When you think about it, doing business on the internet is a strange game: Millions upon millions of people are forging anonymous relationships in order to buy products that may or may not be legitimate every second of every day. Much of the time, the only guarantee as to the legitimacy of a seller or their product are a few visual signs, know as trust seals. These underrated little symbols can make a big difference when it comes to putting your visitors at ease, and reducing cart abandonment.
In this post, we’ll look at in’s and out’s of adding trust seals to your website.
What are Trust Seals (And Which Ones Work Best?)
“Trust seals” usually come in the form of symbols or “badges” that show users you are a legitimate business. A third-party security entity, such as an anti-virus or encryption service, provides individual websites with trust seals once it has been determined that the website lives up to their standards.
Trust seals can be broken down into roughly two categories: “SSL badges/seals” that show an encrypted connection between your website and the user’s web browser, and “trust badges” that don’t offer any real security other than a proven relationship between a website and its users.
Interestingly, most users don’t know the difference between the different kinds of badges, and most don’t really care. The dozens of badges that exist to place on your website act more as a safety placebo than a real guarantee of security.
With this in mind, it’s helpful to look at some data as to what trust signs users have the most confidence in. Last year, the independent web usability research group Baymard Institute released a study showing that, from a survey of over 2500 people, “Norton Secured” was the most trusted seal, garnering 36% of votes. Second place went to “McAfee Secure”, with 23% of votes, and 13.2% of votes were shared equally by “Trust E” and “BBB Accredited”. Interestingly, the second, third, and fourth place winners of the survey aren’t SSL badges.
Baymard Institute recommends adding several seals to your site to cover all your bases by investing in a Norton SSL seal to show that you have an encrypted connection, a McAfee seal to show that your site is “hacker safe”, and a BBB Accredited or TRUSTe seal to show that you have good customer relations. As we’ll show in the next section, though, this might not always be possible for young entrepreneurs.
Helpful Tip: Users don’t really know the difference between different trust signs on your website, so if in doubt, go for the most popular.
How Do I Get a Trust Seal? What About a Free One?
For many online businesses, investing in a SSL seal or trust seal with Norton or other big companies is a price worth paying, both for the service they provide and the calm they instill in users. For those of us just starting out, though, a big-name trust seal along with encrypted services will set you back about $2700 per year. While free trials are available, free alternatives to the big guys do exist. Be careful, though: You get what you pay for (or don’t) in most cases, so investing a bit of money when you feel you need the right security might outweigh the long-term costs.
Free Trust Seal Alternatives
StartSSL offer a free SSL encryption certificates almost instantly for websites that need to prevent eavesdropping and increased privacy. The service is low-assurance, meaning that it’s not top of the line, but at least it’s a start.
Comodo also offer a free 90-day SSL certificate, with most of the bells and whistles, including a dynamic “TrustLogo” for your website and free daily website scanning.
CAcert is a free community-driven security certificate authority that issues trust seals for free. In order to benefit from CAcert’s collective perks, you need to join as a member of the community. Once you’re in, they’ll issue you with free certificates.
ScanVerify isn’t a SSL encryption service, but it does provide free third-party assurance to online customers that a website has been validated and can be trusted.
Where to Put Your Trust Seal
Once you’ve validated your site with a third party, it’s time to figure out where exactly you should put your badge of honour. In all cases, it’s important to remember that trust seals are there mostly to put your user, not you, at ease, and so it’s best to place them at crucial moments in your relationship with your customers.
Above the “fold”: When web usability and marketing types speak of the “fold”, they are talking about the crucial area of a website that can be seen as soon as you arrive on the page, before you choose to scroll. Putting a trust seal front and centre for a user to see as soon as they arrive on the site can be helpful in establishing an immediate sense of trust, but for some businesses this may also be too flashy or intrusive.
Next to the checkout or payment field: This is by far the most important area to place your trust seals, as it remind users just as they’re pulling their credit card from their pocket that you’ve been recognized for your customer relations and your security. One Get Elastic case study showed that adding a “Mcafee” trust seal next to their payment process boosted sales by 4-6%.
Credit Cards: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4f/Credit-cards.jpg (wikipedia commons)