Why is social proof important for e-commerce sales?

There has been a substantial change in the ways people find, research, and purchase products over the last few decades.

After the advent of the internet, social media has become the new print ads, and e-commerce sites have become the new storefronts. There are now numerous options available for shoppers where they can enter, exit, and re-enter to purchase.

Hence so much has changed in the way we all shop, except the power of social proof.

What is Social Proof?

Social Proof

The idea of a standard social influence for any business is considered as social proof. It states that people will obey to be liked by, similar to, or accepted by the influencer (or society).

A testimonial from an industry expert you respect while browsing a landing page is social proof. When you’re cruising a pricing page and seeing that an industry giant is already using the tool, that’s social proof. When you sign up for a demo, you know the tool solved the exact problem you have for a similar company; hence it will also be social proof.

Thus, social proof means to browse third-party influence to sway potential customers.

Social Proof Principles

Social Proof Principle

There are three core principles around which the social proof theory is built. They are uncertainty, similarity, and expertise

Uncertainty.

There is a level of uncertainty and confusion among people when it comes to new or unfamiliar situations. People very often want to look to others for guidance when they are not confident about the way to behave or the actions to take. 

Similarity

People usually prefer following those whom they can relate with while making novel decisions in a group setting. They start to believe people who share their background, needs, beliefs, or circumstances in taking action, so they should do the same.

Expertise

In new situations, people also prefer seeking guidance from people and organizations who they consider experts in the space since everyone believes that people with more knowledge make more informed and better decisions.

Types of Social Proof

Sources of Social Proof

There are various sources for social proof which people always turn towards, like celebrity endorsements and expert proof, while others like user-generated content and ratings and reviews. Here we have discussed some examples of social proof:

Celebrity endorsements

Celebrity endorsements are probably the most well-known type of social proof, and it has also evolved over the years. Even though celebrities still continue to do TV, print ad, and billboard endorsements, but it has now become very common to get their official support in the form of paid social media sponsorships, where they share a post encouraging their social audiences to buy your brand’s products or services. Here, it becomes crucial to choose a celebrity that is relevant to your brand and respected by your audiences for it to be effective.

Expert proof

As already discussed, people tend to listen to experts when they’re unsure about their decisions, especially while making big-ticket purchases like cars, computers, homes, fitness or sporting equipment, etc. Featuring content from trusted experts increases credibility and provides the extra validation the consumers require to move from a maybe to a yes. 

Customer reviews and ratings

Social Review

Product reviews and ratings online have also become an essential form of social proof. Certain well-known brands like Amazon, Yelp and Tripadvisor have popularized providing reviews and ratings by customers. Hence, these days shoppers do not make online purchases without referencing the ratings and user reviews. When was the last time you purchased something without seeing what past guests and customers had to say?

User-generated content (UGC)

What one sees is what one believes when it comes to social proof. User-generated content is any content created by consumers on an online or social network, including posts, images, videos, reviews, etc. But, the most popular form of UGC today is visual content which includes the thousands of photos, videos, boomerangs, etc., that people post on social networks every day. Visual UGC is considered to be one of the most genuine, trusted and influential content to consumers.

Influencer endorsements

For this internet age, influencer marketing has become the new celebrity endorsement. All those people who have already built their reputations and followings on social media come with a good audience base of enthusiastic fans. This can be really effective in helping you grow awareness for your brand. There are specific niches like fitness, beauty, travel, mommy bloggers, which influencers serve, so make sure you’re finding relevant creatives who rightly showcase your brand ethos and also get your shoppers respect.

Testimonials

Clients Testimonial

Testimonials are very persuasive as longer written endorsements — particularly for pricier or intangible purchases like software. So never shy away to take testimonials from your happy customers. After this, you can place these valuable social proof pieces in prominent places on your website.

Badges

You might have already been given a badge recognizing your accomplishment, like; if your company has ever won an award, received a certification or joined an association or partnership of note. So it is best to develop some credibility with site visitors by showcasing these recognizable forms of social proof on your business website.

Media logos

Media coverage can be another form of essential validation for unsure buyers, be it an interview, profile piece or simply an article your brand is mentioned. Incorporate an ‘as seen in’ section in your business site to demonstrate any reputable publications in which your brand or products have been featured. 

Subscriber counts

Ensure promoting the number of subscribers you already have if your brand allows people to subscribe to your blog or newsletters. Again as discussed earlier, people like to join in with the crowd. So let them be aware of precisely how many people they’re joining by signing up.

Social connections

Social Connections

You can demonstrate your existing credibility with broader audiences by showcasing how many people are connected with your brand across various social platforms. Different top social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn provide plugins, making it easier for you to show these numbers on your e-commerce website.

Social shares

Social shares can go a long way towards proving your site’s popularity to display social share counts on social share buttons similar to social connections across each of your web pages. But be cautious about lower social share count as they can have the opposite effect hence reducing the trust people hold in your brand.

How Can You Ask for Social Proof?

Social Proof doubts

You will never get what you will not ask for. The moment you become aware of the type of content, your audiences engage well too. Then all you will have to do is ask your community to make it, and they gladly will.

After customer purchase, send them requests for reviews:

Since everything is about timing, so within a few days of the products being delivered, ensure to send your customers requests for product ratings and reviews, it will still be top of mind for them. At this point, hopefully, the excitement of their new possession will motivate them to share their feedback. You can also drop in an incentive for added encouragement, such as a percentage of discount on their next purchase.

Ask for visual UGC by emailing your customers:

Visual social proof is equally convincing to prospective buyers as written social confirmation. So again, never shy away from asking your customers and social audiences to create visual UGC for your brand.

To simplify the review submission, optimize your website:

The fewer the barriers to entry, it is more likely people will take the actions you want. It is best to make it accessible, easy, and as straightforward as possible for people to submit ratings, positive reviews, and testimonials to your site. Eliminate unnecessary steps to submission, include calls-to-action on each page that is relevant, and send follow-up emails to make them see and easily share their review with their social networks.

Make case studies about customer experiences:

Directly engage with your passionate fans who enthusiastically share their positive experiences with you. You can provide them with an offer to make them a spotlight customer success story on your website and social media posts. They will get thrilled to know that your brand has recognized and acknowledged them. This will also provide you with all the information you need, be it in the form of photo series, a written story, or a video testimonial.

Wrapping it Up

Customers these days have seemingly endless choices and paths to purchase, thus making social proof more essential now than ever before.

Start incorporating it into your brand’s ads, web pages, and emails, knowing that social proof can help move the needle at every stage of the buyer’s journey. Test various forms of social proof across different touchpoints. To hone in, you can also run A/B tests to find out which social proof combinations best resonate with your audiences.

You can quickly begin turning people from browsers into your buyers by leveraging authentic written and visual social proof along with the right calls to action.