Social Proof Helps You Get More Customers
Thanks to social media and review websites, anyone who has an opinion on your business can share it for the entire world to see. Sometimes this is a good thing, but you can’t always expect that every person who comes in contact with you, your business’s representatives, or even your website are going to be pleased with the interaction.
This is why you should take matters into your own hands and publish social proof to your website (both positive and negative). You’ll have more control over your business’s online reputation while also staying attuned to customer commentary in real time.
What Is Social Proof?
You know how people say, “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it, too?” Social proof is like that. It’s basically when popular opinion holds sway over an individual’s opinion of something; in this case, your business.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t always matter how persuasive an argument you make or how appealing your product or service is. For some consumers, your word doesn’t mean much until they get a thumbs-up from their peers. And sometimes it isn’t even about what they say. There are times when appearances speak louder than words. Think about pulling up to a restaurant you were excited to eat at, only to find it completely dead at 7:00 on a Friday night. That lack of a crowd speaks volumes, and the same could happen if you have a lack of social proof.
What it boils down to is this:
You want your site’s visitors to be confident that the choice they’re about to make (whether it’s to buy a product, become a member, or sign up for some other service or subscription) is the right one. Social proof gives them the assurance that your brand is trustworthy and reliable.
Here are 12 ways you can use social proof on your website and, consequently, get more customers in the process.
1. Impress them with numbers.
If your business or website is brand new, this is probably something you can’t do just yet. But it’s worth keeping in mind since some day very soon you will. The focus should be on numbers that demonstrate what a well-trusted company you are. For example, you can include:
- The number of customers you’ve served to date.
- The amount of revenue you’ve helped clients generate (or money you’ve helped them save).
- Your blog’s subscriber count.
2. Show your real-time status.
Think about the last time you shopped on Amazon. Did you find yourself more drawn to the Amazon-flagged “best seller” over the 4.5-star rated product with only 25 reviews? There is something to that real-time status indicator that makes consumers want to join what others are doing. You can also do this by setting up indicators that show:
- How many customers just purchased something.
- The most popular post today.
- The number of times people shared your post or product on social media.
3. Allow customers to leave reviews.
While this might not be possible for a service-based business, you can certainly enable your site to accept reviews and ratings on your product inventory. This is probably one of the most well-known forms of social proof, but it’s one you also have to be extremely careful with as it has the greatest potential to introduce negative feedback into the pipeline—which is fine, so long as you demonstrate that you are addressing it in a timely and professional manner.
4. Allow readers to leave comments.
This is the same as #3, but it’s for those of you running a content-driven site. Ratings and reviews don’t make sense in that case, but comments most certainly do and are a great way to find out what your readers actually think. It also gives them an opportunity to engage with one another.
5. Use customer testimonials.
Whether a customer sent you a “thank you” after the fact or you were able to pick up a praiseworthy quote from social media, customer testimonials (written or video) are an incredibly valuable form of social proof. Just remember that when you use these, you need to include, at the very least, their name and photo so customers know this came from a real person.
6. Write a case study.
This one sits at the intersection between the customer testimonial and the impressive statistics. It’s also one of the more difficult ones to wrangle down since it requires a deep dive into the numbers, willing participation and permission from your customer, and then the actual writing and design of the case study. However, if you can pull it off, it’s sure to have a truly powerful impact on prospective customers who want to see similar results for themselves.
7. Get a celebrity endorsement.
Alright, getting Angelina Jolie to endorse your company’s sports bra line is pretty much impossible. However, if you run a local shop, how about reaching out to a local celebrity to see if they want to try out your product or service for free in exchange for an endorsement? Or perhaps you could reach out to a niche blogger to see if they’d be interested in doing a write-up?
8. Brag about your customers.
As your client base grows, you’re bound to attract a higher profile clientele. While this might not work as well for B2C companies, this is something you should definitely keep an eye on for B2B. You can leverage your clients’ well-recognized company logos to entice other business customers who are on the fence.
9. Brag about your partnerships.
Making a prospective customer want to buy from you needs to start with their emotions. When you show off another business’s logo, that will likely elicit a sense of competitiveness or maybe even jealousy. If you want to inspire trust and loyalty, you’d be wise to showcase your partners’ logos. Partners don’t have to be actual business partners either, they could be logos from software providers you use (like a PayPal Secure logo at checkout).
10. Show off your accolades.
Has your company won any awards? Or maybe your team has a special certification your audience would find particularly appealing? For a business that conducts sales online, being able to at least show off that you’re BBB-approved and PCI-compliant is a good place to start.
11. Publish your media mentions.
If your company, CEO, product, or service has been highlighted in a recent news story—and from a reputable news outlet—don’t be afraid to show it off. Include a logo from the news outlet (which they’ll likely give you a copy of) and send visitors to the link so they can read all about how awesome this media outlet thinks you are.
12. Integrate UGC.
User-generated content, or UGC, is awesome. You don’t have to do anything to create it either. You simply wait for customers to take a photo or video, rant and rave about how awesome you are, and then watch as they publish it to their site or social media. All you have to do is grab a copy of it (with their permission, of course) and post it on your own site so prospective customers can use it to make their own purchasing decisions.
Remember: social proof needs to be genuine. If people can tell that you wrote your own testimonials or that you paid people to write stellar reviews of your product, this whole thing could backfire.
Also, be smart about where you place it. Social proof should support the story you’re telling within that page on your website. That’s why it’s usually most effective on landing pages as well as those related to your specific services or products. When visitors get to that point in the sales funnel where they need to make a decision, that social proof can make or break it for them. You want to remove any trace of doubt in their mind, so always keep it close to the call-to-action.