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Social Proof: What It Is & How to Get Started [+ Proven Examples]

Have you heard about social proof and are wondering how you can use it for your eCommerce site? Are you looking for some social proof examples?

Social proof is a powerful marketing and sales tool that can drastically boost profits. And yet, many online merchants aren’t using social proof to its full potential.

Or worse, they aren’t using it at all.

That’s why we’re going to teach you all about social proof and how you can use it to grow your business.

Let’s dive in!

What Is Social Proof?

Social proof marketing is a technique that suggests consumers are more likely to take a positive action toward your business when they see that other consumers have already done the same.

While there are loads of social proof definitions online, there’s no need to overcomplicate it. In the marketing world, it boils down to the same core concept it did in kindergarten:

Monkey see, monkey do.

Honestly, it’s as simple as that.

When consumers are on the fence about making a decision, they have the tendency to look around for direction. It’s the whole, “wisdom of the crowd” mentality. If we see large groups of people taking action, we’re even more inclined to do the same.

And the idea of social proof isn’t some “get-rich” technique developed by an online marketing guru, either. It’s a clinically proven phenomenon in psychology.

In other words, using social proof is very effective at getting you better leads and more profits.

Let’s take a quick look at why social proof is so effective.

Why Is Social Proof Effective?

Social proof is effective because it taps into basic human psychology. Humans trust other humans and will rely on the opinions of others when making a variety of decisions. That includes where to spend their money and what to spend it on.

Though we’ve already written a comprehensive guide on social proof statistics, here’s a quick glance at some of the most shocking findings:

  • 83% of people trust user reviews over advertising
  • More than half of consumers won’t use a business if it has less than a 4-star rating
  • 97% of consumers look at reviews before purchasing
  • Testimonials can increase conversion rates on sales pages by 34%
  • Fear of missing out (FOMO) can boost your conversions by 40%-200%

Every statistic leads to one conclusion: if you’re not leveraging this scientifically-proven marketing technique in some way, you’re leaving lots of money on the table.

And one of the most interesting aspects of social proof for consumers is that it works like a fly-wheel: it takes a lot of effort to get started, but the more proof you have, the easier it is to get even more.

This is what a large number of people in marketing refer to as “creating a buzz” around a product or idea. As people start talking about it, more people feel the need to join the conversation.

Fortunately for you, there’s a lot of different forms of social proof you can start using today. Let’s turn our attention to 8 social proof examples that you can add to your site.

8 Social Proof Examples

It’s quite common for businesses to post some type of social proof on their website. A few will take it another step and will also feature them on ad campaigns, social media, and email signatures. But, there are several different types of social proof you can use to help you stand out from your competitors.

These are 8 types of social proof a website can have:

  • Testimonials (also known as “expert social proof”)
  • Ratings and reviews
  • Social Media Signals
  • Displays of current customers
  • Active-participant counters
  • Case studies
  • Word-of-mouth
  • Positive action notifications

Let’s look at each one a little more closely.

1. Testimonials

Most of us are already familiar with testimonials. A testimonial is a quote from past or current customers that put your brand in a positive light. In other words, this is when someone vouches for your company.

Even though most of your site’s visitors won’t know the person giving the testimonial, it doesn’t matter. 91% of Millennials trust reviews as much as recommendations from their own friends and family.

However, to really boost conversions, you should add a small photo of the person giving the testimonial. This makes their recommendation feel more personal and lends it more credibility.

Here is an excellent example of a perfectly crafted testimonial for SEMrush:

semrush social proof example

There is a photo of the speaker, a glowing testimonial, and the added benefit of a company name that many of SEMrush’s target audience would recognize.

Want to add some testimonials to your site? Check out this resource on 9 customer testimonial examples you can use.

2. Ratings and Reviews

Reviews are very important for all businesses, but particularly for restaurants, brick-and-mortar shops, businesses selling through 3rd party sites like Amazon, and eCommerce sites. When it comes to reviews, there are two types that can work in your favor: influencer reviews and customer reviews.

Celebrity social proof and influencer marketing reviews are incredibly powerful. In fact, if you get a popular review from someone with a large audience, you likely want to turn that into a testimonial or perhaps even a case study (which we’ll talk about later).

Customer reviews can be just as powerful, but you need more of them to be effective. The average consumer reads up to 10 reviews before making a decision to purchase a product.

