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Wednesday, Jul. 30, 2008 at 9:34 am

Mcafee Pulls a “New Coke”: Will it Hurt Retailer’s Conversions

By Bryan Eisenberg
July 30th, 2008

McAfee changes HackerSafe sealI’ve always been a fan of HackerSafe. I have seen a significant percentage of sites that used the ScanAlert Hackersafe logo increase conversions because of it. About a year ago, ScanAlert was acquired by McAfee, the company famous for their anti-virus and security solutions, smart move. This weekend, all of a sudden, the old familiar HackerSafe trust seal was replaced with the McAfee Secure seal. Dumb move, what gives?

Our buddy, Wayne at PelicanParts was just one retailer who was concerned with this “switcharoo.” It doesn’t seem that there was any prior notification. No mention of the change in the HackerSafe Dashboard the retailers use. Is this a case of the “Trust Seal” company betraying the trust of their customers, online retailers? It brings up several questions that you can help answer:

  • Will this drastic change impact conversion rates negatively or positively the way the HackerSafe logo did?
  • If you use HackerSafe, have you seen any impact from the change in seal?
  • Are you you aware of McAfee tests measuring the new seal’s impact on conversion?
  • Do you also wonder if they could have tried a gradual transition from the old formula to the new one?
  • Do you think the new seal is as prominent on the page as the old one? Is this good or bad?

Finally, will McAfee succeed with this change or will we see retailers complain about the “new formula” and will McAfee have to offer the “old formula” again?

P.S. The problems keep popping up, check out former HackerSafe employee Cresta’s blog.

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Comments (30)

  1. I noticed this a couple days ago and wondered the same thing. It seems significantly less prominent, so I hope they did some very thorough testing on this first.

    I agree, inevitably they will get complaints and claims of lost revenue and end up having to offer the old option or something similar.

  2. The only real advantage Hackersafe had was their original green logo. This had become ubiquitous on the web, displayed only by larger (non-scamming companies) willing to fork out the $1500+/year to display the image. This allowed the Hackersafe logo to build a level of trust in the eye of the common consumer. Hackersafe doesn’t really offer anything more than the security it implies to the customers. (Their PCI scanning is a total joke.)

    Our company made the jump to TrustGuard which actually offers a green logo that looks fairly similar to the old Hackersafe logo. They don’t do any scanning, just a business verification check. Overall, our customers are just looking for the green logo. We have the same conversion rates as before, but now only at a couple hundred bucks a year.

  3. Glad somebody else picked up on this. I was super P-Oed about this one, there are plenty of other cheap PCI compliance testing services out there, I pay the 2k a year for the brand recognition…. guess I can switch now.

  4. While it is not a good idea to drastically change a well recognised logo, I think removing the word “Hacker” is a good move. It has bad connotations. Even though the slogan is Hacker Safe it’s best not to use the word Hacker at all. The new text “McAfee Secure” might work better because millions of people associate McAfee with safety and trust.

    I think they should switch back to the old red and green logo but keep the new text.

  5. You all make very valid points. I think the key would have been on how they rolled this out. Of course McAfee is better known to consumers than ScanAlert, but the recognizable seal was an emotional trigger that worked. We’ll see how it plays out.

    Brian did your conversion drop as a result of the change?

  6. Will it hurt, that is debatable, but I sure would have not changed it, maybe a minor upgrade, I think the marketing manager needs to revist her roots.

  7. They switched us over in mid-June. I received a call and an email from my “account manager” and he made it seem like everyone else was going to have to pay for this “upgrade”. At first I had the same concerns as everyone else and then he told me that eventually everyone was being changed so there was no use fighting it.

    The big advantage that they sold me on was the fact that anyone who has McAfee installed will see the McAfee Secure shield in Google, Yahoo, and MSN searches. See this url for an example:

    I have not noticed a change in conversion rate, but we did not do A/B testing.

  8. The new logo looks like a cheap plug for their antivirus software. I’m sure McAfee’s competitors are as pleased with the new logo as McAfee is.

  9. I did an video interview with Rich Murphy from McAfee last month:

    Word is – testing showed an improvement in conversion compared to the Hackersafe badge. It is true that the McAfee name is much more recognizable globally. It is also true that those with the McAfee security products installed locally will get icons next to listings in search engines.

    My initial skepticism has been calmed and I’d like more retailers to report on actual test results.

    BTW – they did have a transition period where retailers could use either badge.

  10. Jason,

    Thanks for the update. Like you I want to hear from more retailers. The handful who have spoken to me confirmed what Wayne told me.


  11. My initial reaction was “why throw away such powerful brand equity?” The name “HACKER SAFE” seems brilliant to me (I’m not necessarily right) because it first arouses a fear and immediately calms it. I know I’m supposed to be a computer nerd, but I’m not really that familiar with the McAfee brand and its antivirus software because I would always just use whatever my computer nerd friends would tell me to install :)

    I remember the trial period where retailers could use either of the badges, some still using the green and black one. But I think it’s a good move to make the badges consistent so that eventually customers will recognize it right away.

