Do you know what a social proof is?
Let’s pretend for a sec that we are in is some workshop; I’m your teacher, the topic is business, you’re my student, and I’m going to go ahead and ask you a question…
How many of you have built a business that recorded immediate success? You didn’t have to prove yourself or go through anything other than produced, launched, and then—boom!—the success, instantly?
Can I see your hands up, please?
Can’t see any?
Okay, how many of you agree that success doesn’t come easy in business that you, somehow, need to prove yourself?
If you’ve ever tried selling anything online, then I understand why your hands are up.
It takes more time to get your first hundred customers than it is to two-hundredth, three-hundredth and so on. It is a common pattern.
When I started my content marketing business, it took me almost a year to land my first paid client…
Then it took me less time to land the second. Even far less time to get the tenth on board.
Some months later, I had almost lost count of how many clients I’ve worked with.
What’s happening here?
Obviously, you might conclude I’ve learned how to convince a client to work with me.
No doubt about that, but the reason why landing a client became easier was that I had something to show to my prospective clients. Works for my current and past clients which are proof enough that I could help their business grow.
You see, an innate trait of humans is that, sometimes, we all hate being the first – yes, being the first to try something out.
Learning about Social Proof
A consensus among behavioral economists is that we don’t always make the best buying decisions, even though we like to think that we do.
Author and behavioral economist, Dan Ariely, argued that we are all predictably irrational when making economic decisions.
That we sometimes need to be tricked into taking the right decisions –buying what we need.
Most times, marketers have to turn magicians, and trick you into buying.
One of the methods used is known as social proof.
“Psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation. This effect is prominent in ambiguous social situations where people are unable to determine the appropriate mode of behavior, and is driven by the assumption that surrounding people possess more knowledge about the situation.”
Why Social proof is crucial to your conversions
Using Social Proof as a way of boosting conversions isn’t new at all, it has been in existence long before the internet age. It is safe to say it’s as old as the art of doing business.
The science behind the phenomenon – why social proof is crucial to your conversions
Psychologist Edward Thorndike noticed a pattern in people where the impression a person makes on you affects how you view them overall. He named this the “Halo effect.”
We see this all the time and everywhere:
- Cinemas and bars deliberately keep some people on queue outside waiting to entice you to come and see that movie
- Some sites deliberately keep you on the waiting list to subscribe to their newsletter
- What about McDonald’s bragging about having served billions and billions of people?
- And the “applause lights” TV shows?
This sort of take away the guesswork and gives you a shift in perception of the products from “What is this, can I trust you?” to “I trust you, take my money.”
According to a research done by Nielsen, 92% of people claimed what their peers says about a product shapes their opinion of it, while 72% prefers a stranger’s opinion than nothing.
In contrast, less than 40% trust product ads.
The odds favor social proof here…
5 Types of Social Proofs According to Aileen Lee…
Aileen Lee, a venture capitalist, and blogger broke social proof into 5 different categories, namely:
1. Expert social proof:
when an authority or expert in your industry says some very nice things about your product or service, you don’t just say “Hey! Thanks for the nice words,” then shelf it. You frame it and put it on full display for people to see –either to drive traffic, subscribe to your newsletter or do whatever you want…
2. Celebrity social proof:
having a celebrity to say something could also work magic. According to a paper, Power of Celebrity Endorsement, a Youtube campaign by Apple for iPhone 6 recorded more than 2 million views just some few hours after it was published because it had Jimmy Fallon and Justin on it.
3. User social proof:
this is perhaps the most common of all the social proofs. These are the testimonies of your current customers’ experiences using your product or services.
Basecamp has a long list of quotes from customers’ testimonies on their site. It’s hard not to be convinced this is a business you should pitch your tent with after reading them.
4. The wisdom of the crowd Social Proof:
This is close to what psychologists call herd mentality— a situation where people adopt a behavior because their peers are doing same.
Basically, they show you the size of their customers’ base, so you could take the same action as those customers. The subtle message is; these people are smart, and you’re missing out.
