Who in the Heck Reads Privacy Policies? (Surprising Answer: Buyers!)

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priv-pol.jpgMost online marketers and business owners know that to avoid getting into legal trouble they need to post a privacy policy on their website.

But what many are apparently unaware of is, a well crafted privacy policy can contribute to your websites conversion rates.  

As I’ve discussed before, building trust is a critical component in the conversion process.   Addressing issues such as privacy and security should be a cornerstone of your online trust building efforts.

Yet many online marketers fail to fully capitalize on the trust building and even persuasive power than a friendly, customer centered privacy policy can produce.

You don’t have to look at very many websites were read too many privacy policies before you realize that most sites simply add a privacy policy as almost an afterthought, simply because their legal department made them do it.

But my testing and deep level analysis of online visitor behavior has shown…

While only a small percentage of your visitors will read your privacy policy, the ones that DO read it are very, very serious about making a purchase.

In fact, a recent study I conducted based on the Google Analytics data from over two dozen websites shows that while only 11% of visitors clicked on privacy policy links, of those who did, 17.4% went on to make a purchase.  

Compare this to the fact that the average overall, conversion rate for the websites in this study was 2.9%, and you can see how visitors who click on your privacy policy are FAR more qualified and closer to making a buying decision than those who do not.

Summary of Study Findings:

Average conversion rate:   2.9%
Click Though Rate on Privacy Policy link: 11.2%
Conversion Rate of Privacy Policy Viewers: 17.4%

So how can you use this information to your advantage?

Several things that I’ve tested and recommend that you test, to help improve the “conversion power” of YOUR privacy policies are:

1. Test different wordings for your privacy policy links.   I’ve found in many cases renaming the link “Privacy Guarantee” converts better than simply naming the link “Privacy Policy”.

2. Test adding some customer friendly language near the top of your privacy policy which sums up your commitment to safeguarding your visitor’s information.   Wording that has tested well on my own, and my client’s websites is:

“My Privacy Guarantee is really quite simple: I respect yours.

If you need more detail than that, please read on…”

3. Test adding a call to action or order link at the bottom of your privacy policy.   Because visitors who read your privacy policy are further along in the buying process and strongly considering making a purchase, I’ve found that by simply adding an order link or call to action at the bottom of your privacy policy you can often “close the sale” right then and there.

As with all of my recommendations these three tips are based on solid testing data.

Here are the results of a few tests that reinforce these suggestions:

The following tests were conducted on a “sales letter” style website selling a physical information product in a B2C market.   (Although my test results from more traditional, “online store” style sites show similar results.)

(In these test no data was recorded on the percent of privacy policy readers who went on to convert.   The action being optimized was overall sales conversion rates.)

Test #1:     Privacy Policy Anchor Text

Control:   “Privacy Policy”
Click Through Rate: 5.3%
Overall Conversion Rate: 2.17%

Variable:   “Privacy Guarantee”
Click Through Rate: 7.1%
Overall Conversion Rate: 2.29%

Test #2:     Privacy Policy Introduction Copy

Control:   “Standard Legaleze Style Wording”

As set forth in more detail below, XYZ.com (“XYZ.com” or “We”) collects personal information that you provide when using the XYZ.com web site (“Site”).
Overall Conversion Rate: 2.47%   (This was in a later test round, thus the higher “control” conversion rate.)

Variable:   “Customer Friendly Copy Introduction”

At XYZ.com our Privacy Guarantee is really quite simple: We respect yours.

If you need more detail than that, please read on…

Overall Conversion Rate: 2.55%

Test #3:     Call to Action at Bottom of Privacy Policy

Control:   No Call to Action

Overall Conversion Rate: 2.55%  

Variable:   “Call to Action at Bottom of Page”

Overall Conversion Rate: 2.62%

As you can see, while these improvements in conversion rates are not earth shattering, this boost in conversion was generated by optimizing a page that 99.9% of all marketers overlook.

So I strongly recommend that you add your privacy policy and security policy pages to your Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) testing schedule.

You may be surprised at the persuasive power these often overlooked pages possess.

Happy Testing!


About the Author

Eric Graham is a serial entrepreneur, author, speaker, copywriter and consultant. Enter your name and email address below to get notified when new response boosting tips, tested conversion strategies, updates, articles and videos are posted.

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