So many choices! Shopping online can be overwhelming. With so many vendors, brands and products, buyers need help making purchase decisions. Social proof gives shoppers feedback from other shoppers to make it easier. Coined by Robert Cialdini in his 1984 book Influence: Science and Practice, social proof is when people copy the actions of others to undertake a behavior. Shoppers rely on the opinions of others to help form their own. In traditional advertising, an example of social proof is when a celebrity or actor posing as an “everyday person” endorses a product. But in today’s world, consumers don’t trust paid advertising as much. Social proof today is external feedback and comments made by actual users of the product. Consumers identify with others who have purchased a product or service and pay attention to what they say. It is a powerful tool that can increase conversion rates on ecommerce websites and build brand reputation.
Why does it work? Psychologists know that when faced with decision making, people look to others for behavioral guidance. Feedback from other purchasers helps form or confirm a buyer’s opinion of a product. FinancesOnline published recent statistics about the power of Social Proof, including that over 90% of customers read and rely on customer reviews when making a purchase decision.
Social Proof is useful for small businesses because it doesn’t have to be costly. Social proof software tools are available to make the process automatic, or you can start yourself. Use it on all channels, including:
Small Business Website
Testimonials Customer testimonials are powerful. Placed prominently on the homepage, they show credibility and highlight strengths. If customers don’t offer, ask for a testimonial. Satisfied customers are typically happy to supply them. A good testimonial relays customer satisfaction, and includes specific information about what the customer bought, why and how they are using it. It conveys how the business solved a problem and enhanced the customer’s life.
Product Reviews Shown along with the product description, shoppers will identify with other buyers and will rely on their feedback. Including photos that show how buyers use the product will allow the shopper to visualize it even more.
Purchase and Interest Statistics Include data showing product sales, such as “100 sold last week”. Include messaging such as “Top seller – quantity limited,” or “ 50 people have this product in their cart.” Ask customers to take part in short surveys after buying to measure satisfaction.
Business Credentials Include business credentials on your home page such as awards, achievements, logos of business customers, press coverage and years in service.
Make sure you have presence on popular review sites, including Google, Yelp, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Follow them and respond to reviews to stay engaged with customers.
Post product reviews and testimonials. Thank the reviewer on the social media site. Include photos of the product and messages about related products they might be interested in.
Post information about popular products, such as, “This item was sold out but is now back in stock,” or “New versions of this product are now available in new colors.”
Post reviews of all aspects of the customer experience, including satisfaction with packaging, shipping, delivery and customer service, along with product satisfaction.
Social Proof allows shoppers to trust their purchase choice by relying on the judgement of others. Contact us for help in including social proof on your small business website. We build, and support, websites that run flawlessly.