Do Hacker Safe / McAfee Secure Badges Increase Sales?

The answer is yes – for many sites. But the question is does it increase sales for your business?

The only way you’ll know for sure is to either perform an A/B split test or to implement it and compare sales reports before and after. The caveat to the latter method is you never really know if the sales and conversion uptick is simply seasonal – but an A/B test, if performed properly, will let you know for sure.

Inspired by Bryan Eisenberg‘s Always Be Testing: Complete Guide to Google Website Optimizer, a Get Elastic reader began testing the McAfee seal:

Here’s what our reader reports:

The results of the split test are monitored by McAfee. Over 100,000 visitors have participated in the survey and 50% of the visitors see the image, 50% do not. After 3.5 weeks, the sales analysis summary shows an increase attributed to the certification of 4 – 6 % (it fluctuates daily).

After reading “Always be testing”, I set up bi-weekly meetings with our web team to select and implement split tests to optimize our sites for conversion. Next on the list is removing our order summary information from the checkout process until the order review page.

Joann.com reported a similar lift in sales (5.5%) from using the Hacker Safe seal (now acquired by McAfee) last fall as reported by Internet Retailer.

We’d love to hear your testing stories – with McAfee Secure or other tests. Did it lift conversion rate? Sales? Repeat orders? You can remain anonymous if you like, but please drop a comment on this post!


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42 Responses to “Do Hacker Safe / McAfee Secure Badges Increase Sales?”

  1. mathias says:

    Good case study. I’m really wondering if these “security badges” really increase sales.

  2. It is also important to note, that while testing the appearance of the badge is important, it is also just as important to test where it is positioned on the page. The test above demonstrates placing it at the top near the cart, which is typically where people see the best results, however, for those of you that test it somewhere else, keep in mind that just because the results might not be an improvement, that you need to also test where it is on the page.

  3. Steve says:

    McAfee monitors the results? Are those numbers aligned with your own, independent, results?

  4. I have Hackersafe on my sites also. One thing I wonder is, since they changed the logo after McAfee bought Hackersafe out, now I wonder how many people really know who the are. It will take sometime for people to know and get comfortable with the new McAfee image, instead of the old Hackersafe.

  5. We like to place it right beside the “Checkout” button, as in the example above. We found that works better than placing it at the bottom of the page.

    (Similar thing with “no spam” messages. They’re best placed right beside or under the “subscribe” button.)

  6. We didn’t see any significant increase in sales during the year we were using it. Any increases could not be solely attributed to the logo itself. You’re right, only A/B testing could help in proving that, though there are always other contributing factors.

    As a matter of fact when we canceled our HackerSafe subscription sales increased! Coincidence of course. :)

  7. Hi Linda,

    Hacker Safe actually did a case study on our eCommerce website PlumberSurplus.com
    because of the success we saw with adding the Hacker Safe badge to CSE’s. The case study can be found here.
    We saw immediate success, especially via our listings on PriceGrabber. Some of the numbers I can share are:
    In the first week daily orders from the CSE rose 36% and revenue increased by 112%.

  8. Dave says:

    Same here, no increase in sales..but I think the European market is not that kind of sensitive for ‘seals’ in general.

    There’s a very interesting article about McAfee writen by the previous person who was responsible for the Business Development at Hackersafe..

    http://crestapillsbury.wordpress.com/2008/08/01/what-is-mcafee-thinking/

    Definitely worth to read !

    Dave

  9. Adding to what @eCommerce_Consulting has said, do try various locations: header, footer, right side area with other assurance messages, and maybe even next to “Add to Cart” button.

    Anyone who has actually split-tested this, please let us know of the results!

  10. I can share with you that based on a year’s worth of testing the HackerSafe and other similar services they are not effective (at least in our case).

    We have spent a lot of time doing A/B testing and saw no change. We noticed that if we removed the “HackerSafe” logo and simply added our telephone number sales increased quite a bit.

    Even worse now is the fact that the HackerSafe branding is dead. Therefore, if you want to have a pretty icon on your page then go with the really cheap guys out there!

    Your mileage may very.

  11. Priest says:

    I’m confused about these logos. I’m sure that I heard recently that “HackerSafe” and similar logos are not recommended. Many customers are unfamiliar with them and the last thing you want when a customer is shopping on your site is to remind them of “hackers” and the possibility of fraudulent/insecure activities.