Reviews typically have two parts to them: a 5-start rating system followed by some text describing the product or service. Here’s an example of a review from Transferwise’s homepage:

TransferWise-Recommendation-for-Social-Proof

5-star scales give readers a quick glance at the overall review, but written content provides more detail as to what specifically made the product or service good or bad. When you have both the quick-glance rating followed by detailed information, you’ve got a killer review on your hands.

And chances are, people will read it.

Research shows that 83% of people prefer reviews over advertising, which makes sense. You can speak highly about your product until you’re blue in the face, but considering your connection to the business, people take your words with a grain of salt.

Seeing a client take the time to write either a positive or negative review about your company inspires other consumers to take either a positive or negative action. Again, social proof is still powerful, even if the reviews are from total strangers.

3. Social Media Signals

When it comes to using social media to boost your social proof, there are three factors to take into consideration:

The number of followers: The more followers you have, the more likely you are to gain more:

High-number-of-followers

The number of likes: Social media posts with more likes are typically shared more and help to further boost engagement:

ag-instagram-multiple-image-post-food-network

Overall interaction: If you’ve struck up a conversation or post online and many people are taking the time to reply, that can encourage more people to throw in their 2 cents on the subject:social proof social media comments

Out of those three, which one is the most important?

None, because they should all work together.

More and more, marketers are realizing that the number of followers isn’t more powerful than the overall interaction taking place. An Instagram influencer, for example, may have 4 million followers, but if none are really engaged with the brand or replying to comments, the brand’s social proof is still pretty weak.

If you want to use social media, you should really be trying to increase followers, likes, and interactions instead of focusing on only one singular metric.

All of these social media metrics are a great demonstration of social proof.

It’s one of the main reasons why you might also want to consider adding social media share buttons across your site. This will help your site’s traffic share your social media posts which will build even more social proof on that platform.

4. Displays of Current Customers

Our next social proof example is to list any high-profile clients you are currently working with (or have worked with in the past).

Showing that well-known brands or influential people have worked with you in the past isn’t bragging. It’s simply leveraging the power of social proof in your favor. By displaying established and trusted brands that have worked with you, your own brand can borrow some of their credibility.

Here’s an example from Moz’s homepage showing people who have used their software:

Moz-shows-current-clients

If you’ve ever worked with recognizable companies, don’t be shy! Display them proudly on your website.

5. Active-Participant Counters

common marketing strategy for building urgency is a countdown timer letting customers know when a promotion will finish. But if you want to use social proof, you need the exact opposite: a counter that goes up rather than down.

More specifically, you need an active participant counter to show how many people have used or are currently using your site.

Kickstarter is a good example of a company that relies on this form of social proof to encourage donations:

Kickstarter-Counter

The higher that counter becomes, the more effective it is. When people see that others have donated to a project, they’re much more likely to donate as well.

Here’s another great example from Awesome Motive:

awesome-motive-counter-for-social-proof

Showing people in real-time how many customers are using your brand is a very powerful social proof strategy. It’s a perfect use of the FOMO tactic we talked about earlier. If people see so many others are using your products or services, they won’t want to miss out on the action. This will inspire them to buy from you.

6. Case Studies

We already looked at how testimonials and reviews can help boost conversions, but case studies are another great tool. They are like a long-form testimonial that details someone’s success with your product.

Case studies usually take the form of a blog post, newsletter, or video, but you can make and distribute them however you see fit. The point is to take a deep dive into a customer’s experience with your product and allow them to share it with others through storytelling.

When creating a case study, the key is to be as thorough and detailed as you possibly can.

A few questions your case study should answer are:

  • What limitations did your client face?
  • How did they overcome it?
  • Why did they choose you over the competition?
  • How much success did they have?
  • Can they show concrete data to support it?

By answering questions like these, you’ll build a case study that other consumers can read to sway them into making a purchase with your brand.

7. Word-of-Mouth

They say that your best marketers are your happy customers.

And they’re right.

The power of word-of-mouth shouldn’t be underestimated. Plenty of companies have used word-of-mouth marketing to build their clientele. Companies like Uber, Airbnb, Transferwise, and many more offer incentives for signing up new customers:

Word-Of-Mouth-TransferWise

When you share a company with a friend to get the reward, you’re also vouching for the company with your own reputation.

Since you’re likely only reaching out to friends and family with those kinds of deals, you’re acting as social proof on behalf of the company you’re suggesting.

You can do the same thing with your brand. Offer your potential customers an incentive for referring people in their social network, and you’ll be building your brand’s social proof in no time!

