Social proof – anything that indicates who is using your products or services, or why they are using them, how they are using them, when they are using them, and what they think of them. There are many different forms of social proof, and in today’s world, it is one of the most important avenues to gain new customers and cultivate loyalty with existing ones.
Back in the day, advertising was one of the only forms of communication and promotion between organizations and potential customers, but today, social proof has become one of the most important forms of promotion, and an even more important element of communication. More importantly, social proof develops largely organically and is seen as trustworthy. In a lot of ways, that makes it more valuable than traditional advertising.
The long and short of it is that your eCommerce website needs social proof. Here are some of the reasons.
1. Social proof makes your products (and your organization) approachable, personal, and credible
There’s no way around this; social proof has the ability to shed a positive light on your products and services. It will make your products more approachable, will make your business seem more personable, and will reinforce your marketing efforts with credibility.
Social proof is sort of like taking the recommendation of a friend by word of mouth, even though you might not personally know the person making the “recommendation” through a social channel. This gives proof like Instagram posts and customer reviews more weight because it seems like the people showcasing said proof has no tie to the company.
2. Most shoppers lean on social proof before making a purchase
Here is a statistic that requires almost no context to make an impact: 95% of buyers read reviews before making a purchase. Admittedly, customer reviews are not the only form of social proof, but that should make the point, loud and clear, that social proof is heavily intertwined with customer behavior.
That percentage is only the number of shoppers that read reviews. Think about shoppers that look up products on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, or elsewhere before making a purchase, and the need for a variety of social proof becomes even more apparent. The more positive proof you have, the better your chances are of converting potential customers.
3. It connects you with your customers and ties into your other marketing initiatives
Providing social proof on your website, or soliciting it from customers, is one of the best ways to connect your brand with its users. In addition, the social proof that you display on your website can work hand in hand with your other promotions, advertising, and marketing initiatives to make your positioning stronger.
For example, if you position your brand to appeal to a specific demographic and you can generate social proof to bolster that connection, your brand will appear more consistent, more trustworthy, and more valuable. To be specific, if you market to 20-25-year-old males and all of the reviews, videos, and posts associated with your products are from that cohort, it will positively affect all of your efforts.
Types of Social Proof
You know why you need social proof; it is indisputable that it is critical to the health of your brand and it is what an overwhelming majority of online buyers seek out before making a purchase.
However, there are many different types of proof, and some are more suitable for some industries than to others. Here are some of the types of social proof that you can display on your website or solicit from users.
Ratings and Reviews
As stated in this article, the vast majority of shoppers will seek out customer reviews to gather information about products and services before making a purchase. That alone should tell you how important reviews are to the average consumer.
There are external sources that customers can seek out to read or post reviews of your products or services, but you can take the middleman out of the picture simply by giving them the ability to leave reviews right on your website.
For an example of the power of product reviews or to see how they can be worked into your eCommerce site design, see some of the product reviews from our client, White Mountain Knives, below.
The reviews are for a Buck Knife and seem much more personal and trustworthy than promotional material. Clearly these are from actual users of the product, and their enthusiasm and observations of the product shine right through.
Testimonials are somewhat similar to reviews, but they’re not exactly the same. A testimonial is almost like an unsolicited positive appraisal of your products or services and can carry a lot of clout with visitors to your website.
Whereas the promotional material you develop in-house can help to cultivate your brand and may speak effectively to your target market, there is nothing like another member of your target market doing the work for you, and that’s just about what a testimonial amounts to.
User-Generated Content (Social Media Posts, Videos, and More)
User-generated content, which can take on a lot of forms, is without a doubt one of the most effective forms of social proof you can leverage to your benefit. You can even dedicate a section of your website specifically to exhibiting user-generated content.
Such content can take the form of something as simple as a positive YouTube product review to which you link from your eCommerce website or as simple as images or creative pictures of your products from a customer’s Instagram account. If your customers create it, and it has to do with your products or services, it is user-generated content; and it’s one of the main sources that potential customers seek out for information.
As for how to make use of it, consider our client Sagebrook Home, who partnered with 1DigitalⓇ Agency for a migration to a newly designed and developed BigCommerce website. One of the key features of their website is their “Get Inspired” page, which uses the app Candid to allow them to create a gallery of user-generated images featuring their decorative products for the home. It instills confidence, drives desire, and is overall a huge conversion booster. A screenshot of their “Get Inspired” page can be seen below, and you can see how they use the landslide of social proof to their advantage.
This feature on their website pulls from their Instagram account, which in turn pulls from the accounts of Sagebrook’s customers, which is a great way to show off how customers are actually buzzing about their products.
One more way to use social proof is in the form of customer data. This data can come from your own sales figures or from your Google Analytics, and how you use it is up to you. Granted, it might not be as effective as some of the features described above, but it does give visitors to your website a nudge in the right direction.
An example of customer data as social proof is using it to suggest products on your website. If a significant portion of your customers buys a given product, then it can be considered a bestseller. Some companies promote products as bestsellers by allowing for this as a filter on product pages. Customers will see the most popular products, potentially read any reviews paired with them, and make a decision based on that.
There are no numbers disclosed on this, but it is similar to seeing something such as “95% of customers prefer product X,” and promoting them together as an accessory or as complementary products. It’s also a way to instill confidence, brand loyalty, and to boost conversions.
Social media is not going anywhere, and more and more customers are turning to social proof as one of the prime ways to learn about a product before making an informed purchase decision. There are other ways that positive social proof can impact your brand image, but these are some of the most impactful ways.
If you want to learn more about the various ways that social media integrations and the power of social proof can help your eCommerce business for the better, then get in touch with a member of our team today.
We’re a creative team of eCommerce designers and developers that have created visually stunning online stores that are integrated with useful apps to display user reviews and other social proof work. If you’re looking for new and inventive ways to improve the user experience of your eCommerce store, then get in touch with the industry experts today. You can even get a free eCommerce brand appraisal from our team of designers to get a quantified and qualified look at the strength of your website’s branding. Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 888-648-9137.
- Michael Esposito
- September 23, 2020