Security Seal vs. No Security Seal Site Test

How important are security seals on a site? Do they really help to increase site conversion? Let’s find out what our test result says.

Last year we ran a test for a client to find out if, apart from having a security seal displayed in the checkout, if it makes a sense to display it visibly on their site, and what impact if any such security seal will have. So we put this into a test and placed the seal right into the header.

What we tested
We tested McAfee security seal in the header vs. no seal. As you can see from the images below, it was hard to miss.

Control                                                                             Test Version – no security seal
vs.
Test background
–    test duration – 3 weeks
–    2 variations – McAfee security seal vs. no seal
–    traffic – over 57,000 visits

Test Result

Having a security seal displayed in the header didn’t improve conversion as expected. What we observed was a version without the security seal converted marginally better as seen in the screenshot below, which was probably the biggest surprise of all.

So after 3 weeks of running this test we came to the conclusion that having a security seal clearly displayed in the header didn’t improve the conversion on this client’s site and we decided to stop this test. Naturally some of you will ask why did we stop this test just after 3 weeks? The reason was simple. After seeing the result we calculated using Google Website Optimizer duration calculator, that we would have to run this test for approx. 1,211 days, or 3.31 years to come up with a conclusive result at this level of traffic, if we increased conversion by just 1%, or 304 days if conversion increased by 2%.

Conclusion
Unfortunately, the level of traffic on our client site wasn’t sufficient enough to prove or disprove the effectiveness of a security seal. Based on the test result, it seems that significantly more traffic is required to come up with a conclusive test results However, this doesn’t mean that on a different type of site, a security seal wouldn’t  have greater impact even with this level of the traffic. Obviously, the only way to find out is to run a test.

On a final note, since we stopped this test and quickly moved onto testing other site elements on this client site, so far we brought the client an annual increase in revenue of over $744,000. The lesson learned? Don’t get stuck with a test that would take months to complete. If the test doesn’t perform, stop it, test other site elements and then possibly return back with a new test idea.

Jan Petrovic
I have 9 Years of Tremendous Experience as web analyst and Senior Conversion Specialist. I have worked on optimisation project for the second-largest store retailer in the USA (the company is also a component of the S&P 500 Index), as well as for a well-known USA fashion retailer with over 380 stores nationwide. Over the course of my career I have achieved many INSANE improvements on our client’s websites, sometimes by applying best practices, another time from findings I made during conversion audits and sometimes thinking out of the box. For one of them I have even received an award in 2012 from WhichTestOne, where after testing different emails and parts of email message we increased revenue by 303.08%. What might also interest you is the fact that my average conversion improvement is 19% and my success rate is 70%. Basically, I’m VERY GOOD at what I do thanks to my Can Do Attitude to find solutions to given problems & Experience in this field.
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