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

Have you heard a lot about social proof, but you’re not sure exactly how to use it for your eCommerce store?

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

And since this is one of the most comprehensive guides to social proof online, we’ve created the following table of contents:

That way you can navigate to the section you need the most help with. Otherwise, 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. Social proof in the marketing world boils down to the same core concept it did in kindergarten:

Monkey see, monkey do.

And it really is as simple as that.

When consumers are on the fence about making a decision, they have the tendency to look around their environment for direction. If we see lots 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 how it works.

How Social Proof Improves Conversions

Often times, we make decisions based on social proof without even realizing it. But how powerful of a tool is social proof for businesses?

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 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%

Statistics-on-Social-Proof

The fact is that every statistic on social proof 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 social proof you have, the easier it is to get even more.

This is what a lot 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 types of social proof you can start using today. Let’s turn our attention to 8 types of social proof that are the most common in eCommerce.

8 Examples of Social Proof for eCommerce

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

  • Testimonials
  • Reviews
  • Social media signals
  • Displays of current customers
  • Active counters for participants
  • 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. These are a small quote from a past or current customer that puts 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 friends and family.

However, to really boost conversions, 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 testimonial for SEMrush:

Testimonial-for-Social-Proof

There is a photo of the speaker, a great testimonial, and the added benefit of a recognizable company name.

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

2. Reviews

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

Celebrity and influencer 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 below).

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. 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 good or bad. When you have both the quick glimpse (5-star rating) and detailed information about the product, 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 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:

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

High-number-of-followers

Number of likes: Posts with more likes are typically shared more and 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:

facebook-lots-of-comments

Out of those three, which are 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 for social proof, you should really be trying to increase followers, likes, and interactions instead of focusing on only one.

4. Current Customers

You’ve likely seen this on websites before. Many online companies will list any high-profile clients they are currently working with (or have in the past).

Showing that many well-known brands 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

A 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 thousands of 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.

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.

Be as thorough and detailed as you possibly can.

What limitations did you client face, and how did they overcome it? Why did they choose you over the competition? How much success did they have, and 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 as a way of also harnessing social proof to build their clients. 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 customers an incentive for signing up people in their social network, and you’ll be building your brand’s social proof in no time!

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 or signing up for your newsletter.

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 tools. And the good news is that there are plenty of tools to get you started with social proof.

5 Social Proof Tools for eCommerce

1. TrustPulse

TrustPulse-homepage-min

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
  • And more

With TrustPulse, you can create and embed stunning social proof notifications on your site in a matter of minutes. Plus, it doesn’t require any coding skills to get started.

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 just over $4/month.

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!

2. OptinMonster

OptinMonster-homepage

You probably know OptinMonster as the world’s #1 lead generation software. But it’s also one of the best social proof tools for eCommerce that you can use.

That’s because you can embed social proof on all of your optin campaigns to increase conversion rates across your site. On your popups, floating bars, slide-in scroll boxes, and other campaigns, you can add:

  • Testimonials
  • Reviews
  • Company logos
  • High profile quotes

And much more. Here’s an example of a popup that makes great use of social proof:

Social Proof Popup example

This popup uses a quote as social proof and currently has a conversion rate of over 13%.

You can see the same results by putting social proof in all of your optin campaigns across your site.

Get started with OptinMonster today!

3. WPForms

WpForms homepage

WPForms may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of social proof. But it probably should be. That’s because there’s one key ingredient to using social proof that many online merchants forget:

Gathering social proof. 

And for that, you want to have a form builder that’s as easy to use as WPForms.

With WPForms, you can create survey and feedback forms for your customers to fill out. This will give you plenty of social proof to use in the form of quotes, testimonials, reviews, 5-star ratings, and more.

Plus, with its drag and drop builder, WPForms is super easy to use. You can create various kinds of forms based on pre-built templates or totally from scratch in a matter of minutes–no coding skills required.

In fact, you may want to check out this helpful post on how to create testimonials from WordPress form submissions.

That post will show you just how easy it is to quickly gather customer testimonials, boost your social proof and, ultimately, get more leads and revenue from your eCommerce store.

Sign up for your risk-free WPForms account today!

4. Boast

Boast Homepage

Boast is another social proof tool that allows you to collect, manage, and display testimonials from your audience. You can get your testimonials via video, text, or audio and quickly embed them directly onto your website.

This social proof software has a user-friendly app that makes it super easy for you to collect your testimonials from your mobile device. Or you can send out email campaigns to gather your testimonials and manage them from your Boast account.

Sound interesting? Check out Boast today!

5. Yotpo

Yotpo homepage

Yotpo is an all-inclusive social proof plugin tool. With Yotpo, you can boost customer reviews, referrals, and visual content marketing.

With Yotpo’s data-driven tooling, you can get product reviews, create Q&A’s for your customers to fill out, display user-generated content, and much more.

It also integrates well with any SMS marketing strategy, so it might be enticing to companies who already market via text message.

They also have a free version, which means you can get started at no risk. From there, the paid plans are dependent on your company’s specific needs.

Check out Yotpo today!

And that’s it! These are the 5 best social proof software for eCommerce that you can start using today.

Before wrapping up, let’s check out how you can begin using social proof if you’re just getting started with your website or eCommerce store.

What to Do When You’re Starting Out

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 when it comes to social proof 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 social proof 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.

Here are 5 ways you can quickly build social proof when you’re starting out:

  • Host an online contest which 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 customers subscribe to your site or 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.

We hope you found this in-depth guide to social proof 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 Nathan Thompson
Nathan Thompson is a father, a writer, and a lover of travel (in that order). When he’s not wrestling with his kids, you’ll likely find Nathan giving his eyes a much-needed break from screens with a good book or planning a family trip with his awesome wife.

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