The Marketer’s Challenges Series
How Do I Use Social Proof to Increase Conversions?
2. What is social proof?
3. Why your marketing strategy needs it
4. 15 examples of social proof that will boost your conversions
5. Take away
It can be argued that the foundation of great marketing is formed on two subjects: science and psychology. Get a sound understanding of this combination and you are well on your way to becoming a ‘marketing guru’.
While that might sound a bit daunting, it’s not difficult to put these at the heart of your marketing strategy. For example, social proof, is a very simple theory to understand and start implenting. So that’s what we’ll be covering today and by the end of this guide you’ll not only be an expert on social proof, but you’ll be boosting conversions and impressing your boss in no time!
What Is Social Proof?
Social proof is an interesting psychological phenomenon that all marketers should familiarise themselves with. As a consumer, you would have undoubtedly encountered social proof while shopping online. As a marketer, you might already be employing social proof tactics.
Social proof is when people adopt the behaviour of others when they’re in new or unfamiliar situations i.e. when they’re unsure of what to do.
Consider this in a real life scenario:
You go online to purchase a new computer. You’ve narrowed it down to two – both appear to be equally good and are on separate websites. One of the websites shows the computer scored 4.8 out of 5, according to their customers. The other website doesn’t use ratings or reviews so you remain in the dark on this one. It’s likely that you’ll be far more inclined to go with the product with the positive customer ratings than the one which remains a mystery.
This is social proof in action. You’re automatically inclined to take the risk free decision by following the wisdom of the crowd – if others have done it before you, then it must be the best decision.
Why Your Marketing Strategy Needs Social Proof
In marketing, social proof can prove to be an extremely valuable behaviour. According to Forbes, online reviews have been shown to impact 68% of purchasing decisions and 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Think of the impact this could make to your bottom line!
Social proof is basically a modern version of word of mouth (WOM) marketing. WOM marketing has been around for centuries and we do it without even realising. Who cuts your hair? Where did you buy that new jacket from? Do you know who can clean my windows? These are all part of everyday conversation where people are recommending products and brands.
The digital era just makes word of mouth so much easier. We’ve all seen how things have gone ‘viral’ within minutes. For good or for bad, this could be your company’s reputation. So social proof isn’t just about influencing people’s behaviour, it’s about genuinely giving people what they want and being a reputable brand that people can trust. And while digital platforms make it easier to spread the word, don’t forget digital shoppers are likely to be far more cautious than those who are shopping in a bricks and mortar shop. Have you bought something online that looks totally different when it’s delivered? Or maybe you’ve just shyed away from a purchase because you couldn’t touch it and get a real feel for if it was the right item for you. The digital shopping experience is a totally different ball game so adding social proof to this experience can assure buyers they’re making the right decision to purchase.
15 Examples of How You Can Use Social Proof
So now you know what social proof is and why it is so important, here are 15 ways you can use it within your marketing and boost your conversions.
A rating gives your website visitor a quick overview and gauge of how well received your product was from your existing customers. This visual feedback can be all the encouragement someone needs to purchase a product.
Tea Pigs use the classic star rating approach which projects a simple and effective message about the quality of their products.
These are closely linked to ratings but here the user will find more information in the form of written feedback. Customer reviews are a great form of social proof as they provide a trusted and unbiased summary of a product or service, allowing others to buy with confidence.
Fashion brands may also find this particularly helpful for their customers as buyers can share whether a product is ‘true to fit’ or what the material feels like.
This is all about getting that stamp of approval from an authoritative organisation within your industry. If your business works in regulated areas e.g. finance then there will be legal requirements for this. However if you work in other areas you should consider which governing bodies or accredited companies are available to gain certification from.
In the example below, Travel Places uses two badges, Quality and STF, to demonstrate its authority within the education market where the company offers education and sports tours. These also sit alongside other renown travel certification; ABTA and ATOL.
