Social proof is one of the most powerful elements that you can implement into your website strategy to convince visitors to become buyers.
Imagine this: You’re making your first visit to a large but not very well-known store. You’re looking to pick up a few things and you’re the only person in the entire store.
What runs through your mind?
You might be thinking: “Why am I the only one here? That can’t be a good sign, could it? Should I trust this store? I’ve never been here before. How do I know if these products are any good?”
The experience might leave you with a very unsettled feeling.
Guess what? That’s how some of your visitors may be feeling while on your website.
Think about it. The online shopping experience can be incredibly lonely. There are no other people around to give an indication that your store is good.
Have you ever driven past a dining hot spot to see patrons lined up around the block? That’s a pretty good indication that the place is popular, isn’t it? Whether it is the food, the people, or the ambience, people want to be there.
But when shopping online, there are no social cues from other shoppers that convey their feelings about the store or the products being sold there. You can’t even see what they’re all buying.
Have you ever been in a shopping line next to another shopper and thought, “Hey, I want one of those!”
Sometimes a sale happens that way.
So how do you remedy the isolated online shopping experience for shoppers and let them know that other people like what you are selling?
By implementing social proof.
People want actual proof that your stuff is good. And the more you can give them, the better.
There are myriad ways you can implement social proof into your website strategy. Below are a few tried and true ways that help increase social proof.
1. Referral Programs
Referral programs are valuable because they provide the opportunity for your customers to do the marketing for you through word-of-mouth advertising.
Word-of-mouth advertising is one of the most neglected forms of advertising — yet it is one of the most powerful. So why is this advertising so powerful?
Consumers are overwhelmed with a barrage of product choices, but word-of-mouth recommendations cut through the noise quickly and effectively.
When you implement a referral program, you give your visitors the opportunity to tell their friends and family about your products and services.
The best route to take is to reward visitors with cash, discounts, or prizes when their friends or family become customers.
Think about it this way: You’re spending marketing dollars to bring in customers hoping that those dollars will actually turn visitors into paying customers.
Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that happens. There’s a good possibility that your marketing dollars could be wasted.
The beauty of a referral program is that with one in place you only spend money when prospects actually do become paying customers.
How can you possibly lose?
Testimonials are another way to increase social proof.
If you’ve been too busy to add a few of the glowing testimonials you’ve received to your site — you’re missing out.
Testimonials aren’t quite the same as getting a recommendation from a friend or family member, but they do have an effective impact on lifting conversions.
Take, for example, this split test that was conducted by Switzerland-based, international hospitality and hotel management institute Hotel Institute Montreux.
Their original lead generation form is pretty straightforward:
HIM tested it against the below page where a student testimonial was included:
Adding this testimonial above the lead generation form was a deciding factor for visitors and increased conversions by 50 percent.
Furthermore, the increase in conversions also translated to a 54 percent decrease in cost per lead. The credibility of a testimonial can be further increased by including a photo of the person who wrote the testimonial.
Highrise saw a 102.5 percent increase in conversions after redesigning the page on the right to include the photo of the person making the testimonial.
If you’d like to potentially increase conversions even further, consider adding a video testimonial to your website. Doing so increased free trial sign-ups for Unbounce by 25 percent.
3. Customer Reviews
Customer reviews provide a little more credibility over testimonials because your customers make the actual input on your site. This is because customers must typically create a profile before writing a review. You can usually also see other reviews they’ve written for other businesses by looking through their profile.
Econsultancy states that 63 percent of visitors are more likely to make a purchase when customer reviews are provided.
One good example of how customer reviews helped to lift one business’ conversion rate is Express Watches.
The authorized Seiko watch dealer has been in the retail-watch industry for over 21 years, shipping its products to over 23 countries.
A survey revealed that customers were leery that they might get ripped off with a replica watch.
Credibility was of the utmost importance. So Express Watches provided a two-year Seiko warranty along with a 30-day return policy.
Yet, they felt they needed to provide more.
A split test was conducted with a test page that implemented a customer-review widget.
Here’s the original page:
And here’s the test page:
A Trust Pilot widget was added to this page right below the “Add to Basket” button displaying customer reviews from the Trust Pilot website.
Trust Pilot is a website that gathers customer reviews, and it has a widget to show off reviews of your website and products. The widget is especially useful if you’ve yet to bring in high traffic and gather many reviews.
Adding the Trust Pilot customer reviews widget did in fact help to increase Express Watches conversions. The company saw a 58.39 percent increase after the addition of the widget.
Trust Pilot is especially useful because the reviews come straight from Trust Pilot visitors with no hidden agenda.
4. Featured Clients
Another way to show visitors that your stuff is good is by telling them about past clients.
Well-known names and high-profile clients are obviously the most impressive. It’s also recommended that you display the logos of these brands.
Logos have a way of adding instant brand recognition. Logos are also much more noticeable than if you were to just mention a past client within your copy because there’s no guarantee that your visitors will read it.
5. Media Mentions
Has your business been mentioned in the media? Here, again, the higher the profile of the publication the better.
If your products or services are of value and fit nicely into a related topic, write a few articles and submit them to a few high-profile publications.
You will need to make sure any content you create for these publications is high-quality and doesn’t come off as too promotional.
6. Celebrity Endorsements
A celebrity endorsement doesn’t necessarily mean you have to get Brad Pitt to endorse you (although that would be nice, wouldn’t it?).
Is there someone who is highly regarded by your target market whose endorsement would have an impact on their decision to buy? Consider sending them a sample of your product or service and ask for a recommendation.
Jeff Goins, author of “The Writer’s Manifesto” did just that. He sent his book to marketing guru Seth Godin who responded with: “Pow! This is a good one, a wake up call and just what you need to read. Thanks Jeff, for sharing your art.”
Pretty impressive, right?
People want proof.
While they sit shopping on your website trying to figure out if purchasing from you is a good decision — social proof helps them to make that decision.
Social proof is that confirmation that can help push your visitors over the fence onto your side of the lawn.
As mentioned, if your visitors are sitting behind their computers shopping blindly — not knowing much about your business — how will they know your stuff is good?
If you can provide that social proof that your stuff is good, you can dramatically increase your chances of converting visitors into customers.
Let Digital Current help. Our strategists can help you put together a website conversion strategy that will boost traffic and your bottom line.