Marketing August 31, 2016 Last updated August 30th, 2016 2,179 Reads share

How Your Business Can Benefit From Social Proof

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If you find yourself losing ground to your competitors, it may not be because they have more social proof than you, which is more persuasive for landing new customers.

What is Social Proof?

Social proof is based on the idea that if others are doing something, you should too. There can be lots of different factors that go into influencing a person’s buying decisions, and social proof is an often overlooked way to improve sales and conversions.

When people are weighing up their options, they will often look to other people for guidance and to get their opinions. If they can see strong evidence that your business is popular with customers and that these customers are happy enough to recommend you to others, your chances of clinching a sale are much better.

How often have you looked at product reviews while you’re weighing up whether to buy something? As many as 70% of consumers do this before making a purchase.

Social proof goes much further than this but it’s just a small indicator of its power.

Some examples of social proof include:

  • User/customer reviews (either on your own product pages or on third party sites such as Amazon)
  • Testimonials from happy customers
  • Case studies
  • Media mentions

Why Does Social Proof Matter So Much?

When it is done right, social proof is a big marketing tool and has obvious pulling power.  

In fact, it’s a big challenge to convince customers to do business with you if you don’t have much in the way of social proof to influence their decisions.

This is because it increases trust and credibility, and makes people feel that they are buying into something that has been given the thumbs up by other customers. This takes a lot of the risk out of buying process and makes it easier to justify transactions in their mind.

Think about it from a customer’s point of view. They look at your competitors and see clear evidence that other people are buying from them. They hear good things about the impact that their products/services have had for these people. They see the seal of approval from happy customers. And, they feel confident that they are making a good choice in doing business with this company.

If you don’t have a good level of social proof, you’re missing out on a great chance to persuade customers that they should choose your business over your rivals.

Compelling and persuasive content will only get you so far; social proof will often be the push needed to seal the deal.

How to Leverage Social Proof for Your Business

So now you know why social proof is such a key but often overlooked part of a good marketing strategy and chances are, you’ll be itching to start reaping the benefits for your own business.

Here are some of the ways you can begin to build social proof for your business:

#1. Customer Reviews

Potential customers are much more likely to turn into actual customers if they can see that others are benefitting from using your business.

There are a few ways you can this. The most obvious one is to let customers add reviews to your website and display these prominently.

Sephora have reviews and ratings on product pages, for example:

They also display the number of reviews, star rating and “loves” from customers so that the popularity of products can be seen at a glance:

ExampleofSocialProofCustomerRatings

Alternatively, you can take a leaf out of LCN’s book and use a third-party review service as part of your social proof. They show both their star rating and the number of reviews received on TrustPilot to show how strongly their customers trust them.

ExampleofSocialProofRatings2

#2. Testimonials

Testimonials are very powerful if they specifically demonstrate the main benefits that your business can bring for potential customers and prove that you have helped people just like them.

If they can strongly identify with the situation that your endorsers were originally in and become convinced that your business can help them to achieve similar results, there’s a very good chance that they will be swayed by the testimonial.

Here’s how Freshbooks reaches out to their target demographic through testimonials that tap into the cash flow and time management problems that so many small business owners dread and positions themselves as a product that will change your business and your life.

ExampleofSocialProofTestimonials

Including photos as well as names in testimonials gives added credibility to the quotes. Photo testimonials have been shown to increase trust over purely text based ones.

If you can link testimonials to a strong call-to-action, you’re onto a winner!

If you can get the thumbs-up from industry experts too for testimonials, you’re even better placed. Influencer marketing is becoming increasingly powerful, not least because their endorsements tend to inspire action from their followers.

Freshbooks include testimonials from well-known brands on their homepage, including one from Forbes. Given that their target market is business owners, this one is a big plus.

ExampleofSocialProofIndustryInfluencer

Influencers garner a lot of trust so if you can utilise this form of social proof, you can build even more credibility for your business.

#3. Case Studies

Case studies are along similar lines to testimonials but they are much more detailed. They typically go in depth to cover the problems faced by a particular customer, why you were best placed to help them and how you ultimately did this. 

#4. Social Media Mentions

If your business is mentioned positively on the likes of Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, you may want to consider embedding them onto individual posts on your website.

This gives them a more permanent showcase than they would have on social media, where things move fast and are often missed altogether.

Here, LCN have embedded Tweets onto their homepage in slideshow format:

ExampleofSocialProofSocialMediaMentions

#5. Stats

How many people have used your product or service? If the numbers are good, use them to your advantage.

Statistics can be a compelling way to encourage the persuasive Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) by highlighting how many people have already acted.

This is illustrated in the example below, in which Social Media Examiner urges potential subscribers to join the hundreds of thousands of people who have already signed up.

ExampleofSocialProofStats

LCN use stats to showcase their popularity on various social media platforms and invite their website visitors to join them. Again, this is a classic example of FOMO:

ExampleofSocialProofCommunityStats

Are you using social proof as an effective marketing tool for your business? If you’re not doing so already, will you be looking to do more of this to build your credibility and make potential customers more likely to buy from you?

Images: Author’s Own

Sally Aquire

Sally Aquire

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