It's Not What You Say; It's What Your Customers Say
Social proof is a psychological phenomenon where people copy the actions of others to appear more normal. The greater the number of people doing something, the more normal it appears to be, and hence, more people tend to do it. Social proof isn't just a sales trick. It is a social reality that the decisions of others significantly influence human beings. We see what our peers are doing and make our decisions based largely on what we see. Their actions validate our decision to take action.
To put it in a sales context, the potential buyer is considering their options and evaluating options. Their mind is full of doubts. They're looking for reasons not to trust you or buy the product. Social proof helps them understand what your business offers from the point of view of another customer just like them. It's part of any rational decision-making process.
Social Proof in the Digital Age
Social proof has always been essential in sales, but it has become more important than ever in the digital age. All of us are glued to screens all day long and bombarded with marketing messages. We're so used to getting spammed and shouted at by businesses that we largely tune it out.
When considering buying a product, any savvy shopper will check online reviews and see what people say on social media. As a result, people rely more than ever on what their friends, connections, and peers say. Therefore, it's more important than ever for you to work social proof into your marketing.
Fortunately, it can be easy to take advantage of the power of social proof. Procuring and publishing social proof should be a key part of your marketing mix.
How to Leverage Social Proof to Boost Sales
Adding a bit of social proof to your website can greatly increase conversion rates. People make decisions about what to buy largely based on what their peers say. This is why so many brands prominently display testimonials and other types of social proof on each page.
It's even more important for online window shopping. When shopping or browsing in person, we can benefit from the physical connection. Without that ability, we rely even more on what others who have already purchased the product say.
A testimonial is a recommendation written by someone who has used your products or services, sharing their experience with the reader. It's more in-depth and personal than a review but not as detailed as a case study. The purpose is to quickly show potential users what they can expect and help them make the right buying decision.
How to Get Testimonials
Testimonials are easy to get, but you usually have to ask for them. Whenever you receive a good bit of feedback from a customer, ask them if you can use it on your website. For example, a customer sends you an email telling you they really enjoyed your product. Reply asking if you can use the email as a testimonial or if theyíd like to write a new version.
Testimonials are recommendations written by former customers singing the praises of your product or service. A good testimonial has an image of the customer's face and their personal explanation of the value and the impact your products have made. They can also be video testimonials.
Even better, create a system for procuring testimonials. As part of the follow-up to each sale, reach out and ask if the person would leave a good word for you. Provide a form to make it easy for them and automate to make it easy for you.
One more method for procuring testimonials is to search for mentions of your brand on the internet and, in particular, on social media. Reach out to the commenter with a heartfelt thank you and ask if they would be willing to write one for you.
How to Use Testimonials
Once you start gathering testimonials, there are many ways you can use them:
- Post them prominently on your website, especially on pages where you want visitors to take action.
- Share on social media, both as your own testimonials and sharing the content of others.
- Put testimonials on your landing page or sales page.
- Include them on the sidebar of your blog where theyíll be seen but not distracting.
- You may want to create a testimonials page on your website where you say, "See what other people are saying about ___."
- Turn parts of testimonials into quotes to use as blurbs or press releases.
Testimonial Do's and Don'ts
Here are some best practices to follow with testimonial content:
- DO put your best ones in the place where theyíll be seen most.
- DON'T edit testimonials. If there are spelling errors or glaring mistakes, edit those and ensure the user approves the final version.
- DO use videos and visuals wherever you can. Video testimonials are highly effective. Try to include a picture of the user with written testimonials to add a personal element.
- DON'T get friends or business associates to leave your testimonials for you. They need to be authentic to work.
Testimonials are just one type of social proof content to include in your mix, and they can have a huge impact on your conversion rate and sales.
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Here are a few other suggestions.
Put a counter on your site telling visitors how many people have purchased, joined, or visited your site. This shows that they're not the only ones. Others have taken you up on your offer as well. You can add a counter using website plug-ins.
Social Media Activity
A similar type of plug-in shows your social media activity on a sidebar of your website. It displays people interacting with you on platforms like Facebook and Twitter in real-time. The plug-in can also allow visitors to join you on social media or interact directly with your content there.
List your business on online review sites and show the content on your website or provide a link where people can read reviews. Reviews are an essential part of making online buying decisions.
Certifications, Memberships, and Awards
If you belong to any industry groups, post this on your website. This works as indirect social proof by showing that youíre a legitimate part of your industry. Show any certifications or awards youíve won as well. These demonstrate your worth and show you as someone trustworthy. Also, display any awards youíve won.
