What is Social Proof and How Does it Boost Conversions?
What is social proof?
Social proof is a psychological phenomenon that speaks to an individual’s reliance on other’s opinions and feedback in order to form their own.
How can social proof be used to influence decision-making?
Social proof is one of the biggest factors in converting a sale online (if not the biggest). It is amazing how much of a difference it makes…but it makes sense when you think about it.
People trust people they know when they are talking about your product or brand. If not people they know, they trust seemingly objective 3rd parties. Why would either of these groups make your product or brand out to be greater than it is?
You on the other hand? Of course you are going to say that your products are amazing. Of course you love it. You created it! You may be right about your product…but people are much less likely to take you at your word.
This is why it is absolutely paramount to have social proof on your website.
Social proof is not a new concept. People have been using testimonials in their advertising as long as they have been advertising. But with the rise of ecommerce, social media platforms, and online marketing, social proof has taken on new forms and become increasingly important.
Where should you use social proof in your sales funnel?
Social proof can be incorporated almost anywhere in your sales funnel, from ad copy through checkout. Where you should use it will depend on your business, although the concept is the same for B2B or B2C businesses.
Here are a few places where we recommend including social proof across all businesses.
No matter how many custom landing pages you have, your homepage will still be the main destination page of your website, for new visitors and returning visitors alike. At some point, a visitor will pass through your homepage, so this is a prime place to feature social proof. It can play a key role in convincing a visitor to stay longer and dig deeper into your site.
Here we recommend testing videos, testimonials, and user reviews.
Another place we recommend incorporating social proof for ecommerce sites are product pages, both category pages (or product listing pages) and product detail pages.
These are key conversion points where visitors are making the decision of whether or not to purchase one (or many) of your products. Showing star ratings on products and detailed user reviews can help make a visitor feel comfortable purchasing your product, even if they’ve never interacted with your brand before.
Another place we recommend adding social proof is in your ad copy. This may not work for every ad or be necessary for every audience, but test it! In many situations if you test social proof versus your own messaging, you will see that ads with social proof drive more traffic and convert better.
Make sure to test including user reviews and testimonials in some of your ad copy to see how your audience responds.
Depending on your specific business, here are some additional places that social proof may play a key role: checkout, receipt emails, about page, sales page, custom landing pages, membership signup pages, and your blog.
Test different implementations and different locations of your social proof to see what will have the best impact for your business. There is no “best” implementation of social proof across all sites or all businesses. So use A/B testing to figure out how prominent social proof should be on your site, what pages it should be included on, and where on those pages it should be placed.
Examples of Social Proof
Here are some examples of businesses that are getting social proof right.
This is an example of a B2B using a long form sales page. As you can see, they incorporate video testimonials throughout their sales page. These videos of real customers talking about how clickfunnels improved their business really help to convert leads into customers.
Tony Robbins is a bestselling author and celebrity coach. You might think he doesn’t need social proof because he is so well known. But, to put it bluntly, you’d be wrong. Even the most well known brands and people can benefit from social proof.
Check out his website. He has social proof peppered throughout his entire site in the form of testimonials from top named people.
Full disclosure: this is a client of ours. They have been hugely successful in growing their audience through social proof.
If you visit their website, the first thing that you’ll see on the homepage is an endorsement by Philip Rivers, the quarterback for the Los Angeles Chargers.
Celebrity endorsements are a distinct form social proof. Celebrity endorsements are incredibly powerful, but it can be difficult to maintain the feeling of authenticity. There is certainly an art to this, and we think Groove Life has gotten it right. The key is to also include other forms of social proof from your everyday consumer in order to back it up. And Groove Life has thousands of reviews throughout their product detail pages as well.
The Key to Social Proof
In our opinion, they key to social proof is authenticity. Social proof comes in many forms and each one has it’s place. But no matter the form that your social proof takes, it must be authentic. People can quickly detect if things sound too good to be true or sniff out fake reviews or testimonials. Make sure all of your social proof is real.
And don’t squelch bad reviews. No one is perfect, and your visitors know this. It is suspicious if you have zero negative feedback. Leave your bad reviews up, but show the character of your brand and your stellar customer service in the way that you respond to negative reviews (do this publicly) to maintain confidence and trust in your brand. This shows that you are real, that you listen to feedback and that you won’t leave your customers hanging out to dry.
How to Generate Social Proof
Social proof has a way of spurring on itself. If a customer sees that you have hundreds or reviews and makes a purchase, they are more likely to leave a review themselves. If they would be the first to leave a review, it can be intimidating.
So starting to generate social proof can be difficult until you gain this momentum.
But here are a few tips to get your started.
First, request reviews. You are likely not going to get many reviews if you don’t directly ask for them. We like a tool called Stamped.io that integrates with Shopify. This tool will send an email out to your customers after their receive their order to ask for a review on each item included in the purchase. It even includes a form directly in the email that customers can submit to make the process of leaving a review incredibly easy.
Second, incentivize reviews. Offer a reward for providing a review, like a small discount on a future purchase.