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Trust Seals
Do Trust Seals help, are they worth the cost?

 11:20 pm on Nov 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

There has been some discussion in the forum about the value of trust seals and I wanted to post the results of some testing that's been done on my site.

I use trust seals from one particular company and they have proven to me without a doubt that trust seals work. As visitors come to my site one can see the seals and the next one can't.

Here are the results for the active split test from the last 10 days.

Status, Views, Sales, Percentage, Increase
Seals off, 775, 19, 2.45%
Seals on, 776, 37, 4.77%, 94%

Anyway, those of you who have said it's not worth it may want to reconsider. I suggest that you try testing various seals on your site. And, why not test them against each other? I know they are not cheap, but I know without a doubt that they are worth it.

Hope this helps...


[edited by: lorax at 9:42 pm (utc) on Nov. 12, 2007]
[edit reason] removed company name [/edit]



 5:57 am on Nov 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

For your case with the seals, at a 90% confident level your margin of error is 4.674% So you can be 90% confident that your actual conversion rate is from 0 - 8.964%

Any stats wizards here? I would think there would be at least a 90% confidence the minimum conversion would end up at 0.5% or more.

It's a small sampling, but I know that AC Nielson uses only about 1,500 US homes for its respected TV viewing ratings.


 4:56 am on Nov 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

I will be running splits on a very high profile site soon to launch (Official 2010 Winter Olympic Games store) in the next few weeks (much larger traffic numbers than posted here). I will be publishing results on the outcome.

My initial take: positioning matters. If the seal is next to calls to action like 'enter your credit card number' and not just slapped in the footer - it should boost conversions. We are starting off with a prominent upper right hand corner position.

I am expecting a 5% lift and hoping for 10%. Our demographic may trend older with many of the collectables being sold like coins and pins. Security is a larger concern to that age group.

[edited by: lorax at 4:01 pm (utc) on Nov. 23, 2007]


 8:52 pm on Nov 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

Hi All,
Sorry for the delay, I was away for Thanksgiving.
Here are the results for the trust seal active split test to Tuesday morning 11/27/07.

Status, Views, Sales, Percentage, Increase
seals off, 2088 57 2.73%
seals on, 2088 84 4.02% 47.3%

The overall increase is still very good. So far I figure I've made enough to cover the $397 for the set of seals and put an extra $270 in my pocket, and it hasn't even been a month yet. :-)

The other site I added the seals to is currently showing a 39.4% increase, up from 18.2%.



 6:19 am on Nov 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

The overall increase is still very good. So far I figure I've made enough to cover the $397 for the set of seals and put an extra $270 in my pocket, and it hasn't even been a month yet. :-)

You should try a third test, using pseudo-seals. Something like "SSL Secured" in a seal-like graphic. Nothing untrue and no fake organizations. Just stuff that is accurate for your site but looks more official.


 8:55 pm on Nov 28, 2007 (gmt 0)


That sure is contrary to everything else I've read. Could you PM me your URL? No problem if you'd rather not though.


 9:33 pm on Nov 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

Would anyone care to summarize (in easy terms) just exactly what a trust-seal company would do for the security of my site? I've been to some of the websites, like H-Safe, and their description of features and benefits is, well, full of meaningless big words.

"Our unmatched breadth of experience in vulnerability detection and remediation, combined with our leadership in vulnerability research...leverages this expertise in a fully expert-managed implementation..."

Fully expert-managed implementation? Good lord. Who writes this stuff?


 11:34 pm on Nov 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

LOL! That implementation is fully expert-managed.


 5:23 am on Nov 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

Ruben, those are some pretty earth shattering numbers..Thanks for sharing in depth... I would have never believed those results could be achieved... A couple of questions if I may..
1. Is the product or service you offer considered a national ( well known ) brand?
2. If applicable, is your site linked from the mfg. as an authorized reseller?
3. What is the approx. selling price of the goods?



 5:16 pm on Nov 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

They are good results that's why I thought someone should speak up.

1. We sell religious products, well known in our nich.
2. Our site is not linked from the mfg. as far as I know.
3. The price of goods ranges from $300 to $5, our average sale is around $60.

Hope that helps...


 8:28 pm on Nov 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

I find it strange that, after three weeks here, Reuben only posts on the topic of trust seals... an interesting topic but surely a microscopic part of web commerce success.

If trust seals do help, I HAVE NO QUESTION A FAKE ONE WOULD WORK JUST AS WELL. Doubt that one web shopper in a thousand knows much about them.


