Smart marketers know that social proof is a highly effective tool of influence and that it can increase conversion rates dramatically.
Just think about it.
When was the last time you went to a movie, ate at a restaurant, or bought a product online, without reading a review first?
If you can’t remember then you’re not alone. It turns out that over 90% of customers’ buying decisions are influenced by the reviews they read.
Today it’s rare for a consumer not to do some research prior to making their purchasing decision. We may ask a friend, check out a social network, or read some reviews, but chances are we’ll seek some form of SOCIAL PROOF before we buy.
Sure there’s still a few fly by the seat of your pants risk-takers among us who are less interested in what others think, but for the majority, social proof is critical to our decision-making process.
What is Social Proof?
While it may be unfair to say that people are often like sheep, we do tend to follow the herd.
Social proof is an accepted psychological phenomenon where people feel more comfortable conforming to what other people do under the assumption that those actions are reflective of the best course of action.
Marketers leverage the power of social proof to reduce anxiety or concern among prospects and increase the likelihood of conversion.
The bottom line is we are more likely to TRUST a review than a sales message. In fact, research shows we are 12-times more likely to buy a product based on a positive product review by an independent source, than if we simply read the sales copy from the manufacturer.
It’s estimated that as many as 70 percent of online consumers look at a product review prior to making a purchasing decision.
In other words, we feel significantly more confident that we are making a smart buying decision if we have access to unbiased 3rd party feedback, rather than the brand itself telling us that the product is good.
Now that you understand the power of social proof, let’s look at how you can use it on your website.
Here are 5 powerful strategies that you could apply to your website.
1. Raw Numbers
One popular strategy for quickly highlighting the popularity of a product or service is to show the number of clients you serve.
Here’s an example from a training centre in Delhi
Here’s how Shopify uses social proof.
The number of countries where you attract listening to your podcast, etc.
The more people you can demonstrate you influence, the greater the trust people will have in the value of your work.
Another effective example of social proof are testimonials.
The key to using a testimonial is that it addresses the overcoming of a commonly experienced challenge or problem and ideally demonstrates a measurable transformation.
Here’s an example of one of the testimonials we’ve received.
“Our marketing mindset has shifted 180°. By applying what we have learnt from Paul, we have doubled both our average order size and number of sales.
Joining his programs has been without doubt the single best investment we have made in the growth of our business.”
Raie and Jamie Lyth, Web Ideas
This testimonial is a great example of the type of transformational experience that clients have when they shift their marketing mindset.
According to research done by Nielsen, 92% of people will trust a recommendation from a peer and 70% of people will trust a recommendation from someone they don’t even know, so a well-placed testimonial can have a huge impact on a buying decision.
To maximise the power of your testimonials, it’s important to include the name of the person (or people in this case) as well as a photo. Studies show that a photo dramatically improves the conversion potential of a testimonial.
If you want to position your expertise and demonstrate that you are a trusted source of knowledge in your field of expertise, then sharing the media outlets where you have been featured is a smart idea.
You’ll often see a list like this on the webpage of an industry expert.
The reason is simple. It works. This type of proof is not only helpful in building trust with a prospective buyer, it’s also very effective at helping gain more media exposure for you and your business.
4. Clients (you’ve worked with)
If you have a list of well known clients that have used your services, then it’s a good idea to share the list.
Knowing that other companies have used or are using your product or services helps accelerate the buying decision and allows the prospect to gain an instant sense of confidence in your abilities.
Last year I ran a speaking training program with two great speaking buddies of mine, David Penglase and Lisa McInnes-Smith.
Here is a list of the clients we have collectively spoken to.
It also provides companies looking to engage us as speakers with a great deal of confidence that we can deliver a great presentation.
Here’s another example from Kissmetrics.
5. Ratings and Reviews
When you see other people have taken the time to write a review and are giving the product or service a 5-Star rating (as opposed to a 2-Star rating), you become significantly more likely to buy than if there were no reviews available.
As consumers, we draw comfort and confidence from the opinion of others. Even though these people are strangers to us, their feedback makes us feel better about our buying decisions and reinforces that it is a good idea.
• Social Media Proof
• And many others
The fact is SOCIAL PROOF is a powerful and effective marketing tool and one that you should definitely include in your marketing efforts.
We’d love your feedback on this post – let us know what you thought.