At Zuko we're often asked about whether adding trust badges or other social proof improves conversion rate. To help answer this question, we've brought in the experts in this field: Deborah O' Malley at GuessTheTest, the A/B test case study resource, and the team at TrustedSite (who offer A/B testing services to determine the optimal placement and types of trust badges on websites). In this article they share their expertise on how best to test, utilize and place trust badges on your site so they have the biggest impact with data from live tests to back this up.
Adding trust elements to your site, like icons and badges, can be an easy, effective way to increase consumer trust, brand credibility, and conversions.
But blindly putting these elements at the wrong, or incorrect spot, on your website will diminish user trust, jeopardizing conversions.
In this comprehensive article, you'll learn exactly:
At the end, you’ll come away with the top-five optimal trust badge placements you can immediately implement to improve conversions on your site.
These data-backed suggestions are learnings gathered from TrustedSite, a website certification and trust badge provider that has conducted nearly 100 real-life trust badge A/B tests, and GuessTheTest, the go-to A/B test case study resource.
Simply put, a trust badge is a symbol placed on your website.
Trust badges come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and may look something like this:
Trust badges are a funny thing.
They’re just symbols, but yet, they signal to users your site is completely secure and legitimate.
And, in doing so, they instil a sense of trust showing your site is credible.
Not always, but it’s definitely a bonus when the trust badge used is verified by a third-party because it confirms credit card and personal information are truly secure.
Over the years, trust badges have become an important part of many websites because, truth be told, the Internet’s a pretty scary place!
Let’s start with Cybercrime.
Did you know some research has found that 1 in 4 Americans falls victim to cybercrime every year. And, according to the Institute for Marketplace Trust, online shopping scams make up over 64% of the Better Business Bureau’s scam tracker reporting.
As if that weren’t bad enough, data shows that online security breaches happen every 39 seconds! And that number is only increasing.
In fact, as this chart shows, over the past 4 years, the number of reported online scams has increased 13-fold, resulting in over $56 million in lost consumer dollars:
With all this malicious activity, it’s no wonder users are skeptical about trusting the security and credibility of a website. It’s not surprising, therefore, consumer research has found 92% of web visitors have concerns about the trust and security of the website they’re shopping on. And, in fact, according to Edelman’s 2021 Trust Barometer report, after price, the trustworthiness of a website is the most important factor influencing where a user will make a purchase!
Additionally, as this chart shows, 17% of users abandon their cart at checkout simply because they don’t trust the site!
That’s bad news for retailers since checkout abandonment rates are already typically enormously high. Stats show about 70% of users will back out at the checkout stage.
While you may not be able to easily do much about other factors that cause checkout abandonment, like high shipping costs or slow delivery time, you certainly can test and optimize your site by creating a strong sense of trust and reassurance with your users.
Trust badges may be the answer! They have a powerful psychological effect and can provide reassurance. This effect may, in turn, validate a user’s decision to continue to stay on your site -- without abandoning -- and, ultimately, convert.
You’ve just been scared with a lot of heavy-hitting facts about how unsafe it is to shop online or provide your personal and credit card details to any site!
You’ve also been told trust badges are the ultimate remedy.
But, if you don’t fully trust this statement, that’s completely okay.
After all, a good healthy dose of skepticism is what separates you from those who fall victim to online shopping scams. So, if you’re thinking to yourself, yeah. . . but do trust badges really work, that’s good critical thinking!
Now, let’s answer that question with some real-life A/B test case study evidence. . .
A natural place to start is with the A/B testing trust badge experts themselves, TrustedSite. Since 2019, TrustedSite has run nearly 100 trust badge-specific A/B tests. They’ve worked with eCommerce clients across a wide range of industry verticals.
In every A/B test they’ve run, they’ve added one or more trust badges and have assessed the effect of including trust badges against having no trust badges on the website.
Of all the trust badges A/B tests run, TrustedSite has achieved an overall "win" rate of 73% (that is the performance of the test version was better than the existing "control" version, usually without a trust badge). From this they generally see a conversion rate increase of between 3-30%.
That’s pretty good considering that, according to a comprehensive list of testing stats from Convert.com, the average agency running a regular A/B test typically sees a test win rate of 1/7, or 1/4 if they’re really experienced.
