Social Proof: The Most Powerful Weapon in All of Digital Marketing
You may not realize it, but you’ve been influenced by social proof. When you see your favorite celebrity wearing a particular brand, or when all of your friends are raving about a new software app, that is social proof in action. It can also come in the form of Amazon reviews, or a positive mention in a Buzzfeed listicle article.
Social proof is a psychological phenomenon that says we are hardwired to learn from the actions of others, and marketers have been capitalizing on this behavior for a long time. Social proof can come in many forms — some more explicit than others — and we will explain how your business can use psychology to build credibility online and generate momentum for future sales.
Before we go into social proof, let’s discuss the five main pillars and places where you can get social proof for your service or product.
- Experts – Credible bloggers, business leaders, or voices of authority can all have tremendous influence on your sales. If you list one as a client, you must let people know.
- Celebrities – Famous people have always had a huge influence on the habits of consumers.
- Users of the product – People that have purchased and used a product have a valued opinion amongst your audience. User reviews are highly valuable. Even negative reviews prove that people are engaging with your product.
- Wisdom of the crowd – An example of this is a ‘most popular menu item’ at a restaurant. You are more likely to buy something because other people have bought it in the past.
- Wisdom of friends – Your friends and acquaintances will have the most influence when it comes to your purchasing habits.
Social proof comes from these five areas, but how exactly can you build social proof around your product? We suggest trying a combination of these strategies.
- Gathering online ratings and reviews is fairly obvious, as companies like Google and Yelp have built empires out of this type of marketing. However, you will need to implement a scoring system (1 star to 5 stars) in order to make this function smoothly as social proof. People will want to quickly see what people think, and not read through each review. Another thing to note is that 88% of consumers trust user reviews as much as personal recommendations. However, the average consumer also reads 10 reviews before making a purchase decision, so it is important to gather a lot of reviews – positive or negative. While negative reviews may seem negative, it shows consumers that people are engaging with your product and your brand.
- Testimonials are another impactful way to showcase social proof. In fact, there are now entire companies that are dedicated to gathering testimonials for other products and services. Credibility is high with testimonials because you have someone outside of your brand doing the talking, and video testimonials are worth their weight in gold. Include your testimonials throughout your website, and especially in places where purchases can be made. If you have noteworthy customers, kindly ask them to share their experience and offer them an incentive for sharing their insight.
- Use badges and media logos to efficiently showcase your partnerships or accolades. Displaying the badges of high-profile businesses that you have worked with or have received recognition from is an easy way to grab attention and also gain credibility. Placing logos or badges on your website won’t take up too much space on a site or make it feel too heavy. If your service was mentioned on television, in an interview, or in a report, let people know. The three magical words ‘As seen on’ can do wonders for your sales.
- Influencer endorsements are also priceless when it comes to shifting opinions about your business. If you can get someone with influence in your industry to say something positive about your product, then others will likely listen. Display these comments prominently on your homepage. Think about books — the first few pages are always littered with praise from other authors or critics. Do the same with your web page. However, be wary of unsolicited inquiries from social media influencers. Often times, it is their way of getting a free product, with no intention of boosting your sales. If you are solicited, it is advised to create a limited-time access code so that you can track and see if an ‘influencer’ is actually boosting sales or not. This tactic can scare away influencers that are only after free products.
- Use the crowd to your benefit and showcase subscriber counts and social connections. People like to move with the herd, and if they see that 50,000 people have liked you on Facebook or subscribed to your newsletters, they are more likely to follow suit. This is especially true when you can show them how many of their friends have already liked your page or subscribed. The only trouble with using the crowd is that you need an established base, which can take time to grow if you’re just beginning to build social proof. However, this kind of investment will compound over time.
- Use FOMO, or the “fear of missing out.” Consumers tend to feel more driven to purchase things when they are in short supply. This is the reason why e-commerce flash sales are conducted so often and with such great results. People hate to miss out on a good deal, so this is a great forcing-function on decision making.
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