When you are in a sea of multiple companies selling products virtually identical to yours, it can be hard to stand out from the crowd. What makes your product, experience, or service better than the other 100+ competitors?
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Well, if you know your customers are happy with your product, and even believe it outperforms your competitors, why not make that known to potential customers?
This is where utilizing social proof comes in, which is a "psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others reflect the correct behavior for a given situation”.
Surprisingly enough, these reviews don't even need to come from people you know. In a study done by Nielsen, 92% of people will trust a recommendation from a peer, but 70% of people will trust a recommendation from someone they don’t even know.
This underlines the importance of social proof - as long as there is a group of people gravitating to something, we will feel compelled to as well. This ultimately builds trust in your brand, credibility in your product, and allows people to feel more comfortable doing business with you (boosting your conversion rates).
Why Does Social Proof Work?
Put yourself back in elementary school. I’m sure you remember how there was some product all the cool kids had (Nike sneakers, bell bottom jeans, Pokemon cards, etc.). Like many of us, you probably felt compelled to buy that item, or something similar to it in an effort to fit in.
According to Dr. Robert Cialdini, writer of the book Influence, there are six principles of persuasion – Reciprocation, Liking, Consensus, Authority, Consistency, and Scarcity. Each had the ability to shape buyers behaviors in a variety of ways.
We tend to be the most susceptible to these principles when we are uncertain about our situation. We’ll also gravitate to the solution that advertises people who are the most similar to us.
Since the online market is flooded with attractive looking product pictures but less than satisfying results after we finally receive/use it, social proof allows us to segment out the best possible products.
However, the online playground is a bit different than the one we used back in school. Let's look at the methods you can use online to persuade your customers to buy.
Case studies are an excellent way to not only reveal customer satisfaction but also to show the clients process using the product. The best case studies outline the company's issues, what the product did for them, and the results and growth numbers (if applicable).
Optimizely advertises that it can grow your business and “create and deliver the best digital experience for each customer across devices.” But, with so many other A/B testing software options, how can this one be the best?
Optimizely supports this statement by displaying a variety of case studies on their site showcasing each company’s issues, challenges, processes, solutions and analytics behind the customer's growth.
If you want to begin implementing case/success stories onto your website, make sure you have enough of them, as well as, important data and metrics to show how your product improved the clients needs.
You can also take the extra step for your potential buyers and make the case studies downloadable. This way people will be able to easily reference them when contemplating if your product is right for them.
If you don’t have enough data or client reviews to currently provide several case studies you can always use the most common form of social proof, testimonials.
This is also the most thought of example when the phrase “social proof” is thrown around. Testimonials are the base model of it and help persuade 63% of consumers on average to purchase from a site.
Kissmetrics shows how their clients trust them using quotes on their customers page. It used quotes that specify how Kissmetrics helped these companies grow, each illustrating their most impressive statistic.
When making a testimonial, make sure you have your customer's name, company, position, and real picture (if you can get it). Research has shown that incorporating images with statements add more believability to the information.
If you find you can’t get a photo, don’t take a random one from online or use a stock photo. People will be able to pick up on its phoniness, or worse, find out that the photo is fake if they research the credibility of the testimonials.
Genuine reviews help signal to consumers that the product is being used and is working as advertised. Even a few negative reviews won’t hurt; they will reassure the consumer that the product reviews haven’t been skewed and may not be the ultimate solution for everyone.
Amazon is a classic example of a site with an expertly crafted reviews area. Consumers have the ability to show the most positive and critical reviews so they can compare what people have said. They also allow the main pool of reviews to be filtered by date, popularity, formats, ratings, etc.
Adding reviews, like case studies, allows you to validate the claims you make about your product across your site.
Express Watches saw the true power of customer reviews after they decided to implement a reviews widget on their website. To their surprise, they increased sales by 58.29% once users began seeing how amazing their products truly were.
Social Media Reviews
Social media reviews give your users an easy way to send out quick messages of appreciation, questions, or mini-reviews of your product. They also build a bridge between you and your customers, allowing you and your customers the potential to interact with one another.
However, people may struggle to find you or you may not be giving them a reason to follow you. Implementing a campaign to help drive social engagement can act as an excellent way to gain social proof for your company outside implementing it on your site.
Harempants.com implemented an interesting tactic to entice its buyers to engage on social media or write blog articles on them. People who have purchased their product can write a review on it, a blog article, and/or post images on social media to receive a free gift card from the company.
This isn’t only a fantastic way to get reviews you could put on your website, but it also helps you build a following on social media platforms and funnels old and new users back to your site to investigate your products or to use the gift card they received.