Security Measures. Do They Really Boost Conversion?

Written by  December 4, 2007

Ecommerce Security and ConversionA big part of increasing conversion on an e-commerce site involves building trust and credibility with your customers.

After all, would you provide your personal information to a site that did not appear to be secure or which made you question its credibility? I didn’t think so.

Having said that, just how important is site security to sales conversion — and does it make a difference if you use a shared SSL certificate vs. a private one?

You bet it does.

Consider This…

Two different studies were conducted by two prominent companies.

One study by Forrester Research, Inc., uncovered a that whopping 84 percent of consumer survey respondents indicated they didn’t think retailers were doing enough to protect them online. The other finding from London-based TNS PLC, a market research company, found that 75 percent of online shoppers surveyed say they had abandoned a retail site due to security concerns. [Internet Retailer, March 2006]

For small to mid level retail companies with less brand awareness, the concern grows naturally higher.

Additional findings from the TNS PLC study referenced above found that, “when those customers who admitted to site abandonment were questioned further, 90 percent said they would have gone ahead with the sale if they had seen a recognized security marker.” [Internet Retailer,March 2006]

Trying to Save Money Will Ultimately Cost You Money

Unfortunately, in an effort to minimize expenses, many of these small e-commerce businesses escalate the inherent consumer skepticism by using a shared SSL certificate versus a private one. Although less expensive, shared SSL certificates force consumers to third-party websites for order completion leading to potential credibility barriers.

Besides a noticeable change to the domain in the browser’s address bar, using a shared SSL certificate also creates the following challenges to a businesses’ trust building efforts:

  • Slow website load times with the third-party website negatively influences a website’s credibility and convenience for its customer.
  • Limits abilities to improve shopping-cart performance with usability and influential strategies like adding assurances, minimizing requested personal information and arranging forms fields for ease of use.
  • Shared SSL redirects the credibility to the third-party provider and away from the e-commerce business.
  • Inability to post a “clickable and directly referenceable” SSL certificate logo like GeoTrust, Truste or VeriSign on the website for credibility.
  • Customer inconvenience with “continue shopping” functions that causes movement back and forth from a website to the third party.

Don’t Fear, But Beware!

If using a shared SSL certificate is a “start-up” necessity, don’t fear—it won’t necessarily prohibit sales if you create a positive customer experience leading up to the checkout process. Customers who are motivated to purchase and who have gained a reasonable level of trust with your website may not be put off by a shared SSL process.

But be aware that the conversion increases you will gain may always fall below those that would exist if you had your own private certificate.

Also keep in mind that e-commerce websites using shared SSL Certificates from services like PayPal (owned by eBay) or Google Checkout experience less credibility challenges because of the associative credibility gained from the prominent brands. No matter, the end net result more often than not falls below those results gained by utilizing a private certificate.

As mentioned in past articles on this site, the opportunity to improve conversion is dependent on building customer confidence through credibility, convenience and relevance. Unfortunately, using shared SSL impedes efforts for improving conversion. When seeking higher performance, it has been proven that moving to a private SSL certificate (versus a shared one) is a prerequisite.

You can get your own private SSL Certificate starting a just over $100.00 or so. It’s an investment that is well worth the effort.

What Can We Learn From This?

There is little question that presenting a security logo adds perceived credibility to an e-commerce website. However, from a perspective of improving website conversion, presenting a security logo is only a small piece to an overall credibility-building strategy. Building trust effectively with customers that results in increased conversion requires additional testing.

For example, placement and size of a security logo can directly affect the potential improvement of a website’s conversion.

A Marketing Sherpa case study presented on May 6, 2006, reported a security-logo test performed by Petco, a national pet supply retailer. The test involved varying the placements of the Hacker Safe logo across its website to gauge differences in conversion rate gains.

The test outcomes produced the following results: – The logo in the lower left corner of the navigation bar resulted in an 8.15 percent increase in conversions. – The logo below the footer on the lower right increased conversions only 1.76 percent. – The logo on the upper left between the search box and the navigation bar increased conversions 8.83 percent.

Understanding the implications of this test provide insight into how you might consider testing security logo placement on your website.

Placing a security logo along your visitors’ eye flow path, such as the top left location underneath your company’s logo (as in the case of, may generate higher awareness and translate into stronger conversion improvement. Testing is the key to success. Without it, you can’t be certain what impact the alterations you make have on conversion.

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4 Responses to “Security Measures. Do They Really Boost Conversion?”

  1. Anonymous on December 19th, 2007 3:46 am

    Agreed – When we moved to Zen from oscMax – we decided to get SSL set up as well – the difference in sales was remarkable. Further we added the ability to order directly from our site (as opposed to just paypal express/cheque) and that boosted sales even further. This site’s helped no end if fine tuning things and really building the brand for us.

  2. camping on January 9th, 2008 11:25 pm

    Yeah. The private ssl certificate is vital.

  3. affordable ecommerce on February 29th, 2008 6:24 am

    Without a doubt dedicated SSL will boost sales, especially if you don’t have a brand name and you have been found in the organic searches. You must use SSL on your checkout pages even if your billing is done via Paypal or another 3rd party site. Also “safebuy” seals and “shopsafe” will also help with this, as well as offering cheque, as some of the older generation just wont input details online due to the media!


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