Have you ever bought something just because your best friend raved about it? Or because it seemed like everyone around you had one, triggering a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out)? If so, you’ve experienced the influence of social proof.
Consumers naturally seek assurance that their purchasing decisions are informed and that they will get good value for money. However, they’re often sceptical about a company’s own claims about how great their products are. This is where social proof steps in. Social proof provides consumers with third-party opinions and objective peer reviews. It offers a level of trust that self-promotion simply can’t achieve. Savvy businesses harness the power of social proof to influence consumer behaviour, elevate brand credibility, and drive business growth.
Are you ready to learn more about how social proofing can help you enhance brand perception and win more conversions? This guide to social proofing explores what social proofing is and provides useful tips and advice for implementing effective strategies.
To understand social proofing, you must begin with the concept of social proof.
The term “social proof” was first coined back in 1984 by a psychologist called Robert Cialdini. Social proof refers to humans’ psychological tendency to seek cues from their peers when unsure about a situation. If people see others engaging in certain behaviour, they’re more likely to follow suit, guided by a sort of “herd mentality”.
In marketing, this psychological principle can be used to influence consumer behaviour. People are more likely to buy something if they can see social proof that their peers have given the product or service a thumbs up.
If you’re a marketer, then “social proofing” is an action-orientated term that refers to implementing strategies and techniques to leverage the power of social proof. Examples of social proofing include displaying testimonials on your website or collecting and displaying reviews on a third-party website.
Harnessing the power of social proof can help marketers to influence consumer choices and behaviour.
Social proofing helps make everyone’s lives easier; it’s a win-win for both consumers and businesses. It makes the decision-making process faster and simpler for consumers by offering trustworthy, third-party opinions. For businesses, it allows existing satisfied customers to become brand advocates, helping to propel business growth with minimal effort from the business.
You don’t just need to take our word for it either; just look at these social proofing statistics. According to Global News Wire, 95% of consumers read online reviews before buying a product.
Here are some key reasons why social proofing is indispensable.
In today’s saturated market, credibility can help your business stand out. Social proofing throughout your marketing shows consumers that many of their peers are using and endorsing your products or services, helping bolster your brand’s credibility amongst its target audience.
Enhances business reputation and brand perception
It’s easier for businesses that boast hundreds or even thousands of 5-star reviews and positive testimonials to grab their target audience’s attention. A strong social proofing strategy can enhance public perception of your brand and strengthen your reputation.
Influences consumer behaviour
Using social proofing strategies helps businesses to influence consumer behaviour. When potential customers see many others enthusiastically endorsing your product, they’re more likely to get excited about it too and jump on the bandwagon.
Trust is the cornerstone of any successful business relationship. Featuring user reviews or case studies on your website helps build the trust required to nudge consumers to purchase your product.
Fosters strong customer relationships
Social proofing isn’t just about acquiring new customers; it also plays a key role in retaining existing ones and winning repeat customers. Showcasing social proof helps to reinforce the value of your product or service and encourages brand loyalty.
Increases conversion rates
Ultimately, all these factors work harmoniously to help you achieve one important outcome – increase conversion rates and drive business growth.
Social proof takes many different forms and looks different from one business to the next. For instance, a B2B company that sells industrial parts would leverage social proof differently than a B2C brand selling cosmetics.
So, what are the different types of social proof you can incorporate into your marketing strategy? Let’s find out to help identify which are right for your business.
- Customer reviews and photos – Customer reviews are the most prevalent and influential type of social proof. Genuine feedback from existing customers not only helps alleviate any potential concerns but also nurtures trust, motivating prospective customers to purchase. The more positive reviews a business or product has, the easier it is to build credibility and trust among your audience.
- Customer testimonials – Testimonials are quotes from satisfied customers. They act as an endorsement of your product and help build credibility.
- Customer case studies – Case studies are in-depth stories about how a product or service has helped solve a particular customer problem. B2B companies more commonly use case studies.
