Fallacies of evaluating EV

Tim Callan from VeriSign has posted about several fallacies that he encounters when discussing EV SSL Certificates. As he works for one of the biggest promoters of EV Certificates and as he is responsible for advocating it, Callan has probably spent more time than almost anyone else thinking about it. In his discussions with people about EV SSL Certificates, he has come across many beliefs that he says are misperceptions and fallacies.

Two of his "fallacies" ("I'm in a debate." and "I think...") seem less about the facts of EV and more about complainers, which he sees a lot of. The other two have some real merit:

Evaluation fallacy #2: "I won't benefit until my competitors have it."
I hear this one a lot, too. "Sure Tim, I see that many online businesses have tested EV SSL and seen without exception that it increases transactions. But my main competitor is PopularCartoonCharacterWatches.com, and it doesn't have EV, so there's no point in putting EV on my own site, WellKnownCartoonCharacterWatches.com. I'll just wait until my competitor has it."

I am always amazed by this line of reasoning. In the above example we're discussing an online retailer, but the fact is that most online businesses that bother with SSL at all are better off if they drive more transactions and reduce abandonment. If you're better off, you're better off. Why would anyone in her right mind let a competitor's action prevent her from taking advantage of an obvious business opportunity? If your competitor started sending big boxes of poo to its frequent customers, would you run out and start sending poo to your own customers as well? Then why would you allow your competition's shortsightedness to force you into shortsightedness too? Seems like a pretty self-destructive business practice to me.

Furthermore, this approach misses the opportunity to get a leg up on the competition. If I wait for my chief rival to institute every improvement before I do, then my chief rival is always the leader, is always enjoying a competitive advantage over me, and is teaching customers which vendor consistently has the best service - and that someone ain't me. Again, why on Earth would any right thinking individual choose such a detrimental course of action?

Evaluation fallacy #3: "I can't afford to be an early adopter."
I've listed this one as a fallacy for the simple reason that it's too late to be an early adopter. Major sites like eBay, Charles Schwab, Travelocity, and Overstock.com had EV on their sites more than a year and a half ago. Today over 7000 online businesses use EV including leaders in every major vertical such as online retail, banking, financial, health care, insurance, education, and government.

I hate to be the one to break it to you, kids, but the early adopters have already adopted. This technology is in the mainstream now, and the businesses who are working on their EV plans at this point should expect to be in the high part of the bell curve. Businesses who don't have concrete EV plans are at grave risk of becoming the laggards. So the real question to ask now is not "Can I afford to be an early adopter?" but rather "Can I really afford to be a technology laggard?"

He seems to use fear tactics throughout his article and especially in his conclusion:

Remember, you're making a decision that has a real impact on the performance of your online business. By increasing sales or signups or customer satisfaction or brand perception or customer service efficiencies, you're materially affecting your business for the better. You're making more money or saving more money or retaining more customers. These are the things that cause shareholder value to go up and small business owners to take home more cash in their pocket. These are the things that cause people in larger organizations to get bonuses and promotions.
The stakes are real. The stakes are high. You have the opportunity to skew the odds in your favor by avoiding the common errors detailed above. Rational intelligent people will take advantage of that opportunity. Will you?

But he does have a point. Is it time for your company to start looking into EV Certificates?

Four common fallacies of evaluating EV - [Tim Callan's SSL Blog]

Originally posted on Sun Aug 24, 2008