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Jan 20, 2011 | 2 minute read

Is Your PayPal Button Hurting Conversions?

written by Linda Bustos

Take a look at this screen shot of a shopping cart page. Can you spot the 2 conversion killers?

Time's up.

Need a hint?

Cart button styling

Of the 5 calls to action, the checkout button is the smallest of them all. PayPal and Google Checkout, while important CTAs, are placed in the bottom right corner (the conventional placement for Checkout or Continue buttons), styled larger than the checkout button and visually separated in a box. The poor and lowly checkout button is styled the same as secondary calls to action, "Get estimate" and "Continue shopping" = a big no-no. The alternative payment options may appear to be the only checkout options at a glance. Because a good chunk of online shoppers prefer to use a credit card, this could be responsible for many lost sales and future customers.

PayPal tagline

It's crucial to communicate security in your checkout, as it's one of the top anxieties shoppers have about purchasing online. This e-tailer does not use a "Secure Checkout" label or a lock icon to indicate security. This is an Internet Retailer 500 site, and a well known brand, so maybe its reputation overcomes this FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt). However, the PayPal tagline "The safer, easier way to pay" may actually undermine the perceived safety of the site, suggesting PayPal is safer than regular checkout. In other words, checking out with a credit card carries risk.

I could have posted many more shots of top retailers making the same design mistakes. Instead, I'll show you 2 who are doing it right.

Exhibit A is eBags, who styles its checkout button large, and stacks alternative payment buttons below. Notice eBags chose the PayPal button without the tagline. (I would ditch the horizontal line break, however).

Exhibit B is Alibris. Instead of a cart button, the user is presented with radio buttons that present the PayPal and credit card options clearly.

Which is the better approach? That's a good candidate for an A/B test.

Is it always wrong to use the PayPal button with the tagline? If you only offer PayPal, no credit cards, it's a good value proposition. Go ahead and use it.