- Before and after pictures – Before and after pictures provide a visual representation of the effectiveness of a product and the results that customers can expect to achieve with a product or service. They are particularly popular in industries like health and beauty and home improvement.
- “Bestseller” and “most popular” tags – Tagging certain products as “Best Seller” or “Most Popular” taps into the collective “wisdom of the crowd”. Consumers can feel more confident in their buying decisions if they feel it’s what others are buying.
- Star ratings – Displaying a product or service’s star rating is a quick and effective way of communicating the general opinion of previous customers.
- Reviews on third-party websites like Google and Trustpilot – Reviews on third-party platforms like Google and Trustpilot offer an unbiased opinion about your product, enhancing its credibility.
- Number of followers on social media – If a business has a particularly large following on top social websites like Facebook, TikTok, or Instagram, it indicates brand popularity and can influence newcomers to jump on the bandwagon.
- Purchase counts – Displaying a purchase count next to products, e.g. “15 people have bought this in the last 24 hours”, uses urgency and wisdom of the crowd to encourage visitors to make a purchase.
- Influencer and celebrity endorsements – Endorsements from well-known personalities can quickly elevate your brand or product’s status due to their significant social influence.
- Endorsements from industry experts – When an industry expert vouches for your product, it boosts its credibility and fosters trust amongst your target audience.
- Logos for well-known brands that are customers – Displaying the logos of well-known brands in your client base can be a potent form of social proof for boosting B2B conversions.
- Certifications and awards – Displaying evidence of any certifications or awards that your brand or products have earned helps to establish your brand as trustworthy and respected in its field.
From amassing customer reviews to capitalising on influencer endorsements, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most effective strategies for elevating your brand’s credibility, nurturing customer trust, and boosting conversion rates using social proofing.
Collect customer reviews
Implement a process for collecting customer reviews. This could involve setting up automated emails that request a review post-purchase, registering on third-party review platforms, or integrating a customer review app with your website. Once the reviews start pouring in, ensure you are proactive at managing and responding to all reviews, good or bad.
Strategically display reviews and testimonials
Once you’ve started gathering reviews, you need a thoughtful strategy for maximising their impact. Display reviews and testimonials prominently- on your homepage, product pages, landing pages, or even print advertising materials – give these testimonials pride of place across all your marketing channels.
Don’t be shy about showcasing your brand’s social proof – after all, you’ve earned it! Create compelling content focusing on influencer endorsements, customer testimonials, before and after visuals, and case studies. Distribute this content via social media and email newsletters to ensure it gets seen by both existing and potential customers.
Leverage user-generated content
Ensure you’ve got your ear to the ground on the social media platforms you know your customers use. Practice social listening to ensure you don’t miss conversations or posts surrounding your brand. Re-share any positive mentions of your brand or products, whether in the form of reviews, blogs, or videos. User-generated content is a cost-effective and authentic form of social proof you can’t ignore.
Create case studies
Don’t hesitate to approach satisfied customers for case studies. Gather measurable metrics that demonstrate their success with your products or services – be it customer acquisition rates, time saved, or operational efficiencies. Create a narrative detailing their journey, from their initial challenges to the transformative impact of your product or service. Share this narrative through various channels, including a dedicated case studies page on your website, social media, and email newsletters.
Forge relationships with influencers whose values align with your brand. Their endorsements can provide invaluable social proof and expand your reach.
If you want to integrate social proofing features on your website like “Bestseller” and “Most Popular” tags and product star ratings, speak to a web developer or install a relevant app or plugin on your website. We’ll find out more about these next.
Social proofing apps and plugins
Social proofing? There’s an app for that!
We’ve identified a few of the top social proofing apps and plugins for WordPress and Shopify.
“Turn any live activity into social proof and urgency nudges, convert browsers into buyers, easily.”
Top 5 features of Nudgify:
- Real-time social proof – Displays live notifications of recent purchases and a live visitor count.
- Scarcity and FOMO triggers – Shows real-time add-to-cart notifications, low stock levels, and ‘selling fast’ nudges.
