How to use social proof to boost your conversions?


What is social proof?

A little imagination. 

Saturday night, in a big European city, you wander in search of a good restaurant. On the street, 7 out of 10 restaurants are packed. The remaining 3 are completely empty. What is the most attractive? To which will you go? If you’re like most people, you’ll be drawn to the packed restaurants, despite the world there is and a potentially longer queue.

The logic behind this choice is that of social proof. 

The concept is that people follow the actions of the masses. If we find that a certain number of people act in a certain way, we deduce that it must be the correct behavior to follow. 

And we follow. 

If empty restaurants – in which you did not want to go home – were good food, why is there no one? The brain makes the following link: empty = bad food = I do not fit in. The food may be excellent in this place but the brain works well. We assume that full restaurants are better. 

Why is social proof important for digital marketing?

In physical stores, you have the opportunity to directly compare products. There are fewer outside influences on your decision. If you hesitate between a shirt of two different brands, you can feel the quality, try it, look at yourself in the mirror, etc., to see which one suits you best.

Online, things are different: before making a choice, you need to appeal to external opinions to make your final decision because you do not have the product on hand to try it. 

Before buying an online t-shirt for example, you review the reviews to see what other users think. Even if you personally like the style of the t-shirt, the experience of other customers will influence your opinion because they know the product better since they have already bought it.


It works the same for hotels, restaurants, services, etc. 

How to use social proof for digital marketing?

As we will see below, you can use social proof in many ways on your digital channels. However, the idea behind social proof is always the same: if a number of people already like what you offer, new visitors should follow suit. 

Here are different uses:

  • Positive opinions about you, your site or your products & services 
  • Customer testimonials
  • Mentions of influencers or celebrities
  • A large number of subscribers on your social networks
  • The number of users and customer references
  • Your awards and distinctions 

Social proof is even more powerful when it comes from someone your prospect knows. According to a survey by Nielsen, 82% of Americans say they ask friends and family for recommendations before making a purchase. 

If you do not use the power of social proof to your advantage, your landing pages, your social media posts, your product pages and the content of your blog posts may not convert as well as they could . 

We will now review these six tactics.

“On average, consumers consult 2 or 3 different evaluation sites before making a decision about a company.”

1. Positive opinions 

Are you more likely to enter a restaurant with hundreds of five-star reviews on Yelp, TripAdvisor and Google Maps, or in the one that does not contain any reviews? We all know these types of reviews and today we are all paying attention. 

BrightLocal found that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations . In addition, the survey reveals that people do not just trust the first test they see. On average, consumers visit 2 or 3 different assessment sites before making a decision.

how many review sites consumers look at before buying

For your business, try to get positive reviews on all major sites in your industry: Yelp, Google, FourSquare, Facebook and TripAdvisor. 

Do not hesitate to add these reviews on your website, this will give you even more credibility and will favor your conversion rates. 

“The key to convincing testimony is to put forward a problem that your product or service has solved for the customer.”

2. Customer testimonials 

Saying that your product works is not enough to convince people to buy it. It is important to mention a testimonial from someone who has used your product or service and showcased what they have gained. 

The key to convincing testimony is to put forward a problem that your product or service has solved for the customer. A testimony like “I liked the product” is way too vague. 

Be specific. Below, the example of Trello : 

Trello sprout social case study

Contact your satisfied customers and ask them to write a testimonial about your business. Add key figures, percentages, and data that showcase your products and services. 

A study recently showed that 92% of consumers are more likely to trust unpaid recommendations than any other type of advertising . 

3. Mentions of influencers or celebrities

Influencer marketing had a big boom in 2016 and the trend is expected to continue in the future. As mentioned above, consumers rely more on external opinions than on brands themselves. In the same logic, they will trust influential people.

Influencer marketing is particularly effective on social networks:

  • Users’ purchase intent on Twitter has been multiplied by 5.2 after seeing the promotional content of influencers; 
  • 49% of users rely on influencer recommendations on Twitter; 
  • 40% of respondents say they bought a product online after seeing it used by an influencer;
  • Influencer content generates up to 8 times more engagement than content shared directly by brands.

The most important thing for influencer marketing is to partner with the right partners. Find someone your audience trusts. Find an influencer that your target audience knows and determine how you can work together. This can be by mentioning your brand in an Instagram post, by reviewing your product on their website or by writing an endorsement that you can use on your site.


4. A significant number of subscribers on social networks

Even if a large number of subscribers (especially if they are fake) is not necessarily synonymous with quality, the number of subscribers can be a form of social proof.

Always in the same logic as the example of the restaurant, users quickly adopt the logic of the herd. When they see that a large group of people are doing something, they are likely to join it. 

A convincing example comes from Derek Sivers’ Ted Talk on creating a movement *. In his experience, a man starts to dance alone in the park. A person joins him, and so on. The snowball effect is created and a whole crowd participates. 

There is a reassuring side to following a large group of people. 

Even more important than the number of your subscribers is the quality of your audience’s engagement. If you have 25’000 people following you on Instagram, and your posts do not exceed the 50 likes, you will lose credibility. 


5. The number of users and your customer references

Below, a McDonald’s classic: 

mcdonalds over 99 billion served

Who are you most likely to give your money to? A restaurant that has served billions of customers or one that has never served one? 

Does your company have a large number of satisfied customers? All right, put it on your landing pages….

“The more prestigious and recognizable the source of your reward, the more important it is to mention on your site.”


6. Awards and distinctions

Consumers want to invest in brands they trust. Unfortunately, it is not enough to say that you are trustworthy. Evidence is needed, which is why awards and distinctions are excellent social proofs.

The rewards validate your brand because they come from a third party who has given you his approval. The more prestigious and recognizable the source of your reward, the more important it is to mention on your site.

The company Bag Servant , conducted a test to determine if adding one of the awards won at the top of their purchase pages would lead to better conversions. The basic version included a button to follow them on Twitter, as well as the number of their followers. The variant replaced this one with a WOW badge, which was a distinction of a well-known businesswoman. 
The second variant outperformed the basic version on the three objectives tested.

bag servant social proof case study results

Also, if your company is mentioned in important media, it goes without saying that it must be put forward on your website. 

Why refuse a first good impression?

Use social proof for your business!

As you can see, social proof can do wonders to increase your conversions. The advice we can give you right now is to try one of these tactics above and see for yourself what kind of results you are going to get.

References & links

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