Recently we were discussing with a potential client about security badges (like the ones to the right) and whether they have a good/bad/indifferent effect on their ecommerce conversion rates. Some things discussed were:
- Does it make a difference having them at all?
- Do you get diminishing returns with more than one?
- What's the right positioning for them?
We also have been doing some research in this area and there's a good post (and more importantly a good comment thread) over at Elastic Path talking specifically about McAfee security badges and whether they impact the sales for a website.
The end result is that some see an increase (a marginal one), most seem to say there's very little impact, and a few say it actually decreased sales. There's lots of reasoning and subjective opinion around this area and so there's a bit of round up below on the various elements of the discussion.
The position of the badge is clearly a factor as to whether it has an impact or not. In the footer it will have less of an impact on someone's browsing experience than if it was next to the checkout button. Some possible positions are:
- Next to the checkout button
- In the footer
- In the sidebar site wide
- Just before the payment screen
- On the payment screens
Simply, you probably need to test a lot of these positions to see whether they have impact for your website visitors. Although evidence from different sources is useful, nothing is as valuable as A/B testing your own website so that you gather your own results.
The general rule here seems to be that you will get more impact (whatever that may be) if the seal is placed directly close to an action of some kind like a button or form. Interestingly, 37signal's product basecamp makes quite a big deal around payment in terms of security and their free trial. They don't use any external badges though, just confirmatory phrases and icons.
So what's the conclusion for positioning? For best effect, place in clear sight of an important action.
Number of badges
There's not a lot of evidence around about this one, however I do recall reading a study that said that there is a rapidly diminishing return from having more than one security emblem on your site. After all if it's secure it's secure, right? I'm sure once again placement comes into this, but having loads of secure badges does sometimes beg the question (in a cynical mind at least) what are you trying to hide? It does get mentioned in a post over at econsultancy though that actually too many can also be distracting from the goals of the page.
So do you just add some reassuring words, or do you need to show third party verification? Some, like 37signals above have opted for unbranded support and cleanliness. Some go all out for branded marks, assuming that a well known brand or well used logo will pull more because of recognition.
This graph however (taken from the econsultancy post linked above) shows a general lake of recognition of branded logos on websites and so their impact is probably not what people expect.
So the bottom line here is, there's less recognition than you might think for branded icons.
Do we need them at all?
Well this is the big daddy of a question, and, quite frankly, one without a clear answer. You'll see a lot of large sites such as John Lewis, Tesco and Amazon not really making great use of these because their brand trust is so high that they are completely irrelevant and will just clutter the messaging and process the visitor is engaged in.
The opposite therefore could be true for less well known retailers, especially those who may not have a bricks and mortar presence. When someone finds a site they have never heard of they will look for some kind of proof that they are OK to buy and so there is a possibility these marks are more important here.
There is literally only one way you can know for sure for your own website: testing. Whether you perform A/B testing or, even better, multivariate testing (i.e. testing several marks and positions) you will find out proper data proven answers. One things for sure - it's worth testing whether you have them there already or not. So what are you waiting for? Go and test and increase your conversion rate.