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The Green Bar is a Gold Bar

Note: Seal in Search feature is no longer available now.

Q: When is a security certificate not just about encryption?
A: When it’s used as a marketing tool to increase sales on your site.

Really, SSL is as much a credibility tool to enhance online trust as it is software to scramble transactions and keep sensitive online transactions, such as payments, free from peering eyes. That payment transaction or collection of whatever secret data is a confidential message between you and the parties wanting to do business with your website.

A major part of online business is ensuring the customer that doing business with you is safe. You may know who you are and that you are legitimate, but a customer can’t be expected to hold you in such high regard from the outset. Given the high rate of Internet-based crime, it’s only natural to think twice before entering one’s information. I experience that myself every time I take out my credit card, or consider taking it out, for an online purchase. Stopping that second-guessing before it begins can go a long way toward both increasing sales and building comfortable relationships with your customers.

How to market SSL? It begins with purchasing a quality certificate. With a quality certificate, you can proudly display the certificate authority’s (CA’s) seal on your site, such as VeriSign or GeoTrust or Thawte. Without a quality brand name, your proud display of the seal will only go so far. As an example, VeriSign is used by 93% of the Fortune 500. There is a reason why that name is so trusted. It’s the name chosen more often than any other by big business — expensive, but the premium certificate for a reason.

GeoTrust, similarly, according to Alexa-Netcraft, is the most popular site on the Internet’s top 1 million sites. I suspect that part of the reason for the success of those businesses and those sites, regarding both of these big-name certificates, is because they use the big-name certificates. Isn’t trust in the security of a site the most key part of convincing online shoppers to buy from you? If that is the case, suddenly a more expensive certificate, a good brand name, seems to be a wise investment.

Now let’s discuss Extended Validation (EV): Our slogan for EV at The SSL Store is “The Green Bar is a Gold Bar.” This is not just wishful thinking. According to extensive case studies conducted by VeriSign of all different sizes and types of businesses, EV has a major impact on revenue. VeriSign’s average findings suggested an average 20% upswing in revenue after installation of an EV SSL. Common sense suggests that Amazon can get away without EV, but it is much more important for smaller sites to show the green bar to customers because they don’t necessarily trust you yet as they do Amazon.

The green bar of EV itself is a huge marketing tool. It loudly and proudly announces credibility to your potential customers. It doesn’t matter if someone understands the technology or the validation procedures. What the end user experiences is their browser for some reason telling them that this site is green-lighted for your interaction. Their experience is a third-party recommendation, coming from Microsoft or Mozilla or Google, that this site is doing the right things to protect them, that it’s safe.

As you may know, Getting EV can be complicated. Even Symantec recently had difficulty getting an EV certificate because of accidental mismatches in public records. In response to this, SSL certificate companies are doing their best to make the application process clearer and simpler, so that SSL shoppers don’t get frustrated and choose a less effective option. Our online module streamlines the EV process and allows you to be proactive: https://www.thesslstore.com/ev/extended-validation-ev.aspx.

A final marketing note: You may have noticed the VeriSign logos next to sites using that brand in Google or Bing. For those two search engines, Symantec has a browser add-on estimated to exist on 70 million desktops, Seal-in-Search. It works in tandem with their daily malware scanner. Every site using VeriSign gets scanned every day (free). Provided malware does not pop up, you get the VeriSign seal next to your site. If malware is found, you don’t get punished; they simply remove the VeriSign Trust Seal next to your entry until the malware is removed (so your entry looks like all the rest for that period).

Again, VeriSign may look expensive at first glance. But consider TheFind.com’s study finding that the VeriSign seal increased the click-through from their search results an average of 18.5%. Imagine how effective it would be to promote your site’s security via search engine, before the end-user has even reached your site. This is a world in which Sony, Citibank, and the IMF are being hacked (prompting the PC World headline, “No End in Sight to Security Horror Shows”). VeriSign may be worth it.

The main thrust of this article is that you get what you pay for, because these aren’t really technology dollars; after all, you can self-sign a certificate that encrypts. Browsers just won’t trust it, and neither will customers. Both browsers and customers want a big-name third party to verify you. That’s when it becomes a marketing decision. Just like any purchase, it’s an investment; greater SSL expense generates greater results. ROI and SSL: perhaps these acronyms should be used in the same sentence more often.