Growing your business essentially requires two things - finding your target audience and convincing them that what you offer or sell is just the thing they need. So, what’s one of the most effective ways to do this? The psychological phenomena known as social proof.
Using social proof to boost your marketing and increase conversions should definitely be included in your marketing strategy. After all, social proof is every smart marketer’s trick up their sleeve when trying to increase customers’ trust in a brand. When used correctly and effectively, social proof can radically boost your marketing and that’s exactly what we’ll go over in this article.
Let’s start by explaining what social proof is exactly, why you need it, and what types of social proof are there. We’ll then continue with various social proof strategies and tell you the best places to use them.
Finally, we’ll give you advice on how to ask your customers for social proof and three additional tips so you can use social proof effectively to boost your marketing in no time.
What is Social Proof
The psychological phenomena where people follow the actions and behaviors of others presuming those to be the correct actions or behaviors is known as social proof. Let’s give you a very simple example.
You and your friends are on a holiday in another country and decide to go out for a drink at some bar. Since you don’t know which one to visit, you walk down the street and check out the bars. Some are packed with people while others are empty. Where will you decide to have that drink?
Most people will choose those places with more people inside assuming that there’s something wrong with the empty ones, like bad customer service or low-quality drinks. On the other hand, you might first google the bars in your area, read the reviews, and then visit the one with the best reviews and highest rating. This behavior is social proof in action.
What this story tells us is that people trust their peers’ experience and value their opinions. The idea of the so-called “herd behavior” has been discussed by Freud, Nietzsche, and other great minds from human history and was confirmed in Solomon Asch’s Conformity Experiment. He concluded that most people want to fit in with the group based on the presumption that the individuals in that group are better informed than they are, and this tactic has been largely used in marketing ever since.
Why You Need Social Proof
The power of social proof is so great that it has become an essential part of almost every marketing strategy, especially when it comes to digital marketing.
Businesses use social proof to boost their marketing in a number of different ways. Essentially, there are three main things businesses try to achieve:
- build brand trust,
- make their customers justify their buying decisions,
- help customers decide to buy their product or use their service.
So, if you want to build credibility and increase your conversions, social proof is something that’ll help you to achieve that.
This especially goes if you have an online business or an online presence, whether that’s an e-commerce store, a website, and/or social media profiles.
We’re all aware of how online shopping works. People visit a website, look at the products, see something they like, and check to see if there are reviews from other people who have made the same purchase.
Well, they can’t see the product in person, they can’t try it out, they don’t know how long it took for it to arrive, and so on. These worries are eased by reading other customers’ testimonials and reviews, and that’s the power of social proof.
Types of Social Proof
Before we get to some social proof strategies, let’s first go over the 6 most common types of social proof. Some types of social proof will appear in the strategies below, so we’ll go over each type very shortly and expand on these later.
User Social Proof
Users or customers who have made the purchase have a lot of influence on potential customers’ buying decisions. This is one of the best types of social proof due to the customers’ objectivity and it consists of testimonials, stories, product reviews, ratings, and so on.
Celebrity Social Proof
This type of social proof is when celebrities endorse a certain product usually via social media and TV or print ads. That being said, since there’s a compensation involved, not all endorsements are objective and many consumers are aware of that.
Expert Social Proof
When an industry expert endorses a product or a service, it builds trust and credibility in that product or service so people are more inclined to buy it.
The Wisdom of the Crowd
Another effective type of social proof is when you create the illusion that consumers will miss out on something if they don’t buy your product or use your service. This is simply done by accentuating the number of customers who made a purchase from your business, the idea behind it being – if so many people did this, maybe I should do it as well.
The Wisdom of Your Friends
This involves social media activity like having a great number of likes on your brand’s social media platforms and likes and shares on your posts. The idea behind this is that consumers value their friends’ opinions more than some random customers, so stepping up your social media game is always a good idea.
This type of social proof involves any stamps of approval or certifications by some 3rd party experts about your brand being 100% USDA organic, cruelty-free, and so on.
Social Proof Strategies
So, what are the best types of social proof to include in your marketing strategy?
