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The author

Honor Baldry

Account Director

In the race to make site experiences ever smoother and online checkouts even slicker, sometimes it can be easy to forget about the small print.

Hidden within the small print are crucial details which can mean the difference between customers having a great experience with a site, or a bad one.

Here’s an example to illustrate its importance:

Scenario one) A customer receives a promotional email advertising a weekend spa deal for a fixed price of £99 per person. The customer rallies round some friends, agrees a date and then tries to book. But no matter how hard they try, the customer just can’t find the right combination of dates and locations to trigger the right deal.

Frustrated, they give up. No one’s happy in this situation; the spa provider hasn’t sold a spa weekend for four people, and those four people in need of a bit of relaxation aren’t going on a spa break.

Scenario two) The same situation, but in this scenario, the promotional email advertising the spa break gives some more information to the customer. It tells the customer that the deal only applies to certain spa locations, between a certain fixed time, and that there is limited availability and they expect slots to be taken by 5pm that day.

The customer can take a look on the spa site and uses the instructions regarding certain locations and dates to figure out that they can use the deal to book the weekend for a friend’s birthday. The spa is then happy as they’ve got two less slots to fill and the customer is happy as they’ve booked a great deal without hassle.

There’s only one difference in these two scenarios; the messaging in the initial email. In scenario two, the spa provider clearly sets out availability and guides the user into how to book (dates, locations etc.) the user in turn knows they have to book soon and that availability is limited.

The power is in the small print

The brash marketing message and lead in price point gets the user onto the site and to look around, but it’s the small print details (availability and locations in this case) that actually helps to get the customer over the line. What’s the point in a great offer if the user can’t actually find it to book it?

The same problem can be found in delivery; here’s another example:

Scenario one) A customer has an important party coming up and needs some new shoes. They go on a luxury fashion site and find and order the shoes they want. The day of the party, the customer gets home expecting the shoes to have been delivered and left with a neighbour but instead, they find a delivery note stating that the shoes have been taken to the postal depot and can’t be collected for 48 hours. Now the customer has no new shoes for the important party.

Scenario two) Still an important party, still the requirement for new shoes, but in this scenario, the retailer is very clear on their site that they won’t leave deliveries in a safe place because they need a signature and if the customer misses delivery, they’ll have to wait 48 hours to collect. The customer will have to pay the £5.99 next day delivery to their office, but the shoes arrive on time and they can go to the party.

Again, there’s no difference here in what the retailer is offering; next day delivery or standard, but by giving the user all of the facts, their expectations are managed, an informed choice is made and disappointment is avoided.

So, what are the bits in the small print that should be big?


Is the product / service you’re offering available just for a limited time? Or just for certain users? Just under certain conditions? Users are savvy and they know that good deals often come with strings attached, so let them know up front what those strings are. As well as avoiding harming conversion, it’ll avoid doubt creeping into the moment of transaction and any customer service issues later down the line. 


What’s your return policy; how do users send your product back if they don’t like it? Do you offer the Collect+ service? Make your return policy clear on your site and any marketing communication to customers, you’ll avoid your customer services department being inundated with queries and complaints, and customers will be more likely to order your products in the security that they know exactly how they can return them.


You tell the customer their item’s going to arrive on Tuesday, but it actually arrives on Wednesday. That’s a bad customer review. You tell the customer their item’s going to arrive on Thursday, it arrives on Wednesday, that’s a good customer review.

The actual outcome – the customer getting their item on Wednesday is the same, but the difference is in how their expectation has been managed. With delivery information, give your customer all of the facts, especially if you’re using an external delivery partner. Your customer won’t draw the line between your customer and theirs.

If you’re struggling to work out what content you should be putting on your site and at what points, our content strategists and CRO team can help – just get in touch. Our CRO team review the full user journey from research to conversion to work out what content is needed on your site to cater for each section of the purchase funnel.