The power of social proof marketing has become increasingly obvious as businesses of all sizes strive to increase their sales. People are motivated to make decisions based on the opinions, recommendations and actions of others – social proof marketing capitalizes on this concept.
In this guide, we’ll discuss what social proof is, the different types of social proof, and how it works. We’ll also look at some of the best practices for creating effective content that includes forms of social proof so that you can successfully implement them into your own campaigns. Let’s take a look at what social proof is.
What is Social Proof?
Social proof is the use of positive evidence from existing customers to influence the purchasing decisions of new customers. At its core, social proof is a psychological phenomenon in which people use the opinion and behavior of others to make decisions. This concept was first popularized by psychologist Robert Cialdini in his 1984 book “Influence.”
One of the most common and effective ways of doing this is by highlighting the positive reviews and testimonials of happy customers on your website to create a sense of trust among new customers.
Social proof works because it helps reduce the perceived risk of a purchase decision and can thus lead to increased sales conversions. Ecommerce retailers who are looking to increase their online conversion rates for their Shopify stores stand to benefit greatly if they utilize social proof.
Types of Social Proof
There are several types of social proof that can be used to influence people’s decisions. These types can be thought of as the sources of social proof – where has it come from? We’ll discuss the forms of social proof – how they appear on your website – in the next section. So where does good social proof come from?
Your customers have already put their money down and are happy with the product. Their recommendations carry more weight than any other form of social proof because they’re unbiased endorsements. They don’t stand to gain anything further from leaving a testimonial for the product.
Experts, a.k.a. industry experts are those who know a lot about the field your product exists in. They might be professional athletes, doctors, bloggers, or even researchers writing about it in academic journals. An expert is what we call a thought leader in their space.
These experts are also seen to have an unbiased opinion of the product since they are not financially invested. This makes them a powerful form of social proof.
Celebrities and Influencers
Celebrities and influencers are people with large followings on social media platforms and who are generally well-known.
Their large followings make celebrity social proof a powerful variation of this type of marketing. They’ve built trust and rapport with their followers. That trust tends to be transferred to items they endorse or talk about. When a celebrity or influencer promotes your product, their followers are likely to listen.
‘The masses’ refers simply to the massive number of customers who have bought or used your product. Let’s say you have a customer base of 10,000 people. If you can get even a small proportion of them to leave reviews and ratings on your product page, ‘the masses’ would refer to the collective opinion of all of those customers.
Social proof from the masses shows that there is a large number of people using and enjoying your product. It helps give potential customers the feeling that your product is popular and well-liked.
Friends and Personal Connections
People tend to trust the opinions of those they know. So for making a purchasing decision, friends and personal connections are a powerful source of social proof. If a friend recommends a product to you, it’s a valuable type of social proof because it’s coming from someone you know and trust.
Certifications and Awards
If your product is certified or has received awards from organizations such as Consumer Reports, it shows that it has been tested and verified by an independent and trusted source.
Likewise, if you have any accreditations from a professional organization such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB), it shows that your business is meeting certain standards and can be trusted. This type of social proof can help to give potential customers peace of mind when making a purchase.
Forms of Social Proof
There are a variety of different forms of social proof that can be used to improve sales results. Each one has its own unique benefits and can be more or less effective depending on the situation.
A testimonial is a verified statement of what someone said about your product. Testimonials are a great way to show that your product works. They can be a powerful form of social proof because they come from people who have actually used the product.
Testimonials can also help to build trust. When potential customers see that other people have had positive experiences with your product, it can help to reduce any perceived risk and encourage them to make a purchase.
User-generated content (UGC) is content created by customers or users of your product. UGC could include product reviews, ratings, photos, and even videos. This form of social proof can give potential customers an inside look at what it’s like to use your product.
Social media posts are also a form of UGC. UGC helps to show that people are talking about your brand. When people are engaging with content about your business and products, it helps to create a sense of community, encouraging more people to join in.
Celebrity and Influencer Marketing
Celebrity and influencer social proof shows that even well-known people recognize the value of your product. It’s important you select credible celebrities and influencers who have an audience that overlaps with your target audience, as this will help to maximize the impact of their endorsement.
Perhaps it’s a video snippet from the red carpet, a retweet of a tweet mentioning your product, or even a full-on endorsement of your product in their own video or blog post.
Customer Reviews and Ratings
This is a sort of UGC, but it deserves its own section because the intention is slightly different. User reviews and ratings are an especially powerful form of social proof because they come from definitive users of your product. Amazon has implemented this brilliantly: the customer reviews on their product pages provide a star rating, a date, a confirmation of the product variant purchased, and a review description.
It’s important to ensure that reviews and ratings are genuine. That means monitoring them and responding to negative reviews timeously. This helps potential customers to read what other users think about the product before making their own decision.
Logos of companies you’ve worked with are a great form of social proof. It shows that other respected organizations believe in the quality of your product. This form of social proof is especially effective when it comes from well-known companies or brands.
Notifications are a simple way of showing that people are engaging with your product. This could include notifications about purchases, reviews, or even content downloads. Seeing these notifications can be reassuring for potential customers and encourage them to take action.
A common way notifications are implemented is to show a popup containing:
- How many people are online.
- A product that someone recently purchased (and their location).
- A review that someone left for a product.
The effect of these notifications is to create a feeling of FOMO (or fear of missing out) in the shopper. They see that someone nearby (i.e. someone like them!) has bought a similar product and want to get in on that action.
