So, you have a company website, and people are visiting, but you’re not converting those visitors into leads.
Let's assume that you have a modern website with plenty of ways (offers, calls-to-action buttons and landing pages) for your prospects to be in touch with you about their interest in your product or service.
If not, that could be your problem, and it may be time for a website redesign.
If your website is up-to-date, one explanation may be that your company website and online presence may be lacking in one of the big drivers for purchasing decisions……….. SOCIAL PROOF.
Social proof serves as an outside validation of a business’s product or service.
It’s one thing for YOU to say “my business is great.” It’s an entirely different thing for an outsider to say, “hey, I tried this product or service and IT ROCKS.”
By including social proof on your website, this can lead to an increase in leads for your company.
What is social proof?
Social proof is defined as “the concept that people will conform to the actions of others under the assumption that those actions are reflective of the correct behavior.”
In other words, if my friend is "going to jump off the cliff, MAYBE I SHOULD TOO!"
With the rise of social media marketing, social proof has become a hot topic over the past couple of years, but in reality, it has been around for a while in marketing in many different forms.
Here are some recognizable examples:
- Ray Kroc started using social proof in 1955 by hanging an “Over 1 Million Served” sign at the first McDonald’s in Des Plaines, IL. This is an example of “wisdom of the crowd” social proof. A million people can’t be wrong, CAN THEY?
- Night clubs and bars limit entry and make patrons wait in line outside. The visual of others waiting to get in increases the perception of the venue’s popularity. This is meant to entice a passerby to say “hey, what’s going on over there? Maybe I should check it out!"
- TV shows play canned laughter or recorded applause. People will often laugh - or at least smile - at things in sitcoms they don’t find all that amusing, simply because the laughter track tricks them into doing so
Although the concept may be nothing new, social media, user-generated content, and the internet have made it a lot easier and more powerful to use it in marketing today.
How Does Social Proof Work?
There are several different types of social proof. Here are some examples of the most common types:
User – User social proof is approval from current users of a product or service. This can include customer testimonials, case studies, and online reviews.
Expert – Expert social proof comes from industry thought leaders providing an endorsement. These can come from a social media mention, blog article or press quote.
Celebrity – Celebrity social proof comes from celebrities or other influencer endorsement (e.g. celebrities who have bought your product, or visited your establishment).
Wisdom of the Crowd – Wisdom of the crowd social proof comes from large numbers of people who provide social proof. (e.g. the McDonalds example of “Over 1 Billion Served”).
Wisdom of you Friends – Wisdom of your friends social proof involves people who are friends of your users and website visitors (e.g. Facebook “Likes”).
Certification – Certification from a credible, 3rd party entity which certifies that you are a knowledgeable, high-quality or trustworthy source (e.g. “Certified Green”).
5 Proven Strategies to Increase Conversions Using Social Proof
It really isn’t a question of whether it will help you to increase conversions or not, but which strategies will be most effective for your company.
Here are 5 strategies that you can start using in your business to increase your conversions and grow your sales.
Customer Testimonials – One of the most common, easily implemented and powerful forms of social proof is customer testimonials.
Check this statistic out -"Customer testimonials have the highest effectiveness rating for content marketing at 89%" (Source: Social Fresh).
Most big brands will show customer testimonials on their website.
Customer reviews and testimonials may be displayed in a variety of different formats. Most importantly, testimonials should highlight the value of your product through the voices of satisfied customers.
Case Studies – A case study is simply another name for a customer success story. They are an enhanced form of testimonials, but dive much deeper than a simple one or two sentence blurb about “how great it was to work with your company.”
Storytelling has become one of the most powerful ways to give life to your brand. By using real life examples of business problems and your solutions to solve those problems, it allows you to demonstrate the power of your product or service.
The power of this type of narrative allows your prospect to see your company through the lens of another customer with similar problems and provides the social proof that YOUR services are exactly what your prospect is looking for.
Customer Base – Another popular method is the use of customer logos from large well-established companies. Obviously, you need to work with those companies and gain their permission to use their logos on your website, but this can provide powerful social proof by association.
By showing prospective customers that you work with Nike, The Boeing Company or Wal-Mart, you’re telling a prospect that your product offering is good enough for successful companies to use, therefore it must also be good enough for them.
Certification and Badges – Many businesses operate in industries that have specific certifications or accreditation. Many of the certification organizations have badges that you can display on your website to help you differentiate yourself from your competitors.
Depending on the certification, some have even been shown to increase conversion rates by as much as 30 percent.
Ratings and Reviews - Customer reviews are powerful. When’s the last time you made a meaningful purchase on Amazon or any other e-commerce site without glancing at the reviews? How about checking out a new restaurant or selecting a movie?
While ratings and reviews are important, the star scoring systems provide a visual to prospective clients whether to seriously consider your company. If you have middling to low ratings, this can be a severe blow to your company.
One way to improve your ratings is to monitor the most visible and important ratings services to your company. Two of the more popular ratings are Google and Yelp. Make sure to monitor these on a regular basis, and if you have negative reviews, don’t leave them alone. RESPOND!
You won’t please everyone, but by being responsive, you will demonstrate to future customers that you care, and you may be able to turn around a few of the negative reviews and have them adjusted.
Final word: Social proof is one of the most powerful tools in your digital arsenal. Make sure that you leverage the power of these strategies and turn your company website into a lead generation machine.
David, a HubSpot Certified Inbound Marketer is the Chief Content Creator for InTouch Marketing and its clients.