Question the Assumption That Security Badges Increase Conversions

Privacy and security will always be top of mind for consumers. They entrust their favorite shopping sites and online services with billing and credit card information, along with other intimate personal information. Surely customers want to be reminded and reassured that their information is safe?

Not necessarily.

A test idea for e-commerce sites is to question the assumption that security badges will always help to increase conversions on your site. Although under-the-hood security features are always a necessary feature of your site, the persistent reminder of security may or may not be helpful.

Question the assumption that adding security badges like these to your e-commerce site will increase conversions.

Question the assumption that adding security badges like these to your e-commerce site will increase conversions.

In some cases, displaying security badges on product pages or during the checkout funnel can have a positive effect on sales. Sales increased by 5% for crafts retailers when they added a trust badge to their website. increased conversions by 7.6% when they added a security seal to the site. However, context is essential for these badges to have a positive effect.

In some cases, increased emphasis on security can decrease sales. Wider Funnel blogged about a client who experienced a 1.6% decrease in conversions site wide when after they added a McAfee security badge persistently on the shopping cart widgets.

The hypothesis: security badges create anxiety in website visitors who may not have been focused on security initially.

These surprising findings have been echoed on Twitter:

Multivariate testing surprise: *removing* HackerSafe logo lifts “add to cart” by 3.5% (95% conf). Moral=don’t assume, test!

— Eric J. Hansen (@ericjhansen) June 30, 2009


@ericjhansen Seen same before. In a previous role, we tested HackerSafe in diff. locations on page w/ ALL treatments losing with 95%+ conf.

— Michael Summar (@michaelsummar) June 30, 2009

Here are a few simple tips for implementing (or deleting) a security badge on your site. Just like any other test, the results will be different for every audience. Test to find out what works best for yours.


Test adding a security badge…

  • To the bottom of a signup form, to indicate that the customer’s data and contact information will not be spammed or shared.

  • On the billing information page of a checkout funnel, to ensure that you are not saving the customer’s credit card number for any other purpose.

  • On a product page, to ensure that the product is price-guaranteed, or to express quality assurance for the item.

Test removing a security badge…

  • From every page of the checkout funnel, or from the shopping cart page.

  • From the top navigation or bottom footer on your page. Does taking away elements negatively impact your conversion rate?

Size and Number

  • The optimal size for your security badge is another important feature to test. It should not be larger than the primary call to action on any given page.

  • If you have multiple security badges throughout your site, test removing all but one type.

  • Try a text-only security assurance instead of a badge at the bottom of a form.