You’re passing by two coffee shops and start craving a cup of joe.
The odds are, you’ll enter the one that attracts a bigger crowd.
Because you assume that all those people lining up in front of it vouch for the quality of the product and customer service. Or, psychologically speaking, you’ve succumbed to the bandwagon effect.
According to this phenomenon, we’re hard-wired to flock and adopt behaviors and trends of the majority. And this is the reason why social proof – evidence that other people purchased and liked a product or service – is so powerful.
Let’s delve deeper into this topic and look at eight examples of social proof being used to take advantage of this powerful psychological phenomenon.
How to Use Social Proof to Your Advantage
1. Establish Trust Super Early
Almost 90% of people start their buyer’s journey by conducting research online. Your website is among the first resources they visit to look for information, and it’s your opportunity to show them how much existing customers are happy with your product or service.
Regardless of the method you use to establish social proof, it’s crucial to do it early in the process. Don’t expect your visitors will go through your entire website and look into its every nook and cranny to dig up hidden reviews and testimonials. If you have something to brag about, make sure that’s one of the first things they see when they land on any of your web pages.
This way, you’ll establish credibility right away and encourage your potential customers to keep exploring your website.
Brakes To You showcases their star 5-star rating immediately below the tagline on the homepage. In addition, they cleverly display customer reviews from different third-party sources in a section placed above the fold.
Source: Brakes To You
2. Showcase Earned Media
Thanks to all the hard work and the quality you deliver consistently, you started to get noticed.
And not just by regular customers. Your brand also caught the eye of some reputable sources, media outlets, and influencers from your industry, so they mention your product or service in their blog posts, videos, news, or even TV segments.
Congrats! You’ve got yourself some high-quality earned media.
Even if there was some PR effort on your part, such favorable exposure still counts as organic, which makes it even more effective.
However, just having your brand out there on those platforms isn’t enough because some of your potential customers might miss these mentions. To make the most of earned media, you need to associate your brand with the prestige that comes with being featured.
Do this by showcasing the logos of these media platforms on your site to build trust by brand association and ensure that all those who come to your website can see how trustworthy sources value you.
MarketBeat has a section displaying notable sources where the company was featured.
Besides displaying the logos of the media outlets where they were featured, Evernote also includes a quote from what the source said about their product. This approach reinforces the message of earned media.
3. Have Your Content Validated by an Expert
Social proof isn’t limited to reviews and testimonials – your content can serve the purpose of lending credibility to your brand.
If you want your content to double as social proof, you shouldn’t be focused on writing about your brand and products only. Adding value to your audience, tackling the topics they’re interested in, and discussing solutions to your prospects’ critical pain points are indispensable aspects of high-quality educational content.
If the topics you discuss in your content revolve around technical, medical, financial, or similar areas that require specific knowledge, consider getting an expert to validate your articles.
To additionally convince your readers that they will get the most relevant and accurate information from your content, it’s a good idea to highlight the expertise of your writers.
Sleep Junkie covers all the bases and applies all this in their content. For example, this guide about the best adjustable beds indicates that it has been fact-checked by a physical therapist and written by a certified sleep science coach.
Source: Sleep Junkie
4. Make Your Testimonials Relatable
Testimonials work only if they come across as authentic.
Therefore, if you want your audience to trust your social proof, you need to give your happy customers a persona and put a face to the name. This is how you’ll, in a way, humanize your testimonials and make your brand seem more real.
In other words, your prospects will be more likely to relate to your testimonials if they can identify with the people who use your products or services.
At AMZ Pathfinder, we decided to take this approach because reassuring our potential customers that other companies like theirs achieve revenue goals is what seals the deal. In our experience, it’s much more effective when others speak about the quality of our services than doing it ourselves.
Source: AMZ Pathfinder
5. Tell Detailed Customer Stories
Case studies are an excellent method for demonstrating how your product or service helped a particular customer and persuading your prospects that it can do the same for them.
To have a strong impact, case studies have to be detailed and tell successful customer stories with your product or service as the driver of positive change.
Hubspot does a great job with their case studies. The company built a designated page that contains a Case Studies Directory so that potential clients can filter out only the ones relevant to them. The parameters include industry, HubSpot product, company size, country, company type, and use case.
When it comes to the structure of their case studies, they consist of the clearly laid out initial challenges, customer’s goals, process they used, and results. This case study for Crunch Fitness is an excellent example, as potential customers from the same industry can see right off the bat how their marketing metrics can improve and how they can benefit from using a specific solution from HubSpot.
6. Leverage Feedback From All Your Sales Channels
Showcasing positive customer feedback across different channels goes a long way.
Not all your customers follow you on every social media channel, meaning they won’t see every accolade, praise, and shout-out you get. Also, some of your happy customers reach out to you via email to say how your product or service helped them or even changed their life.
Don’t let all these valuable subtle reviews fall through the cracks. Post screenshots of Tweets, emails, or Facebook posts and messages on other channels and boost their visibility.
Here’s how Kopi Luwak Direct displays reviews from their Amazon store on their homepage and adds credibility to their brand.
Source: Kopi Luwak Direct
Buffer uses the same tactic and posts their customers’ tweets on Instagram, thus expanding the reach of the initial message and showing why people use their app.
7. Differentiate Between Brand and Product Reviews
Customers form an opinion both about your products and your brand itself, so it’s very likely they will write reviews about both.
Although this might seem like only a slight difference, the truth is that brand and product reviews can be entirely different. Someone might think that a particular product is good, but their experience with the brand might not be positive.
This particularly applies to ecommerce companies. How well they handle orders, shipping, returns, and other customer service aspects play a huge role in overall customer satisfaction.
That’s why you should give people the chance to review your products and services separately and show these two different types of reviews on your site.
Mannequin Mall, for example, features the “reviews” flyout with two tabs – one for product and the other for site reviews, on their homepage.
Source: Mannequin Mall
8. Lean Heavily on User-Generated Content
Customers are 2.4 times more likely to perceive user-generated content as genuine compared to branded content.
UGC is a valuable trust signal because people show how they’re wearing or using your product, which also generates FOMO. We’ve already mentioned that people exhibit a deeply-seated tendency to copy behaviors of others, so it’s obvious that seeing how others are enjoying your product can be an effective conversion trigger.
So, if you want your social proof to resonate with your audience, let your happy customers have their say in their own words, photos, and videos.
Starbucks is big on UGC, for example. Their Instagram is packed with videos and reels created by people who show themselves and their friends sipping frappuccinos and other beverages by the brand.
Salomon allows customers to upload photos with their reviews, which members of their audience consisting of trekking and active life aficionados frequently do. Their feedback is typically detailed, constructive, and valuable, both for the brand and potential customers. The sporting goods manufacturer also doesn’t hide or remove even less flattering reviews, thus adding to the credibility and authenticity of their social proof.
The question isn’t whether social proof should be part of your marketing strategy but how to make it work for your company. Potential customers expect to see what others say about your products before they purchase from you, while those who already have and use your products want to share their thoughts and impressions. These tips can give you an idea of how to improve engagement and conversions on your website.