- Free delivery incentives – Displays a ‘free delivery’ nudge that shows the amount they need to add to their basket to qualify for free shipping.
- Time-sensitive ordering – Displays an ‘order soon’ nudge that presents a deadline for a specific delivery date.
- One-click discounts – Displays a ‘discount’ nudge that allows customers to apply a promotional code with one click.
Free plan available.
“Customer reviews, photos, videos, referrals, and social proof upsells. All in one place.”
Top 5 features of Loox:
- Automated review collection – Automatically sends customised emails and review forms to customers.
- Incentivised visual reviews – Offers discounts to customers who submit more engaging photo or video reviews.
- Customisable visual widgets – Choose from various social proof widgets, including carousals, pop-ups, and badges.
- Multi-platform review synchronisation – Sync reviews to various platforms, including Google Search, Google Shopping, and Meta Shops, to enhance visibility.
- One-click referrals and upsells – Easy-to-implement one-click referrals and social proof-based upsells.
Prices start at $9.99/month.
“Collect and display product reviews and star ratings. Build trust and boost sales with social proof.”
Top 5 features of Judge.me:
- Unlimited automatic email review requests – Enables unlimited automatic email requests for reviews, complete with options for photos, videos, and convenient in-email review forms, making it easy for customers to share their experiences.
- Variety of display options – Enhance your storefront with widgets displaying star ratings, store and product reviews, trust badges, and a rotating reviews carousel.
- Social media and search integration – Share reviews across social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and X (formerly Twitter).
- Customer engagement tools – Enable greater customer engagement using the Questions and Answers feature.
- Review syndication – Automatically syndicate reviews across platforms.
Free plan available.
“TrustPulse is the honest marketing platform that leverages and automates the power of social proof to instantly increase trust, conversions, and sales.”
Top 5 features of TrustPulse:
- Real-time event tracking – Real-time tracking and on-site notifications of events like purchases, sign-ups, and more.
- “On Fire” notifications – The “On Fire” feature displays the number of people taking a specific action on your site within a given period.
- Advanced targeting and timing – Allows for sophisticated targeting and timing of notifications.
- Customisable design – Customise the design of pop-ups and notifications to complement your website’s look and feel.
- In-depth analytics – Offers in-depth analytics to help you measure views and conversions and tweak your campaigns for optimum performance.
Prices start at $9/month.
“Display sales notifications and skyrocket conversion rates.”
Top 5 features of NotificationX:
- Many different notification types – Offers a wide range of alert types, including sales notifications, WP comments, email subscriptions, and custom notifications.
- User-friendly interface – The intuitive interface makes creating notifications for your website fast and simple.
- Robust API – Robuse API and query optimisations mean notifications load quickly and smoothly to enhance the user experience.
- Advanced customisation and targeting – Extensive customisation options for display settings and advanced integrations.
- In-depth analytics – Advanced analytics help you understand how your notifications are performing.
Free plan available.
“Set-and-forget testimonial plugin for WordPress.”
Key features of Thrive Ovation:
- Automated testimonial collection – Set up automated testimonial collection methods, including dedicated landing pages, blog posts, or opt-in forms.
- One-click WordPress comment conversion – Instantly convert WordPress comments into testimonials with just one click.
- Social media integration – Integrate with social media platforms like Facebook to easily transform social media mentions into testimonials.
- Tagging and sorting – Flexible tagging system for organising testimonials into different categories.
- Approval email system – Option to send an approval email to the person who wrote the testimonial to gain explicit permission to use it.
Prices start at $49/year.
Is your business currently leveraging social proof to build credibility and trust?
If you’re ready to get more value from the positive customer testimonials and reviews you’ve worked so hard to earn, speak to our team of web design experts here at Create8!
Whether you need help with promoting customer reviews more prominently, integrating FOMO notifications on your eCommerce store, help overcoming social proofing challenges, or advice on which apps and platforms to use, our team can help you kickstart your social proofing strategy.