Social Proof is a powerful marketing tool. It’s no wonder that major eCommerce brands such as Amazon and Alibaba use it on their website. Social proof has a significant impact on the way your potential customers and browsers perceive your brand. With social proof, you can easily boost conversions, drive site traffic, increase brand awareness, and improve your brand’s influence. But most marketers still don’t know what social proof is and how they can make the most of this rather simple technique.
What is Social Proof?
The academic definition of social proof according to Wikipedia is, ‘Social proof is a psychological and social phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior in a given situation.’
Simply put, social proof is a technique of displaying certain key numbers and statistics that consumers can use as a yardstick to measure a brand’s worth and overcome their ‘purchase anxiety’. Consumers often want proof from other buyers or third parties to help them make a purchase decision and this is where social proof comes into play.
A simpler way to understand social proof is when you encounter it in certain real-life scenarios. A great example of this is when you see a large crowd of people waiting outside a restaurant for their table. You look at the number of people waiting and presume that the food must really be good since so many people are waiting outside. And so, you are more likely to make a visit to the restaurant in the future.
It’s the same with brands using brand ambassadors and stores that are packed or movie halls that are filled with people. When you see more people indulging in something, you tend to be more inclined to also pursue or try the same activity.
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Types of Social Proof
Broadly speaking there are 5 types of social proof that you can use for your online store.
- Customers – Positive testimonials and feedbacks from your existing customers will work well for your social proof.
- Celebrities – Social proof from celebrities or industry influencers that are using your products can do wonders for your eCommerce store.
- Crowds – Showing large numbers of people buying from you is also a valid social proof strategy. (e.g. 100,000+ eCommerce businesses are using a .store domain extension for their websites)
- Friends – Showing people that their friends are buying from your website. (e.g. “50 of your friends have liked .store domains”)
- Certifications – Displaying a credible 3rd party certification shows that you know what you are doing and establishes a sense of quality and trust.
Social proof is all around you and you can use this same strategy to drive conversions and build a better brand for your eCommerce store. Here’s how you can do that.
Customer Advocacies and Product Reviews
Customer testimonials are perhaps the most widely used social proof mechanism. It works extremely well, and so its popularity is justified. Nielson research shows that a whopping 92% of people will trust a recommendation from someone they know, and 70% of people will trust a recommendation from someone they don’t know.
Reviews and ratings for all your products will help your prospective buyers to understand your products better and make an informed decision. Amazon focusses on displaying customer reviews and ratings on every single product. If they can win with this simple strategy, then you can do too for your online store!
Social Media Strength
Another common social proof technique that most brands use is to show the number of likes or engagements on their social media pages. Integrating Facebook likes, Twitter and Instagram followers or YouTube subscribers is a smart way to garner authority and build a brand image in the minds of your prospective customers. If you have a strong presence on social media, then you should flaunt it.
Showing certain real-time statistics and numbers like the number of people currently browsing your website, or the number of people currently purchasing a particular item or how many people have bought how many items in the past hour is a great way to build social proof and add a sense of purchase urgency. This is especially applicable during discount periods and sale seasons. Simply integrate a pop-up message that grabs your target audience’s attention.
A complex product must include a detailed description that addresses all of your buyers’ apprehensions and concerns. Every description must be written to inform and persuade. Always, always, always include high-quality pictures. Let’s zoom into the features of a great product copy.
Another great way to build social proof is to get a well-known celebrity to represent your online store or an industry influencer to back your products and brand. Getting a celebrity approval works well to establish authority in your space. People will develop a sense of trust and credibility for your brand if your brand is supported by a face that everybody recognizes and respects. For instance, in India, online grocery purchase and delivery website, Big Basket has roped in Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan as their brand ambassador.
If your products or brand has never been mentioned in the media, then it’s time to get your name out there. Media mentions primarily include getting featured across leading newspapers, magazines, and TV channels or podcast and radio interviews. This helps to reach more people and you can also showcase these mentions on your website for people to reassure themselves about their purchases and overall trust in your brand. For instance, a review such as ‘a superb website to shop for all your home utilities’ by Forbes magazine, will help your website establish supremacy.
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