Social Proof: What it is & 10 Awesome Ways to Use it in Your Marketing
When a customer faces multiple options for the same product, how do they choose one?
They will probably want to see what other customers are doing to help them make a decision. This is the power of social proof.
When it comes to eCommerce marketing, social proof is one of the most important strategies for boosting sales. There are various different types of social proof that exist, but the basic idea is to use existing customers to influence and inspire new customers.
We see social proof all over the place. Using social proof is something that any eCommerce business needs to be doing to attract more potential customers. Especially in today’s digital landscape.
Luckily, using social proof in your marketing is actually pretty easy. There are many highly effective ways of using social proof to boost your eCommerce sales without spending a fortune. This is something that businesses of all sizes can achieve.
Interested? We will explore some awesome examples of social proof, and how you can use a few different types of social proof for your business.
What is Social Proof?
First of all, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page. Social proof is a term that was coined by Robert Cialdini in his book Influence (1984). The basic idea behind this social and psychological process is that customers like to copy the actions of others when making decisions.
In terms of eCommerce, potential customers decide on making a purchase by looking at examples and testimonials from other customers. So, if one person does something, then others will adapt their behavior to follow the first person.
This makes sense, right? So, what about social proof as a form of marketing?
Well, social proof plays a vital role in attracting new customers - especially when it comes to online marketing. Things like social media, influencer marketing, user reviews, testimonials, case studies, and more are all examples of social proof.
If you want to get more people feeling a real urge to buy products on your eCommerce store, then you need to include some kind of example of social proof to get them to take action and increase conversions.
Fortunately for any business, implementing this online can be done through several highly effective strategies.
How to Use Social Proof in Marketing: 10 Tried and Tested Examples
Social proof can take various forms, and implementing it for your business can help to effectively turn more of your website visitors into customers. We all know about testimonials and social media, but how else can you use social proof? Here are 10 different types of social proof, including actionable ways to use them to increase conversions.
1. Customer Reviews and Ratings
You’ve seen this before, and it’s one of the most powerful strategies for increasing your number of conversions. When it comes to any successful eCommerce store, customer reviews are one of the most important and effective ways to use social proof.
A great example of this is to simply place star ratings and reviews next to your product. Most new customers look out for reviews before they choose a product. They want to see what other customers have to say about the product to influence their decision.
Using this type of social proof is especially important when customers need to make a big decision or a substantial purchase. This is because they want to feel a sense of trust in the product or service.
Reviews help users to understand the product online when they can’t see or touch it. This helps to answer their questions about it. Customer behavior also assumes “well if you like this product, then I will like it too”.
So, if you’ve got an eCommerce store then you should make sure to have a visible reviews section. This is referred to as onsite reviews, and it’s one of the most common forms of social proof. It’s also one of the easiest types of social proof to help customers make fast decisions that make them more likely to purchase.
On-Site and Off-Site Customer Reviews
Before we continue, let’s quickly understand the two different types of reviews and ratings that are important for your eCommerce strategy. These are on-site and off-site reviews. We’ve already mentioned on-site reviews, where visitors can generate positive comments and ratings directly on your website.
Off-site reviews are often forgotten about, but they’re also incredibly important. This is when customers post reviews about your products on another website. A good example of this is Google Customer Reviews. Never forget about this area of social proof. You can highlight good user reviews from these websites, and encourage users to leave reviews on them.
Using off-site reviews to your advantage is a great way to increase the scope of your social proof.
2. Referral Marketing
Referrals are one of the most valuable forms of social proof for your business. Referrals rely on customers referring your business to people that they know. This is incredibly powerful because new customers are more likely to trust friends that they know over a company. Sharing referrals on social media can also get your business out to a massive number of people.
You want more referrals, but how do you include this in your marketing?
With the right tools, referral campaigns are easy. You can use simple software to run referral campaigns that help you reach a much bigger audience to boost your online popularity. This is achieved by incentivizing referrals through things like social promotions.
Doing this spreads your business to a much bigger social media audience, and it helps your brand gain more trust. When someone shares your social media pages with their friends, people are more likely to pay attention.
3. User-Generated Content
Reading customer testimonials online is effective, but actually seeing real customers enjoying a product is far more convincing. This is what makes user-generated content such a powerful example of social proof.
You want to get more real people actually displaying your product or service in real life. This could be done through influencers, or just by excited customers.
So, how can you use user-generated content to boost your marketing? How can you gather more of this social proof for your business? We’ve highlighted a couple of different approaches below.
Curating Social Media Content
Customers are sharing their experiences with your brand on social media all the time. You need to make sure that you also share these experiences with your audience. By resharing Facebook or Instagram stories or retweeting comments about your product or service on Twitter, you’re building more trust through special media.
Go through any posts you’re tagged in, share the positive posts, and think about ways you can display these posts in your feed. People are more likely to trust your business if they see it’s popular on social media.
A great way to get more user-generated content is to run social media promotions. For example, you could do a photo contest where customers pose with photos of your product. You will get more users involved and engaging with your brand, as well as spreading more awareness across Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, or other social media channels.
There’s something incredibly satisfying about watching unboxing videos. And judging by the popularity of these videos, this is a form of social proof that loads of people love. Just do a quick YouTube search on unboxing videos, and you’ll find millions of results.
These videos generate hype and excitement around your brand. They’re also an example of social proof that really highlights the real experience of your products.
So, try to encourage unboxing videos if possible. You can send out boxes to influencers, industry experts, and popular YouTube channels in your niche. Share these videos to your social networks, and you’ll get more users interested in your products.
