How to Use Social Proof to Boost Your Sales
When you encounter a new product do you ever research that product before you purchase it? If so, you’re in good company. Research suggests that around 88% of consumers do a bit of digging before buying any kind of product.
Humans are social creatures and we love hearing what others have to say before making a decision. Businesses know this and have been incorporating social proof into their marketing for a long time. Just ask the doctors who used to recommend smoking back in the 1940s.
What is Social Proof?
Social proof is a term that was coined by marketer Robert Cialdini, and it describes how people would copy others before deciding what to do in an uncertain situation. Many experiments have shown how people’s thinking can be distorted by the influence of their peers, and you can see this in the enormous popularity of review sites, influencers and social media.
What does this mean for your business and website? It means you need to leverage as much social proof into your website as you can – doing so will attract visitors and increase sales.
Word of Mouth
Word of mouth recommendations are the daddy of all recommendations, with a whopping 83% of us happy to purchase a product if a friend or family member has told us to. The best way to get recommendations this way is to provide a really great product or service. If you can go the extra mile and make the customer super satisfied with your work and service, it is a great way to get a referral.
Unfortunately, most people just don’t have the time or inclination to refer their friends and family for every product they use, however great it may be. So give them an incentive! Send them a referral code and if it gets used, give your customer a discount off their next purchase. If they make 5 recommendations, perhaps you could give your customer a free product.
The client is doing you a favour, so make it super easy for them to make a referral, such as sending them an email with an easy referral template. Or if you have completed a service at the customers house or office, tell them in a super nice way that you rely on word of mouth, and provide business cards. When you do get a recommendation, make sure to thank the referrer.
Getting as many positive reviews as you can is a no brainer. The restaurant with 20 five star reviews will always defeat the restaurant with no reviews. Lots of reviews will provide your business with legitimacy, so go out of your way to collect as many as possible – and feature these prominently on your site.
Research also shows that customers read at least 10 reviews before they feel they can trust the business and they will often go on to multiple review sites. This means that if you can, try to get a good portion of testimonials on more than one review site.
As with referrals – make the customers life easy and provide them with a link that will quickly take them to a review site. Comprehensive reviews resonate a lot better than one word reviews. Obviously you can’t start demanding 500 word reviews – but you could suggest a few general pointers, e.g. “What did you like about the product” or “How was our customer service” etc.
The fact that many people visit multiple review sites is because there will always be issues of authenticity. Look at this prankster, who managed to position his make-believe restaurant at the summit of TripAdvisor simply through the power of fake reviews.
What’s better than a few good words from Dave? A 300 word case study from David Johnson, Managing Director of AeroSpan Industries that goes into fine detail how your service/product solved a very specific problem.
Any business that visits your website would read the case study and immediately know that you have the solution for them. They would be able to see David’s picture, visit the company’s site and know right away that the review is authentic and true.
Whatever your product or service is, if you can find just one or two customers who will be happy to feature on your website, this will really legitimise your company and reassure new customers.
If you’re accredited by any independent societies or organisations then it’s always good to feature their logos prominently on your website. Some customers will have no idea what a particular organisation does, so highlight why these accreditations are important.
If you’ve worked with any well known brands or companies then feature their logos prominently on your site. Users will see these logos and think “If you’ve worked with these companies, then you must be good!”
As has been mentioned in previous posts you can incorporate influencers into your marketing efforts. Aim your sights at the micro-influencers with audiences of 1K, 5K and 10K, and offer them free products or services in return for some promotion. If you have a product that is cheap to produce, you’ll be completely unrestricted to contact as many influencers as you like.
Before you contact anyone, organise your search to find the influencers that will work best for your business. There are a number social media analytical tools available on the web. Use these to find influencers with the right audience size and engagement that will really benefit your business.
As you can see there’s a few things that you can do to improve your social proof. Whatever strategies you choose to implement, remember that the customer is doing you a favour – so always be sure to thank them.
Whenever people comment or review you on social media, interact with them. If it’s possible start a dialogue and show people how engaged you are with your customers. With a bit of work, in just 3-6 months you will have some great reviews and testimonials, and this will really enhance your company and your website.
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