Make no mistake, humans are pack animals.
It doesn’t matter which corner of the globe you look at, people are looking for the same thing — social acceptance. We have a desire to fit in with the rest of the crowd which affects our lives in a variety of ways, including our purchasing behavior.
Ask yourself, have you ever purchased a product after a recommendation from somebody else? If you have, you’ve been influenced by social proof, and you’ve shown why it can be an excellent marketing tactic for businesses. It was the positive review that you received which persuaded you to make a sale, not some promotional copy from that brand.
It was a real person who recommended that product to you, and that is why it’s so persuasive — it’s genuine.
Clever brands and entrepreneurs have realized that social proof offers a huge potential for growth, so they use various tactics to influence purchasing behavior with positive social proof, and ultimately generate more sales.
We’ve created this article to explain social proof as a concept, and to provide you with actionable advice so you can begin using social proof for marketing and grow your own business. At the end of this article, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge you need to nail social proof marketing.
Let’s get started.
What is Social Proof?
Social proof, also known as informational social influence, refers to people (in your case, potential customers) assuming that the actions of others are correct, based on the frequency that they see said actions.
Let’s cover a real life situation to demonstrate how social proof works:
You’re walking down a street in a new city and you stumble across a restaurant that is filled with people who are all enjoying a meal. You’ll likely think that the restaurant serves high-quality food — why else would so many people be eating there?
This scenario demonstrates social proof in action. You saw other consumers who were engaging with a product which is popular, so you too saw that product as attractive.
How to Use Social Proof for Your Business
Above, we demonstrated how social proof can be used to positively influence the purchasing behavior of potential customers. Now, it’s time to explain how you can use social proof to grow your own business, and generate more sales.
Whilst we’re covering some tactics you can use to add social proof to your business, you’ll notice one common theme — customer feedback is critical for building social proof.
Using Reviews to Gain Social Proof
According to Business.com, 77% of all online customers read reviews before they make a purchase. This statistic demonstrates the necessity for visible customer feedback for your products on two counts; business legitimacy, and service quality.
Customer reviews, regardless of their sentiment, will indicate to potential customers that you’ve not only made sales in the past, but that you’re also a legitimate business. Sometimes, especially if it’s a new business, you may need this social proof to help you secure sales.
The sentiment of your reviews will help potential customers to gain an understanding about the quality of your products, the timeliness of your shipping, the likeness to your product photos, and a host of other useful information.
As an entrepreneur who is looking to build the social proof for their business, customer reviews are a simple solution which can generate long-term benefits for your brand. Thankfully, there are various tools which you can use to leverage customer reviews, and build the social proof for your ecommerce store.
If you’re running your ecommerce store on Shopify, we highly recommend that you install the Yotpo Reviews app. It’s a free product review tool which you can integrate directly into your existing ecommerce store, and it will enable your customers to easily leave reviews about your products.
If a customer made a purchase from your store and enjoyed their shopping experience, they will likely want to tell others about it. So, if you can provide high-quality products to your customers at an affordable price point, your product review count will gradually begin to build, and you’ll increase the social proof of your business organically.
To increase the product review count for your store, you can send emails to your customers once they’ve received their order and ask them to leave a review. If they’re totally satisfied with their product it’s likely that they’ll leave a review. You can also incentivize reviews from your customers by creating an exclusive Shopify discount code.
To take your customer reviews to the next level, you can ask your customers to post a picture of their product, or a picture of them using the product. These reviews will resonate with your audience, show legitimacy for your products, and provide you with great user-generated content that you can use for other marketing material.
Creating a Blog to Gain Social Proof
Another great tactic for gaining social proof for your brand is to establish yourself as a thought leader in the niche specific to your business. Content marketing, and blogging in particular, is a great tool that is used by businesses to provide potential customers with insightful, actionable content which ties in with their products. The end goal of creating a blog for your ecommerce business is to draw high volumes of qualified traffic to your store which will lead to more sales.