    I believe I saw this mentioned in a webinar or ecommerce blog. I’m going to see if I can locate this again just to clarify and backup my statements.

    Any insights into this is appreciated.

  12. Greg says:

    I thought about AB testing before but the vendors wanted $10K per month for the software. Is everyone really paying $100k a year to do testing?

  13. I’d be interesting to see the results indeed. Like @Priest said, I don’t want to be alerted to the fact a site could be hacked when deciding to enter my credit card number… Looks suspicious.

    All in all, I wouldn’t be surprised if some people are turned off by these badges, and others reassured. Depending on the site’s demographics, you might see a lift or a drop in conversions.

    Looking forward to seeing more data.

  14. You know, I would never have guessed that… and I guess (irrespective of the current status of HackerSafe) I doubt anybody else would have either. The power of A/B testing hey?

    But if HackerSafe’s reputation goes down the toilet (does the general public really know/understand about this?) maybe its influence on results will change over time. Maybe a picture of a cute kitten there would have better results?

    Incidentally, I was in the computing section of Chapters on Monday… yes, a bricks & mortar store! And there on two display stands at the end of one of the bookcases were several copies of Always Be Testing.

  15. [...] the top portion of the includes quite a lot of text: a quote from the Wall Street Journal and various icons such as the McAfee Secure, My Saved Gifts, Shopping Cart, etc. That being said, you want to avoid giving the [...]

  16. Wow, thanks for all the comments. I’ve had limited internet access here in Las Vegas and am just catching up.

    I also want to mention Vanessa from Plumber Surplus has a great comment with a link to a case study. Unfortunately it got caught in the comment sp*m moderation queue, but is live now. Please check it out.

    Plumber Surplus also has an ecommerce blog. They are a truly open company and they love sharing what they’ve learned about ecommerce
    http://www.plumbersurplus.com/blog/

    Re: HackerSafe logos vs. new McAfee Secure – there are pros and cons to both brands. Hackersafe may remind folks about Hackers, but immediately reassures that the site is safe. It also became almost ubiquitous on estores and customers recognize it right away.

    However, the McAfee brand is very strong, and has high recognition. Plus, millions of people using McAfee antivirus software will see a little badge next to search engine results when a site is McAfee secure. That’s huge. If someone can send through a screenshot, please do, we’ll throw you some link love.

    Re: Always Be Testing at Chapters, that’s great because I hear it’s sold out most everywhere else :)

  17. I’m sure the McAfee rep I have been talking to won’t mind me pointing people to http://www.mcafeesecure.com/ms/?p=4, which shows a search result with McAfee icons.

  18. Sorry for the double comment…

    Something else I turned up in assessing security/privacy certificates for a client recently people might find useful: http://www.ssl-certificates-guide.com/compare_chart.php

    Note McAfee is strangely absent but the chart is a reminder for smaller e-tailers that their are a number of certificate options.

    Obviously, the more recognisable names’ seals may have a bigger impact on conversion. But I couldn’t find a comparison that offered insight into the conversion impact of, say, Verisign Secured & McAfee, and, for instance, Thawte.

  19. greg,

    There’s no need for expensive software. You can use Google Website Optimizer for free. So there’s really no excuse for not testing!

  20. I would like to see a fake ‘hacker secured’ logo added into the testing to see if the brand has any effect on this uplift in sales. And then benchmark this research further with a well written generic ’100% secure’ type logo. I would guess, based on what we observe with our eye tracking studies, the latter would perform well.

  21. daniel says:

    hey, linda,

    the standard mcafee hacker safe sales strategy (that was a mouthful!) is to run a ‘no cost’ A/B test on your site for a couple of weeks.

    I think Guy had the stand-out comment here: Throw in a generic ‘secure’ badge & you have a test that tells you far more.

    I hope life’s good,

    daniel

  22. [...] the roundup of this week’s best online marketing posts elsewhere on the web. Linda Bustos takes a look at McAfee Hacker Safe logos over at [...]

  23. @Hamish,

    Thanks for that screenshot, that is awesome! I’m sure McAfee won’t mind at all ;-)

    This has turned into a lively thread, love all your comments. Does this mean you all want to see more posts like this in the future??

  24. Linda,

    Yes, I’d love to see more posts like this: discussions of small but concrete steps you can take to improve a page. It’s also great for coming up with ideas for things to test.

