Social proof marketing

Understanding The Psychology Behind Social Proof Marketing: Drive Conversions, Increase Sales, & Grow Your Business

These days, you’ll need more than a few snippets of catchy marketing content to get customers to buy into your brand. What you need is social proof marketing. It is one of the most successful ways to grow new business, build loyalty and trust.

Have you ever bought a product based on a suggestion from a friend or family member? If you have, you were likely swayed by social proof. And you’ve shown that social proof is a powerful marketing tool for businesses big and small.

Here’s another example. Have you ever walked by a restaurant with a long line outside and decided to follow it because you assumed the food would be good? It must be good if everyone else is buying it, right?

The product was suggested to you by an actual human, which is why it’s so convincing. This is an example of social proof in action. We shape our opinions on something based on other people’s behaviour.

Smart brands and marketers recognize that social proof marketing has enormous growth potential. This is why they use a variety of strategies to manipulate buying behaviour with constructive social proof. As a result, it produces more profit.

92% of consumers are more likely to trust non-paid recommendations than any other type of advertising.

Social proof is a psychological process in which an individual imitates another’s behaviors to reflect what they believe is appropriate behaviour in a given situation. It’s a basic course in human behavior that feeling fuels FOMO (fear of missing out). Social proof is a key persuasion principle that’s extensively used in marketing, especially word-of-mouth marketing.

Social proof marketing has now become a valuable tactic for businesses. Positive or negative social proof can make or break a brand. Especially with how pervasive social media and the hive mind have become.

What is social proof marketing?

What is social proof marketing

The principle of social proof states that individuals can imitate the behavior of the masses. The theory is that if the majority of people are doing the same thing, it must be the right thing to do.

In fact, this real scientific study shows the effect of group influence on one’s decision-making process. The arguments proposed in this study all fall short in the face of this one idea: if others are doing it, I should too.

This effect is known as social proof by psychologists, and it is particularly prominent in the world of online shopping.

Marketers use social proof as a conversion rate optimization strategy by relieving consumers’ worries. The importance of social proof cannot be overstated. According to studies, 92% of online shoppers read product reviews before making an order.

Not to mention the fact that product reviews are 12-times more trusted than product descriptions, ads, and sales copy.

In other words, customers want proof from their colleagues and impartial third parties, not from the companies supplying the goods. Real-life social proof cases that you come across on a regular basis are the perfect way to consider social proof marketing.

Reviews & Testimonials

Websites typically include reviews or testimonials. People now tend to rely on reviews or testimonials as a deciding factor for their purchase.

Influencer marketing

Brands work with influencers or micro influencers to promote their products or services. Notice how often influencers state paid promotion deals on their pages.

Restaurants

People waiting for a table in restaurants are often forced to wait outside due to a lack of room in reception areas. This indicates to passers-by that the restaurant is busy. As a result, people who pass by are more likely to return to the restaurant.

Shops

Stores will display photos of celebrities who have shopped in their establishments to show shoppers that notable people approve of their goods and services.

Exclusive clubs

People must first join a waiting list to get into exclusive clubs. Although waitlists are often necessary to avoid overcrowding, the fact is that they are often used to make clubs seem more exclusive.

As you can see, social proof marketing can be a very useful tool for businesses. By displaying the success of your brand, products, and services, you will increase people’s confidence in your brand. Social proof marketing can already be found everywhere. It’s only right that you start doing it on your own business.

Why is social proof marketing important? What are the benefits of social proof marketing?

why is social proof marketing important

Social proof can be a powerful marketing tool for plenty of reasons.

The bandwagon effect

It’s a social psychology concept that states that people are more motivated to do anything if others are doing it. It is the most fundamental driving force behind social proof. If 300,000 people liked the podcast, the bandwagon effect dictates that you will likely enjoy it as well.

Builds trust

Since sending a credit card number to an unfamiliar company over the internet is a large obstacle for consumers to conquer, trust becomes one of the most important factors in converting customers online. Using testimonials and consumer feedback to show prospective clients that a company has a lot of happy customers helps to gain confidence that a company is genuine and trustworthy.