Here is something from Content Marketing Institute:
5. The wisdom of your friends Social Proof:
A business tries to make you take the desired action by showing that some of your “friends” are using their product or service. This is more common on social media. Facebook, for instance, shows you a page liked by your friends.
6 Different Ways to Use Social Proof to Boost Your Conversions
SOCIAL Proof #1: Testimonial Quotes – AKA What People Are Saying About Us
According to a study, this can boost your sales by 34%, and perhaps, that also explains why it is more common.
This tactic is adopted by businesses and bloggers.
The idea is to let your audience know what other people who are just like you (and are into the similar thing as you), who want the same thing as you, are saying about a certain product.
For instance, take a look at this site owned by a friend, Spike Wyatt, a content editor.
I met him through a Facebook group created by Bamidele Oni of WritersinCharge back in August. I knew he was good with words, l also knew he could spot the faintest errors in a copy, what I didn’t know was that he offers copy editing as a service.
And all the testimony quotes on the home page? These were from people I knew personally, and we’re all into content marketing.
Immediately I saw these familiar faces, and the words they all said about his services, I knew I should let him handle my next big project.
I typically think of customer’s feedbacks as a pot filled with gold.
Your company should encourage customers to always give feedbacks about your services. If there are few negatives, ask the customers how you could make them happy and fix those issues. Take the positive ones and sprinkle them on some key pages on your websites.
Social Proof #2: Star Ratings From Strangers – Online Reviews
Supposing you were shopping for a sound system on Amazon, and you come across two speakers by the same manufacturer, which would you go for.
Let’s say the ratings, not price, is what you’re looking at here.
Aha! You’d go with the one with higher ratings, which isn’t really a bad decision.
That said, these ratings were done by complete strangers based on their own experiences using the devices. They could be wrong, because who are these people anyway?
But as humans, we often go where the crowds go.
As a consumer, you’d like to think you know what you’re doing, that you buy what you buy because you think it’s the best or just perfect for you. But studies suggest otherwise: other people’s opinions inform our decisions more than we would like to admit.
According to a local consumer review survey, 90% of consumers read less than 10 reviews before forming an opinion about a business. 84% said they trust an online review as much as they trust a personal recommendation. They don’t care if the reviews are by strangers.
Other discoveries were, even more, eye-popping.
I’d be the first to admit that I read a book’s reviews first before paying for it these days. I rarely order one if the ratings are bad.
Using reviews to boost conversions…
Chris Campell, the CEO of ReviewTracker in his essay for Forbes praised customers’ reviews as “the new social proof”. He also offered some advice on effective use of customers’ reviews:
“To stay competitive, you must be able to effectively manage your online reputation. Track and monitor your reviews. Know when and where your customers are talking about your brand. Respond to customer feedback, both positive and negative. Dive deeper into the comments to look for useful insights and information that will help you improve the customer experience.”
Here are some quick tips on how to properly manage customers’ reviews:
- Sneak into reviews and address customers concern. Appreciate customers for dropping by, and apologize even when there’s nothing to apologize for.
- Make yourself available and offer to personally attend to all issues raised. This method works. I found that most people will rather choose to contact you directly rather than post anything negative.
- Always encourage customers to leave a review and say “Thank you” when they do. I already said earlier, feedbacks are gems regardless of whether positive or good…
Social Proof #3: Influencer endorsement
Again the Halo Effect taking place here.
As far as I can tell, it’s almost impossible to have people’s listening ears online without some industry expert’s endorsement…
I found that your personality has little to do with this, neither does your competence nor your product’s quality; it’s an inherent human nature.
For instance, if you consider my judgment of music to be great, chances are, you will also like my taste in music or thumbs-up any music I also enjoy.
How to get endorsement from experts…
Build a relationship with your expert first. In our world, there are reasons why we root for an expert rather than a celebrity. (Aside from its irrelevance and the huge funds it will gulp) a celebrity might hate your product, and yet endorse it as far as money is exchanging hands –which explains why many don’t take it seriously.