5 Techniques and Strategies for Using Social Proof Marketing
Now that you know the different types and forms of social proof, let’s look at how you can use them to increase conversions.
Feature Customer Stories
Customer stories are an effective way to show potential customers what it’s like to use your product. You can feature these stories on your website or in a blog post and they should include details such as how the customer uses your product and what results they’ve achieved. You can also use customer stories in your email marketing, either by featuring a happy customer or linking to their story on your website.
Include User Reviews and Ratings
User reviews and ratings are a powerful form of social proof – that’s what makes a company like Yelp so successful! Make sure to include these on your website or in any emails you send out. Customers also place huge value on in-depth reports and reviews.
Make sure to highlight the celebrity endorsements and customer testimonials you receive from celebrities, influencers, and other respected organizations. This could be done through a blog post or social media posts. You could also display logos of these companies on your website to show potential customers that they trust and believe in your product.
People are engaging with your product. Why not show these numbers off? You could mention how many customers have purchased a certain item or how many downloads a particular content piece has received. Use counters to present the number of visitors currently on your site, how many reviews you have, the average review rating, and the number of followers on your various social accounts.
No harm in showing these on your homepage and landing pages either – get them in front of your users earlier rather than later. Include a call to action on the notification itself to inspire a conversion from it!
Show Trust Badges, Awards, and Certifications
If your product has received awards or certifications, make sure to prominently feature them on your website. You can also include trust badges from official organizations and review sites like the Better Business Bureau and Trustpilot.
If you’re interested in learning more about how social proof can be used, check out these 5 powerful examples of social proof.
Where Social Proof Fits in with Other Marketing Channels
Social proof marketing is just one strategy you can use to improve sales results. When used in combination with other digital marketing channels it can be a powerful way to increase conversions and sales.
Digital marketing encompasses a wide range of activities such as search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, content marketing, email marketing, and more.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is the process of using social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to build relationships and interact with potential and current customers. It can be used to create brand awareness, generate leads, and close sales.
Influencer marketing is the use of influential people to promote a product or service. Influencers have a large following on social media platforms or in other online communities. They might create content about the product, endorse it, or recommend it to their followers.
Bloggers write about a particular topic on a regular basis. They might have a blog where they post articles about a variety of topics, or they might write for other websites. They can be helpful to retailers because they have a following of people interested in a specific topic.
Content marketing is the process of creating and sharing valuable content to attract, engage, and convert customers. It’s a strategic approach that focuses on creating and distributing engaging content across different channels to, for example, grow a company’s audience or generate leads.
User-generated content is content about a product or service made by those using it. People might do this by making a video, writing about it, or taking a picture. It’s helpful for businesses because it shows that other people like the product.
Case studies are stories about how a particular customer has used a product or service to solve their problem. They provide insight into how customers use the product and can help prospects understand how it might be useful for them.
Email marketing is a type of digital marketing that uses email to promote products or services. It can be used to create brand awareness, generate leads, and close sales.
Testimonials are a form of social proof that can be very effective in increasing sales. They are statements from customers about how they have benefited from using a product or service.
Benefits of Social Proof
Social proof is a powerful psychological tool to integrate into your marketing strategy. You can use it to encourage potential customers to take action by showing them that other people have already done so. There are a number of benefits to it:
Social Proof Builds Trust and Credibility
Evidence of previous customers can help to convert more new customers. It increases the visibility of your product and encourages more people to engage with it.
Showing Social Proof Encourages Social Sharing
Inspired by the actions of other happy customers, potential customers are more likely to share your product or content if they know that other people have already done so. Help make your own social posts more discoverable by adding relevant hashtags.
Clever Social proof Can Help Your SEO
Using keywords, customer reviews, and other forms of social proof can help to boost your SEO so that you get more organic traffic. Social proof also increases your chances of appearing in featured snippets.
You’ll See More Conversions
At the end of the day, social proof is all about encouraging people to take action. By utilizing it effectively, you’ll be able to boost conversions and increase the ROI of your marketing campaigns.
The Benefits Compound
As you continue to use social proof marketing, the benefits will compound. Customers will be more likely to engage with your product and content, which will lead to more social shares, more positive reviews, more user-generated content, and better SEO results, which ultimately lead to more sales.
How and When To Use Social Proof
Timing is key to using social proof effectively. Make sure that you present the evidence when people are most likely to take action. For example in an email campaign, you might want to include customer testimonials right after a call to action.
Similarly, landing pages exist simply to get people to take action, so show customer stories and reviews as a way to encourage this.
There are various SaaS tools out there to help you track and measure the performance of your social proof campaigns, including ProveSource, Fomo, and Next Sale.
Finally, make sure that you’re using different forms of social proof. This could include customer reviews, user-generated content, and endorsements from influencers (and even micro-influencers). Remember to add those share buttons on your thank you pages! With a variety of methods, you can create a comprehensive social proof marketing strategy to boost your results.
Social proof is a psychological tool that can be used to increase your ecommerce sales by encouraging potential customers to take action. We considered a number of ways you might use social proof to achieve this goal, including using testimonials, user-generated content, ratings and reviews, among many others. The benefits of expert social proof include increased trust and credibility, increased social sharing, and improved SEO results.
The Social Proof solution from Next Sale is a super simple way to start displaying social proof on your website. Check it out here, and learn how to add reviews, recent sales, and website activity notifications in just a few clicks. It’s a no-code way to mimic the social proof techniques of the world’s biggest ecommerce players. Include it in your marketing strategy today.