Most marketers and entrepreneurs understand the benefits of using social proof to reach their professional goals. Whether these include maximizing reach, boosting conversions, or nurturing loyalty, it’s safe to say that adding even the most basic form of social proof to your business website can have a tremendously positive impact.
But here’s the thing: most businesses aren’t making the most of the available social proof. And in an economic setting where almost three-fourths of consumers are changing their shopping behavior and trading down, this can spell doom. After all, brands that aren’t capable of converting customers are bound to be replaced by those who can.
So, if you’re looking for ways to scale your business — despite a bleak economic outlook — it’s high time you learn how to use social proof to scale your business.
Why Is Social Proof Essential
Before we get into the powerful ways to employ social proof, let’s identify why showing evidence of positive customer experiences is essential.
The main reason social proof is crucial for any business trying to convert customers is this: people are more skeptical than ever. According to the latest Edelman Trust Barometer report, 59% of people default to distrust until they see evidence showing they can put their faith in an organization (be it their governments, media, or businesses). And PWC found that even though 49% of people increase their spending with a brand they trust, 44% will stop buying from a company when that organization is incapable of positioning (and proving) itself as trustworthy.
It’s also worth noting that in 2021, 77% of shoppers “always” or “regularly” read online reviews for local businesses. Plus, research from Power Reviews discovered that review interactions are 50% higher than they were pre-pandemic. With all this in mind, it becomes clear that including social proof on your website and distribution channels makes for an essential step towards scaling your business.
Powerful Ways to Use Social Proof
Now that you know that social proof is just as crucial now as it was a couple of years ago (if not more important), it’s time to start exploring effective strategies for adding it to your online channels.
The following are some of the best ways to use social proof to secure growth and improve your brand’s reputation amongst your target audience — regardless of whether they’re ready to convert.
Showing customer reviews on your website (or as part of your social media marketing strategy) is a straightforward tactic for encouraging conversions. However, as you explore ways to take social proof to the next level to scale your business, don’t forget this: consumers won’t automatically trust all instances of social proof.
For example, the world’s most popular shopping channel — Amazon — is filled with fake customer reviews. This problem is so widespread that Amazon had to take action against the administrators of more than 10,000 Facebook groups. They found brands were trading money or products in exchange for positive ratings.
And research from ReviewTrackers shows that where you source customer reviews is just as important as how you display them on your homepage/product pages. According to this website, the four most trustworthy review sites include:
- Google (with 63.6% of consumers saying they check Google reviews before making a purchase)
So, it’s not a bad idea to find ways to source customer feedback from reputable sites and ensure its source is clearly shown on your site.
For instance, Bay Alarm Medical includes a responsive Google Reviews widget on its homepage. This element is highly-visible and precise in informing potential customers that the brand cares about its trustworthy reputation. This is something you can easily recreate on your own homepage or product pages, with minimal coding required.
Numbers & Stats
If you explore the psychological reasons social proof works, you’ll find that the true power of reviews and ratings lies in the numbers. Social proof is founded on the informational social influence phenomenon, which causes people to make decisions based on the actions of others in their environment, mainly because they think these people have accurate information.
So, if you think about it, it’s clear to see how employing numbers — that is, showing you have a lot of satisfied customers — could allow you to use social proof in a way that could grow your business.
Something as elementary as listing the number of your brand’s customers or highlighting a particular benefit that can be expressed in number can go a long way towards convincing web visitors that your business can solve their pain points.
For instance, Everhour points out that it “has helped 240,000+ people complete over 135 million tasks in 3 million projects”. This is a persuasive claim proving that this is a reliable and competent organization.
Or, if you’re looking for a less complicated social proof strategy, you could do something similar to KURU Footwear. This brand highlights the number of reviews its products have received. This shows potential buyers they are bound to enjoy using KURU’s products.
Note how the business doesn’t boast a 5-star rating, choosing, instead, to acknowledge that its footwear isn’t perfect for everyone. This adds a much-needed dose of authenticity to its claims. This prevents potential customers from seeing the social proof as an empty promise used to make more sales.
Certifications, Customer Logos, & Media Mentions
Sometimes, the best way to prove your brand’s credibility is to rely on the positive reputations of others.
By displaying certifications, awards, trust badges, media mentions, or even customer logos on your site, you can effectively create an association between your organization and entities your potential customers already perceive as authoritative and trustworthy. The result is a hike in brand trust for you and an informative instance of social proof that can allow your prospects to make more informed purchasing decisions.
For example, if you look at the Pact homepage, you’ll notice that the clothing brand points out three of its most impactful credentials:
- The fact that it uses organic cotton that’s GOTS certified.
- Its partnership with SimpliZero (proving that the brand offsets the carbon footprint of its entire supply chain). And;
- Pact’s partnership with Fair Trade factories (highlighting the brand’s commitment to safe working conditions and transparent supply chains).