It’s important to note that thought leadership from blogging will also help you to increase the social proof of your brand. For example, if you’re running a cooking utensils store, you can create blog content for your audience that includes recipes, cooking tips, or product reviews, which will help to build the authority of your brand.
Blog content will indicate to your customers that you’re a brand which actually cares about the development of its customers, instead of one which only cares about selling products. Having a positive brand image like this will help you to secure repeat customers, increase traffic to your store, and ultimately increase your brand’s social proof.
If you want to start using blogging and social proof marketing to grow your ecommerce business, you can follow this simple Shopify guide to adding a blog to your online store.
Optimizing Your Blog For Social Proof
When creating a blog for your ecommerce business, it’s important to note that there are various ways you can optimize it to ensure that you gain the maximum social proof.
One of the main ways you can optimize your blog for social proof is by adding social share buttons and counters to your blog. This will help you not only to encourage your blog audience to share your content, but it’ll also indicate that numerous other people have enjoyed the content, and shared it.
If you want to add social media buttons to your ecommerce blog, we recommend that you install an app like Social Sharing Buttons from the app store. As you’ll be trying to establish your brand as a thought leader in your niche, adding this small feature can go a long way.
It’s also a great idea to add a mailing list button onto your blog. This will allow you to grow the audience of your blog whilst obtaining the email addresses of engaged users. You can create weekly newsletters which will help you to retain your users, and provide them with even more content related to your niche.
Using Influencers to Gain Social Proof
Influencers, by nature, hold the power to positively influence the opinions of their audience. For entrepreneurs, influencers can be used to grow your brand’s reach, increase your business’ social proof, and ultimately help you to generate more sales.
You can use marketing tactics, like Instagram influencer marketing, to utilize influencers for your brand. To succeed with influencer marketing, you’ll first need to use platforms like Traackr or Influanza to locate and contact influencers who are relevant to your brands niche.
Once you’ve found relevant influencers for your campaigns, you’ll need to pitch your deal to them. There are two main types of deals which influencers work with — paid promotions, and affiliate promotions. If you decide to offer a paid promotion deal, you’ll simply pay for a post (or multiple posts) on the influencers given platform, which will promote your brand and products. If you offer an affiliate promotion deal, you’ll pay the influencer a set percentage of all the revenue which they bring to your store.
To measure the success of your influencer marketing campaigns, we recommend that you create a unique Shopify discount code for each influencer. If you offer this code to the influencer, they can provide it to their followers, which will also help them to convert their followers into paying customers. At the end of the campaign, you’ll be able to see the amount of purchases which were linked to that discount code, and pay the influencers based on the amount of sales which they helped you to generate.
Examples of Social Proof
Now that we’ve covered some of the social proof marketing tactics that you can use, let’s go over some real-life examples of ecommerce businesses which have incorporated them into their stores.
Amazon, one of the most prominent ecommerce businesses in the world, made the choice to utilize social proof as a tool to generate more sales, and they do so expertly. Amazon has incorporated product reviews into every listing on their website, which allows users to provide honest feedback about the suppliers and the products which are being sold. As we mentioned earlier, these reviews are from real people, so they can prove to be very persuasive for customers who are undecided about making a purchase.
If you’re looking for an example of a brand that has successfully run Instagram influencer campaigns to grow their brands social proof, Daniel Wellington are up there with the best. They often reach out to various influencers across a wide range of niches, send them a free product, and in return ask them to post a photo and their unique discount code. As they reach out to a wide variety of influencers, they’re opening their brand up to a whole new bank of potential customers, which in turn increases their social proof.
Coffee Joulies alert their visitors about prominent publications which have featured their products, which is a clever tactic for demonstrating the legitimacy of their brand. As these are well known publications, it will help to build the social proof of their brand, which can help the business to land more sales.
Start Utilizing Social Proof for Your Brand
That’s it — now you know everything you need to start skyrocketing your stores sales with social proof marketing.
Test out different tactics when you’re trying to grow your social proof, and we’re sure that you’ll be seeing results in no time.
If you have any further questions regarding social proof, or ecommerce in general, let us know in the comments section — we’re happy to help you in your entrepreneurial journey.