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5 Things You Must Know About Social Proof as a Marketing Tool

As the sharing economy grows and Google’s bots get more intelligent by the minute, the Internet has become like a giant fish bowl. Everything written, uploaded, recorded or discussed is visible online to anyone, anywhere. The Internet has given voice to even the humblest of consumers, uniting them with an audience ready and willing to listen to their words.

Social proof as a marketing tool has become more important than remarketing, advertising and even discounts and offers. Statistics show that 7/10 Americans browse online and read consumer reviews before making a buying decision. They’re also almost 12 times more likely to trust a customer review than your own product description.

Positive social proof can raise your sales volume by up to 18%. So if people are talking about your business, you’ll want to make sure it’s good things they’re saying. A strategically executed influencer marketing campaign can work wonders to raise your company’s credibility.

5 Things You Must Know About Social Proof as a Marketing Tool

But, if you don’t have the budget to reach key celebrities or influencers in your area, don’t underestimate the power of your customers. What consumers have to say about your products can yield even better results, with significantly lower costs. Let’s take a look at how to use social proof as a marketing tool for your business.

1. People Love a Good Story

When you start using reviews and testimonials in your marketing strategy, be sure to highlight the ones that include a good story. A customer who’s rated your product with five stars is a great achievement, but it’s not enough to convince a large number of potential buyers. They want to hear about the story behind the purchase to understand the situation that leads to their positive feedback. When people can imagine themselves using your product, they’ll be more confident about making a purchase.

So find those customer reviews that can really make a difference. Look for an honest voice and a real life situation in which your product has improved the customer’s life — then let the story do the hard work for you. If you can collect enough positive consumer reviews to place on your homepage, this can be much more powerful than industry accreditations or other qualifications.

Whatever you do, make sure that the reviews are authentic – don’t feel tempted to invent an outstanding positive review. This practice is illegal and can ruin your reputation for good.

2. Testimonials Are Essential

Testimonials work for every business, no matter what you’re selling. How do they vary from customer reviews? Not much, except that “testimonials” is a term generally coined by the B2B industry and they are usually shorter and to the point. There’s something that feels very honest about testimonials, even if you write the text yourself and have the client approve it.

They key feature of testimonials is to highlight the person or company behind the write-up, so ask your client for their name, position, and a photo. If potential buyers can easily identify themselves with your happy customers, then you’ll have a higher influence over the buying decision.

Investing in some video testimonials could increase your conversion rate even faster, as people tend to pay more attention to videos than to written content. Keep them short and let people tell their stories naturally, without insisting on an artificial script.

3. Submit Your Product for Review at Consumer Review Sites

Hiding from customer reviews is definitely a bad idea. So even if you don’t want to feature any reviews on your own site, be aware that consumers will be seeking information from other sources. Thanks to the growing social proof phenomenon, a plethora of online shopping peer review sites have cropped up in just about every industry.

From buying the right laptop or renting the right car, to purchasing a suitable mattress. Many of these sites are started by people who are passionate about spreading the word and making sure consumers get what they need.

The $14-billion-dollar mattress industry is an excellent example of this. For years it was dominated by industry giants like Tempur-Pedic, famous for its high markup prices and poor explanation of what consumers were getting with each purchase.

Companies like Casper and Eve Mattresses have begun to take the power away from these giants by selling directly to the consumer and drastically reducing the price. Influencers like Stephen May from Memory Foam Doctor have set up sites to provide their honest opinions, along with the retailer’s description and thousands of customer reviews.

He enthuses “because all reviews are completely unbiased and no money is offered in exchange for a review, customers can trust that they’ll find only transparent and truthful information here”.

Submitting your product to a customer review site will certainly get you more exposure. Of course, you risk the possibility that some customers won’t like your product, but if you’re confident in what you sell, the good reviews will outweigh the negative ones.

4. Reviews That Include Photos Are More Effective

According to a study by the US National Center for Biotechnology Information, the most effective way to present your reviews is by including a photo with the words. People like looking at other people on the web, and including a photo with the review instills more confidence in your potential customer.

This is not such a psychological response as a physical one – people respond well to visual elements. Something as simple as a photo with a review can help increase your credibility and sales. So substitute your elaborate product descriptions with some complete, honest peer reviews. They work better because they speak your customer’s language.

5. Not All Proof is Good Proof

If you don’t have some kind of inclusion of social proof on your website, people may start asking how trustworthy your company is. But if you’re going to make up reviews, or add a couple of half-complete or short reviews, with no visuals, no names and a notable lack of detail; then you’d be better off adding no social proof at all.

Customize your website to highlight your strengths, rather than weaknesses and try to build up your reviews by asking customers to leave feedback. The only thing worse than no social proof is bad social proof, so leave the consumer reviews off of your homepage until you have enough to populate it.

Image: Social proof word cloud concept with network media related tags


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Will Blears is an entrepreneur and blogger over at One Mans Brand where he helps teach people how to make an income from online marketing. Connect with @williamblears on Twitter http://www.OneMansBrand.com

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