For most shoppers today, the information provided on a company’s own website is no longer enough to convince them to make a purchase. They need social proof before adding an item to their shopping cart.
They check out product reviews, scour forums and delve into social media to find out what others think about your brand. If they see lots of people have bought your products and are happy with them, they will be more likely to buy from you as well. This behavior is called social proofing and it stems from consumers’ ability to access a wide range of data about companies and products online without ever contacting a salesperson.
With modern technology, people are better informed and are better able to make purchasing decisions by themselves. According to recent research, 69% of consumers seek out other people’s opinions before buying a product. The same study also found that most consumers look to their social media contacts for recommendations. So what does this mean for your company?
Because so many consumers look for information about a brand, product, or service throughout the web before they willingly part with their hard-earned money, it is essential for your marketing strategy to take the power of social proof into account.
Here’s how you can use social proof to your advantage:
Build a Comprehensive Strategy
Planning and consistency are essential for any business, and this includes strategizing how you can use social proof to build your reputation and increase conversions. But first, you need to establish trust with your current customers so they can start talking about your brand online. You can accomplish this by delivering excellent products, creating a great customer experience and building a reliable brand image.
Then, the next step is to decide which types of social proof to use. Here are some examples:
User social proof
As the name suggests, this refers to content produced by users who share their experience of a product or service. Traditionally, user social proof comes in the form of case studies. These days, however, an increasing number of companies encourage users to create their own content through blogs, photos, and videos etc.
Expert social proof
This refers to enlisting the help of a niche expert or influencer to promote a brand to his or her followers.
Wisdom of the crowd
This refers to the popularity of a given product or brand through the number of customers served. This can translate to a restaurant’s bestseller menu item, a blogger’s most popular post, or an influencer’s most-viewed video content.
Celebrity social proof
As one of the major components of many advertising and marketing campaigns, celebrity social proof can help a relatively unknown brand gain thousands of site visitors in just one day.
— Clint Dempsey (@clint_dempsey) June 23, 2017
Once you’ve decided which types of social proof will serve your brand best, you need to determine how you can promote these endorsements for maximum impact. You can place them on your website, incorporate them into your social media strategy or include them in your email newsletter. Whatever way you decide to promote your brand’s social proof, it will strengthen your marketing strategy and let people know that your brand can be trusted.
Gather and Promote Testimonials
Testimonials are highly effective for turning prospects into actual customers because they can see exactly how your product has already helped others.
If you have happy customers, ask them for a testimonial. To make the most of testimonials, you need to ask for and update them on a regular basis and at reasonable intervals. For example, you could ask a customer for a product testimonial once they make a purchase.
Doing this will give you insights that will allow you to constantly improve their experience. It will also let prospective customers see exactly what your current clientele think about your brand and the performance of particular products. This can be hugely important for online consumers.
To encourage customers to write testimonials, you can offer them discount codes or special freebies. And once you have some, place them in strategic positions throughout your website – such as the home page, the FAQ section, or the pricing page.
Choose the Right Social Media Influencer
Social media platforms like YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat have paved the way for online influencers. Just how powerful are they? Well, according to Twitter, 49% of customers look to social media influencers for purchase guidance and almost 40% of Twitter users said an influencer’s tweet had led them to make a purchase.
In another study, findings indicated that brands are spending over $1 billion annually for Instagram influencers to promote products or services.
While there is no doubt that influencers can boost social proof, not all influencers will do this for your brand. You need to carefully choose the right influencers based on several factors like their audience, their reach, and the media they use.
It’s not always best to go for a top influencer with countless followers. A micro-influencer can be even more effective if you have a local brand, a very specific target audience or are producing products for a niche industry.
— Naomi Robinson (@BakersRoyale) December 12, 2017
Add More Product Reviews and Ratings
Product reviews and ratings have become very important among today’s shoppers. 80% of consumers perform online research before making a purchase, according to a consumer survey by BrightLocal last year.
Additionally, 74% of these shoppers consider brands or products with positive reviews to be trustworthy. This is why sites like Amazon and Google Play Store incessantly ask users for reviews and ratings.
Like testimonials, reviews and ratings are powerful tools for marketers. Sometimes they can be even more effective because the percentage rating or the number of stars tells people what they need to know without having to read through a bunch of text.
There are lots of ways to get more product reviews and ratings. Send customers an email with a link to a review page that they can easily complete. Or ask your social media followers to share their thoughts – even if they don’t, the very fact that you’re making the request will make your brand appear trustworthy. You should encourage users to leave ratings on go-to review sites, like Google, Yelp and Facebook, which prospects are likely to use for their research. The more technical and benchmarked way to measure how your customers view your product or service is to measure the net promoter score. This score measures how many fans you have, and the reasons they like your product or service.
Promote Earned Media
Earned media refers to any unpaid publicity your brand receives through a mention or review by a third party. According to data from Nielsen, a global marketing research firm, earned media is 88% more effective than content you create or manage yourself. It is also considered more effective because earned media can impact consumers at any stage of the buying process.
Potential customers trust this type of content because they know it comes from someone who doesn’t have a vested interest in your company. These types of endorsements are great for building credibility and social proof for your brand.
So whenever someone mentions your brand in an interview, an article, a tweet, or through other media, make sure your marketing strategy lays out exactly how you can promote it to maximize its impact and reach.
As the name suggests, earned media is not something you can control. However, you can improve your chances of getting positive third-party mentions by producing great content and building relationships with social media influencers and people working in the media.
To Sum Up
For Robert Cialdini, a professor of psychology and marketing at Arizona State University, social proof is most effective when a person is uncertain about what to do. In his book Influence, he defines social proof as “the tendency to see an action as more appropriate when others are doing it.”
For most buyers, all it takes is an overall positive rating on Googe to eliminate any doubts they may have about your brand. It’s not unusual for people to want to follow the crowd. In fact, it’s human nature. Marketers need to take advantage of this by taking social proof into consideration and putting it to work in their marketing strategies.
David Kosmayer is the CEO and Founder of Bookmark, an AI-powered website builder disrupting the web design industry.
At 22 David created his first company from his parents’ basement. Marketing Extensions Inc, an online affiliate and marketing agency, grew to a 55-person team and topped $60 million in revenue in less than a decade under his leadership.
David is highly focused, dedicated and passionate about building successful companies.
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- Building a brand with social proof
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