 8:33 pm on Nov 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

In fact I'm thinking of posting our state seal on my checkout page... it has an eagle, scales of justice and something in Latin that I learned in third grade. (Caveat Emptor, perhaps LOL)


 9:19 pm on Nov 30, 2007 (gmt 0)


I'm with jsinger...
If we're talking about the value of a trust seal being mostly about putting customers at ease, then I think a fake seal would work as well as anything...and be a lot cheaper.

First of all, there are only a couple established trust seals around that people easily recognize...things like the Better Business Bureau, the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, that sort of thing. I don't think the newer website seal-of-approval companies have been around long enough for people to recognize them apart from any other logo that might have the word "safe" in it.

So unless someone can give me a halfway decent explanation for what a hackersafe logo really means for the security of my site, I'm going to think these companies are a sham.


 1:52 pm on Dec 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

>> only a couple established trust seals around that people easily recognize

I think that's the key. If they don't recognize it, then they're likely to either just accept it on faith, or they'll be more skeptical. I believe they're more likely to just accept it.

Short story to back this up. Back before we had this internet thing a friend of mine had a BBS (remember those?). As a joke, the greeting page after you had logged said "Please press CTRL ALT DELETE to continue" You'd be surprised how many people actually did as they were told. Even I almost did it until something registered. I think many people just accept that they don't know the internet or how it works and simply take things on faith hoping/believing that the site they're visiting wont' mislead them.


 8:58 pm on Dec 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

because Hacker Safe called me the other day

Funny that you should mention that...


 10:59 pm on Dec 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

Making your own seals might work, if you have the time and can make them look professional.

The whole point of this thread is that trust seals can, in my experience, make a difference.


 11:12 pm on Dec 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

If you have a Yahoo store, you can plop the Yahoo "Badge" all over your website (including checkout pages), and that won't cost you anything.

Of course, I've seen plenty of Yahoo store owners who don't use the Yahoo badge, but instead pay for 3rd-party trust seals. That seems a little silly.


 8:17 pm on Dec 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

If an ecomm site actively promotes site seals (up in the header, more than one anywhere, blah blah), I'm off that site before the last image loads.

If an ecomm site has a seal somewhere in the left navigation or somewhere at the bottom, I'm more likely to stick around and check prices or whatever as I feel they've put the seal there because they think they NEED to have one.

If a site has no seal, I don't even notice.

Unless the seal of the company is also running software on the servers to make sure they're fully patched and all their software is up to date, I don't really see what port scans are really doing for you.



 8:48 pm on Dec 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

It's funny you should say that, because Hacker Safe called me the other day to try and get me to buy their seal...

If you start a brick & mortar business, there is a good possibility you'll be solicited by the BBB. If you'll just pay their fee of $X00 dollars, you can use their logo on your printed materials.

They called me and made dubious claims about people calling them seeking information on my fledging business. Later, they presented me with the hardest sell approach I've ever faced - from the BBB itself.

I talked with other business owners and based on sharing notes with them, I basically concluded the BBB was little more than a business extortion outfit. It's propped up by local news television stations around the country in return for easy cheap evening news content.

When I see trust seals on a site, I wonder what they are trying to cover up or assume they are trying to make themselves appear more important than they really are.

Just another opinion to add to the mix.



 9:16 pm on Dec 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

and another opinion to add to the mix

Hi reuben,

NOT to rain on you parade but you have picked a perfect time to do your split tests. I mean it's a good timing but from my expirience and my conversations with several site owners that have used these services on the widget price scale(50-300) you are rolling it out, pretty much evens up to No profit after 6-8 month.

Try this when you have X/4 trafic and not Holiday season trafic.



 9:17 pm on Dec 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

Something else to consider about trust seals...and the way the human mind works...

Is it possible that trust seals (especially HS) make customers stop and think about security problems at a website when they otherwise wouldn't have given it a thought?

I usually don't think about "hackers" when I'm shopping online...that is unless a big green icon at the bottom of every page reminds of it.


 9:30 pm on Dec 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

"Our unmatched breadth of experience in vulnerability detection and remediation, combined with our leadership in vulnerability research...leverages this expertise in a fully expert-managed implementation..."

and that sounds like a product of that Flash Movie at [pubcon.com...] ((scroll down to Touch, Taste, Feel :) "Corporate B********T Generator"...


 9:32 pm on Dec 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

Regarding if you have done enough testing. Although the more you do the more accurate they will be I think that you probably are pretty close where you could say with 90-95% certainity that you have seen a difference. However all you will be able to prove is that their is a difference. Not that it is caused by the seal itself. It could be caused by any of the following: a link from a site bringing better people to your site, some type of change in the environment causing more people to want to purchase the item, the page layout with the extra seal on the site, or any of many other changes in demographics caused by outside forces.


