Robert Cialdini coined the term social proof, which states that "Social Proof is a psychological and social phenomenon wherein people copy the actions of others in an attempt to undertake behavior in a given situation."
The terms: psychological and social have a necessary implication for eCommerce store owners. These imply that when customers cannot perceive a product correctly, they assume that others are better judges of its credibility. Hence, you need to psychologically make your potential customers believe that you are a credible brand by using the power of social influence.
Given the psychological nature of Social Proof, it directly implies how trustworthy your brand is and hence, must be leveraged with honesty. This becomes tough because you have an online store; customers could have tested your product if it were a physical store. But as an eCommerce store owner, you need to put an extra effort to make sure that customers trust you. Apart from social proof, an eCommerce business plan will help you to stabilize the business, by growing it consistently.
For instance, Mike says that he would buy groceries from the nearest grocery store instead of ordering them online. He doesn't believe groceries sold online are fresh. If you are an online grocery store owner, you validate that several customers use your online service when you mention, "35000+ happy customers".
By showing that so many customers trust you, you can influence customers like Mike to purchase from your online grocery store.
Types of Social Proof
Let's look into the different types of social proof that you can utilize for your eCommerce store.
- Customer Testimonials: Customer reviews and ratings have become a norm rather than a new addition. Nowadays, the first thing that customers do is to check testimonials before making a purchase decision. Reviews can be positive and negative because not every customer might derive the desired value from your products.
Having a higher percentage of positive reviews is the best for your eCommerce store. When faced with negative customer reviews, address the issue by replying to the review. This shows that you are taking action to prevent the repetition of the same problem in the future.
2. Expert approvals: Experts are business leaders, industry experts, and famous entrepreneurs. Expert endorsements in the form of videos (check this example), comments, reviews, blogs, and social media posts can act as a seal of trust for your brand.
3. Certifications: Certifications by notable third-party institutions prove that you are manufacturing and selling high-quality genuine products.
4. Ecommerce Store Credibility: One of the examples of how your store's credibility helps build trust is illustrated in the online grocery store example above. You can build store credibility by showing the number of customers, the number of countries you ship to, logos of well-known brands who are your customers, and your eCommerce store ratings.
5. Earned Media and Awards: Positive media reviews help to reach out to more potential customers. If you have won any awards, add them to your website to show website visitors how well your store is doing.
6. Celebrity Endorsements: Reach out to influential celebrities who match your brand persona for paid social media sponsorships. Potential customers who follow that particular celebrity will be intrigued to check out your eCommerce store products.
7. User-Generated-Content (UGC): Customers post content like pictures, reviews, and videos of your products on social media. UGC is becoming very popular, primarily due to the visual proof it provides.
8. Influencers and Affiliates: Find relevant social media influencers and other affiliates who can endorse your brand to their followers. The followers of influencers and affiliates vary with the type of content they promote, so choose them judiciously.
9. Social Media connections: You can also showcase on your website the number of people who follow you on your various social media handles. Since everyone likes to follow the brands they love, interested customers might follow your social media handles.
10. Public and Friends opinions: Public opinion about products matters a lot; hence it impacts your brand. Opinion-based and online review platforms have a lot of buzz about good brands and products.
How and Where to Use Social Proof
- Homepage: Your homepage acts as a storefront for your eCommerce store. It must be intriguing, authentic, and genuine. Along with focusing on making an attractive homepage, you also need to show that you are a trustworthy brand. You can do this by displaying critical positive customer reviews, media mentions, number of customers, and images of any awards you have received.
Additionally, if you have any customer testimonial video or an expert opinion video, you can display that too to show why all love your brand.
When displaying B2B customer reviews and testimonials, make sure that you use their brand logos; this indicates it's genuine. Case studies of great customer experiences offered by your brand also help to show that your brand delivers excellent value.
2. Product Pages: When customers view your product pages, they look for social proof. If the customer reviews are less, then it usually discourages product purchase. The first step shows how many people bought the product, the product ratings, number of ratings, and product reviews. You can leverage influencers and experts to get product reviews and display them on your product pages.
Connect your eCommerce store to your inventory; you can also indicate "only 5 left in stock" with product badges. If you are having a sale, showing the number of products left in stocks acts as an incentive and proof. Customers will develop a sense of urgency.
3. Product Recommendations: Base your product recommendations like "other customers also bought," "top-sellers," and "trending." If you have a feature of liking products, then you can display those too.
Within product category pages, you can also show the best-sellers and trending products. Showing what other customers bought will serve as a public opinion based on which store browsers get interested in purchasing products.
4. Community-based recommendations: Some brands use peer help groups so that customers can help each other out to give general and product advice. Community development helps to create customer and brand loyalty. You can also create a separate page on your eCommerce store where you can publish the best pictures and videos of customers who tag your brand on social media platforms.
5. Social Media: Always be active on your social media handles. You can encourage customers to drop in comments about what they think about your new releases. In this way, you can directly engage with them and address any negative reviews directly.
You must update your social media handles about new promotions, new releases, and trending products. You can collaborate with social media influencers and experts. Some brands also publish social media content on their website to encourage new store visitors to follow them.
6. Digital advertising: Digital ads are essential to attract new customers and creatively entice them towards your brand. You can utilize social proof in your landing pages as well, for instance: "4.5 star rating", "recommended by 9 out of 10 dermatologists," etc.
7. Email Marketing: Pairing up your email marketing with social proof is very helpful to help customers move across your sales funnel and to resolve cart abandonment. You can add social proof using catchphrases and images as proof of authenticity.
If you include a social proof saying, "Hurry, grab our Christmas deals before stock runs out." Your email campaign can consist of social proof of an image showing how many customers have already availed of your Christmas offers.
8. Feedback and Review: As much as it is essential to use social proof, you must also keep in mind to simplify collecting feedback & review. Ask customers who recently purchased from you to rate and critique the products. You can ask your customers to post pictures using your products, publish the best ones on your website, and giveaways to the lucky draw winners. Another way to incentivize customers for feedback & review is by giving them coupons and offers for their next purchase.
Here's some Feedback for You!
Using social proof efficiently impacts buyers' purchase behavior a lot. It positively impacts your sales conversions and customer loyalty. Let's put it to good use with authenticity and honesty.
So, when are you starting to use social proof to increase your eCommerce sales?