Share Your Product in Use
Your eCommerce store is probably full of product photos, but how many of them are of actual people using your product? Create social media posts that show people using your products in real life.
This makes it easier for customers to visualize your products, and it adds an element of reality to online shopping. This use of social proof is a must.
So, try to encourage this type of social proof wherever possible. Encourage customers to share their experiences with your products, share customer experiences on social media, and run social promotions to help gather more user-generated content for your company.
4. Create Urgency on Your eCommerce Store
Your eCommerce store shouldn’t just be listing products for your customers to buy. You should be creating urgency, generating FOMO, and getting your customers inspired to make a purchase straight away. This is a powerful and popular example of social proof.
This type of social proof is all about triggering a sense of needing to hit “Buy” straight away. Whether this is by offering “best selling” products, or displaying related products that “customers also chose”, the idea is to use social proof to generate a sense of FOMO and buying urgency.
Beyond this, generating urgency also helps the customer to feel like you’ve got their back. It’s a way of showing customers that you’re helping them to choose the best products, or you’re helping them to buy what they want before it’s too late.
This nudges them closer to finishing a purchase by establishing a sense of urgency in getting their hands on your product as soon as possible.
Some ways to use social proof for creating urgency include:
- Creating lists of_ trending or best selling_ products
- Show your stock levels. For example, “only 5 left”
- Show the number of people viewing the product to create a sense of urgency
- Provide a recommended list of products based off what other customers have also purchased
- Let Customers Ask and Answer Questions
An excellent form of social proof is to build up a community of your customers. You can get existing customers chatting to prospective new customers to help them make a decision. An easy and powerful way to do this is to add a questions and answers section on your website next to your products.
Doing this allows you to generate social proof while your new customers get their queries answered. Existing customers can influence new customers based on their experiences.
Your company could also create social media communities, or create a space on your website to build a community of customers. The goal is to engage with customers, get them sharing their experiences about your product, and chatting to other customers about this.
6. Social Proof From Industry Experts
“9 out of 10 chefs prefer our olive oil”. Well, if most chefs recommend your olive oil, then it must be the best for me. Right?
This is the idea behind using industry leaders to generate social proof. We trust recognized experts in the industry, so if it’s best for them then it must be best for us too. Getting recognized industry experts to recommend your product also helps to position your business as an industry leader.
Something as small as using words like “expert” or “pro” when describing your business can help to generate authority in the eyes of the customer. Let customers connect with your “expert advice” when they’re on your website, and always be available to reach out for help.
Creating this industry leader identity is a valuable type of social proof that can certainly boost the sale of your products and services.
7. Influencer Marketing
When discussing social proof, you can’t overlook the power of the influencer. Today influencers play a major role in social marketing. This form of social influencing helps to push your products and services to a much bigger audience, as well as generate valuable social proof for your business.
Try to find the right, well-known influencers that appeal to your target audience, and get them to post photos or videos that leave a positive impact.
The whole idea of Instagram influencers is based on social proof. They exist to use their platform to influence their following. Using Instagram influencers can help you become visible to their social audience and get more people interested in your product or service.
The trick is to work with the right influencers. Their platform should appeal to your target market, so when they share your product or service, you will; be able to reach a whole new base of potential new customers.
8. Social Proof Collaborations
Much like working with influencers and industry experts, collaborations with other brands are another exciting form of social proof to help generate trust around your business. Say a brand partners up with another leading brand, they help to gain more authority. Because if that business trusts the brand, then we as customers should trust them too?
Collaborations as social proof are a great way to reach new markets and get your product out to new users. You can run co-branded marketing from both of your channels to boost the success of your campaigns and increase your visibility.
Look for businesses that would be a good fit for your brand, and think of ways to run collaborations. This area of social proof can add immense value to your business.
9. Trust Badges
Social proof is all about giving people a reason to choose your business, and using trust badges is a great way of achieving this. Trust badges help to give your business authority, and they can increase conversions by making the customer feel more willing to buy your product.
Trust badges include things like awards, media mentions, company certifications, and so on. If your makeup brand is recognized as being cruelty-free, then that’s an excellent trust badge example. Maybe your product was mentioned in the New York Times? You can create a trust badge for that.
Display trust badges on your platform to get visitors to recognize you as a business to trust. Even if the accolades or badges are not well known, something like “Online Office Supply Retailer of the Year” will help to position you as a leader.
Testimonials are one of the most classic social proof examples. Any kind of business can use testimonials, and testimonials can have a huge impact on conversions.
To get testimonials to form social proof for your business, simply reach out to happy customers and ask them to submit a testimonial. This could be in written form, or it could even be a video. Post your testimonial on your website, social channels, or ads.
Testimonials are easy ways to show that you have satisfied customers, and they can help to build trust and inspiration for new customers. When thinking about social proof in marketing, testimonials should always be considered.
Another popular example of social proof that is often related to testimonials is the case study. You can publish case studies of happy customers on your blog or social media channels to increase social proof and trust. A good case study will help to show how your company can add value, and it helps new customers to see what you could do for them.
Social proof comes in many different forms. If you’re looking to enhance your eCommerce marketing strategy (or any kind of marketing strategy for that matter), then social proof can offer big results. This is a must for increasing conversions of visitors into customers.
And the best part of social proof is that it really doesn’t require that much from your company. Social proof can also be effectively shared through other marketing channels, such as email marketing, to help create a greater impact.
If your company is not making use of social proof yet, then now's the time to start! Follow the actionable tips above, and you will soon see positive results.