 9:33 pm on Dec 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

It might help to know that I sell religious products, so the trust factor should already be higher. Right?

I disagree on that thought...whenever someone tells me he/she is a Christian to bolster themselves I almost KNOW they'll screw me. I've even seen sites putting fish icons and such to make you think they are religious and would do you right...WRONG. I hesitate to buy from people that put religious symbols on their sites to make you think they are honest as I've had some of the WORST dealings with those type of people that do that. Like Jesus said, "let your yeas be yeas and your nays be nays," so having to SAY your are a Christian is not "trustworthy" to me and just having a religious products site certainly would NOT have more trust right off the bat. I think Hacker Safe seals aren't good for trust having the word "hacker" in it isn't good to me...but, I DO think having your merchant account's security seal showing encryption does make people feel a bit safe in the end. I don't like the word hacker, so it makes me "hesitate" any time I see the word, LOL. Just some thoughts, good luck!


 10:18 pm on Dec 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

Something that hasn't been mentioned yet is the fact that conversion tends to go up (at least in my sector) just after Thanksgiving due to people shopping for Christmas.

I'm not talking about just the number of sales. That also increases around 3 fold this time of year. But the actual conversion rate almost doubles, for reasons unknown. But my best guess is that people are more motivated to make a purchase. ANY purchase. Just to get the shopping over and done with.

As far as the seals themselves, we've done some A/B/C testing with a grey seal, a red one, and no seal at all (approximately 50,000 page views for the test).

Surprisingly my favourite, the red seal, performed the worst! Having no seal came in the 2nd. And the grey one increased conversions by 17%. Apparently people were either distracted by the red, or thought it was some kind of warning. We will continue testing after the holiday rush.


 11:05 pm on Dec 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

One thing I can say is that the BBB seal will provide you with a very relevant and juicy link that passes trust rank and PR.


 1:26 am on Dec 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

Building on what Wisewebdude has said,

I agree I don't like the use of hacker because frankly if I WAS a hacker and saw that on a site. I'd be working my ass off to hack that site just to prove that it isn't.

Also when I see a site displaying that hacker logo or boosting about it not be hackable, I think to myself that maybe I don't want to buy there because if it does become a successful target of a hacker, I don't want them having my information.

Bottom line is the bbonline thing is probably ok, good housekeeping ok and both may be reassuring, but security logos may have a negative effect over the long haul, especial once hacker start targeting those site for giggle and grins.


 2:13 am on Dec 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think the hacker safe logos makes sites a target for hackers.


 2:45 am on Dec 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

Multiple seals etc.., combined in a strategic location, can give your site an aura of trust.

Can it increase sales to the point that it is worthwhile?

If your sales volume is high enough, they can pay for themselves and add a resonable amount of profitability.

Just my opinion . . .
if a 0.25% sales increase would make it attractive, go for it.

Otherwise, put your money into other areas.


 5:06 am on Dec 5, 2007 (gmt 0)


[10 days to November 10]
"Status, Views, Sales, Percentage, Increase
Seals off, 775, 19, 2.45%
Seals on, 776, 37, 4.77%, 94%"

"to Friday 11/16/07.

Status, Views, Sales, Percentage, Increase
Seals off, 1236 35 2.83 %
Seals on, 1236 53 4.29 % 51.6%"

"to Tuesday morning 11/27/07.
Status, Views, Sales, Percentage, Increase
seals off, 2088 57 2.73%
seals on, 2088 84 4.02% 47.3%"

..End Quotes..

Reuben, thanks for the info. Can you clarify please that the figs you posted are cumulative, ie all reflect activity since approx November 1st?

Assuming that's so, the sales progress like this...

Seals Off: 19 > 35 > 57
Seals On: 37 > 53 > 84

...and the increase with Seals On like this...

+18 > +0 > +9

...which looks too patchy to me to conclude a pattern. It's interesting though, I hope you'll be able to continue testing and posting results.


 5:41 am on Dec 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

I my opinion I use Trust Seals and I find them to be very helpful in my conversion rate. I saw a 10% increase in sales in the first month I had them, and it has increased to 15% and staying steady there.

Although I don't disagree with what has been said I also have personal proof that they work, if they are placed in the correct areas of your site, and you have the right ones.


 6:57 am on Dec 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

I was with the BBB years ago but gave up when they wanted another high upfront set up fee just because I moved. I think they are stuck in the brick and mortar mold with the idea that just changing a physical street address for an online only business. No credit for the already paid amounts or anything. They just demanded a whole new setup of fees from the move.

I declined.

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