You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t already understand the relationship between conversion and social proof. In this article, I’m going to tell you why social proof is crucial for increasing conversion. So, let’s jump right in.
Why is Social Proof Crucial for Online Business?
Firstly, it’s a no-brainer – people buy stuff they’re told they can trust. Actually, many marketers use social proof techniques to increase sales.
Secondly, the web is awash with data supporting that prospective customers want their interest in a validated product. In case you don’t know some of these statistics, I’ll give you a quick summary of my favorite ones:
- A 2018 survey revealed that 53% of online shoppers in the US considered customer reviews a “crucial” part of their purchasing decisions.
- A WikiJob case study showed that testimonials could increase conversions by up to 34%.
- On average, consumers spend up to 31% more on a business with “excellent” customer reviews.
- When faced with a decision between two identical items, 35% of customers are willing to buy the more expensive option, provided it has better customer reviews.
So yes, in case you were still on the fence about social proof, these figures should be more than enough to push you over to the side of reason.
How To Help Your Online Business Thrive Using Social Proof?
Let’s take an in-depth look at how some online businesses have used social proof to create credibility, build trust, and boost their conversion rates.
1. Let your Customers Have Their Say
We have to start with this one; it’s social proof 101, really. Simply put, provide verified customers with a mechanism to write a review of a product they purchased. Whether it’s simply an automated email they can respond to or a more sophisticated solution, you’ve got to let them have their moment on the soapbox.
Limiting customer feedback to a star-rating system or denying them the chance to express themselves creates two problems. Firstly, it could create the impression that you’re not confident enough in your product to give your customers a voice. Secondly, you’re missing out on the likelihood that someone could write a review so awesome that it becomes the most important conversion motivator on your site!
Yes, of course, you’re facing the risk of a disgruntled customer tearing your company to shreds because your product wasn’t what they expected or there were fulfillment issues. I like to think of these risks as performance motivators rather than reasons to smack duct tape over the mouths of rightfully annoyed customers. “Keep them happy” rather than “keep them quiet” is my personal philosophy.
Take a leaf out of Mannequin Mall’s playbook here. The mannequin retailer has bought into social proof so heavily that they’ve made written reviews one of the most visible and interactive elements on their product pages. Placed directly below the product’s description is a detailed, sophisticated customer feedback area that offers visitors an in-depth look at what customers have to say.
This section is packed with information and features. For instance, users can browse all reviews or filter those associated with a specific star rating. They can gauge a particular review’s credibility by checking if it’s been up to or downvoted by the site’s community. They can even filter reviews based on their content using a keyword “tag” selector.
In case you’re still wondering, THIS is how you take social proof seriously.
2. Show Review Summaries in Product Lists
This builds onto my previous point, and I feel it needs a section of its own since it’s a technique that’s often overlooked. In many (perhaps most) cases, your site’s visitors reach a product screen via a search performed on your site or by browsing a product category screen.
These screens are an ideal spot to flaunt your products’ credibility. Why wait for your prospect to reach a product listing page before you give them a taste of an item’s popularity?
Take a look at what Gili Sports has done on both their home and product category pages. The grid that shows a collection of their inventory includes the product’s name (which doubles as a brief description), the price, its average customer star rating, and the number of customers who gave feedback.
This is a one-two combo-punch of social proof. Not only does it buy early trust in a product that catches potential buyers’ eye, but it also speaks to the general integrity of your entire range of products. Seeing an entire grid filled with 4.5 to 5-star ratings will do your brand’s optics no harm whatsoever.
Another benefit is that an early illustration of credibility greases the wheels of your prospect’s sales journey. The sooner you can show data that builds trust in your product and your brand, the better the chance to click through to the page where the magic happens.
3. Announce Recent Purchases with Sales Popups
This is one of my favorite social proof techniques if it’s not shoved into my face and obscuring content I want to read. In this technique, some tools launch popups at preset intervals, or triggers, announcing that someone has placed their faith in your brand by making a purchase.
The credibility this strategy buys is further enhanced by providing the customer’s username (if available), location, the product they purchased, and when the sale happened. These sales popups can happen in real-time or be staggered for a nice, even spread of notifications throughout the time a visitor spends on your site.