But an expert endorsement rarely cost a dime; they sometimes just stumble upon your business, use it or something.
Make it relevant to your target market and industry.I would never put anything Kanye said about me on my website; even if they’re the nicest things in the world.
I’m a content marketer, my targets are B2Bs, not rap listeners. So my endorser should also be someone my targets respect, not some aliens from the other side.
Social Proof #4: As seen in – platforms that have featured you
While combing the internet researching this topic and to double-check its relevance in today’s content marketing, I noticed there’re only a handful of bloggers and businesses who’s not adopting this tactic.
Having brands name and logos that you’ve worked with on your site will definitely boost conversions, and it is a great social proof too.
Neil Patel tried removing them once from his site, Neilpatel.com, a move he said backfired:
“I use them on NeilPatel.com, and I even use them throughout Quick Sprout. Whether it is companies I have worked for, mentions within press pieces or awards I’ve received, I try to showcase them all. It helps increase my conversion rates. When I removed the logos from NeilPatel.com, my conversion rate went down by 9.9%. Although that isn’t a huge number, every little bit adds up.”
So what’s the craze about this, anyway? Why are they crucial to your business success?
Don’t you sometimes wonder how success always snowball?
I said earlier, people don’t always want to be the first to try something out except it doesn’t involve forking out money, and maybe time. They want to know you are not experimenting, but rather, you have, indeed, been succeeding.
Hence the need to prove that you’ve worked with—and succeeded in helping—other reputable companies in your industry or niche. The more you can prove this, the easier it will be to convince people to work with you.
Social Proof #5: Prove how good you are with numbers
Let’s say you’re shopping for a particular service and while surfing the internet, two names constantly pop up.
You browse their websites for a bit, and one says it’s served 1 million customers and the other says, it’s been able to serve let’s say, 100,000 customers.
Which of these two would you trust to give you value for your money?
Of course, it’s the one who has served a million people.
Even if the former charges more, you would still want to go with them.
There is a reason for this – numbers don’t lie!
Another reason this works is because—again, the herd mentality—people are never comfortable being the first or the only person in the ship.
What bloggers, businesses, and marketer are trying to achieve with this is to show you they’re serving the need of people who’re just like you.
This effect can be put into use in diverse ways.
For instance, displaying your subscriber size is a good tactic if you want to grow your Opt-in rate
As a business trying to increase your customer base, have the number of the customers you’re currently serving.
Social Proof #6: Displaying your Clients logos on your site
Flaunt it if you’ve got it, they say. Right?
Because why not?
One service that was able to work this effect on me recently was Freedcamp, a Basecamp alternative.
I was shopping for a project management web application when I stumbled on it. I had been using Basecamp, but for whatever reason, I felt I could still get services like those of Basecamp for free if I search.
So I did a Basecamp alternatives search, and there was it.
I was reluctant to try it if even though a huge part of its features are free, which was all I needed.
But I was convinced it won’t be a waste of my time when I found out the same service has several Fortune 500 companies as clients. I changed my mind immediately.
By displaying the logos of some of their existing customers on their website—which are all Fortune 500 companies—they quickly changed my perception of their service from another Basecamp wannabe to “I could actually pitch my tent with this guys.”
There were no words on the site to convince me, all they did was show me some of their current clients.
What are you waiting for?
There are far more social proof tactics you can use to boost conversions than the ones you saw on this list, but like I said, these are the best. Plus it’s not really always about the size of your arsenal but how effective you can put them to use.
If there’s anything I should add here, it would be to remind you to remember this list and implement what you just read right away.
A quick recap:
- Let strangers know how your current customers feel about your services by displaying their testimonies on your site, favorite pages, and Social Media pages.
- Display your clients’ logo and sites where either you or your product have been featured
- Get relevant endorsements from experts in your industry.
- Share this article so other people too could benefit from it.
Finally, there are far more social proofs you can use, and I’d be willing to hear which one you think is effective.