Social Proof : How to increase your sales (and your credibility) ?

Let’s face it. It is (very) hard to sell online.

Right now, just getting contact information is becoming a real challenge.

As you surely know, many factors influence buying decisions:

  • Value for money
  • Brand knowledge
  • Competitive differentiation
  • Etc.

Fortunately, there are many other ways to influence buying decisions on the Internet.

Among these, there is social proof.

The idea with social proof is to influence consumer behavior by infusing a positive perception of your product or brand.

Let me give you an example.

Looking for a book on cooking.

You go to your favorite site, Amazon, and you come across 2 books that interested you by their title.

They both talk about the same thing.

One has 500 customer reviews.

The other only 10.

Which one will you choose?

Probably the first.

You have been influenced by the number.

It is one of the (many) effects of social proof, one of the six principles of influence presented by Robert Cialdini.

It could be summarized as the tendency we have to be influenced by the behavior of others.

Why ? How come ?

Does this mean that we are all conformists?


1) The number or plurality of sources 

The effect of the plurality of sources occurs when an individual gives more importance to an idea, a product or a service, defended by several people or sources.

There is nothing abnormal.

On an e-commerce site, it is the customer reviews and the number of positive or negative comments that will influence your purchase decision.

2) The effect of uncertainty 

That one, you may know him.

When one is uncertain, one tends to follow the group.

It’s quite common when you do not know a place well, seeing a lot of people at a place attracts us naturally to this place (eg, crowds at a restaurant).

3) The effect of belonging to a group 

When you were a child or teenager, you surely did things that you would not have done if the members of your group had not done so either.

For example, if all your friends listen to Hip Hop, chances are you’ll listen too.

This theory is confirmed by the laughter recorded in the TV series. Whether you find the joke funny or not, the prerecorded laughs almost always convince you to laugh too.

Now that I have introduced you social proof and its consequences on our actions.

Let’s take together 8 concrete cases so that you can use it too to influence buying decisions on the Internet.

1) Customer testimonials

Customer testimonials are most likely  the most common form of social proof. 

The best testimonials bring together in a few lines:

  • Concrete results (using numbers)
  • Exceeding objections to purchase (eg “before committing myself, I was not sure that …”)
  • A little story / anecdote

The best way I found to get customer testimonials for my site was to … ask for it !

It’s that simple.

Before asking for testimonials from your clients, make sure they have already shown you their satisfaction for your products or services;

You can easily find out if you have kept good contacts with your customers or even better if they are active on your social networks.

After identifying them, send an email with your request.

You can even direct the person by explaining how to write the testimony, for example by proposing to answer these questions:

  • What were your doubts at the beginning?
  • How did it help you?
  • What results did you get?

You can even offer to write the testimonial for your client and submit it for verification.

Once the testimony is obtained, ask permission to reuse the testimony on your website and make sure your testimony contains:

  • A photo of the person
  • His name and surname
  • In B2B: the name of his company and his job
  • In B2C: possibly the name of the city
  • The testimony (only a few lines)

Now, let’s analyze some effective testimonials.

The storytelling testimonials

Take 2 cases: B2B and B2C.

In B2B, I will give you a classic example: a marketing agency or a consultant.

In this case, we expect to see testimonials that highlight the results obtained by the consultant or agency.

You see that this testimony contains concrete results (numbers) and a period of time.

You also notice that below the name of the 2 people, we find the logo of the company.

Another example in B2C now:

This testimony still uses the power of numbers: Brooke earns 2 times more money each year since 2011 (results-oriented)

Besides, she and her family can travel regularly and she even has the flexibility to make her own schedule (storytelling oriented).

Expert testimonials 

These are perhaps the best testimonials you can get.

Getting the consumer option is already a good argument. But do they really know what they are talking about?

This is where the experts come in.

Whether you sell products or services, there is always an expert in your industry who could recommend you.

Try to find out which expert in your industry might be relevant.

For example, Wave is a software that can create animated videos on social networks.

That’s why an expert in social networks like Mari Smith is almost perfect testimony for the company.

If Mari Smith, a Facebook marketing expert, advises using Wave to create videos, it’s probably the right thing to do.

Where should you put these testimonials on your website?

Wherever you want.

As long as we see them!

Here are some strategic places where you can place your testimonials (do not overdo it ? ):

  • On your homepage to give confidence to new visitors
  • On your page about
  • On the sidebar of your blog
  • On your sales pages, right after the presentation of your product
  • On your landing pages
  • Just below a call to action

2) The big numbers 

You have surely seen this technique used on many sites.

It’s because she walks.