Choosing a different method to achieve credibility by association, Wrike includes its most successful customers’ logos on its homepage. They’re placed just below the hero section, where they’re guaranteed to be noticed by web visitors. By pointing out that its software is used by super-successful businesses like Google and Lyft, Wrike positions itself as an industry leader. This shows that it has everything it takes to meet consumer needs — even for its most demanding prospects.
In some cases, you can also employ media mentions as a form of social proof. This is beneficial especially when trying to break into competitive or niche markets such as the health and fitness industry.
The brand January understands that it makes complex claims that might confuse some of its target audience. That’s why it includes media mentions on its homepage, quoting resources like The New York Times, Healthline, and Diabetes Daily. These are publications January’s potential customers know and trust.
In 2022, one of the most impactful content formats you can employ to prove your brand’s credibility — and drive its success — is video.
According to data, video is most consumers’ preferred type of content to consume. Wyzowl discovered that:
- 73% of people prefer to watch a short explainer video to learn about products than read a text description.
- 88% of people have been convinced to buy a product or service by watching a branded video.
- Consumers are 2.5x more likely to share a video with their friends than any other type of content.
In other words, video is an ultra-powerful way to scale your business. To get it to work for you, it’s not a bad idea to think about ways you can combine video and social proof to ensure maximum impact.
For example, if you’re looking to prove to your prospects that they can rely on your brand to deliver results, do something akin to SellerPlex. This brand asked successful customers to film short video testimonials describing their experience using the brand’s services. They were asked to focus on the pain points SellerPlex was capable of solving, such as inventory management and logistics.
Or, if you’re looking for a more pragmatic approach to social proof, you could present case studies in video format. Take a look at how Slack did it. Setting the stage by addressing the main issues its customer, Sendle, faced, the Slack team listed the actions it took to solve Sendle’s needs. Thus, they showed that they had what it takes to support an international business operating in multiple time zones.
But what makes Slack’s approach so effective is that it chose to film a short video based on its case study. The result is an additional boost to the impact of the social proof, seeing that people (meaning Slack’s customers) would be more likely to spend 4 minutes watching a video than 5 minutes reading an article.
As you explore ways to use social proof to scale your business, there’s one particular type of credibility-boosting format you mustn’t forget in 2022. And that’s expert and scientific proof.
According to a special report from Edelman, as many as 66% of Gen Z consumers find industry experts and scientists trustworthy brand spokespeople. This shows that young generations want facts to support brand claims — not just promises.
And, sure, it may seem intimidating, having to provide scientific proof for every one of your claims. (Let’s face it, there are industries where this is even impossible to do.) Nonetheless, it’s still not a bad idea to collaborate with experts when trying to convince your target audience to convert.
For inspiration, you can look up to brands like Dr. Sturm and share the unique expertise of the people behind your brand. In this instance, the brand’s about page includes a professional biography of Dr. Barbara Sturm. This creates credibility for the skincare products and gives buyers peace of mind that they’re investing in high-quality cosmetics.
Alternatively, you might collaborate with expert influencers, like Virtusan did. This brand regularly shares social media content created by its “Science Advisory Board”. This board supports the brand’s claims with data proven by science.
Finally, as you explore ways to use social proof to grow your business, don’t forget that, in some cases, the best way to employ customer feedback is to use it to elevate the customer experience. After all, PWC’s recent research study revealed that:
- 43% of US consumers would pay more for greater convenience.
- 42% would be willing to pay a premium for friendly customer service. And;
- 65% think CX is more important than advertising in getting them to become loyal to a business.
So, what type of social proof can you use as an element of customer experience (or even website UX)?
In addition to the more traditional trust badges and care instructions features on your website, you might want to:
- Use customer feedback to better describe how your products fit or perform.
- Describe how satisfied users bundled their products.
- Highlight the most popular items in your ecommerce store to make it easier for prospects to choose.
For inspiration, check out the Saucony website. On its size guide page, the brand includes a short description and a descriptive image for every one of its product types. This allows buyers to be sure they’re getting precisely what they want and need. The result is a higher level of customer satisfaction and a lower likelihood of product returns. This is good for the brand, the buyer, and the environment.
There you have it, the best ways for you to employ social proof on your website. Whichever of the strategies you choose to implement, you can rest assured that it will help you convert more customers.
But, remember, the main benefit of social proof isn’t just a higher conversion rate. Much more importantly, customer feedback is a crucial component of positioning your brand as trustworthy, reliable, authoritative, and a niche expert. And those are all crucial attributes if you’re looking for growth in 2022 and beyond.
About the author
Natasha is a lady of a keyboard and one hell of a geek. She has been working for individual clients and companies of all sizes for more than a decade. Natasha specializes in writing about design, branding, digital marketing, and business growth. She is also addicted to art in all its forms and grilled tofu.