friend or a colleague) you are more likely to trust in its value as it clearly influenced your peer.

Alex from help desk software Groove talks about the best time to ask your customers for a referral:

Customers who are referred by loyal customers tend to become loyal customers: they trust you more from day one, they stay with you longer and they spend more over their lifetime.

But asking for referrals can get tricky. If you ask at the wrong time, you’ll either get ignored (if you ask when they’re simply not thinking about you) or worse, you’ll get an angry customer (if you ask when they’re actually dealing with an issue with your product).

What I’ve found to work best here is to make the ask when the value that you deliver is most apparent to them.

That will be different from business to business, but for us, that might mean:

  • Right after a support interaction where we’ve helped them accomplish something
  • Right after hitting a particular usage milestone (e.g., sending 1,000 support emails through Groove)
  • Right after they add-on another feature/product (e.g., a third-party integration)
  • Right after they positively respond to an NPS survey

Maximize Conversions Using the Principles of Conversion-Centered Design

In this step-by-step framework, Oli Gardner will show you how to leverage the seven principles of Conversion-Centered Design to create delightful, 
high-converting marketing campaigns.