According to Wikipedia , social proof is a sociological principle that an individual not knowing what to do or what to think, will tend to adopt the behavior or point of view of other people.
Social proof is a concept as old as marketing (think of testimonials in old advertisements), but the advent of social networks has accentuated the accessibility, importance and effectiveness of social proof. Social networks allow businesses to always be “in the know” and also makes customer testimonials more accessible than ever.
Testimonials, among other things, are a form of social proof because they allow clients to tell your story . And when the story tells you that your customers are happy and satisfied, you become pretty irresistible.
Social proof in a nutshell …
Big Commerce defines social proof as a “demonstration that other people have made the decision to choose a product or service, and in that they encourage others to do the same thing.”
Social proof tends to boost the trust of other consumers when they shop online. Buyers feel more confident buying from an e-commerce site if they know that other customers have come before them and have had a positive experience.
Today companies have many possibilities when it comes to integrating social proof into their customer journey. For example:
– Customer reviews
– Like and share on social networks
– Trusted labels
– Customer Cases
– Celebrity or Influencer Approval
– Presence in the Media
Now let’s move on to the important part … Why do businesses need social proof nowadays?
Why is social proof essential?
We believe (and we have the evidence) that social proof is one of the most powerful marketing tools to reassure customers and build trust earlier in the buying journey. Social proof helps consumers buy a product or subscribe to a service they will most likely enjoy based on “the wisdom of the crowd”.
The degree to which social evidence influences clients will depend on the number of people talking about your business or products. The more there is, the better.
eBay uses social proof on all of its product pages. This screenshot of the purchase page displays:
- The number of views this product has had in the last 24 hours
- How often has this product been sold
- How many people are watching this product at the same time as you
- The number of reviews on the merchant
- The merchant’s rating, based on customer reviews
- This eBay page is packed with signs of social proof
Why do so much effort to put forward so much social proof?
With 84% of consumers no longer trusting ads, we can safely say that increased competition and lack of trust in ads have a profound influence on the buying process and decision making. And it’s a tall challenge for e-merchants.
Buyers can compare brands by price, quality and customer experience in just a few clicks, making it difficult for merchant sites to stand out from the competition.
Social proof allows businesses to capture “the voice of consumers” by using existing brand ambassadors to acquire new customers. It’s also a great way to discover ways to improve to satisfy new customers as well as existing customers.
By using social proof at every step of the customer journey with customer testimonials, positive reviews, likes or shares, brands can build trust, reassure and encourage new customers to buy based on past customer satisfaction .
Harnessing opinions as social proof
Today, 92% of consumers read reviews online, and 80% trust reviews as well as personal recommendations.
This statement should be enough to convince companies to put more effort into exploiting customer reviews as social proof. Social proof and customer testimonials are becoming a necessity for e-commerce companies seeking to stand out from the competition and win the trust of their customers at various points in the buying process.
Most people will read up to 10 reviews before making a purchase decision, and 54% of those surveyed will visit a website after reading positive reviews. The recommendations and advice engines are based on the testimonials of others to help companies generate sales. Similarly, brands presented to consumers will reflect the purchasing decisions of people with similar profiles.
Social proof can also be used to improve search performance. ConversionXL has discovered that rich snippet stars that appear in natural search results have increased clickthrough rates by up to 35% . One of our customers, LensDirect, has seen a 45% increase in clickthrough rate after starting to show the stars rich snippets, supported by reviews, in search results