The benefit of using sales popups like Exit Intent Popup is that you don’t have to wait for the prospect to reach a particular product page to show social proof. Heck, the visitor could be reading a blog post or maybe your FAQ page when they’re suddenly notified that “Aldo from Cape Town ordered a pair of vintage Air Jordans two hours ago.” Or that “Someone from Austin, Texas purchased a 1974 Fender Jaguar 5 seconds ago.”
In addition to the usual social proof benefits that these sales notifications will create, they also have an awesome, slightly more nuanced impact on your user’s experience. According to conversion experts OptinMonster, they help flakey, indecisive prospects to make up their minds.
They also create an emotion that almost every online business wants its visitors to feel: FOMO, the fear that their peers are enjoying something while they’re being left out.
For an excellent example of how TrustPulse or OptinMonster works, browse around for a while on these sites, and you’re bound to be shown some meaningful interaction they just had with one of their customers.
Now Imagine this awesome feature on your website. This mechanism is especially effective for companies that sell high volumes at low or medium margins. The more diversity you can display here, and the more often you can show a sale that happened in real-time, the more you’re pushing an indecisive browser towards becoming a customer.
4. Seek and Flaunt User-Generated Content
Great social proof goes beyond preformatted, paint-by-numbers feedback structures. Testimonials and reviews have their place, and there’s absolutely no harm in these following a format. But, sometimes, you want your social proof to be just that little bit more creative and unpredictable.
Enter user-generated content (or UGC, for those “in the know”). By opening your social media channels to creative submissions from customers, you’re making your product relatable in a way that no amount of expert copy, imagery, or infographic ever could.
Using UGC to get your target audience to invest emotionally in a product they’re interested in is a proven way to boost conversion. Seeing their peers candidly exposed on a company’s website or social media feed evokes a bunch of emotions. It is a fantastic method of building a unique type of social proof.
Take a look at what Runners Athletics have done on their homepage. A UI element displays the latest six posts from their Instagram feed. This feed frequently contains a post submitted by an Instagram user posing with one of the company’s sunglasses.
The poster gets some exposure and maybe some new followers. Runners Athletics gets to show their prospects that, yes, regular folk, just like you, love our product enough to participate in this UGC campaign. This is what is known in pretty much any industry as a win-win scenario.
You don’t have to emulate Runner’s Athletics’ campaign to the letter. There are virtually endless ways to motivate your existing customers to submit candid, creative content of any kind that promotes your products. Get your marketing team together and brainstorm this. The rewards are definitely worthwhile.
AiGrow: The Best Tool to Manage UGC Campaigns on Instagram
Instagram is one of the best social media apps to launch a UGC campaign. This visual-based platform lets people upload photos and videos of different products and share their feedback with their audience. Actually, unpacking and reviewing posts on Instagram are some of the most popular content. Also, UGC posts are perfect ways for influencers to find sponsors!
But running a perfect UGC campaign can be quite challenging. That’s why here I’m going to introduce you to one of the best tools to manage Instagram and different campaigns: AiGrow.
AiGrow is a comprehensive tool for all of your Instagram activities. Using AiGrow’s features such as hashtag monitoring and mentions, you can easily see who talks about your brand online and repost the content if you want only one click. You can even save the posts you want in different folders and come back to them whenever you need them.
Give AiGrow a try. You can use the free version for 7 days!
Final Words on Social Proof
The psychology of social proof dates back to the early eighties. That’s quite sometime before the likes of Amazon, Shopify, WooCommerce, and other e-commerce platforms basically gave us the tools we need to become retailers in the space of a couple of hours.
Does this mean the concept is outdated?
If anything, our exposure to a broader range of meaningful opinions has made us less susceptible to meaningless marketing jabber and more attuned to the opinions of regular folk like us.
This is a good thing! A GREAT thing, in fact.
If you’re selling a product that’s making people happy, giving them a voice is an inexpensive and exceptionally powerful sales mechanism.
So give them a platform to sell your product for you. Think outside the box here; there’s no need to follow these tactics step-by-step. Do your own research and think about your target audience’s needs.
What kind of social proof will speak to them?
Answer that question, and you’re halfway there.