Social proof is a powerful tool. While in my case, I probably wouldn’t have made this particular purchase, Inbound Marketers have the opportunity to leverage it to do just the opposite; not only encourage, but increase conversions by building trust.
By creating that relationship with visitors, it will decrease their level of hesitation to take action on your site.
What is Social Proof?
Social proof, as defined by HubSpot, is “the concept that people will conform to the actions of others under the assumption that those actions are reflective of the correct behavior.”
Basically, it’s the reasoning behind why we want to buy the dress Kate Middleton wore over the weekend or why we want to read the books Oprah recommended. (And why many of us wanted the same ridiculous velour tracksuit that all our friends had in middle school.)
You see, it’s human nature to care what others think. As a business and Marketer, this need is something to be leveraged.
As much as you want to toot your own horn about how awesome you are (because you are), people aren’t going to believe you unless they hear it from someone else. The biggest perk of social proof is in its ability to build trust by leveraging what others have to say about you and your products/service.
The opinions of “other” people are more believable and persuasive than what you’ve got to say about yourself. Use that to your advantage. Display social proof proudly on your site.
Here are a few social proof examples you can try on your landing pages:
Social Sharing Stats
Product Reviews and Star Ratings from Users
Industry Influencer Endorsements
Customer Pictures / Videos (of real users using your product)
Customer Success Stories / Case Studies
Don’t try and use every one of these examples on your site (you’ll go from trusted to Spammy really quick.) Pick and choose the one or ones that fit with your company, your particular offerings, and your audience. Once you’ve picked a form of social proof, here are 3 things to keep in mind when leveraging it on your landing pages to increase conversion rates.
Tip #1: Aim to Reduce User Anxiety
You will never be able to completely get rid of customer anxiety - it will always be a part of the buying process, but there are steps to help you reduce it enough to increase conversions.
The goal of social proof is to make you more credible to prospective buyers. When people feel like they can trust you, they will be more likely to action on your site.
Roadtrippers proves their credibility by displaying the logo of their partner, Holiday Inn. Visitors quickly recognize this big hotel name and conclude that if they are willing to endorse the app, it must be good.
Hotjar uses three forms of social proof in this example to reduce visitor anxiety and get people to take action.
In the CTA: They reduce anxiety first and foremost by letting visitors know that signing up is entirely free, so if they don’t like it they won’t regret a purchase decision.
Counter: They update the subheader under their CTA with the number of organizations that use their software (I took this screenshot a few days ago, go to their site and see the newly updated total - it’s always increasing.) This helps prove to visitors that there are other organizations already using the software putting them at a disadvantage to competitors.
Partner/Industry Logos: Right under their CTA, they also showcase well-known company logos that use the software. An organization wondering if this software could help them or not, can quickly compare to one’s using it and determine if it’s useful in their industry.
MyFitness Pal utilizes testimonials on its site as social proof. By using real photos of the users that have given feedback, their full names, and their username from the community, MyFitness Pal quickly reduces visitor anxiety. They effectively show that real people “just like you”, have found success using it.
Last, but not least, check out how IMPACT client, Yottaa, leverages social proof. Yottaa is currently using a slide-in that showcases their achievement of making the EMA, Vendor to Watch list. By displaying information like this on prominent pages on their site, Yottaa proves that they are backed by others. If a prestigious company like EMA has their eye on Yottaa, it must be for good reason.
Tip #2: Don’t Distract the Reader
Social proof is meant to add to a visitor’s experience and help reduce any friction they may have to converting on your site, not detract from it.
Make sure that when you incorporate it, it does just that.
For example, if your blog and brand do not have an established, active audience, displaying social counters like this, does more harm than good.
They make your audience question why others have not shared or “liked” the piece, questioning its quality and credibility. By doing this, they are likely to stop reading, or worse, bounce off the page.
When your social proof is also too bold, goes against your landing page design, or clutters the page, it can easily distract the visitor from what they originally came to do.
Partner/Industry logos are a great way to build credibility, but if there are too many, it can draw attention away from the action you want the visitor to take, opposite of what you intended for the logos.
Try displaying fewer logos that are most relatable to your buyer personas, or try graying them out like Invision App does below. This way, your visitors are gently reassured while their attention remains focused on the bold CTA.
Tip #3: Use the Right Kind of Testimonials
Testimonials are great forms of social proof for you company, but you need to display them the right way to provide the most benefit to reduce visitor anxiety.
Take the below screenshot as an example.
The first thing that comes to my mind as a new visitor is, are these quotes actually from people at the company? There are no specific names attached to each quote raising red flags that they could be stock photos or forged testimonials.
Most visitors would stop here, but some, like me, may want to know the name behind the face and search further. Sadly, I still didn’t turn up anything (“Read Story” links to the main customer page, not an individual story causing me to search through all of them, and worse, the first two quotes don’t have an expanded story so I can’t learn their names at all.)
As a visitor, this leaves you frustrated and more anxious than you were before visiting the site. These testimonials sound great but aren’t building trust or credibility.
A good testimonial:
is filled with benefits, not just praise
substantiates your claims as a company
is from a real person with real status at the company
talks about features of your product/service
proves to visitors the benefits of purchasing
Social proof is key to building trust and credibility as a business.
No matter what buying stage they may be at, consumers always experience some sort of hesitation. You don’t want to be disappointed after the fact (like I was with my burger purchase.)
Use the great things that people are already saying about your products/services to your advantage. Display them as social proof on your site to help spur action and dispel questions that may be hindering a visitor from converting.