Have you ever found yourself (pre-COVID) wanting to try a new restaurant because there’s always a queue outside? Or bought the new ‘must-have’ product because all the celebs are using it? In marketing terms, this form of influence is known as ‘social proofing’.
So how do we social proof?
Essentially, it is a psychological phenomenon where consumers modify their behaviour to align themselves with what others are doing. This is a vital tool for marketers looking to increase conversion rates and build trust within their brand… and who doesn’t want to do that?
The question isn’t should you be social proofing your website to generate leads, but what type of social proof methods work best for your brand.
Let’s dive a little deeper into the different strategies for you to consider.
Social proof with customer testimonials
Never underestimate the power of a customer testimonial! They help reinforce your product or services value and build trust with the consumer. In fact, recent studies suggest 92% of consumers will trust a recommendation from a friend and 70% will trust a recommendation from someone they don’t even know. This are favourable stats when it comes to demonstrating the credibility of your brand to your audience.
You can use customer testimonials in several ways. When a customer leaves a review directly on your business website or leaves a review on a third-party website. They can also give you a star-based rating, or a full-blown case study. These are all ways of generating positive feedback vital in influencing potential consumers. Even huge supply chain companies like Amazon recognize their importance- as they display reviews and ratings on every product they sell.
The key is finding which testimonial format suits your website best- then utilizing it. Studies show reviews can increase conversions on sales pages by as much as 34%, so it’s well worth including.
Using celebrity endorsements to social proof
Savvy businesses are aware of the positive influence celebrities and industry experts can have on their brand when it comes to establishing authority and providing value. Essentially this can happen in two ways – in the form of paid endorsements or organic endorsements.
The first is probably the most popular, and is especially effective on social platforms such as Instagram. You sign a contract with the celebrity where you pay a figure for them to represent your brand.
Huge businesses like Pepsi use this tool in terms of advertising. But it’s becoming increasingly popular on Instagram with the use of ‘influencers’ for promotional purposes. Remember though, they are required to declare it as a paid promotion. Which is why if a celebrity endorses your product or brand organically- i.e they publicly approve your brand of their own violation- even better. This proves to the consumer that the influential figure has chosen your brand independently and provides added meaning to any brand representation.
Seal of approval
Working in a similar way to an endorsement, the ‘seal of approval’ social proofing strategy is all about a celebrity or influencer ‘approving’ of your product or brand. This can be done on social media, blogs or even involve the celeb being quoted or photographed as a product user.
Recent example? Several celebrities have been photographed using a certain type of water bottle which has seen a huge surge in sales and generated serious growth for the brand.
If your product or brand has ever been mentioned in the media- this could be in the form of magazine features, TV segments, or podcasts, the press is a great use of social proofing. Use these media mentions and paste them on your website and add backlinks to your website to build brand awareness and ensure consumers are aware your business is in a position of authority.
Use customer logos
One extremely pervasive social proof strategy is displaying client logos on your website to demonstrate to your potential consumers you have a strong existing customer base. This is an effective way of showing that your product or service is to be trusted. Oh, and if it’s good enough for successful companies to use, potential consumers should follow suit!
You should consider displaying these logos on a landing page, at the footer on your homepage or having a dedicated page on your website. Either way, research suggests adding client logos can increase conversions by as much as 400%!
Social media shares
Positive shares of your brand on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram can be a great way to prove to consumers they should invest in your product or service, and drive traffic to your website.
By 2021, more than 3 billion people are expected to be on social media, so this is a huge target market to draw on! Whilst the importance of website traffic from social media varies greatly from company to company, it still remains a significant influence over consumers. All whilst creating greater awareness of your brand!
Whilst typically longer than a customer review, if you have a particularly good case study about how your product or service has had a beneficial impact on a consumer/company- use it to your advantage. Case studies provide high authority or ‘long-form’ social proof by showcasing more in-depth information as to why potential customers should choose your product or service over the competition.
Whilst you don’t need to include as many of these when compared to customer testimonials, they are worth exploring. Studies suggest consumers react positively to long, detailed reviews, especially when it requires a considerable investment on their part. In some cases, they are even seen as being more reputable than brief reviews, especially if they discuss the features and benefits of your brand.
Certificates & awards
Has your business or brand been recognised in the industry with a certification or accreditation? if so use them! Displaying these qualifications on your website demonstrates to consumers how your brand is leading the way in terms of excellence. Most certifying and accrediting organizations have badges or logos recognisable to consumers, making it easy to display on your website. Some have even been shown to increase conversion rates by up to 30%.
Use Stats & figures
Just as using certifications can benefit your brand, consider using stats and figures in your social proofing strategy. One such example is your subscriber, user or customer count. Or if you have relevant stats that highlight how your brand sets you apart you want to be demonstrating these to your customer base. You can use analytical tools like Google Analytics to find this data. Put simply: good raw data leads to website conversions.
Highlight your ‘Bestsellers’
This social proof strategy is particularly useful in the eCommerce world, although can be used across multiple industries. It’s a simple way to highlight what product or service is most popular on your website. Why should you do this? Well, featuring your best sellers is proven to increase conversions on those particular products.
Often due to competition, purchasers are on the fence as to which product or service they should opt for. Seeing something is a best seller can help sway them to choose you, and consumers are much more likely to make the decision to purchase.
Again, Amazon are pros at using this social proofing technique, even designing their own eye-catching “#1 Best Seller” banner displayed at the top of each product.
But what about if I’m a much smaller brand?
A lot of the social proofing strategies we have mentioned have been adopted by the big players- Amazon, Pepsi, Nike etc.- huge global brands who have the resources and influence to implement them effectively.
But where should you begin if your business is just starting out?
Consider these tips for a beginners guide to social proofing:
We mentioned the importance of certificates and accreditations earlier. If you don’t yet have any- get some! Potential customers see it as an indication of how knowledgeable you are of the industry, so it’s well worth investing.
Become a partner company
Another option to consider is aligning your brand with one that’s bigger and further along with brand development. One place to start is looking into partner programs with a business that could benefit yours.
Make use of well-known names in your industry
Before you become known as a leading figure or brand within your industry, it’s a good idea to consider approaching well-known people and featuring them on your website. Perhaps you run a blog where you could interview an industry expert? Or have a dedicated area of the website where they could feature?
Get featured on sites
Despite this, the quickest way to use bigger brands to your advantage is getting featured on their own site. This will mean your product or service really has to deliver to get noticed. Yet, it’s an excellent use of social proofing and a way for potential customers to be introduced to your brand. Remember, you should also be utilizing any reviews left on third-party websites about your product or service. This’ll help build consumer trust and convince customers you are what they need.
Do you have any tips on social proofing your site? What strategies have worked best for you? We would love to hear your thoughts!