Establishes authority

Finally, social proof can be used to establish authority in online marketing. A client, for example, might find a testimonial from a credible source, like an expert, more persuasive than a hundred average customer feedback. Another way to demonstrate both social proof and authority is to display brand logos from well-known clients. The logic follows that if a service is used by a large number of the world’s biggest corporations, it must be nice.

Social proof marketing operates by appealing to our natural desire to imitate others’ behaviour, thus increasing trust and credibility and lowering the barriers to online shopping.

Principles of social proof marketing

principles of social proof marketing

As previously said, social proof marketing relies on someone to figure out how to behave in an unfamiliar situation. If you’re in a new city and looking for a place to eat, you’re more likely to stroll into a bustling restaurant full of happy customers than a lonely establishment with no indication that it serves good food. With this in mind, it’s worth noting that there are four social proof principles that can influence our behaviour.

  • Uncertainty: When we are unsure about a situation, we look to how other people are responding.
  • Expertise: In uncertain situations, students are more likely to turn to their teachers for guidance. The expertise principle in social proof states that those with more experience in a certain situation will lead the rest of the group’s reaction.
  • Similarity: When confronted with a new situation in a big community, you are most likely to mimic the reactions of others that are similar to you.
  • Number: The number principle is best summarized by the herd mentality. When a group of individuals is confronted with an ambiguous situation, the majority’s decisions will be seen as right and true.

Social proof marketing statistics

social proof marketing statistics

  1. 87% of people do online research before making a purchase.
  2. The average customer reads ten online reviews before making a buying decision.
  3. 88% of consumers value customer feedback as much as personal recommendations.
  4. 82% of Americans claim they get advice from friends and relatives before making a purchase.
  5. 70% of people would believe a suggestion from someone they have never met.
  6. 92% of individuals trust peer recommendations.
  7. Buyers read an average of 40 online reviews before believing a company’s star rating is accurate.
  8. 63% of consumers are most likely to buy from a site that has product ratings and reviews.
  9. 85% of consumers believe that web reviews older than three months are irrelevant.
  10. Non-paid recommendations are trusted by 92% of customers.

Types of social proof marketing

types of social proof marketing

The most important aspect of successful social proof marketing is that it is genuine. There are six different types of social proof. Begin by utilizing the resources you currently have, and then work to expand and acquire more.

  • Experts: Social proof from reputable and respected industry experts.
  • Certifications: A reputable, third-party body that certifies that you are a knowledgeable, high-quality, or a reliable source.
  • Customers: Testimonials from your current customers or users.
  • Celebrities and other influencers: Celebrities and other influencers may provide social proof (e.g. celebrities who have bought your product, tried and loved your services, or visited your shop/store/establishment).
  • Friends: Friends of your users/website visitors.
  • Crowds: Large numbers of people can act as social proof.

How to use social proof marketing to boost conversions

how to use social proof marketing to boost conversions

There are a variety of ways to incorporate social proof marketing into your strategies. First of all, it’s important to be humble. When you post social proof, make sure it’s viewed as a resource intended for your audience, rather than a way to boost the brand’s image (or ego).

The advantages of social proof go far beyond brand recognition and loyalty. It will also help you rank higher in search engines, since Google prefers to see evidence of social proof on a brand’s website.

Social proof content is also a useful weapon for social media campaigns because this form of marketing spreads quickly across many networks.

Remember to show examples of social proof in the same way as you would a knowledge base. Share your previous consumers’ stories and experiences with your prospects to motivate them and help them make an educated decision about your business.

Above all, for social proof to be effective, it must feel genuine. To do so, you must build a relationship with your audience based on continuity and confidence.

Once that has been accomplished, you can try implementing these social proof marketing tactics to boost conversions and make more sales.

Showcase statistics

proof homepage

Adding real-time statistics to your website to show how many users are actually using your services, or how many consumers are currently shopping, is a perfect source of social proof. Not to mention, it also brings FOMO into the equation!