    Looking forward to those test results…

  12. Ugh, should have proofread the comment, correction:

    “…so that eventually customers will recognize the new logo right away”

  13. They notified us about two weeks before the change.

    We saw no gain using the Hackersafe trustmark.

    We had it on our home page (top left) for quite awhile. Since it’s paid for, we continue to use it on our ecommerce pages, but have no intention of renewing.

    I guess we’ll have to test the “new and improved” McAfee badge. I would be surprised if it results in any measurable improvement though.

  14. Brandon, my main concern with TrustGuard is their legitmacy. They offer no security and all they do is dish out seals to any company that passes their minimal requirements.

    HackerSafe seals are the #1 in the industry and are the most recognized… but with this merge, some of their customers may switch to other scanning and website companies.. I heard they are beginning to charge customers based on their traffic.. I dont like that idea.

  15. We just started working with them and they claim that the new logo gets better results in tests.

  16. Here’s an idea. Why don’t you folks consider building securely coded websites rather than depending on fraudulent, pathetic services like Hacker Safe / McAfee Secure to give your customers a false sense of security, just to drive up your conversions?
    Take the above mentioned PelicanParts as an example. Should the shopping cart be vulnerable to SQL injection while displaying the Hacker Safe logo? I think not. Need proof? Here’s a screen shot for you.

  17. Samir,

    If you are looking for PCI testing, you can do much better than the service that Hackersafe provides.

    All of these security verification companies are simply marketing ploys- there is no actual benefit of this type of verification and testing- other than the false sense of security they can provide non-computer savvy customers.

    I would venture that there is a small conversion increase that comes along with certifications, but certainly not enough to warrant paying more than a couple hundred a year.

  18. While it’s nice that you think a logo will quell your customers fears, please do your own security. Trusting someone by paying them to put a graphic on your website that’s “secure” is only inviting trouble.

  19. I have to say, though, if the hacker gets in and succesfully orders 6.666×10^40 items, the first thing on my mind is not “Mcafee”, it’s “did it clear the merchant account?”. Cuz if so, I’m off to Tahiti and the rest of you can kvetch about SQL injection attacks while I lounge on the beach :)

  20. My good friend and former HackerSafe employee, just started blogging and her first blog posts is all about this issue. Check it out at .

  21. In my previous comment I noted that out testing has not shown any measurable improvement in conversions as a result of displaying the Hackersafe logo.

    In all fairness though, I must also report that their scanning did uncover several (minor) vulnerabilities that we were able to repair.

    All in all, I’m glad we did it, but seriously doubt that we will renew.

  22. Honestly I was a little upset at the all ordeal… I recieved great service from Hacker Safe and since they have been aquired i can’t get anyone on the phone and if you do they have 9 digits extension number, what gives???
    I personally don’t like the look of the new seal but i think that mcafee is more recognized with security than Hacker Safe… If they can make their seal sexier it might work…

  23. I can’t speak for everyone, but I’ve always somewhat considered McAfee a “lesser” virus scanner than others. I think that’s because they definitely used to be about 5 yrs ago, and I’ve never lost that grudge. But even today, I’d much rather see a Scanalert (the old co) logo saying HackerSafe, rather than “McAfee Secure”. Because McAfee Secure speaks to me: “30 floppy disks to slow your computer down and not protect it anyways”.

  24. [...] HackerSafe no longer exists as it was bought out by McAfee in late 2007. McAfee AUTOMATICALLY replaced the Hackersafe logos with McAfee Secure. You can read about the switchover from the Hackersafe logo to the Mcafee Secure logo here. [...]

  25. [...] Click here to read about the change from Hackersafe to McAfee secure. [...]

  26. [...] was bought out by McAfee and ultimately changed the HackerSafe logo to McAfee Secure.  Click here to read about the HackerSafe change to McAfee Secure, which be reading the comments looks like was done [...]

  27. Our McAfee Secure is expiring soon, and Control Scan is trying to get me to switch. Control Scan offers:
    Business Verified Seal, Verified Secure Seal, EVSSL (URL turns green), Verisign Secure seal, and this thing called Ratepoint (allows reviews of your site) for a thousand dollars less than McAfee Secure – which only offers the seal. The sites that Control Scan has emailed me are all tiny, crappy websites that look unprofessional. But their product looks good.. What am I to do?? Any advice is great. Thanks.

  28. I’d still recommend going trustguard. If you’d like, you can e-mail me and I’ll show you a couple sites our company is using it on.

  29. Trust Guard looks too amateur – I don’t see any large websites using it, either.

    Control Scan looks slightly better, and seems to have better features, but they too, lack large brand-name websites using it. They told me that McAfee gives their seal away free to the large companies, that’s why all the big ones use it. I don’t know if that’s a load of bull, however.

  30. Controlscan said they specialize in small to mid sized merchants, so I can understand why they don’t have all the big websites. They have several services they provide and resell, I decided to switch to them because their client list was impressive and people actually picked up the phone and answered my questions when I called.

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Bryan Eisenberg, founder of FutureNow, is a professional marketing speaker and the co-author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books Call to Action and Waiting For Your Cat to Bark and Always Be Testing. You can friend him on Facebook or Twitter.

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