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Do Trust Badges Work For Online Businesses?

Key Takeaways:

  1. Years of research including A/B tests confirm that the presence of trust badges can boost ecommerce conversion rates and decrease the percentage of abandoned carts, in large part by increasing trust without slowing down the checkout process (1)
  2. According to Adobe, the average ecommerce conversion rate is just 3.65%, meaning that even small increases in conversion rate can mean significant growth in sales (2)
  3. A Baymard metaanalysis of cart abandonment statistics from 2012-2023 found an average abandonment rate of 70.19% (3)
  4. Among the top reasons cited for cart abandonment in a 2024 Baymard survey were “not trusting the site with credit card information” (25%) and “having too long and complicated a checkout process” (22%) (3)

When deciding whether or not a trust badge is right for your online business, all other considerations boil down to a single question: do they work? If we define “work” to mean increasing conversion rates and sales, then the answer, after years of real-world testing, is an emphatic yes. (1)

However, in order to determine which trust badge is right for your business and how best to deploy it, one must first understand how and why trust badges are so effective at boosting customer confidence and streamlining the checkout process, both of which are essential components to increasing your conversion rate.

What is a conversion rate and why does conversion rate matter?

Conversion rate is one of the key metrics in determining the success of any online business because it represents the percentage of site visitors who end up making a transaction, such as purchasing a product or service. Thus, if a site has 1,000 visitors in a month and 35 of those visitors purchase widgets from the site, then the site’s conversion rate for that month is 3.5% (35/1000).

According to Adobe, conversion rates for online businesses vary widely across industry, but generally they range between 1% and 4%. (2) For example, in Q2 2022, fashion websites had an average conversion rate of 1.72% while arts and crafts websites had a notably higher 3.95% rate. (2)

Conversion rate matters because it is a key indicator of how effectively your website is translating visitors into transactions. Many companies mistakenly attempt to boost sales by considering only the number of site visitors they are getting, when the problem may not be the number of visitors but the fact that those visitors are not making purchases. The two questions of how to increase the number of visitors to your website and how to increase the percentage of those visitors who are making purchases involve separate issues with different solutions and should be addressed as such. Tracking your website’s conversion rate and comparing it against your broader industry is an essential tool in helping you determine whether to allocate resources toward increasing visitors or improving your conversion rate.

What factors influence conversion rate?

With trillions of dollars in retail ecommerce sales taking place annually, (6) researchers have ample data with which to study consumer shopping habits and what factors influence whether or not consumers follow through with their transactions. Some of these factors are beyond a company’s control. For example, conversion rates are roughly a full percentage point higher when a consumer is browsing on a desktop or laptop computer versus smartphone. (2) Similarly, conversion rates vary a great deal by country, with the UK having a conversion rate of 4.1% in 2022 while Italy came in at only 0.99% over the same year. (2) How an individual finds your site also impacts the conversion rate. Paid advertisements yield the lowest rate at 1.44% while personal referrals come in highest at a robust 5.44%. (2)

However, many factors impacting conversion rate are well within a company’s control. Chief among these factors are security and speed, both of which are dependent on how your website is designed and how it functions. The challenge is that security often comes at the expense of speed, with fraud protection measures adding steps to the checkout process and costing precious time.

This tension between speed and security is born out by the research. In a 2024 survey by Baymard, 25% of respondents reported abandoning a cart during checkout within the past three months because “I didn’t trust the site with my credit card information,” an obvious security concern. (3) Meanwhile, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) advises that, “Fraud detection, although essential to the customer’s piece of mind and security, should not impede the checkout flow.” (4) This is because, according to BCG, time is of the essence during online transactions, with conversion rates dropping a dramatic 47% if they take longer than just 90 seconds to complete. (4)

So the question clearly becomes, how does an online business give customers confidence that their transaction is secure while not adding to the amount of time it takes to complete that transaction?

Consumers rely heavily on visual signals of trust

Internet users respond strongly to visual signals of trust in helping them to determine the trustability of a new site. Research shows that, in deciding whether or not to trust a site with their credit card information, consumers will rely on a number of different visual cues, including something as subtle as whether or not the credit card fields are visually reinforced (such as being placed in a colored box distinct from the other text and data-collection fields on the page). (5) These visual cues can even lead consumers to think that particular parts of a web page are safer than others. (5) Because everyday consumers often lack technical knowledge, they sometimes will mistake minor bugs impacting a site’s graphical layout for security compromises, even believing a site has been hacked when it is only experiencing visual glitches. (5)

For large established brands such as Walmart, Apple, and Microsoft, visual cues impact conversion rates less, as the brand recognition itself provides consumers with a sense of confidence and security. (5) However, this confidence can be easily misplaced, which is why spoofing the websites of large, recognizable brands can be such an effective scam for fraudsters.

The more secure the trust badge, the greater the trust (7)

Trust badges rank highly among the most effective signals of trust. In a survey conducted by Econsultancy/Toluna, 48% of respondents cited trustmarks or trust badges as a factor they consider when deciding whether or not to trust a website, more than any other factor. (1) In fact, trust badges ranked higher even than if a friend, colleague, or family member had used the same site previously (40.7%). (1)

However, not all trust badges are equally effective in giving consumers confidence. Research by the Baymard Institute in 2021 found that trust badges that were perceived as providing higher levels of protection resulted in higher conversion rates than badges perceived to be less secure. (7) This should not be surprising, as trust badges span the spectrum from, for instance, a simple image of a padlock with the word “secure” written under it all the way to intelligent trust badges like those designed by Truly Legit. Unlike mere image files, which provide customers with nothing more than a false sense of security, intelligent trust badges cannot be replicated or spoofed, providing authentic protection.

Years of A/B testing by real companies has demonstrated the value of trust badges when it comes to increasing sales. For example, when LaChic Ladies Wear ran a split A/B test to determine how the presence of a trust badge impacted sales, it found that the site featuring the trust badge–despite being otherwise identical to the other site–experienced 19% higher sales. Similarly, Coax Creative Ltd saw an increase of 14% in lead form submissions when it reinstated a trust badge after a period without having one.

Conclusion: Trust badges are an important tool for increasing your conversion rates

Time and again, trust badges have been demonstrated to increase conversion rates by giving consumers greater confidence without slowing down the checkout process. The intelligent trust badges offered by Truly Legit stand apart, as they assure consumers not only that a site is authentic but also that the company behind it is legitimate. And, because Truly Legit intelligent trust badges are built on dynamic code, they cannot be spoofed, unlike mere images.

The bottom line: Increasing conversion rates is one of the most important things that you can do to increase sales for your online business, and trust badges are a proven way to do just that. Plus, when using Truly Legit intelligent trust badges, you provide your customers with an extra layer of protection against spoofed websites, making sure that those sales go to your company instead of to scammers impersonating your brand.


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