When faced with too many options, we tend to follow familiar faces.
Imagine you’re looking for a quick, new haircut in town, and you come across two barber shops—the first portrays smiling customers leaving with fresh haircuts, while the second appears completely empty. Which store seems most appealing? Well, if you’re like the majority of people, you’ll likely choose the first store—supposing price and other variables have no additional influence.
This is what we call social proof, the tendency for potential customers to choose the products and services that provide confirmation of satisfaction. The first store reveals a sense of trust and dependability when customers are seen smiling and styled—encouraging passing pedestrians to choose them. Taking advantage of these third party influences is the key to winning over new customers and building a loyal user base, especially in online businesses. Here are four of the top social proof strategies that can enhance the sense of external validation online.
There’s a reason top businesses conduct case studies about first-hand success stories. According to the Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising report, 70% of respondents trusted consumer opinions posted online. As such, it’s never been more important for businesses to be genuine and transparent around their products.
Simply using real responses from real people can boost your public image and authenticity. It can be as easy as featuring a quote from a satisfied customer, or go as far as producing case studies and videos for extra evidence. Keep in mind though, the main focus is to reassure people that your product or service is exactly what they need. For me, it’s most crucial to find the testimonial that fits your ideal customer. This ensures that the company’s target customers will be able to envision themselves using the product, making them more likely to purchase.
On another note, I always recommend adding the name and image of the customer that is being used for the testimonial. Individuals tend to unconsciously identify with others similar to them, and a friendly face can go a long way in fostering that emotional connection.
While user testimonials can add value to your products, official claims can validate them. Getting an independent party in your industry to affirm the performance of your company’s products and services can undoubtedly sway potential customers.
Nature Made, for example, is the first national vitamin brand to earn USP (U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention) Verification.
“Only those products that meet USP’s stringent criteria are permitted to display the USP Verified Mark on their label. The USP Verified Mark on Nature Made products tells you that they have been independently verified for quality”
Essentially, the USP mark on Nature Made products boasts credibility and eases the minds of indecisive customers. The level of difficulty to substantiate a claim can range between industries, but the assurances always make it worthwhile. Find out more about the rules and regulations surrounding advertising and marketing practices on the FTC website.
When it comes to landing pages, businesses should reinforce their messages with business credentials. These credentials can include the total number of customers served, experience levels of the Founders, or large company partners. Here’s an example by PwC, a leading business consulting firm:
“In FY19, PwC firms provided services to 85% of the Global Fortune 500 companies and more than 100,000 entrepreneurial and private businesses.”
Wow! Who wouldn’t trust them? Of course, ranking as the second largest professional services firm network in the world gives them quite the advantage, but the idea is straightforward—the landing page should showcase the company’s greatest achievements.
If you have the money, endorsements might be the next step to gaining recognition. Using influencers and creators as spokesmen can attach massive fame and status to a brand. It only costs a fraction of what a celebrity endorsement might entail, and even takes away the burden of producing captivating content.
That being said, finding the right influencer is crucial. Each of these social media professionals have a specific niche for their platform, and a successful marketing campaign begins where the audience matches with the company’s target market.
There are many more strategies of social proof that can be experimented with and combined, but it’s especially important to use them for online businesses. While physical stores have customers in the building, products that can be tested, and salespeople to ensure quality, online businesses rely on social proof to increase conversion rates. Just remember, the more social proof your business has, the more your business will stand out and sell. That’s the simplicity of social proof.
Catherine is the head of Operations at Soar.sh, a marketing services agency for growing startups. Soar helps digital companies grow faster with...