You can display whatever information you choose, such as orders, registrations, or signups. You can also send out alerts if a product in your store becomes successful.

Proof does this by including real time stats on their website. They added it on the headline so it catches your attention, plus it’s the first thing you see.

Case studies

Ogilvy case studies

You can also highlight happy consumers by providing a case study on their experience with your business. Identify one or more customers who you’ve successfully worked with and ask if they’d be willing to participate.

Typically, case studies provide an in-depth analysis of how you and the client collaborated successfully. That said, maintaining positive engagement with your clients is critical.

ogilvy case study

You can present your case studies in a variety of ways. For example, you can provide free PDFs or host them on your blog, as Ogilvy has done.

Customer case studies are featured prominently on Ogilvy’s website. A page like this in your main site navigation is a perfect way to highlight social proof.

Reviews & testimonials

Wake up and read the labels testimonials

Customer testimonials are perhaps the most widely used method of social proof. According to Nielsen research, 92% of people trust a peer endorsement and 70% trust a recommendation from someone they don’t know.

As a result, nearly every brand’s website features consumer testimonials.

Customer testimonials and reviews can be presented in a variety of ways, as long as they emphasize the value of the brand in the words of happy consumers. According to one report, testimonials will boost sales page conversions by up to 34%. The trick is to use the right testimonial format for your website.

wake up and read the labels instagram

In addition to posting online testimonials and reviews on your website, have you thought about sharing social proof on social media?

Sharing content like this attracts new buyers. Once you gather reviews, you’ll have plenty of material to work with.

Check out our own client, Wake Up And Read The Labels. We incorporated videos from her clients sharing their own positive stories and experiences with her brand. These videos were also used for her social media marketing strategy on Instagram.

Celebrity or influencer endorsements

mcdonalds instagram

Celebrities and well-known business leaders are excellent when it comes to gaining credibility and demonstrating your brand’s value.

Depending on the brand, celebrity endorsements can be compensated or natural.

The former refers to contractual agreements in which you pay to have your brand represented. Big companies like McDonald’s and Samsung operate in this manner. They hired the biggest boy band of the era, BTS, to be their brand ambassadors.

samsung instagram

Meanwhile, a natural celebrity endorsement is when an individual openly endorses the brand/product on their own accord.

justin bieber instagram

In the example above, Justin Bieber is seen using Nike sneakers even though it isn’t an official or paid endorsement.

Influencer marketing is similar to celebrity endorsements. This strategy entails paying influencers to include your brand in their posts.

charlie damelio instagram

Charlie D’amelio, a TikTok and Instagram influencer, collaborated with Morphe in an influencer marketing campaign.

People are drawn to influencers and they want to see what goods and services these content creators wear, use, and enjoy. As a result, influencer marketing is an excellent example of social evidence that can help the company reach a larger audience.

Awards, certificates, & accolades

just digital awards and certificates

Has your company been awarded or named on any industry best-of lists? Show it off! It’s an excellent way to let people know that the company is recognised for its excellence.

Most certifying and accrediting companies have badges or trademarks that can be openly posted on your website. Conversion rates have been seen to rise by as much as 30% in some cases.

On our very own website we’ve added awards and partnership badges because:

  1. We take pride in it.
  2. It established credibility and industry expertise.

Most lists and awards will provide you with a badge graphic, similar to the ones seen above, that you can use in your website footer or homepage to highlight your brand’s success.

pure dermatology accreditations

We also do the same for our clients. Pure Dermatology belongs in an industry where accreditation matters. This is why we’ve made sure to include this on their website.

User generated content

dove instagram

People will notice that you have satisfied consumers when you post user-generated content on your own social media accounts. Instagram is a great place to do this.

Do it like Dove and post user-generated content to your brand’s profile, tagging the original poster. Develop a branded hashtag, include it in your profile, and give users the opportunity to be featured.

This technique can be used on almost any platform, but Instagram is the most common and successful.

