Building a successful ecommerce strategy requires many moving parts. One of those being implementing social proof.
Though the biggest factor in using social proof in your ecommerce marketing is increasing sales and conversions, there’s an added benefit––creating a fan base of happy buyers and building trust with your customers.
Remember the old sales cliche? People only buy from you if they know you, like you, and trust you. Social proof helps your brand tick all three boxes.
Just What is Social Proof?
Social proof is a potent marketing tool used in ecommerce, where people look to other shoppers’ behavior to inform their own buying decisions. It’s essentially monkey see, monkey do.
Think of it like social validation that helps increase customers’ trust and further pushes them down the sales funnel. Dr. Rober Cialdini AKA the Godfather of Influence, made it popular many moons ago by stating that we humans have a penchant for relying on others opinions and actions to inform ours.
There are 3 core principles that are the building blocks of social proof theory.
Uncertainty posits that when someone experiences something new, doubt and uncertainty can be stirred up on how to behave or what to do. So, they look to others to guide their decisions.
Similarity posits that people are inclined to follow the actions of people who are most like themselves when in a group setting and making a decision. After all, if Aunt Betty’s doing it, maybe they should too.
Expertise posits that folks are naturally inclined to look to those they view as experts or more informed than themselves to help them make their decisions.
Long story short, social proof provides a powerful way for brands to generate genuine interest in their products or services, and spur more conversions.
Social Proof: Ecommerce on Steroids?
Maybe. The numbers definitely don’t lie.
According to BrightLocal’s 2022 consumer review survey, a whopping 99% of consumers used the web to dig up dirt on local businesses last year. 78% use the web to hunt down info on a business once a week or more, and a smaller but no less powerful 21% use the web to search information on businesses every day.
All well and good, but what about reviews? That’s the kind of social proof on a website many folks look for. According to BrightLocal, 98% of people read online reviews occasionally at least, while 77% ‘fess up to reading them regularly or even always. As for the diehards who claim they never read reviews, that number has dropped to a mere 2%.
Not only does social proof help build credibility and reliability, both essential components of successful ecommerce stores, it also compels people to take action when they see that other people have taken the same action before them, with good outcomes.
Since social proof clearly plays an increasingly important role in consumer decision-making processes for online shoppers today, it doesn’t come as a surprise why so many brands prioritize it as part of their ecommerce strategies.
Examples of How Brands Can Use Social Proof in Their Marketing
Social proof on a website can be incredibly helpful in building consumer trust and encouraging them to purchase a product or service. So what’s that look like, exactly?
- One example of website social proof is customer reviews on your product pages, as consumers tend to trust what real people have to say about products before buying them.
- Social proof can also come by way of social media––like being retweeted by a trusted brand, or having an influencer talk about your company or products––both of which build trust for your business, without your direct involvement.
- You can even showcase social media posts that feature your company’s products/services on your website.
- Other ways to incorporate social proof in marketing might include customer testimonials in your emails and newsletters, and the inclusion of awards or recognition your company has received from industry experts.
- If that’s not enough, there’s also social proof software you can use on your website to show when other customers successfully purchase a particular item in real time. It sends up a little bubble alerting visitors every time a new purchase is made.
Implementing social proof into your marketing strategy can be a great way to appeal to potential customers––especially those on the fence about buying––by showing how real people have already found pleasure in purchasing your products or services.
Collecting, Curating, and Communicating Social Proof During the Buying Process
Using social proof throughout the buying process can make all the difference in terms of customer acquisition. Collecting social proof merely means gathering information from sources like customer reviews, social media posts, and expert opinions. Once you have it, you can curate it according to your needs and decide when and where it’s best to use it.
Then you’re ready to communicate it to your target audiences, whether it’s a testimonial page on your site or an email blast to a targeted group of potential customers. Using social proof as part of your ecommerce strategy isn’t just a marketing schtick. It’s a proven way to build trust in the value your brand has to offer.
By keeping social proof in mind throughout crafting your customer’s journey, you’ll help create an experience where potential customers are ready to buy with no hesitation.
Examples of Brands that Deployed Social Proof and Got Results
There’s no doubt that social proof is a tool in digital marketing that many brands are now using to their full advantage. Below are a few examples in action.
This popular makeup retailer ensures social proof is visible throughout their website in the form of reviews on product pages. The result is customers see the collective validation of so many products, which builds trust in both the brand’s quality and the level of customer satisfaction.
This outdoor apparel company also includes verified customer reviews to help build consumer trust, prompting more sales in their online store.
This retail giant implemented social proof on its website through customer reviews and ratings to build trust with shoppers, arguably before social proof was even a thing! Their verified user reviews of products play a huge role in how well those products sell.
Known as one of the world’s biggest tech companies, Microsoft strategically deployed social proof in their digital ad campaigns—which boosted brand recognition and got more eyes on their products.
Such social proof tactics have clear benefits when brands are trying to encourage potential customers down their sales funnel––proving it’s a technique that certainly works!
Tools or Services That Can Help You Leverage Social Proof More Effectively
There are several social proof software options to help make using social proof on your ecommerce site more streamlined and intuitive.
- Fomo and Proof are excellent tools that help you showcase activities like what your customers are buying, downloading, signing up for, and looking at, all in real time.
- ReferralCandy is a great tool if you love word of mouth for your business. And after all, isn’t word of mouth like the ultimate in social proof?
- You can also use tools such as UserVoice and GatherUp to help collect customer ratings, reviews, and testimonials, all of which can be used to demonstrate social authority on any of your website pages and landing pages you’d like.
Overall, using smart tools and services with your social proof ecommerce strategy is an incredibly easy way to level up your business and improve conversions.
Next Steps: How to Start Applying Social Proof in Your Business
It’s human nature to want to research before buying something, so it’s important to do all you can to help customers feel secure in their purchase decisions. Social proof does that and gives your business a competitive edge that drives more sales simultaneously.
The best part is there’s more than one way to skin a cat, which means you can start leveraging social proof in the way that works best for your business.
- Consider starting by highlighting user-generated content. This could include product reviews, social media posts with customer stories, or customer photos featuring your products from people who have had a great experience with your company.
- You can also consider adding trust elements, such as customer badges from respected third parties and your social media followership count.
- Then you can begin to explore other tactics like product scarcity messaging, live notifications of purchase activity, and social sharing buttons within the purchase flow.
- When you’re really feeling super confident, you can consider leveraging prominent influencers to share about your products and services.
Nutshell? If you’re looking to increase conversions and engagement with your business, a social proof ecommerce strategy is the way to go!