The most common form of social proof that uses numbers is to display the number of clients.

You can also be more precise (millions, it’s big, but it’s not specific enough).

Do not be afraid to brag, like Sumo , by mentioning the exact number of customers or businesses that use your solution.

What’s more, the number you see in this screenshot is dynamically updated.

The use of large numbers is very popular among companies that market software.

As large numbers influence our decisions, companies are happy to boast.

And if you run out of ideas, here’s how you can brag about yourself too:

  • Proudly show your number of followers across all social networks : you can display it  on your website  (ie Sidebar) as well as in stores!

Note: If you have very few subscribers on a social network, do not mention it on your site. This would have the opposite effect on your brand: the negative social proof.

  • Take pleasure in revealing the number of subscribers to your Newsletter

The more subscribers you have, at best.

Take advantage of it on your newsletter forms or at the very top of your home page  if you have at least 10,000 subscribers.

Do like Hubspot and show a pop-up like this when visitors are about to leave your site.

  • Show your most shared articles 

For a visitor who arrives for the first time on my blog, it is an excellent proof that other people like him already read me.

In this case too, the more shares you have, the better.

Do not be afraid to brag a little!

3) The prestigious names 

Displaying prestigious customer names is mainly used in B2B, as Asana does .

The fact of having been adopted by companies like Airbnb, Redbull or NASA  gives a good credibility to Asana.

Here too, the more the company is known in the world, at best for your perceived credibility!

4) Endorsement by celebrities or influencers 

You may have known or bought a product because a celebrity you admire has endorsed it.

So you have been influenced yet again by social proof.

If David Beckham wears H & M underwear, you should probably wear some too (I’m talking to men), right?

There is no doubt that this campaign has been successful and that our former pro football player, David Beckham, has benefited!

You can do the same on your scale by engaging the influencers.

Influence marketing is very popular on Instagram or YouTube, where web stars recommend to their engaged community products they have had the chance to test.

No wonder influencer marketing delivers  11x higher ROI  than traditional advertising.

In terms of price, everything is relative also because some influencers like Selena Gomez could cost you more than $ 500,000 per post .

Others will cost you less than $ 250 per post .

The multi-brand retail company, Revolve , has partnered with hundreds of influencers and micro-influencers to promote its clothes by offering trips to heavenly places.

Even better, the brand rented a house during the Coachella festival in Los Angeles and invited the most popular influencers in the fashion industry.

The only condition?

Post photos of the event on Instagram and Snapchat wearing Revolve clothing and embed the hashtag #revolvefestival in the publications legend.

In 2016, the campaign generated more than 3 billion impressions in a single weekend thanks to influencers, big and small, who tagged their photos with the #revolvefestival hashtag.

This year again, the campaign was a great success with thousands of photos containing the hashtag #revolvefestival, like this one:

Or that one:

This type of campaign generates a lot of visibility and of course social proof over the long term, in addition to short-term sales.

5) Evaluations ( ratings ) HotelClub

You are obviously no stranger to customer reviews.

They are very popular on e-commerce sites, like Amazon .

According to Search Engine Journal , 63% of consumers say they are more likely to buy from a site if it has ratings and reviews on products.

It is therefore likely that this is what you are looking for first when you want to decide if a product fits your needs or not.

Yes, descriptions help you visualize what the product will bring you, but customer reviews offer what product descriptions can not offer:

  • Proofs
  • Stories
  • Sincere opinions
  • Comments on technical aspects of the product

The Proactiv site even contains an entire section devoted to customer reviews.

In addition, you can write your review very easily from their website.

You can also encourage customer reviews by email, as does Animoto .

Even better, you could offer an incentive , such as a promo code or free shipping for the next order in exchange for a customer review.

After all, if your product is great, your customers will be happy to recommend it.

The only disadvantage of customer reviews is that they can act as negative social proof if you have a lot of negative reviews about a product …

6) Social networks 

At present, there are already more than 2.5 billion people using social networks around the world.

This number is expected to exceed 3 billion by 2021.

Your customers are there (or will be there) surely and your business should be there too.

Do not think they are only there to share photos of their last outing.

They also go there to learn about the companies they want to become customers.

For this reason, you should look after your presence on social networks which are also great reservoirs of social proof.

Notices or mentions

Consumers love talking on social media to share an experience, positive or negative, about a product or service they have used.

You should therefore encourage notices on your Facebook Page and pay attention to the mentions of your brand name.

Speaking of Facebook, do not neglect the platform.

It is the social network that contains the most positive opinions.

Take the opportunity to put forward a “notice” tab on the left side of your Page to harvest over time.