Displaying your best selling products to prospects is a great way to inspire them to purchase – if the majority of people are buying these products, it indicates to the buyer that this is a safe option as there must be a good reason why. And so they follow suite. Ultimo do this by highlighting which of their products are trending.
SOCIAL MEDIA ENDORSEMENT
If thousands or millions of people are following your social media profiles then it’s something worth shouting about. Most people tend to follow the crowd, so if you have high number of followers it could have a snowball effect. Find ways of showing off your follower numbers by using it as a call to action within emails on on your website. E.g. “join our millions of followers for the latest updates and news…”.
When you actively encourage people to ‘like’ your brand on Facebook their likes are also seen by friends and family and acts as a personal endorsement. This type of peer-to-peer marketing means people connected to your customers are far more likely to consider your brand too. This is a huge bonus alongside an impressive aggregate number of followers.
Using software that detects trends and patterns in your customer’s behaviour can provide insight into what visitors with similar profiles might also be likely to purchase. These insights will allow you to make personal recommendations especially for them. Use this to upsell or cross sell your products.
LIVE AVAILABILITY UPDATES
A little sense of urgency goes a long way to getting people to commit and you can use the power of the crowd to update your customers about product availability.
By telling customers just how few items you have left, you can create a fear of missing out that compels them to buy. And if you use our technology you’ll be able to display pop-ups and send targeted automated messages with availability updates to prompt customers to buy.
LIVE VIEWING UPDATES
These are similar to above, with the same aim of creating urgency around purchasing the product. It shows web visitors how many people are also browsing the same product at the same time.
Using a solution like PureTargeting it’s easy to reassure potential customers that what they’re looking at is popular and reinforce that they need to buy before it sells out.
Blogs are a great tool for marketing as it allows your brand to be conversational and discuss a wide range of relevant topics with your audience. A way to elevate this to the next level is to let customers, industry leaders or influencers guest post for you, sharing their experiences of your product. In this example, Magento’s customer Kate Morris at Adore Beauty shares tips that will impact customer’s tactics connected to her experience of using Magento.
USER GENERATED CONTENT
Encourage customers to share the products they’ve purchased and now adore via your social channels. This is social proof at it’s best.
86% of millennials say that user generated content (i.e. tweets, videos, pictures, etc that has been created by unpaid contributors or fans) is a good indicator of the quality of the brand. As well as adding genuine credibility to your brand and product, user generated content can inspire people to purchase, with 68% of social media users between 18 and 34 years old stating it’s likely they’d purchase after seeing a friend’s post.
Topshop does this via social media and dedicates a web page to their customers, using it as a style guide.
Sharing user milestones is another easy way to use social proof within your marketing. And there are different types of milestones that you might want to mention, from reaching a certain number followers to celebrating your company anniversary.
Below is an example from Breathe Magazine as they hit 10,000 followers.
From magazine and newspaper features to television segments – if your brand or product has been in the media recently then this will certainly add to your authority. If it’s possible, feature these on your website in the form of excerpts to ensure your visitors know.
Below, The BodyCoach uses logos of the publications it’s featured in to gain trust with the audience.
Does a well known person purchase your products? Or maybe there’s a celebrity out there that is the perfect personality fit with your brand? Either way, using a celebrity to endorse your brand and product will tempt new customers.
SHOWCASE YOUR PARTNERS
If your brand works with or integrates with third-party company or services then using their logos on your website is an effective social proof method. It means your brand will be associated with other credible and recognisable brands. Which is exactly what we do, here at Pure360.
This guide should give you a solid idea of what social proof is, and how you can adapt and use a variation of social proof methods as part of your marketing strategy. Remember, while you’re looking to increase conversions, it’s always about putting your customer at the heart of your marketing and looking out for their needs and desires.
If you’re looking for ideas and inspiration about how you can use this powerful psychological phenomenon then speak to Pure360 about our eCommerce solution. It offers marketers smart ways to build credibility, offer reassurance, and influence purchases using the power of the crowd.