How to Use Social Proof to Boost Sales

Richard Sutherland
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Feb 26, 2019

Social proof is the phenomenon in which our own behavior is affected by the behavior, attitudes, and beliefs of others.

Positive social proof can influence us to buy something or trust a business. Negative social proof can turn us off a company.

For example, a line of people waiting to get into a nightclub suggests to us that the nightclub must be a fun place because people want to go there. This can influence us to want to go there too. A restaurant with no one in it during a peak time can make us consider that perhaps the food isn’t that great, because there’s no social proof otherwise.

Social proof works just as well online as it does offline, and it’s important for your e-commerce business to consider ways to improve its social proof marketing.

1 — Customer Testimonials

Perhaps the most powerful social proof you can include is the use of customer testimonials. Whether through the use of videos, short quotes, long articles, or images, showing real customers talking positively about using your business and its services can work wonders.

If your business is of a consultative nature, it pays to include detailed case studies as extended customer testimonials. You can demonstrate all the ways you were able to help solve that particular customer’s problems. The reader can put him or herself in the customer’s shoes, imagining how you could help them too.

If your sales process is more transactional, customer testimonials can be sprinkled throughout the sales funnel.

Even a happy customer page is a valid form of social proof that can show your business is legitimate. Using real customer names and quotes instantly showcases how your business is legitimate and how it brings positive results to its customers.

Enable reviews for each of your products and don’t be scared of the occasional negative review. This can, in fact, build trust in other reviews and trust in your brand by showing your lack of bias. Ensure you respond to polite negative reviews in a professional, succinct way.

2 — Online Reviews and Ratings

You have complete control over the customer testimonials you sprinkle throughout your site, but you also need to consider the reviews and ratings you get off-site. Over 88% of online shoppers first look at reviews before making a purchase, so peer-driven praise is important for your social proof.

It doesn’t matter much if the shopper knows the person who is making the recommendation — 85% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Use your marketing channels to boost the visibility of positive reviews. Interact with customers who have praised your business on social media and review sites. Work to address the negative issues that have arisen in reviews to show potential customers that you care about the customer experience.

3 — Influencers

Some of these customers can be more important than others from a marketing perspective. Influencers are people who have significant clout in your industry. If you can please these people and get endorsements, those who follow them will be very impressed and your social proof will go through the roof.

The power of influencers has made them a viable marketing channel that warrants expenditure. It has been shown that for every smart dollar spent on influencer marketing you should expect a $6.50 return. Platforms like Instagram are perfect for influencer marketing.

Try to ensure your influencer marketing comes across as genuine. A paid-for-partnership that comes across as inauthentic can backfire. As such, talk to influencers and work with those who can really use your products and services and talk about them in a genuine, positive way.

4 — Awards, Associations, and Affiliations

Trust symbols are website badges that show a third party vouches for your company in some way. These symbols can help pry away some of the last-minute doubts some new customers can have.

  • A third-party trust symbol from security sites like McAfee or Verisign can help prove your shopping cart is secure and safe to use.
  • Membership badges popular in your industry can show your business has been vetted thoroughly by industry authorities.
  • Certifications show you and your staff know what they are doing and have the paperwork to prove it.
  • Logos from well-known businesses that you have worked with is a great form of social proof.

5 — Press Mentions

An easy way to build social proof, curating a list of positive press mentions shows that your business is worthy of press attention. It’s particularly useful when you’re a small fish in a big pond. It shows that your business is important, different, and big enough to warrant column inches.

6 — Proof of Demand

Showing just how many people are interacting with your site and buying from you is a powerful form of social proof marketing. Displaying real-time customer activity boosts your credibility, conversions, and sales. By showing some details of those who have recently signed up or bought something, you’re using existing customers to sell for you.

This form of social proof marketing shows not only that people are buying from you, but also that there is a current demand for the product. Showing that sales are going quickly and you might sell out soon drives conversions, making for a snowball effect.

Social proof is an important part of getting customers to trust your business and convert them from interested viewer to confirmed buyer.


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- about the author -

Richard Sutherland has worked in online marketing and search engine optimization for over 15 years. Excited about how we can offer the customer a streamlined, personalized online experience, Richard looks for every way to increase conversion percentages with a high return on investment.

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