Businesses and marketers are increasingly using social proof to create positive customer engagement around their products and services, which in turn can increase conversions that contribute to the bottom line.
After all, it’s not just about getting users to your website, but it’s about ultimately keeping them there to become a real customer. To do that, businesses need to understand exactly what social proof is and what techniques are best for promoting this highly effective marketing strategy.
What is Social Proof?
People are driven by certain behaviors, whether they realize it or not, and one of them is sticking with the group. Plenty of research backs this up, such as the Asch conformity experiments. However, social proof in the marketing community simply refers to using these crowds and their input to create positive connections with a brand or business.
Essentially, your business wants to harness this very human urge to connect with other people, whether it’s friends or even anonymous users on the Web. Whenever people are talking about a business, or using its services, or connecting with it in large numbers through social media, this helps other people know that this company has value that people naturally want to be a part of.
Comments, User Reviews & Social Media
Nothing builds social proof like community. And nothing builds community like comments from real people.
Think about the comments that people leave on your landing pages that could lead to conversions. Comments can provide an absurd amount of social credibility if you take the time to respond and provide assistance to people.
The 86 (and growing) comments on this My Advertising Pays community page only drive up conversions and encourage people to buy the product:
Notice each comment has a personal response. This turned a normal review page into a full-out community where people are encouraged to participate. This “social proof” has only increased conversions for this page.
One of the most popular and effective methods for gaining social proof is through product reviews. A study by Harvard Business School demonstrated that a one-star increase in a business’s Yelp review led to an increase of sales between 5 and 9 percent. The study demonstrates that users are constantly evaluating what others are saying when it comes to making their purchasing decisions.
Amazon is perhaps one of the most famous business models relying on a customer review strategy to sell, especially when it comes to selling products. However, Amazon demonstrates the success of companies that allow users to provide input given the increased trust it produces in potential customers.
Social media is perhaps one of the most important strategies for generating social proof. But, you have to learn to optimize your social media credentials to drive conversions.
Using Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus are all about connecting users to your site and landing conversions. In fact, something as simple as demonstrating how many “likes” you have from Facebook on your landing page has been shown to increase conversions even when all other elements between competing sites remain the same.
Publishing Stories & Testimonials
Building a network of stories and shared experiences around your site is important as well. Social proof is achieved when enough of these shared experiences generate other user stories based on the human desire to participate.
Examples include how your company’s app helps or entertains them on a daily basis or how your real estate company has led people to connect with the home of their dreams. No matter what company you’re running, it’s all about finding the human angle that speaks to a wide audience. If people can “visualize” your business’s services in their own lives through storytelling, this builds the social proof they need to connect with your website and company’s services.
A great way to successfully build social proof with users is through video testimonials. Allowing people to picture how others are benefitting from your company helps build an immediate and personal connection.
TopTenReviews did this with their Web hosting reviews and uploaded them to their YouTube channel. Using real people and real feedback data, they started producing videos that added more value and authenticity to their Web hosting review pages:
Try placing a testimonial video directly on your landing page or upfront on your webpage, so it’s one of the first impressions a potential customer has when visiting your site.
Use Numbers Effectively
Statistics can also convince visitors that they should believe in your services. Examples include pointing to the number of clients you have, how many people have signed up for your website’s services, or how many people are using your product.
It’s not about just raw numbers either. If your business has worked with other well-known businesses, think about putting their logos on your website to help you leverage the credibility of other brands people know and trust.
If you’re a smaller business, stick to a smaller scale to generate social proof, such as individual reviews or testimonials that bring a more personal touch. As your numbers become more impressive, think about adding some of them to your website.
Basecamp, a company that provides project management tools to other companies, has a great landing page that you can really learn from:
As soon as you come to their page, you’re introduced to how many people signed up for their service in the previous week, helping any visitor see that many others value this company. Basecamp also points out that over 15,000,000 people have used their services in total, which immediately indicates the “crowd” has accepted their service.
Additionally, the main page lists the companies that Basecamp works with, such as Etsy, Twitter and even NASA, which helps reinforce the quality of Basecamp’s brand. When you work with big companies like that, you immediately want to point it out. Finally, you can see projects finished by other companies using Basecamp, helping potential customers see how Basecamp’s tools can work for them. All of these factors help build social proof’ for anyone eager to try their services.
In closing, as social media networks have grown and the Internet has become ever more reliant on users and their input to sway public opinion, social proof is more important than ever. By following some of these strategies for building social proof, you can ultimately increase your sales and leads.
Did you like this article? Please check out my other Crazy Egg articles on conversion optimization here.