Word-of-mouth is an excellent form of marketing, but when it comes to eCommerce social proof, it’s something you will need to focus on.

8. Positive Action Notifications

One of the best ways to provide your visitors with social proof is by displaying real-time action notifications in the form of a popup. You’ve likely seen these before:

Social-Proof-Popup-by-TrustPuls

While your visitors are checking out your site, they’ll be notified whenever someone makes a positive action, like making a purchase, viewing a product page, or signing up for your newsletter, just to name a few.

This little dose of social proof affects purchase rates in a big way. It can boost conversions by up to 15% and is becoming a more popular marketing strategy every day.

But how can new businesses build any of these types of social proof? Like most things in life, every job requires the right tool. And the good news is, there is a tool to get you started with social proof.

How to Use Social Proof on Your Website

The best way to showcase eCommerce social proof (or social proof for any site) is by using TrustPulse.

 

trustpulse home page

TrustPulse is the best social proof software on the market. With TrustPulse, you can quickly and easily display social proof notifications across your site. That includes notifications like when visitors:

  • Sign up for your newsletters
  • Register for a webinar
  • Leave your company a review on 3rd-party sites like Google My Business or Yelp
  • Purchase a product from your online store
  • Click through to landing pages or product pages
  • And more…

In other words, you’ll be showing the positive actions of others to motivate your site’s traffic into action. Plus, it doesn’t require any coding skills to get started.

You can also add a link to the notifications, so each message acts as a call to action (CTA) button.

Plus, you can use the Zapier integration to create notifications for 3rd-party review sites. This will show whenever someone leaves you a 5-star review on sites like Yelp, G2, Capterra, and more.

As a result, you can expect to build more trust with your site’s visitors and, ultimately, make more sales.

And the best part is that you can use TrustPulse for a fraction of the cost when compared to the closest competitors. Whereas other social proof software can cost up to $20-$30/month, TrustPulse’s paid plans begin at $5/month.

This makes it the perfect tool for businesses of all sizes: from 8-figure companies to solo bloggers looking for more readers.

For more information on how TrustPulse stacks up to the competition regarding pricing and features, check out this helpful post: FOMO vs. UseProof vs. TrustPulse: Which Is Best for Social Proof?

Ready to get started building credibility with your audience and instantly boosting sales?

Sign up for your risk-free TrustPulse account today!

But, what if you’re new to the world of eCommerce, and you don’t have any social proof yet? Don’t worry. There’s a lot you can do to quickly gather reviews, testimonials, and social media followers in no time.

But the most important tip here isn’t actually something you should do. Instead, it’s something you should never do: rely on fake social proof.

Some companies try to kickstart their credibility by creating or buying fake testimonials or reviews. Or they buy followers to boost their metrics on social media.

Other businesses even rely on social proof plugins that allow you to display positive action notification popups that aren’t real. So they would show that a person “bought” their product even if the purchase never happened:

boost-fake-social-proof-plugin

There are so many reasons to avoid using fake social proof, but here’s the main one:

It’s so easy to build social proof in an authentic way, there’s no excuse not to.

If you are just starting out, here are 5 ways you can quickly build social proof:

  • Host an online contest that gives a prize to the most creative review for your product (we highly recommend using an online giveaway tool like RafflePress for this)
  • Put a customer review or testimonial form directly on your website and link to it in your email campaigns
  • Reach out to your favorite or most loyal clients for a testimonial
  • Ask your social media followers what they love about your product and get them interacting with your brand online
  • Use an honest and genuine software that specializes in positive action notification popups to display when you get new subscribers or your visitors make a purchase

You’ll notice a common theme among all of these strategies: engaging with your audience.

That’s why it’s so important to avoid fake social proof. You may purchase a large following, but it’s easy for your real audience to notice that no one is actually interacting with your brand.

Having a smaller, highly engaged audience is far better than a large, silent audience.

And that’s it for our comprehensive guide to social proof. We hope you found this guide helpful. If so, you may want to check out the following posts, too:

These posts will have everything you need to build more credibility with your brand and use social proof to boost profits.

Ready to get started with the world’s best social proof software?

Sign up for your risk-free TrustPulse account today!

Author Photo
Published by Deana Weinheimer
Deana Weinheimer is a writer with deep experience in marketing and WordPress with a focus and passion in educating her readers. In her free time, she enjoys writing for a minor league hockey news site, traveling with her husband, playing with her dogs and gerbils, or paddle boarding the many waterways of Ohio.

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