“Going Green” to gain consumer trust

I’m a big treehugger, but sorry, this entry isn’t about helping the environment. It’s about e-commerce success and reducing shopping cart abandonment. What does that have to do with “going green”? Well, it’s about the use of the color green, and also the color red … to give consumers and indication of whether or not they can trust a particular e-commerce web site.

I saw a presentation from Verisign at Online Market World on a new service they’re offering called Extended Validation. The thing that inspired me about it is that their new service is highly intuitive for consumers because it’s so incredibly simple–the basic crux of it is:

  • If a site is safe to shop on, the address bar turns green.
  • If it’s not, it turns red.

Extended Validation SSL Certificate Green Address Bar

The green bar appears as soon as the consumer enters an SSL-secured page, which is typically when the consumer goes to check out–just when they need that extra layer of assurance that everything is okay.

There’s a lot going on behind the scenes, of course, but for the consumer, it’s just that simple. These colors inspire strong emotions in people that signal whether it’s okay to proceed or not.

There’s an additional layer of information, too, for those of us who want to know is this site who they appear to be and who says it’s safe and why, the right side of the bar rotates between the business name and the certificate authority who issued the SSL certificate. Consumers can click on the “Identified by Verisign” to see additional information about how secure the site is and who says so (the certificate authority).

There’s a bit of marketing in there from Verisign, of course. They’ve worked with the browser vendors to work on this solution, and if you want your web site to show as “green“, you have to sign up for Verisign’s Extended Validation service. (I don’t know of any other certificate authorities who offer this service–yet.) But it appears that it may be well worth the additional cost.

Here are some numbers to back it up:

  • 84% of online shoppers believe that online businesses do not do enough to protect them.
  • 65% of online shoppers abandoned a purchase for security concerns.
  • 24% of shoppers do not purchase online at all due to security concerns.
  • (Sources: Forrester Research, 2005, TNS Research, 2006)

Tec-Ed consumer research did a study in January 2007 to test whether the “green bar theory” really works and here’s what they found:

  • 100% of participants notice whether or not a site shows the green EV bar
  • 93% of participants prefer to shop on sites that show the green bar
  • 97% are likely to share their credit card information on sites with the green EV bar, as opposed
    to only 63% with non-EV sites
  • 77% of participants report that they would hesitate to shop at a site that previously showed the
    green EV bar and no longer does so

So it looks to me like the green bar theory does work, and several of the big players in the e-commerce industry have jumped on-board: e-Bay, PayPal, Overstock.com, to list a few.

Now, keep in mind the green bar is only going to work in some of the newer browsers, so not all consumers are even going to see the green bar. If you’re wanting to test how well it works on your site, that makes it really easy because you can segment your population by browser type and compare the conversion rates and the bounce rates on your shopping cart page(s).

All in all, I have to applaud Verisign for their usable solution to online security.

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1 Response to ““Going Green” to gain consumer trust”


  1. 1 Carmen November 3, 2008 at 3:57 am

    Check out the Web-of-Trust-Plugin for Firefox. I really like it!
    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/3456


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