TrustedSite has a plethora of A/B test case study evidence showing that adding trust badges works well.
For example, this TrustedSite client test looked simply at the effect of adding a trust badge directly below the checkout price.
In version A, there’s no trust badge below the checkout.
In version B, a trust badge has been added to the bottom left-side of every page on site. An additional trust badge has been added directly below the checkout price.
You can see the A/B test images here:
Which version do you think won?
If you guessed version B, with the trust badges, congrats!
Simply adding the trust badges resulted in:
These results were achieved at 90% significance. The test was run over 4 weeks with 24 thousand visitors.
Now, does this example show that trust badges ALWAYS win?
But, according to the data from TrustedSite, there’s a 75% chance that adding trust badges on your site is likely to help boost your conversion rate.
There are some caveats, however.
One thing to avoid is what TrustedSite refers to as the “Nascar Effect.”
The “Nascar Effect” happens when too many logos, including trust badges or seals, are haphazardly plastered on the page, competing for attention and appear too close to each other. When this visual clutter occurs, the trust badges can become overwhelming or distracting and, as a result, look less credible.
They don’t do a good job of building trust because they may infuse a sense of doubt or cause confusion.
Here’s an example of an A/B test with the “Nascar Effect.”
In Version A, there are multiple, competing trust and payment badges below the cart Call To Action (CTA) button.
In Version B, some of the extra trust badges have been stripped away, but additional trust badges have been added on sparser, less image-heavy areas of the page:
Version B, which reduced the Nascar Effect, increased Revenue Per Visitor (RPV) 16.98% on desktop. Results achieved 95% significance.
In addition to using too many trust symbols in one area, another conversion killer can be placing trust badges in the “wrong” spot.
As this GuessTheTest case study found, a lone trust badge placed only on the payment details page elicited skepticism and suspicion. Likely because, at this stage in the funnel, it prompted users to unnecessarily question the site's trustworthiness. Up until this point, visitors may have taken for granted the site was safe and credible, but then re-evaluated their assessment. And second-guessed the site's credibility.
So before blindly placing a trust badge on any given page, always test!
In running nearly 100 trust badge-specific A/B tests, TrustedSite has been working towards answering the question: what trust badges convert best and where?
Working with GuessTheTest to analyze the findings, here are our top-five most important discoveries:
If you’ve come across trust badges before, you likely know that most marketers stick trust badges just on the checkout page and call it a day.
But there are so many other optimal places for trust badges.
According to TrustedSite data, the homepage may actually be the most effective place to initially put a trust badge. The reason why is because, “security is top of mind for (new) shoppers when they first arrive at a site.”
In fact, as this chart shows, TrustedSite found 45% of shoppers look for information about a site’s security policy and practice on the homepage:
From the homepage onward, this chart indicates, the returns of a trust badge may actually diminish. After all, most visitors have likely already decided they either trust -- or don’t trust -- the site. And, if visitors don’t trust the site, they’re more likely to bounce than move deeper into the funnel.
In fact, in a large-scale TrustedSite consumer survey found that over 65% of online shoppers have concerns about business legitimacy when first arriving at an unfamiliar site. And the fear of making a purchase from a fake business or scam led over 50% of survey respondents to abandon a purchase.
These facts show, if your site fails to immediately establish trust -- when visitors first arrive -- visitors are likely to quickly leave (and shop on another site they trust more).
For this reason, it’s also worth testing the effect of putting a trust badge on every page across your site. Not every visitor enters your site through your homepage.
For example, if a user finds your site through organic search, they may end up on a product page first. Or, if the visitor comes through a Facebook ad, they may enter through a landing page.
Putting a trust badge on every site is like a catch-all; it adds a subtle reassuring effect through every step of the conversion funnel. One highly effective way to achieve this objective is to put a trust badge as a sticky/persistent element on the bottom left or right side of every page on site. If you have a chatbot, or other elements that take-up screen real estate at the bottom of your page, the sticky trust badge should go on the opposite side. However, it’s always best to test optimal placement.
Surprisingly, the next most effective place appears to be the footer!
Many marketers think the footer doesn’t matter much from a conversion standpoint. They may argue, the footer is only there for SEO value. Or to act as a secondary navigation structure. While these points are correct, the footer is actually key for conversions.
