Your guide to social proof

Your guide to social proof

Author: Eve Rouse — Read time: 5 mins

Social proof isn’t just a marketing buzzword. It’s a pretty powerful tool – helping to increase conversions, setting you apart from the competition, and giving your brand credibility.

As more and more customers look to their peers for help with purchasing decisions, social proof is playing a bigger role than ever before in helping eCom stores succeed.

Not sure where to start? Let’s start at the beginning.

So, what’s meant by social proof?

Social proof may be playing a major role in today’s eCommerce landscape, but the concept’s nothing new. It’s a psychological phenomenon whereby people follow the opinions of the masses, believing this is the ‘correct’ behaviour.

In marketing terms, social proof is verification from the peers of your audience. Verification that a product or service is worthy. Think Instagram posts from social influencers, product reviews and good old word-of-mouth.

But why is it so important?

Ever booked a hotel after reading great reviews on Tripadvisor? Ever chosen to eat at a busy restaurant on holiday instead of an empty one?

We’re pretty sure you can answer yes to both of those questions. The reason? We care about the opinions of others.

Others influence our behaviour, persuade us to act, and reassure us. They also help us make purchasing decisions, especially online where you can’t see, feel or experience a product’s quality first hand.

How can I leverage social proof?

There are several different ways your brand can build social proof and incorporate it into your marketing activities…

Customer reviews

Star ratings, product and business reviews are – in our opinion – essential for any eCommerce store. They help build credibility (especially for start-ups) – and maintain it when it’s there, prove a website is trustworthy, and provide that all-important reassurance online shoppers seek when making purchasing decisions.

Reviews can live anywhere on your website, including product pages, and can also be used in other marketing activities such as emails and online advertising. We use Trustpilot and Yotpo to help our eCommerce clients easily collate this type of content.

If you’re thinking, “But what if I receive a negative review?!”, don’t worry. Yes, a negative review can have an impact; so can your positive, quick response to a negative review. Remember, quite often things can often be turned around.

User-generated content

As an online marketer, it’s satisfying to see your customers sharing photos, videos and reviews on social media about how great your product/service is. As well as giving you a warm, fuzzy feeling, this type of user-generated content can also boost your bottom line, too!

It speaks volumes when a customer has gone to such an effort to share their experience. And, it gives your brand an element of authenticity that no amount of advertising can achieve.

You should add this type of user-generated content to your product pages to show your products being used – by proper customers – and share any social mentions when you get them.

But how do you get customers to do this?

If you provide a top-notch service and sell great products, it can happen naturally. But, if you need to give your customers a bit of a nudge, why not offer an incentive? Encourage them to share a review to obtain a discount or freebie. Or, create a loyalty programme using software like LoyaltyLion or Smile to grow a community of brand ambassadors who’ll regularly interact with you online.

Scarcity

This doesn’t work for all industries or brands, but showing customers how many people have purchased an item, and how few are available, can create some serious FOMO.

This is particularly great for the travel industry, or limited edition products.

Endorsement

Teaming up with respected experts, social influencers and celebrities can also have a huge impact on potential customers. Whilst this may require some marketing budget, you can achieve great results by linking up with the right people. But remember, getting the right people is key.

If you don’t have much budget, you could allow industry exerts to take over your social media accounts for the day, sharing their expertise and answering questions. They benefit from exposure to your social media following, and hopefully theirs will follow you back in return.

Trust signals

There are a few other simple ways to leverage social proof, including sharing trust signals on your website such as stats on how many people follow you on social media, have shared your blog content, or have downloaded your app.

You should also try and make sure any industry accreditations and awards are clearly visible on your website.

Want to read more about social proof? Check out this blog post ‘People buy from people, not businesses.