Over time, you will naturally get it if your products or services are appreciated.

Be as active as possible.

Reply to comments, private messages and engage in conversation with your fans.

You will end up getting valuable advice on your Page.

You can also request them by email.

Despite these 330 million users , Twitter remains a huge reservoir to boast positive tweets about you.

Use tools like Mention or Hootsuite to track and collect all the mentions of your brand.

Take screenshots and present them on your website.

To conclude on this point, be careful not to ignore negative opinions or comments about you on social networks.

This Sprout Social study shows that not responding to a complaint on a social network is worse than better.

35% of respondents said they would never buy the product or service of this brand again if ignored and about 1 in 3 people would share their negative experience with their online (31%) or offline (34%) network. %).

User generated content

User-generated content is a gold mine for businesses.

It is a content published at the base by your users (fans, customers) and which puts forward one way or another your products.

You can then  republish it  on your social accounts (Facebook, Instagram, etc.) by mentioning the user who produced this content.

Does it remind you any memories ?

Know, my friends, that you are also promoting the brand by publishing such content.

And you do it very well!

9 out of 10 online consumers have more confidence in user-generated organic content (UGC) than traditional advertising.

In other words, your audience prefers to listen to your customers only yourself.

For Starbucks , this type of content is quite common because it’s cool to take a photo with a Starbucks coffee.

Your brand may not be as popular, but you can encourage the UGC by organizing contests with the rule of participation to take a picture with the product and a branded hashtag.

You can also create a branded hashtag and encourage your fans to tag your hashtag in their publications to find these valuable content …

Find all the best practices for using branded hashtags and the CGU in my article about Instagram for business .

7) Releases in the media

We have a blind trust in the media.

This is why showing on your website that you have appeared on a particular medium is still a good way to take advantage of social proof.

With only one or two media releases, you increase your perceived authority in your market at once (another persuasive factor).

If in addition these media are recognized in your industry, it’s the jackpot!

Tech Crunch , for example, is a media oriented startups and new technologies. This gives additional credibility for LeadPages to appear in Tech-oriented media.

Generally, one finds the publications in the media on the homepage:

  • At the top, just below the header (ideally above the waterline)
  • Or at the bottom, just above the footer.

Your About page is also a great place to show your media releases.

A tip: if you are an editor on industry blogs, also ask permission to mention the logo of the blog in question on your website.

Even better, you can write forums in the media as an expert and even interview you.

To get interviews or forums, you usually have to build relationships with the media contributors, but that’s another story!

8) The case studies 

Case studies are yet another form of social proof, perhaps a little less known, but one of the most effective .

Consumers have more confidence in case studies than simple testimonials.

And it makes sense.

While a testimony provides only an overview of the results on the person.

The case studies present at length the initial problematic and the results brought by your products or services.

For example, a marketing consultant could write a blog article presenting the results of his intervention with his client (with his permission) by presenting the details of the actions implemented and an encrypted representation of the results , using screenshots as additional proof.

This is a typical “bottom of the funnel” content that has its place on your corporate blog and that you can even place in a sequence of sales emails .

For example, the company OptinMonster has a page on its site devoted entirely to all the case studies of companies that use its intelligent pop-up solutions.

Even better, they are recognized brands that are presented in very attractive titles :

“How ClickBank University increased its sales by 100% using OptinMonster.”

The Proactiv company that I presented to you also proposes to submit your results and your story on their site with:

  • A photo of you before using their products
  • A photo of you after using them
  • Your story

I’ve also seen companies use case studies as lead magnets to get qualified emails.

All means are good to gain the trust of users and this can be understood.

Consumers will always trust their peers, other consumers.

It’s both good news and bad news for you.

The bad news is that they have less confidence in you (the company).

The good news is that you can easily reap social proof to alleviate this problem.

The best in all this?

It does not cost you any money , except if you decide to hire influencers.

Some recommendations will come by themselves if your products are of very good quality or if you offer an excellent experience to your customers.

It will obviously require some, but you already know that we get what we ask.

First, collect some testimonials from your most loyal customers and place them in strategic places on your website.

Use big numbers to your advantage (number of customers, fans on social networks, newsletter subscribers).

You appeared in a media ? Shout it loud and clear!

Heal your reputation on social networks by regularly following the mentions of your brand and responding to each comment or customer review.

If, in addition, you can get permission to publish a case study on your blog or create a page dedicated to listing the  success stories of your customers  you have a good chance of increasing your sales (and your perceived credibility) !

Now, tell me: how do you collect customer testimonials? Do you have a particular technique? 

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