Social proof in a marketing context is evidence that other people have purchased and found value in a product or service offered by a business. Because people are more likely to purchase a product that others are already purchasing (the bandwagon effect), social proof can be a way to increase conversions by showing customers how popular a product or service is.
On the web, social proof can take many forms including customer testimonials & product reviews, customer lists, and quantifiable data (“Over 50,000 downloads!”). All of these different tactics help to build trust, convey value, and improve conversions.
Examples Of Social Proof
Depending on the product or service, there are a number of different types of social proof that can be used to help boost conversion rates. Some examples include:
Photos and testimonials from customers
Company names and logos, particularly from recognizable and well-respected brands
Customer case studies
Ratings or feedback from customers
Reviews on third-party sites such as Trustpilot or Google
Seals of approval from well-respected organizations
Number of followers on social media platforms
Sharing buttons with share counts and like counts
Download and purchase counts
Listing the number of customers
Celebrity endorsements and shoutouts from influencers
Testimonials from industry experts and expert social proof
Those are just a few examples of the many forms of social proof available. The types of social proof you display will depend on your industry. For example, e-commerce sites might display a number of purchases or customer reviews, while a B2B business might display a list of enterprise customers or testimonials. Media companies can show readership or subscriber figures, while a travel company might show the number of bookings booked.
Any impressive-looking, quantifiable metric, such as the number of downloads, e-mail subscribers, or social network shares, can serve as social proof. The more credible the evidence of your popularity, the better.
Why Is Social Proof Important?
Social proof can be an effective marketing tactic for a number of reasons.
The most basic motivating force behind social proof is that it can help convey trust. Trust is one of the key factors in converting customers online because providing a credit card number to an unknown business over the web is a large hurdle for customers to overcome. Showing potential customers that a business has many satisfied customers through testimonials and user reviews helps to build trust that a business is legitimate and trustworthy.
Another benefit of social proof is the bandwagon effect, a social psychology concept that states that people are more likely to engage in an action if other people are doing it. For example, if over two million people have purchased a book and enjoyed it, the wisdom of the crowd dictates that you are likely to enjoy the book too.
Employing this form of social proof involves showing that a large number of people have purchased a product (“Over 20,000 copies sold!”) or that many people support the business (“Over 1 million satisfied customers!”). Prominently displaying social media follower counts can be another way of conveying social proof. Because numbers like these are often hard to verify and easily faked, the effectiveness of this tactic depends on how much the customer trusts the business's claims.
Finally, social proof in online marketing can also be used to convey authority. For example, a buyer may find a testimonial from an expert in the field more convincing than a hundred reviews from average people. Displaying customer logos of big-name clients can be another way of demonstrating both social proof and authority. If many of the world’s top companies are using a service, the logic goes, it is likely to be an effective one.
Social proof works by tapping into the basic human instinct to follow the actions of others, building trust & credibility, and lowering barriers to making purchases online.
Using Social Proof To Increase Conversions
Because social proof is such a powerful psychological factor, it is a great item to test across your site and on your landing pages in order to increase conversions. Consider incorporating elements of social proof on your key landing pages as part of the value proposition of your product or service. You can also experiment with incorporating social proof into your calls-to-action, for example: “Join our community of 10,000+ marketers.”
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