If you’ve ever had to choose between one restaurant that was incredibly busy and one next door that was virtually empty, odds are, you picked the busy one. After all, it must be the better choice if it’s packed. This is a perfect example of social proof: how people rely on other people’s actions to help them make decisions.
Nearly 70% of shoppers today look at customer reviews (a form of social proof) before making purchases — and they trust those reviews an average 12 times more than they do manufacturer’s product descriptions. Clearly, social proof has a powerful impact on sales.
So how can e-commerce retailers harness this power? We’ve identified 13 of the most popular strategies below. But first, let’s investigate why social proof influences customers and boosts conversions.
The Six Types of Social Proof
When shoppers aren’t sure which product or service is right for them, they often look to others with more knowledge in the area or whom they respect to help them make their decisions.
There are six main types of social proof:
An industry expert recommends a merchant’s product or service or associates with your brand.
Fitbit modestly lists recent expert endorsements on their website.
A celebrity endorses a product, service or brand and encourages potential customers to also use it.
Taylor Swift drinks Diet Coke — and who doesn’t want to be like her?
3. Current Users
Current customers recommend a product or service based on their experiences with a merchant or a brand.
Customer testimonials on DigitalMarketer.com show how valuable other customers find the company’s products and services.
4. Wisdom of the Crowd
Like the restaurant experience mentioned earlier, the wisdom of the crowd relies on many customers endorsing a brand or business. Studies show 71% of consumers believe if they see numerous customer-submitted 5-star reviews on a product, they’ll also be happy with the item. And merchants selling items with 50 or more reviews often experience a 5% bump in conversion rates.
McDonald’s promotes the billions of customers who have eaten at the fast-food restaurant.
People are more likely to trust a business when they see their friends using that business’s products and services.
Facebook shows users which friends like a business’s page.
Merchants with a seal of approval from an authoritative source are more likely to be perceived as trustworthy.
Knowing a website is protected increases a consumer’s confidence in purchasing from an e-commerce retailer.
How to Use Social Proof to Increase Online Sales
There are many ways for merchants to use social proof in their marketing efforts; let’s look at 13 effortless ways e-commerce retailers to get started today.
1. Let an Industry Expert Take Over Your Social Media
Because customers tend to believe what experts say, merchants should invite industry experts to take over social media feeds and provide thoughts on industry trends or narrate stories like “A Day in the Life.” As a bonus, industry experts generally promote their takeovers on their accounts, attracting new visitors to the merchant’s website.
2. Build a Dedicated Social Media Following
Developing a loyal social media following isn’t easy, but merchants can ease the process by using (and encouraging customers to use) custom hashtags and by posting at the same time every day.
3. Leverage the Power of Groups
Demonstrate popularity by displaying important milestones on your website, like the number of customers, the number of products sold and the number of customers leaving reviews. These statistics attest to a merchant’s or a product’s popularity, leaving a positive first impression and increasing conversions.
4. Share Your Mentions and Shout-Outs
Merchants who get mentions from industry experts or influencers should share them on their social media channels as a form of expert proof. Start the post off with phrasing like “Appreciate being mentioned” or “Thankful for being featured.”
Retailers can also share shout-outs from delighted customers. Customers love seeing — and often share — the mention, and new visitors will be impressed with the passion customers have for the brand.
5. Work With Influencers and Brand Ambassadors
E-commerce retailers often work with celebrities or individuals with a large, dedicated social media following who are willing to post about the merchant’s products. Although merchants themselves might not be familiar with these Instagram influencers and YouTube celebrities, many of them have a large following and significant engagement rates.
6. Add Trust Badges
Consumers want to do business with retailers they have confidence in, and a trust badge can increase conversions by 30%. Improve confidence by showing certifications from corporations like Norton, McAfee and the Better Business Bureau.
7. Get Verified
Verified accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram immediately identify businesses as authorities. Not only does it show a retailer’s respected position in the industry, but it also helps the business rank higher on social media platforms.
8. Add Testimonials to Existing Content
Leverage expert proof by including positive reviews from customers with name recognition. When prospects see that other important people or businesses are using a product or service, they’re likely to follow.
9. Be Responsive
A merchant’s Facebook page display how quickly the merchant responds to Messenger communications, while Twitter pages can list the hours during which customers will get faster responses. If customers know they can expect a quick response to their questions, that might be enough to sway them to make a purchase.
10. Encourage Customers to Leave Positive Reviews
With so many customers going online and reading reviews before making a purchase, positive customer feedback can increase the odds of making a sale: 80% of customers said they’d be more likely to make a purchase if they read positive reviews on a company’s Facebook page. Merchants can ask for this feedback several ways, like providing links in delivery confirmations, offering discounts on future purchases in exchange for reviews and sending emails to repeat customers.
11. List Real-Time Stats
Show popularity and create a sense of urgency to show how many hotel rooms have been booked in the last hour, how many people have signed up for an online training course or how much longer a customer has to buy concert tickets before they’re released.
12. Show the Shares
Show the wisdom of the crowd by displaying the number of times a product or piece of content has been shared. When merchants display a high number, customers are increasingly likely to believe the merchant is an expert on the topic.
13. Acknowledge Milestones
Hitting milestones like X number of customers, Y products sold or Z years in business is a great way to acknowledge a merchant’s popularity and thank a loyal customer base. Merchants might also tie in a giveaway with the milestone to further engagement.
Building Trust Through Robust Fraud Protection
Trust is everything when it comes to e-commerce retail: Customers need to know the company with which they choose to do business is trustworthy, is reliable and will deliver on their promises. Social proof is one of the quickest ways to demonstrate to customers an e-commerce merchant is worthy of a customer’s business.
Another way to build trust with customers is to have the strategies in place that will help protect them — and you — against the risk of card-not-present fraud. Consider implementing a robust fraud protection solution that will strengthen online shopping security, bolster your reputation and increase online sales.
Download ClearSale’s free “Fraud Protection Buyers Guide“ to learn the questions to ask that will help you select the right fraud protection solution for your online business.