In fact, according to the Baymard Institute, 13% of the world’s largest eCommerce sites haven’t optimized their footer properly. Baymard Institute recommends dividing links into sections.
We’re taking it a step further and recommending you put a trust badge in your footer!
According to TrustedSite, nearly 30% of users look for info about a site’s security policy in the footer. So it’s a highly effective -- and very often overlooked place -- to display a security badge.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to add a trust badge anywhere friction arises.
Most marketers think of the checkout page as a high friction area. And, while that’s certainly true, it’s not the only place where friction arises.
As a committed form optimizer, you surely know that login/register pages also tend to be tremendously high friction.
The reason why?
Because it’s here that new users need to commit to divulging their personal information. And returning users may need to go through several cumbersome steps to remember this user name, password, or other login details.
When hoping that users will login or register, many marketers don’t think of testing the effect of adding a “secure login” trust badge, like this one, at this stage in the funnel.
But doing so might just create the conversion lift you’re after.
There’s just one caveat.
If it’s the only place you put a trust badge on your site, you might elicit skepticism from users who might wonder why you’re telling them now the login/registration is secure.
So, if you are going to test the effect of using a trust badge, or reassuring wording at the login stage, make sure a strong sense of trust has already been established earlier in the user’s journey. You can do so by, for example, putting trust badges on the homepage and in the footer.
Of course, it’s also very important to test the effectiveness of putting optimally formatted trust badges on the checkout page. This page tends to be very high friction, and is the stage in the funnel where most users really start to contemplate site security.
While many marketers are already aware of the importance of trust badges on the checkout page, TrustedSite offers a slightly different twist.
Here are three of their key recommendations:
Too many trust badges clustered all together can create the “Nascar Effect”. Clutter can cause confusion, and quite simply, confused visitors don’t convert. So, test your design and ensure it doesn’t appear too cluttered.
The most helpful design recommendations? TrustedSite recommends limiting trust badges used to no more than 3 on any given page.
Their suggestion is use each trust badge to communicate a unique message, including:
In addition, it’s generally a good idea to show the accepted payment methods.
Consider also adding any value propositions, like free shipping or guarantees that might help nudge uncertain visitors.
When adding these elements, just ensure they don’t create visual clutter!
As a best practice, you should include a trust badge as close as possible to the credit card fields. Research has found that 72% of consumers have concerns about their credit card info being stolen at this stage. A trust symbol close to the credit card payment field allays this concern and ensures users won’t miss seeing this important badge of reassurance.
Of course, it’s always best to test what works best for your site with your audience but these suggestions have been tested across dozens of eCommerce sites and typically hold true for most sites.
And, finally, an important, but obvious point that needs to be stated. . . don’t be deceptive with your trust badges.
Don’t just make stuff up. Be transparent.
Trust badges are there to instil trust! Don’t violate it. There’s nothing worse you can do to jeopardize conversions.
Ideally, you’ll use TrustedSite badges, or another security provider that offers legitimate, up-to-date, third-party verified trust badges.
Using trust badges can be a powerful way to build credibility and increase conversions on your website.
Applying research-backed findings, with real-life A/B test case study data, you’ve been given the top-five key insights and tangible takeaways you can immediately try and to improve conversions on your site.
But before blindly placing a trust badge on any given page, always test!
Deborah O’Malley, M.Sc.
Named a top-10 Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) and A/B testing expert to follow, Deborah is a Google Analytics certified digital marketer with a master’s of science degree specialized in eye tracking technology. She’s founded the go-to A/B test case study resource, GuessTheTest, to help experimenters inspire and validate testing ideas and optimize their success.
An online security, shopper identity protection, and business verification service, TrustedSite provides website certifications and trust badges that help increase buyer confidence. TrustedSite also provides a personalized A/B testing service to determine the optimal placement and types of trust badges to use on your specific site.
If you’re interested in learning more about A/B testing trust badges on your website, checkout the articles and resources available on GuessTheTest.
As a special bonus, you have the opportunity to get a free Trustmark A/B test on your site. Simply click this link to get started. For qualifying sites, TrustedSite will provide an A/B test experiment plan, plus code, set-up and run the experiment on your behalf.
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