The internet has given many web companies the chance to rise and meet new audiences. The challenge for these companies is the competition to grow the customer base and build the companies’ credibility. One of the ways to do that is to use social proof as a marketing tool.
Many people make decisions regarding a product or service based on what they see others do or say. People’s initial judgment on a website can be influenced by what others perceive based on their experiences. This can make or break a company especially if it is new in the market.
What is Social Proof?
Social proof is the concept that people have a tendency to conform to the action of others with the assumption that other people are more knowledgeable in that particular situation and therefore they reflect correct behavior.
For example, when people pass a crowded restaurant that they have never set foot into, they will assume that the food must be good and they will be more inclined to try it. On the other hand, an empty restaurant will, unfortunately, send a warning signal that there is something unfavorable about it and people will be more reluctant to make it their choice of restaurant.
In this era of technology, social proof has become a powerful marketing tool. When people encounter an unfamiliar website, like a fintech app website (considering how new the term is for some), and they are unsure whether the products or services offered are good, they will look for third-party validation such as customers’ testimonials and product reviews to decide on their course of action.
The right use of social proof can positively impact your consumers’ behavior and boost your conversion rate.
Many companies invite customers to write their positive experiences with their products or services and post them on their website. Companies may promise to deliver excellent service but until someone actually shares their positive experience, people will look at that promise as just another selling line used by countless websites.
Testimonials will give the third-party validation that your site visitors need to look further into your offer. People value the opinions of others, especially opinions from people that they can relate to.
For example, a mom’s testimonial about a cleaning product will be more influential than a testimonial from a fashion celebrity. Also, make sure how you wrap those testimonials on the page.
A lot of designers are tempted to stuff a lot of testimonials on the page. Don’t do that. Use transitions for the testimonials or a parallax effect to not bore the visitor.
Getting Testimonials Right
Testimonials can be tricky to get right. Ideally, testimonials should be specific, relatable and are aligned with the overall feel of your website and brand. A generic comment such as ‘this is a great product’ will not persuade your visitors to become buyers, as compared to a specific comment like ‘I have been using this product for 5 years and have not had any maintenance issue’.
Creating a separate page for testimonials will most likely create a dead-end because people very rarely visit a webpage to read the testimonial page. Place the testimonials in multiple locations and alongside the relevant products or services to maximize their effectiveness.
Used correctly, testimonials can be a powerful form of social proof to build your website’s credibility and increase your conversion rate.
An interesting way of using testimonials to boost credibility is to show them through a popup to visitors who are bouncing the site. If you’re on WordPress, use a WordPress popup plugin for that. If you are on a different CMS, use Leadpages or something similar.
The best way to maximize the effectiveness of a testimonial is to put a face to the words.
People can relate better to the testimonials when they can see the pictures of the persons writing it. They will be more inclined to believe that the testimonials are not made up and come from real customers.
Use high-quality photos and make sure the participants look inviting and friendly. Placed strategically alongside a call-to-action button such as ‘Call now’ or ‘Visit our store today’, the testimonials can be a very persuasive tool.
Having Testimonials from Influential People
Approval from an expert or a celebrity can have a positive influence on consumer behavior. The psychological explanation is in the tendency for people to have a biased opinion on a certain product or service based on their overall judgment of the people endorsing it, also known as the halo effect.
It is no wonder that companies will seek a well-known expert or celebrity with an established reputation to sponsor their products. If you have a designer website, for instance, it will speak volumes when a famous fashion blogger makes a reference to your website.
A word of caution on the use of celebrity to endorse a website or a product. If the celebrity is a match to the website, it will have a positive impact and people will look favorably on the company. If the celebrity is a mismatch, it may make the company appear desperate or confused about its own identity. This can make the company lose its trustworthiness.
Using Logos of Customers or Sites That Reviewed Your Product
One of the ways to increase the conversion rate is to display your customers’ logos, especially ones that are well-known. This social proof will improve your credibility and impress your site visitors.
If your products are covered in the news or other websites, this will be a chance to incorporate their logos into your home page and boost your website’s credibility.
Other sources of logos that you might want to include in your website are logos of your official partners, your suppliers, awards and accreditation that you have and quality standards that you have met.
If you’d have a big partner like Coca-Cola, for example, it would immediately boost your trust. That Coca-Cola logo is one of the most recognized symbols on the planet and if that huge company decided to work with you, there’s surely something good about you.
The logos should be placed where they are easily visible by visitors such as the side of the header/footer of your website home page. Two big companies known in the B2B community, Calendly and Doodle are doing this differently. One is showing the logos in the hero section, the other in the footer.
Newsletter Subscriber Count
This form of social proof is an example of the ‘wisdom of the crowds’ social proof. Basically, the more people that have signed up to your newsletter, the higher the probability of new visitors signing up too. If you have not built a large customer base yet, a relevant testimonial highlighting the positive aspect of your newsletter might persuade visitors to sign up.
Using Social Media Widgets
Social media is a great source of social proof. You can track the mention of your website or products on Twitter and gain insight into your customers’ perception of them. You can track the size of your website followers on Twitter and Facebook.
Many companies now include social media icons on their website where customers can readily access their social media and share the website’s link and post comments about the companies. Many companies invite their customers to ‘like’ them on Facebook.
A positive comment on your website or brand on social media can have a ripple effect that will bring new visitors to your website. People feel more secure to engage in your website when their friends have recommended it through social media.
Showcasing the Number of Users or Downloads
This display of user statistics works in the same way as when McDonalds’ fast-food restaurants display signs “Billions and Billions Served”.
This social proof will work if you have an impressive statistic to make visitors believe that your website is trustworthy. If your customer base is not up to par yet, this is a chance to utilize other forms of social proof to increase the number of your site visitors and increase your conversion rate.
Using Trust Badges
The display of trust badges is most commonly found in the checkout section of a landing page. With online fraud becoming common, customers are more cautious in filling out forms and sharing sensitive information such as their credit card numbers to an online company.
Trust badges give customers the assurance that the information they give to the company will be secure. People have been reported to cancel their online purchase in the absence of a trust seal and they are more likely to have a second thought about purchasing a product. Trust badges may or may not bring in new visitors but they do prevent potential customers to doubt the security of their purchase.
There are many forms of social proof available to promote your website. When used effectively, they can be a great asset to continuously bring visitors to your website and increase your conversion rate. On the other hand, misuse of social proof can also backfire and have the reverse effect on your website.
The use of social proof requires practice and experience. If you are looking to promote your great new products or services on the web, social proof can be your best marketing tool and the cheapest form of marketing available yet.
The use of social proof also promotes interactions with customers and this can have a long-lasting effect. New customers will be enticed with existing testimonials about the positive experiences other people have and existing customers will be reminded of their own positive experience.
As with any marketing tool, it will only be effective if you have a great product or service to start with and you maintain your integrity in delivering what you promise. Continue to review your products and gain feedback from close associates. As said earlier, social media can be a great place to gain feedback about your products and keep track of your number of followers.
The combination of the right products and the right use of different forms of social proof will ensure your company’s visibility in the market place and create a building platform for your company’s sustainability.