Nowadays, businesses rely on online marketing to boost their visibility.
By building a strong online presence and raising awareness about your products and services, you will boost your opportunities to attract customers.
However, while attracting the audience is definitely the first step, you also need to find ways to encourage trust with the said audience.
Unless your audience trusts your business, they won’t be as inclined to spend their hard-earned money on your offer. Just like in any other relationship, trust plays a huge role in business relationships as well.
Every business should aim to increase its online reputation and build trust with its audience.
That being said, building trust and reputation is not something that can be easily achieved overnight. Instead, you will need to rely on various tools and strategies that will help you on this journey. This is where social proof enters the scene.
- What is social proof?
Simply put, social proof is a phenomenon where people believe that the actions of others are reflective of correct behavior and thus choose to follow those actions themselves.
To put things in a clearer perspective, just think back to all those infomercials from the ‘90s. Whichever products – or services – they were selling, they always had a bunch of people explaining to the audience how that particular product (or service) changed their lives for the better.
Nowadays, things are not much different. According to research, 92% of online shoppers check product reviews before deciding whether to make the purchase or not. Additionally, online consumers find product reviews to be far more trustworthy than product descriptions.
Just ask yourself this: If you come across a business claiming that their product is the best you’ve ever seen and your friend tells you about this amazing product that they’ve come across, who would you trust more?
Knowing this, it becomes quite clear why businesses should use social proof in their online promotion. Strong social proof will build greater trust, which will – in turn – result in better conversions.
- Why is social proof important for online marketing?
For brick-and-mortar businesses, establishing social proof is relatively easy.
For example, let’s say you need your car fixed, and you have the option to choose between a workshop that always has free spots and a workshop that’s constantly super busy. The majority of people will choose the latter, presuming that their services are better than the ones offered by the first workshop. This is due to the fact that people simply prefer to avoid the risks of being the first ones to test something out and potentially end up being disappointed.
However, in the online realm, you won’t have the same opportunity to actually see how many people flock to a particular business unless the business itself includes that data into their online promotion.
For that reason, online businesses need to keep social proof in mind as early as when creating their website. Reputable web development professionals, such as these experts for web development from Chicago, will help you create a professional website that will not only boost engagement but encourage conversions as well.
- 6 types of social proof
Now that we’ve defined what social proof actually is, it’s time to bring more attention to the 6 most common types or sources of social proof.
Your existing customers are a great source of social proof. Testimonials, case studies, user reviews and success stories are all great sources of social proof you can – and should – include in your online promotion.
Another great source of social proof comes from established experts and credible sources from your industry.
Social proof gathered from various celebrities and influencers that interacted with your brand will also be invaluable for your business. Therefore, try to reach out to these groups of people and see if they are willing to collaborate.
Large numbers of people also provide great social proof. That’s why you should always emphasize how many satisfied customers/users you have.
When promoting your business on social media platforms, such as Facebook for instance, you can rely on your customers’ friends as social proof, e.g., “(30 of your friends like (brand name)”.
A quote from any credible 3rd party entity regarding your business, e.g., “FDA approved”. This will show any potential leads that your business is as reputable as you claim it to be.
Naturally, it’s always best to first start relying on the sources you already have at your disposal and then work your way up.
- How to use social proof to boost conversions?
Now that we’ve explored the major sources of social proof, it’s time to see what are some of the best ways to use social proof to boost your conversions.
- Real-time statistics
By including real-time stats of how many page visitors you currently have or how many people have already bought your product, you’ll provide your website visitors with great social proof. On top of that, this practice will also contribute to increasing FOMO (fear of missing out) in your website visitors, further encouraging them to convert to paying customers.
- Customer testimonials
Customer testimonials are the most commonly used form of social proof. According to research, 70% of people will trust a stranger, and about 92% of people will trust a peer when it comes to recommendations. Knowing that, it becomes obvious why you should include customer testimonials in your online promotion.
- Celebrity/influencer endorsements
The easiest way to establish authority and prove your value is by having a celebrity or an influencer endorse your business. Two of the most common options include paid and natural endorsement and both of them are effective in their respective ways.
- Social media takeovers
Social media takeovers refer to an influencer or an expert in your industry literally taking over your social media and posting on your behalf for a certain amount of time. This will result in expanding your reach to an audience that may be interested in your offer but is not yet aware of your business.
- Expert reviews
Another way you can boost your social proof and thus your conversions is by having industry experts review your offer. By seeing an authority figure recommending your products or services, potential leads will be far more likely to convert.
- Case studies
Case studies are a great source of social proof. Often called longform social proof, case studies can provide your audience with long-form, in-depth reviews about your offer. Naturally, such in-depth reviews are considered to be far more reputable than brief ones.
- Media mentions
Media mentions are another great source of social proof, particularly when targeting your local audience. This is due to the fact that consumers often find region-specific promotions more valuable than global ones. So, for instance, any business that operates in Texas can look for professionals dealing with web development from Houston to help them reach their local audience.
- Customer base authority
A passive yet quite effective form of social proof is using customer logos to provide a proof of positive adoption. By offering your audience a chance to see who else has done business with you, you’ll encourage them to try out your offer for themselves.
- Trust seals
In the end, adding trust seals to your pages, and particularly check-out pages, will ensure your customers that your business is entirely safe to interact with. Since online security should be everyone’s top priority, letting your customers know that your business cares about their online safety is another great way to boost your conversions.
- So, why use social proof?
With everything we’ve mentioned previously, you may still be wondering why to use social proof in your marketing efforts. To drive the point home, let’s explore a particular situation.
In 2018, Facebook announced that they’d be showing “less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses.” Naturally, this resulted in a serious spike in Facebook ad costs.
For industry giants, such as Amazon, Coca-Cola and Nike, for instance, this announcement didn’t make much difference. However, for smaller businesses, this meant that advertising their endeavors on Facebook became far more costly, for some even downright unattainable.
Luckily, by relying on social proof, these businesses still managed to get their names “out there” and stay afloat.
Another reason any business should rely on social proof is the fact that the general trust in media is steadily declining. And, as mentioned previously, consumers are far more likely to take the word of another consumer over any claims made by the brand itself.
Therefore, any business that manages to utilize the true power of social proof in their online promotion will significantly improve their online reputation, which will, in turn, lead to increased conversions.
So, remember to rely on your existing audience and allow them to help you expand your reach naturally by showcasing their testimonials, encouraging user reviews and doing your best to provide them with a positive experience when interacting with your brand.
Travis Dillard is a business consultant and an organizational psychologist based in Arlington, Texas. Passionate about marketing, social networks, and business in general. In his spare time, he writes a lot about new business strategies and digital marketing for DigitalStrategyOne.