Well, it all depends on the type of business you have, the extent of your online presence, and what you’re trying to achieve. Let’s give you 10 social proof strategies for you to go over and decide which ones will benefit your business the most.
Social Media Proof
Let’s take Twitter as an example. You can increase the number of your mentions by creating your own original hashtag. You can then promote it and encourage your followers to use it in their tweets by creating contests or giveaways.
Another example would be to find your social media posts that have the highest number of comments and shares. Comments and shares from customers will raise your credibility and reliability which you can also use as testimonials or as reviews for your products.
Certificates, awards, badges, and qualifications can increase your conversions almost by one third. They will not only make your company look professional, but can also bring you higher integrity. You can display them on your website to furthermore boost your social proof.
If you don’t have any certifications at the moment, you can find some online. With a simple Google search, you can find reputable sources that can do this. Simply type the “name of your field or industry” and the keywords “certifications/qualifications/badges”.
One example is Google’s Analytics Academy, where you can complete an online marketing course and get a certification for free. Here are some other badges related to digital marketing.
Ratings and Reviews
Before watching a movie, many of us will first do a quick search and check out its rating on IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes. After seeing the average rating, some also read the user reviews to see what review and experience has the most upvotes and then decide whether the movie is worth watching.
In a similar way, the ratings and reviews of your products can increase or decrease your conversion rate. People who are interested in your company’s products will more likely buy them after seeing that other people who purchased the same products had a great experience with them. This is what Green Roads World’s customers have to say about their CBD products.
You can see this on every successful e-commerce site – an average user rating and reviews section for each product. That is a commonly used social proof technique by big companies as well, and that’s all the proof you need that it actually works.
The best thing about customer testimonials is that you can choose which ones you’re going to show on your website. After all, if your business offers services instead of products, ratings and reviews may not be the best fit for you. Instead, you can ask your long-time clients to write you testimonials and in turn offer them an incentive, like a discount on their next purchase for instance. Here are a couple of testimonials you can find on copycatsmedia.com.
Afterward, you can pick the most effective and descriptive testimonials from your satisfied customers and place them on the front page of your website, or on a particular product’s landing page. After reading what your satisfied clients have to say about the service(s) or products you offer, your potential customers will find what you offer much more compelling.
Celebrity and Influencer Endorsements
Celebrity endorsements are a powerful way to promote your business and increase your brands’ recognition. If you already have a successful business and enough money to spend on celebrity endorsements, you can get a lot of traffic and trust from your existing and potential clients.
However, if your marketing budget is limited and you can’t spend large sums of money, you can still do this, but instead of collaborating with celebrities, you can find influencers from your industry.
Learn more about how to successfully manage influencers and micro-influencers.
Macro and micro-influencers can do wonders for your business, so if you want to know more check out our influencer marketing guide.
Take a look at how this micro-influencer known as marta_devilish promoted an antique shop called Brewellas on Instagram as well as everything she’s wearing in the photo.
Just beware that in many cases collaborating with a couple of micro-influencers can be much more effective than working with one macro-influencer. Again, it all depends on your business and your marketing strategy.
Getting an endorsement by an expert from your industry can be a worthwhile investment that will last a long time. It will surely bring more credibility and authority to your company and what you sell, and with that, your conversion rate will only grow.
The expert endorsement can come from a famous person in your industry, but also from a local professional, which will cost a lot less. Here’s how FitBit used endorsements from various health and tech brands.
Sign up to Amplifr to manage multiple social media profiles from one dashboard effectively and hassle-free.
Endorsement and testimonials are excellent for making your business look more trustworthy in your client’s eyes. Still, referrals from close friends and family are most trusted for potential new clients and can help you generate conversions and get new paying customers.
To make referrals work for you, they must be simple and easy to share. If you want people to recommend your products or services to a friend, create a referral program that can be shared with one or two clicks. Incentives play a large part here as well, so giving them a fixed amount or a percentage for every new paying customer can be very helpful.
The Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
Some of the best marketing campaigns use the ‘The Fear of Missing Out’ strategy in order to create a feeling of exclusivity and turn leads into customers. Nobody wants to miss a great opportunity, right? If people are already interested to buy something from your company, they’ll feel pressured to make the decision faster if they think they’ll be missing out on a great deal.