Customer shoutouts & mentions

taco bell instagram

What better way to demonstrate social proof than to express the compliments and kind words of your customers? You can also express customer appreciate through a quick mention on social media.

In the example above, Taco Bell retweeted a photo of a customer’s graduation cap, which was covered in sauce packaging. They did so in a sincere and genuine way. This is a fantastic example of how to present social proof to your customers while also expressing customer appreciation.

Invite experts

futur igtv

Provide social proof by inviting experts to contribute to your social media pages or blog. Futur does this all the time on IGTV and YouTube.

Your followers and page visitors will attribute the expert’s authority to you since the message is being spread on your own platform. Plus your followers will look to you in the future as a source of information.

Press features or media mentions

wander beauty products

Have you ever seen your product or brand listed/mentioned in the news or media? Magazine features, unsolicited reviews, and podcast mentions are all examples of social proof. Gain authority and credibility by displaying these media mentions onto your website.

Simply using the logos of media outlets that mentioned your business is an even easier and more subtle tactic.

Wander Beauty added Allure’s best of beauty badge to their products on the website.

Integrations

convertkit integrations

One of the simplest ways to gain social credibility is to use logos from third-party platform integrations.

If your product or service combines with third-party platforms, the logos of your collaboration partners are one of the best forms of social proof you can use. This puts your product in the company of trusted and well-known brands.

When someone visits your site for the first time, they may not know who you are, but they’ll definitely know one of your third party integrations. This gives your site credibility.

Knowing that the product is compatible with other softwares used by a prospective client is not only a fantastic selling point, but it also gives your company a more solid and trustworthy appearance.

ConvertKit has an entire page dedicated to their third party integrations.

Existing customers

getresponse existing customers

If you partner with well-known companies, publicize that information to pique people’s curiosity in your product or service. Obviously, if major brands like your business, you must be doing something right.

Take a look at what GetResponse did for example. They added it into their website at the very top so prospective customers see it immediately.

Display user count/subscriber count/customer count

wordpress homepage

Another important metric that gives your company credibility is the number of subscribers, sales, users, or customers. Utilizing statistics or raw numbers works well as a conversion tactic.

WordPress does this by adding it below their headline. Their study shows 41% of the web got built using WordPress. Now that’s a huge slice of the internet.

Bestsellers

barnes and noble bestsellers page

Simply displaying which products are your top sellers helps to enhance conversions on those products.

A prospect who is considering buying may be hesitant, but if they discover that it is a top seller, they are more likely to make the purchase. That’s why Barnes & Noble uses an eye-catching “#1 Bestseller” banner to highlight which books are the most popular.

Customer recommendations

casper customer review

Surveying your existing customers and then declaring the number of consumers who would buy your product again is a great approach to harness social proof.

Casper accomplishes this by asking consumers who have purchased their items to rate them and indicate whether or not they would purchase it again, and then calculating the total percentage.

Customer features

function of beauty product customer feature

People enjoy the spotlight, so why not use your satisfied customers as social proof? You can use a customer showcase to display your customers’ products, styles, or anything else they’ve achieved through using your product.

Function of Beauty, for example, features customer photos in their individual product pages. This is even more effective than enlisting the services of professional models.

Harmful social proof marketing- what to avoid

harmful social proof marketing

Leaning too heavily on social proof can potentially hinder your sales.

When it comes to using social proof, you need to know who you’re attempting to reach. Humans are tribal beings. This means a connection is formed when we see others who we have the same experiences as us.

To that end, consumers must believe they are part of the same “group” as the people you mention, or the social proof will backfire.

When presenting case studies and testimonials, make sure the person giving the review is reflective of your target market. To that end, social proof marketing should never be unduly generic and vague, since this causes friction and alienates a huge number of potential customers.

Put social proof marketing into practice

Now that you know what social proof marketing it is and how to use it, why not incorporate social proof in your marketing strategy?

You already have all you need to start using social proof marketing to boost your business’ sales. Try out numerous strategies and tactics in your social proof marketing strategy. We’re confident you’ll witness results in no time!

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