  25. McAfee also offers their own A/B test…of course, they charge for it.

  26. [...] to share my recent experience with evaluating security logos^ and there impact on conversion on a recent Get Elastic blog and my regular typo demon [...]

  27. We tried the A/B test on our site with the old Hackersafe logo and it did show a marginal improvement. But, now that they changed their logo I don’t know if the results would be the same. I suppose I should ask them to re-run the test so I’m getting what they promised. By the way they ran the test for us for free and it was part of a 30 day money back guarantee. If we didn’t see an improvement in our conversion rate during the A/B test we could cancel our agreement with them. The test worked so I kept it going.

  28. Jason

    Don’t ‘spose you could quantify the “marginal improvement”?

  29. Ray says:

    It’s odd this study produced only 4-6% increase in sales. We had a rep claim sales would increase by at least 30% if placed at the top of our site as described in this study. It seems the jury is still out on McAfee Secure.

    We decided not to purchase it at this time. Your post saved us a few thousand dollars! Thanks, we’ll recommend this blog to everyone.

  30. Look at the variation in results in this test. It worked for one, didn’t work for the other. Are your shoppers worried about hackers? Do they know what hackers are? I am sure that a site selling hip hop clothes to young teens would see no increase in sales from placing this logo on the top of their page, but maybe, a site selling high tech gadgets to nerds WOULD benefit.

  31. With the recent mess up by McAffee I don’t know whether confidence in websites protected by them would increase..

  32. [...] Product Reviews for Different Buyer Personalities Do Hacker Safe / McAfee Secure Badges Increase Sales? Uncovering the Hidden Profit Treasures of Your [...]

  33. Faucets says:

    You know I think the value is not there. You could make up a badge with a lock and some reassuring words, and you would get the same effect.

  34. I was wondering if anyone had done testing/read any articles/had any insights as to whether or not multiple “trust symbols” work better at converting people than just one?

    Haven’t done any testing on this personally, but wanted to know if anyone else had (can’t seem to find any articles on this either)

    • Hi John, I see a lot of badges smeared on the smaller sites. I guess it depends on your reputation – if you’re Sears or Walmart you can get away with just a secure icon, perhaps. Smaller sites like Yahoo Stores need to overcome their lack of brand recognition with trust seals. I’m wondering if it has any effect which kind of trust seal – some look really random or even fake. There are many variables in play. I like you would love to see it tested. I doubt any of the bigger brands are willing to appear cluttered/cheap with too many trust icons, though. Even for a test.

  35. Hey Linda,

    First off, this blog is a wonderful resource for anyone looking to improve their ecommerce knowledge!

    The sense I get (again, not scientific, just a gut feeling) is that for the small sites that might benefit from testing multiple trust badges vs just one, that they hear general advice of “badges help your customers!” and then place badges on their site, end of story.

    The other side is these small sites might be as simple as “i sell a widget, normally through old school business meetings, but if someone wants to order online i have a very basic store they can use” and the owners will never look into testing (or even know that they could run testing)

    We’re looking to do some testing on our site, but I dont think we have enough traffic to run the multivariate test needed to figure out correct combinations for optimal sales (the multiple possibilities of running any mix of 6 badges would run into the thousands), and by the point we would have enough traffic to test, our on page real estate might be too valuable to test with a “ebay certified” badge

    For now we’re going to focus on page load time, so knocking off a few badges that only show up in the footer isnt a bad approach

    Again, this blog is awesome, thanks so much for putting this resource out there!

  36. [...] of websites/badges combinations may have different results. Elsewhere on Internet, some report an increase in sales, some report a decrease in sales. So, the best strategy is to test it first and then only implement [...]

  37. [...] say a site can benefit by a 5% increase in raw conversion by installing a trust seal, far below the 75% that some claim, but still high as [...]

  38. [...] say a site can benefit by a 5% increase in raw conversion by installing a trust seal, far below the 75% that some claim, but still high as [...]

  39. [...] say a site can benefit by a 5% increase in raw conversion by installing a trust seal, far below the 75% that some claim, but still high as [...]

  40. The higher conversion rate even at 5% is probably worth the install to begin with.

  41. [...] tweeted about this recently and joined others who have seen similar results. There are, of course, positive test results from adding security badges and, in some cases, no difference at all. So, have you tested your [...]

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