There are many different ways to implement ‘The Fear of Missing Out’ tactic. You can put a timer on the products/services page where you offer a discount that’s good only in the next few minutes or hours.
This will put a bit of pressure on those who are considering to make a purchase and will encourage them to do it faster.
Showing your most popular products is another way to show your clients what they are missing. As many successful online businesses do, you can even add a section where you’ll show what other customers who viewed the same product bought.
If your business has been mentioned on some popular media channels, don’t forget to make use of that and mention it on your site or social media profile. Maybe some of your products have been featured on television, popular online media sites, radios, or podcasts? No matter the type of media, proudly display the mentions everywhere you can. Just look at how Geopalz.com did it!
One of the best ways to show your media mentions is by putting the logos of the media outlets on your website. You can also quote the media by copying an excerpt from the article where you’ve been mentioned. If your products are displayed on the shelves in some stores, you can write the good old “As seen on TV” on the package. Showing people where your business has been featured will bring you additional authority in your industry, so don’t miss out on this opportunity.
Showing Your Numbers
If you have a relatively large following on some of your social media profiles, strategically placing those numbers on your website is another great social proof strategy. By displaying the number of your followers or shares that some article got, you are engaging with the wisdom of the crowd type of social proof. Have thousands of customers or even more products sold? Mention those numbers as well. This way, your visitors or clients will think more highly of your business, since so many other people do as well.
Bodybuilding.com is the world’s largest online fitness store with over 9 million members and they made sure everyone who visits their site knows that.
Large groups of people who have completed some action, like an email subscription for example, can make new visitors more willing to complete the same action. However, it’s important to know that if the number you have shared is regarded as low, it will have the opposite impact.
More Social Proof Tips
Social Proof Works Better With Photos
Imagine that you’re reading reviews for some product on an e-commerce website. You see two reviews, one by a user who has a profile photo, and another by a user who doesn’t. If you had to pick one, would you rather read the evaluation of the product by the user with a profile picture or the evaluation by the user without one?
Most visitors, if not all, would read and regard more highly the review written by the person with a profile picture. If the reviewer has additionally attached photos from the product, the evaluation would look even more authentic and objective.
This also applies to testimonials. When you include the person’s photo, people will find it more believable. There is even a study about this phenomenon, which in some way also shows that people like to look at human faces on the web rather than just the products.
In conclusion – include a photo to every single testimonial, quote, or endorsement.
Furthermore, encourage reviewers to complete their user profile (to add a profile picture and a real name) and attach photos of the product in their reviews.
Stories Connect With Customers
Stories make people more compassionate, trusting, generous, and empathetic. All of this happens in the brain with the release of a hormone called oxytocin. There are even studies and a book by the neuroeconomist Paul Zak that examine this occurrence in our brains.
Therefore, using stories in your ‘about page’ can be incredibly beneficial. They can be quite appealing to your visitors and are definitely more memorable in comparison to facts or plain numbers. But stories are not only for your ‘about us’ or ‘history of the company’ pages. If you work on getting an endorsement by a celebrity or an expert, you can motivate them to share their personal story about how and why they decided to use your product or service.
You can also ask your existing or even new customers to share a story about how your service or product helped them. Afterward, share the best ones on your social media profiles.
Never Use Negative Social Proof
Using negative social proof can be horrible for your business and can significantly lower your conversion rate. When people are not certain what action to take, whether to subscribe to the mailing list or not, using social proof can push them to follow the crowd. But negative social proof can have the opposite effect.
Telling people that 95% of your visitors missed out on the opportunity to subscribe and get useful weekly emails will probably have worse results than not using social proof at all. Instead, tell them that 5% (or the exact number if you think it’s large enough) of your visitors got a free practical e-book and are receiving valuable weekly emails, and include a call-to-action so that new visitors are even more encouraged to click.
Sign up to Amplifr to manage multiple social media profiles from one dashboard effectively and hassle-free.
And as always, if you have any questions, give us a shout out!