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Generally, studies find that having trust seals like Norton or Verisign increase conversions on credit card entry forms. Is there any evidence that homebrew "text seals" do the same when compared to having no seal at all?

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There is a study from UCL (Why Trust Seals Don’t Work: A study of user perceptions and behavior, I. Kirlappos, A. Sasse and N. Harvey) on how users react to the presence of trust seals on websites. They had participants browse 6 websites, 3 of which had seals. The key findings are that:

  • 20% of users only noticed seals systematically. 42% noticed only some seals. 38% never noticed any.
  • Noticing a seal does increase the trust perception of the website statistically significantly.
  • 25% have no idea what a trust seal is for. Quite a few other participants had misconceptions about its meaning.
  • None of the 60 participants bothered to check trust seals -- seeing them sufficed!
  • Other forms of trust signalling increase trust like in-site testimonies (for 27% of participants), links to social network pages (47%), claims to act on behalf of reputable third parties (50%), assurances to act nicely ('we'll store your data securely' statements, 32%).

This last findings answer your question. One does not actually need to subscribe to a trust seal scheme, they can just spoof the logo and get the trust signalling benefits associated with it, for the 20-60% of users who will notice the seal. Other free-form indicators of trust are also efficient, albeit less than having an actual reputation of legitimacy (75% of users indicate reputation as a reason to trust a website).

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As a very quick answer, probably. If nothing else, they increase the perception of security on a site... though honestly it would be quite easy to fake that by a vendor with low morals.

Let's face it: most trust-building design elements - social proof, testimonials, about pages, client logos, etc - can be faked. But it has also been proven that each of these things, along with strong, well updated design, a secure site for transactions, recognized payment logos and options, live help, guarantee badges, and yes, security seals, all increase a sense of trust for consumers, at last marginally. And at the end of the day, many online consumers are still not terribly savvy about fraud, phishing, trojan horses, malware and such, so these things all carry weight.

So bottom line: Trust seals sure can't hurt, and in combination with all of those other factors, they can probably do you some good for your conversion rates.

A few references:

https://www.usertesting.com/blog/2014/07/14/5-ways-to-build-customer-trust-on-your-site/ https://www.shopify.com/blog/32997060-6-ways-you-can-make-your-website-more-trustworthy http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2014/11/8-proven-techniques-that-build-trust-in-your-website/

  • Update: Since I didn't fully answer your question, I don't know if there is research in it, but there is SOME evidence that custom "text seals" - such as guarantees and stamps and such - has at least an effect on the perceived integrity of the site, but likely less so than recognized trust seals. – Mattynabib Aug 31 '16 at 14:02

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