Offer Educational Opportunities
If you teach, you can use this as a great form of social proof. On the front page of your site, mention that you offer coaching, seminars, webinars, online courses, or some other type of educational opportunities. If someone can teach, this shows they have expertise in their field. Add content that shows you teaching so they can see that you have a classroom full of students.
Reach out to influencers and well-known leaders in your niche and ask if theyíll say something nice about you. Offer an incentive to sweeten the deal. Choose people your audience knows and trusts if possible.
Since social proof can push people off the fence and lead them to make a purchase, you can never have too much of it. Add social proof to your website, social media presence, blog, and anywhere else you have direct communication with your audience.
How Influencer Endorsements Work
Your potential customers see an expert, influencer, or other big names in your industry talking about you and your products. Through the endorsement, they realize you have something highly valuable to offer. It also shows that you're a legitimate company and sets you apart from the competition.
Who is Going to Promote Your Brand?
So, how do you choose a big name to reach out to? Step into the shoes of your audience. What kind of personís word would mean something to them? It could be someone your audience already knows or a qualified expert in your field.
The key is not just the personís name recognition but that theyíre relevant to your audience and your offerings. For example, you could get an endorsement from a blogger in your industry. Your website visitors may not know the blogger, but they can click on the link you provide and see that they run a popular blog with a large audience.
How to Get Influencer Endorsements
Look at all your contacts in your network. Start by brainstorming people to reach out to. It's much easier to get an endorsement from someone you already know than reaching out cold to a stranger. Once youíve looked at your network, research popular content creators and social media influencers. Look in particular at other people your audience follows.
Create a shortlist and start reaching out to the people on it. Create an elevator pitch that explains briefly what you do, how youíre unique, and how you deliver value. It helps a great deal to offer some incentive. For example, offer to do some work for them or promote their product to your audience. This will make it a win-win.
In addition to the endorsement, you're trying to get right now, think about building a relationship with this person. Even if they say no now, you can keep in touch with them and maybe you may be able to help each other in the future. If they give you an endorsement, thank them and keep them in mind for special offers or other ways you can repay the favor.
Any Business Can Get Powerful Endorsements
When reaching out to influencers for endorsements, don't stop yourself thinking the person is too big. While theyíre most likely to say "no," they could also surprise you with a "yes" and give you a great piece of social proof.
Social Proof Mistakes To Avoid at All Costs
The purpose of social proof is to communicate to your target market the value you offer by showing how youíve helped others. It's compelling in helping people make the right purchase decisions. But the wrong kind of social proof can have the opposite effect and actually drive people away from your offer.
Here's what NOT to do.
Fake Social Proof
Don't get your employees or friends to write fake reviews for you. It's effortless for someone to find out through a Google search that your reviewers arenít real customers. Social proof only works if it's authentic, so get real content from real people.
Testimonials Without Pictures
The smiling face of the real customer is what actually sells your testimonials. You need to show that the customer is real, not just someone you made up. Images are also helpful because they draw attention and give people something interesting to look at.
The Wrong Influencer Endorsement
Influencer endorsements are beneficial in selling products and services, but you need to choose the right person for your endorsements. If it is someone unrelated to your industry or unknown to your market, it wonít work its magic. Even worse, it could be someone they find untrustworthy. When considering potential influencers for endorsements, start with people your target market already knows and trusts.
Focus on Discounts and Deals
It's okay for a testimonial or review to mention your low prices, but remember that it's the value you want to drive home. It's much better to show how your offering helps people save time or headaches and improves their lives. Never use a testimonial that mentions you giving them a discount, as this doesn't help demonstrate your value.
Linking to Bad Reviews
Before linking to a review site and encouraging your visitors to look, check to make sure it's not full of bad reviews of your products. You may have to do some damage control before you can use online reviews or leave reviews out of your social proof strategy altogether.
Just a Testimonial Page
It's great to have a testimonial page where user after a user leaves a recommendation of your products or services, but don't only put them on one page. It would be best to use testimonials on every page of your site, especially those making purchase decisions.
Not Putting in the Time and Effort
It can seem like a great deal of effort to develop and implement a social proof strategy, but you can't overlook the benefits. People rely a great deal on the feedback of others when making buying decisions. Put the time and effort into social proof, and it will pay you back.
The importance of social proof in marketing and branding can't be overlooked. Brands like Rolex and Apple successfully use social proof, such as celebrity endorsements, to market their products. By making social proof a focus in your marketing strategies during the coming year, you can stay ahead of your competitors and have a greater influence on your target market.
Want to supercharge your sales with social proof and other proven strategies? Let's chat!