Social proof is something you encounter every day—and it probably affects your decisions more than you realize.
It is a powerful psychological phenomenon where people base their own opinions and actions on those of others.
Let’s say you see a long queue outside a restaurant or nightclub when you visit a new city. Your immediate assumption is that it will have great food or be the best place to hang out. This is an example of social proof at work
It is used all the time in marketing and conversion rate optimization. Let’s take a look at how you can use it.
Types of Social Proof
There are various types of social use. A few of the main ones include:
Personal Recommendations—People are more likely to listen to the opinions of those who they know and like, such as their friends. This is especially true on social media. We take recommendations seriously when they come from our friends, and this is why so many companies offer you discounts and rewards for inviting your friends.
Testimonials, Case Studies, & Reviews—These work because when we read them we imagine ourselves in the reviewer’s position. We can relate to the experiences of others much more effectively than when a company tells us their products are great.
Large Quantities—When a large number of people have done something, this has a powerful influence on us. It plays into the fear of missing out, and it encourages us to act.
Expert Opinions—We are hard-wired to listen to figures of authority (just think of all those toothpaste brands recommended by dentists). We often judge a person’s opinion based on how we perceive them, and if they are an expert this can be a powerful influencer.
Celebrities—It’s obvious that endorsements by celebrity’s work because companies do it all the time. You might not be able to afford a celebrity yourself, but it’s worth knowing about the principle.
How to Increase Conversions with Social Proof
Social proof can make a big difference to your conversion rate. In fact, if you are working on your conversion rate optimization, this is one of the big factors to consider.
Here are some ways you can put social proof to work on your website, landing page, ads, and more to boost conversions.
The most obvious way to take advantage of social proof on any kind of marketing collateral is to use testimonials.
Testimonials are easy to collect, quick to add, and very convincing. If you have not yet done so, start getting in the habit of asking your clients and customers for testimonials. Get their name and position at the company, and add a photo if you can—the more information you include, the better.
Video testimonials could be even better still.
Don’t be tempted to edit the testimonials or make them up yourself. And whatever you do, don’t put something vague like “Mike T. from Santa Barbara.”
It’s all about ensuring they come across as genuine, so use their full name or nothing at all.
Another form of testimonials that are becoming popular are Twitter testimonials (or “Twestimonials”).
These work well because they are the genuine views of the Tweeter without any interference on your part.
Using these is easy: Just take a screenshot of positive tweets you receive mentioning your brand name, then use them directly on your landing page, website, or emails.
Endorsements are similar to testimonials, but they are from well-known people, which could include celebrities or just respected people in your industry.
Good endorsements can be invaluable. By featuring some positive recommendation from someone who your customers know, like, and trust, you can instantly win over more customers.
Just look at this endorsement at GetResponse:
Peep Laja is one of the most respected experts in the field of CRO, so his opinion matters.
Customer reviews are also an excellent way to make use of testimonials.
Again, they come across as even more genuine because they are from third-party websites where you have no control.
People will often visit review sites these days before buying a product or service. You can include a selection of positive reviews right on your landing page to add some authority.
If you are the number one company in something, display this proudly.
For example, you may be number one on TripAdvisor in your category, and showing this off lends you instant credibility.
It immediately implies that you have a great reputation, and this is far more effective than simply stating that you are the best.
Link to the source to customers can check out your ranking for yourself, or take a screenshot and display it proudly.
Display Large Numbers
This is a simple and effective way to increase confidence in your service. Large numbers imply authority, so if you can use them, you should.
For example, if you have a large number of subscribers to your email list, show this off right in your CTA. Like Shopify does:
If you have a large number of social followers, mention this when you are asking someone to follow you.
If you have served an impressive number of customers in the last year, show this off.
This is all excellent social proof that will help to influence your potential customers.
Another trick is to show all of the big-name customers who use your service or have bought your product. Or at least the bigger names in your industry who your new customers are sure to recognize.
This is commonly displayed as in the following example by Marin Software:
This triggers the reaction: “If all of these big companies trust them, I can trust them too.”
Features in Well-Known Publications
When big publications have featured your business, mention this. Many companies do this, often by stating “As featured in” and then following it with a selection of icons.
However, you can go one better. If you have got great reviews or detailed features in these publications, link to them, just like Acorns does:
Social proof works best when it is open and transparent. By just displaying a publisher’s icon, you are not being clear. By linking to the actual review, you’re saying “Take a look, we’re not hiding anything.”
Take Full Advantage of Social Proof
Social proof is a powerful concept that works for businesses of any size, and if you are not yet taking full advantage of it, this is something to change right now.
Start collecting testimonials, Twestimonials, reviews, endorsements, press mentions, and anything else that reaffirms how great you are.
And don’t forget to ask your existing customers for referrals. Remember, a referral is a form of social proof because people are more likely to trust the opinions of someone they know and like.
One thing about social proof is that you can never have too much, so start working on building up yours now.