Social proof in online marketing

It happens that a person in different situations can not decide for certain behaviors and can be guided by the opinions or actions of the other persons. It is usually assumed that the majority is not wrong or there must be someone who knows for sure. This psychological phenomenon is widely known as social proof. Depending on the context, similar actions are also called herd behavior.

Nevertheless, today almost every sphere is based on foreign opinion: for employers references of an applicant are important, on financial markets one imitates decisions of other investors in bulk, holidaymakers orient themselves in the hotel selection on guest reviews on booking portals, etc.

For online shops , social proofing is of particular value, as customers usually have no opportunity to get directly acquainted with goods or personally contact service providers. Although there are currently many ways to promote the product on the Web and to present its benefits to customers, these efforts may eventually be unsuccessful if they fail to convince the target audience that this offer is lucrative and popular. For this, the social proof must come into play, which is above all called to fulfill the functions as follows:

Gaining trust – This point is very important in online marketing. Market studies in recent years confirm that trust in an online store for consumers plays a much more significant role than a low price.

Strengthening the power of persuasion – For mere assertion is not enough to convince customers that someone had positive experiences with the product.

Justify a purchase decision – In some cases, it is important to tell customers that the purchase of certain items ensures compliance with social, ethical, or other standards (eg, when the goods are manufactured according to fair trade principles or with respect to environmental standards).

Influencing decisions – From time to time you refuse to make a purchase decision for certain reasons. The social proof emerges as a psychological trigger that is able to persuade customers to buy.

These are the main reasons why you should necessarily use social proof on an online shop website.

Types of social proof

Online marketing uses many types of social proof that can pursue different goals. Based on the business activity and set tasks one can accommodate one or more of the following variants on a website.

1. Customer reviews

These are obviously the most effective means of giving feedback on products or services. As known, it is better to believe other buyers than marketers engaged in sales. The built-in commenting feature allows customers to quickly and easily share their experiences on a web page, describing all the pros and cons of a purchased item.

Reviews are an independent group of comprehensive customer reviews that include the asterisk ranking. Unlike reviews, reviews can be presented in a variety of formats – written reports or videos that deal in detail with purchased products. 
Ratings, comments and reviews reveal what other consumers think about what a website offers. The more trust valuations create, the higher the willingness to make a purchase or use services.

At this point it should also be noted that it must necessarily go to reviews of real customers. Positive reviews that are not objective or overestimate the value of the product can have the opposite effect.

2. Customer experiences in social networks

Social widgets allow visitors to access the customer reviews of an online store in social media. A “Like” button, sharing experiences, or numerous comments signal to other customers that a product or service has enough followers, ie, a demand. In addition to qualitative (real people with existing profile pictures), quantitative characteristics are also important here: It must be ensured that widgets are only useful if the group is active in social networks. Otherwise, they not only become useless, but can also sow mistrust and thus cause lasting damage to the reputation of the company.

3. Expert opinion

In order to induce customers to buy, expert opinions are no less effective than the funds listed above. For this purpose, the product or services offered should be evaluated by someone known to the public as a top-class expert. The more well-known and influential person is, the more important is the social proof. Opinions of professionals should be presented as reviews, reviews or quotes about the product.

4. Celebrities

For some customer groups and product classes, words from a known person may encourage you to buy more than dozens of reviews. This is aimed at impressing customers with first-class quality. It should not be forgotten that you need to use this marketing approach properly and thoughtfully, so that the use of a product by a known person looks credible.

5. Trust-Elements

Trust elements include the content that gives confidence in a website. Seal of approval, awards, diplomas, certificates, logos of customers, partner lists, category “Who writes here?” Make a website trustworthy. This in turn influences the conversion rates positively. Chris Goward of Wider Funnel claims that trust elements on landing pages increase conversion in 9 out of 10 cases. To this result came numerous split tests of the respected marketing agency.

6. Information as proof

Data, facts and studies on a web page can help to gain the trust of customers because they illustrate the performance of a company graphically.

Statistical data indicating the number of customers, current sales, downloads or visitor activity indicates that goods are in demand.

Case Studies are stories that deal with the practical use of services for a particular customer. They describe in detail all steps on the way to set goals. Case studies have a high level of credibility as they illustrate how challenges have been overcome and how the service or product can help in a given situation.

Under White Paper publications will be understood that convey an ad free knowledge on a specialist subject. Information related to services or the product may also be perceived as reliable by potential customers.


The social proof lets the customer communicate through enumerated ways that one can trust this online shop or service provider. It should also be mentioned that this essential marketing tool is effective in almost every business.

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