Whether you run an eCommerce store, a community for cat enthusiasts, or whether you’ve built the next big app to take the world by storm – one of your three biggest priorities is to boost engagement, and consequently, increase conversions.
Nowadays, businesses are increasingly using the concept of social proof for just that – increasing positive customer engagement around their products or services. At the end of the day, it’s not just about driving traffic to your site; you have to keep them there as real customers. And to achieve that, businesses have to understand what social proof’s all about, and how it can be used in the right manner for their marketing strategy.
So What is Social Proof?
Humans are driven by a lot of different factors. One of the most prominent ones is opinion, and taking one’s peers’ decisions into account, when making a related decision. This is hard-wired in our psychology.
However, in the marketing arena, social proof is all about using the idea of human masses and their views, to create positive connections around your brand. What you’re essentially doing is taking the human urge to connect with other people, and using their views about your brand, to promote what you do. It’s a lot like social media – but beware, social proof is more than just social media!
The underlying notion behind using social proof for your marketing arsenal is that at the end of the day, people want to fit in with a community and its opinions, as long as the community exists. Statistical studies show that when it comes to hearing peer reviews about a product/service as opposed to a company’s description about the same product and service, consumers are 12x more likely to buy. That’s a massive multiplier.
There are a lot of different techniques that you can incorporate into your product, in order to leverage the potential of social proof for your conversions. These techniques are actually quite simple to work with, which is probably what makes them all the more powerful! Read on and find out what these are.
#1 Building a Community with Comments
For instance, think about a scenario, where you have a comments section on your landing page, for prospective leads to talk to you — and others — about your product/service. That’s a ridiculously simple way to engage with people interested in doing business with you. Remember, nothing sells better than the consumer knowing that other people are talking about your product in a positive manner, and it influences their decision to a large extent.
At the same time, you must make sure that you — the business — respond to customer comments. What makes it a community isn’t just customers, but you engaging with them, answering their queries, accepting feedback. That gives you greater street cred, and proliferates the positive things people have to say about you.
#2 Product Reviews
Take Amazon, for instance. One of their best features is the idea of customer reviews for every product. Unsure about whether you want to checkout that new lawn-mower, because you’ve never heard of the brand before? Well, you can always check out what ratings other customers have given to the product, and that’s enough to clinch the deal. Customer reviews are a great way to boost conversions.
Now let’s look at mobile apps. App stores take the concept of social proof a step further, by using app ratings to decide in what order apps are listed. The same holds true for search results – if I’m looking for an app to help me learn Romanian, apps with higher ratings will show up at the top of my search result, which is automatically an incentive for me to open them up, and maybe even, hit download!
However, it’s also very important to make sure you ask your users to rate your app, without being a pain — and that’s something a lot of apps don’t manage to get right. Make sure you provide a great user experience, to make the user feel good about using your app, before you ask them, nicely, for a rating.
#3 Social Media
Then, there’s social media too – imagine the kind of impact your brand can make in the minds of prospective leads, when you mention your fan following on Facebook and/or Twitter! Displaying those numbers actually lead to better conversions.
Along with that, it doesn’t hurt to have buttons to help people share your product with their network, and of course, providing options to follow you on different social networks is critical too. You can never have too many channels of communication.
Of course, the underlying assumption here is that your social media presence is optimized to a large degree, which may not always be the case. Displaying low stats can actually hurt you, because people tend to use that as a measure of how much they can trust your product. But it’s definitely a route you should think about taking, if you push your social media outreach enough.
#4 Using SEO as Proxy for Social Proof
Believe it or not, optimizing your position in search results is actually another way of having a social proof-driven strategy. The idea here is that higher search rankings automatically lead searchers to believe that you have enough traction and enough trust, to get there. And that’s when they click.
Another interesting point to note here is that SEO rankings and social stats go together. The more social activity you garner, the higher your search position jumps. The higher your position jumps, so do your conversions, which ultimately, also contribute to greater social engagement. It’s a nice cycle out there that you can use for your benefit.
#5 Displaying Statistics on Product Adoption
As mentioned earlier, social media numbers go a long way – and in the same manner, displaying numbers about your product work wonders. For instance, having a simple element on your landing page that displays how many users have signed up for your product helps a lot (like we did it here when we launched VWO SmartStats). It’s a powerful pointer for other people to see how many people trust your product. Another thing you could try, is showcasing how many people use your product on a regular basis, it builds greater social proof that potential users can trust, sign up and jump onboard.
Like social media stats, the same disadvantage exists here – if your product has just launched, displaying a small number won’t really help much. On the contrary, displaying short testimonials here would have much greater effect (see the Personal Stories section below) – you can always display numbers once you have them on your side.
Check out how Nuzzel nailed it –
#6 Logos – Whom Do You Already Work With?
If you’re an enterprise-facing brand, displaying client logos is probably more cut out for you. That lends greater credibility to your work, instead of just focusing on plain numbers.
The same applies when you work with other companies as partners. Even if they aren’t your clients, showcasing the fact that you work with them, goes a long way in convincing customers you’re worth investing time and money in.
#7 Media Mentions
Being featured in media publications is a great way to showcase your product, and it also serves as a very effective marketing tool for a launch. But at the same time, it’s a great way to provide social proof – after all, you’ve been featured in a media outlet, and that counts for something, right? It’s a simple matter of tracking publications that talk about you, and displaying logos linked to those write-ups on your landing page.
It can be as simple as:
#8 Personal Stories For Users To Relate With
I like to think that this category is a rather broad one, incorporating elements like case studies, testimonials, customer videos the like. Let’s break them down:
If you’re an enterprise brand, case studies are an utterly fabulous way to showcase how your products/services have helped your customers. It gives a glimpse into how you can help them change their game too. Be sure to backup your case studies with actual data, and also, define a clear-cut problem statement in your case study, and how your product solved that problem. Nothing like a bit of structure to help leads make up their minds! For instance, at VWO, with our case studies, we employ a structure that takes readers through
- The company that tested
- The setup of the test
- Test results and,
- Finally a portion on why the winning variation actually won.
Here’s one such from our archive: Split Testing between Standard Search Box and Drop-Down Search Increased Leads by 57.25%
Testimonials are a tremendous tool. They’re the best sort of recommendations you can have to promote your brand. Usually, the kind of testimonials you could get from an industry leader using your brand, is the best. Alas, it’s also a bit of a unicorn. But that’s no reason to dump testimonials – they can boost conversions by as much as 37%! They can be rather tricky to get right, but you can follow some pointers:
- Generic testimonials don’t get much traction. Ask customers or well-known industry experts to provide a short testimonial describing how exactly your brand delivered value for them.
- While you would include the names of testifying users, including their photos would be a notch above. However, do remember to check with them if it’s alright to do so.
- You could also think about including short video testimonials, to drive the point home. This may or may not be feasible, depending on customer willingness, but it’s worth the effort.
The best part about social proof techniques is that they are fairly simple to implement. They don’t require a lot of effort to be put up, and certainly not much investment in terms of cash. You can always use a couple of well-defined A/B tests to see what techniques work best for you, and of course, experiment with, say, different types of testimonials to see what yields the best conversion rates. Once you’ve hit upon the ideal mix of social proof items to use, sit back and watch your conversion graphs rise!