Truth be told:
Nobody likes to be the first one to buy a product without any customer reviews. And I admit that I fall in the category. I’ve always been skipping such products ever since I started shopping online. As expected, we have several customers with similar behaviours.
It means you’ll miss out on lots of sales if you can’t prove that your products are fantastic, seriously.
That’s why brands like Amazon and Best Buy are winning. Most of their products have several reviews for their prospects to read through and determine if a product is a good fit or not.
We call that the power of SOCIAL PROOF.
The truth is, social proof is the best way you can market your products. It will help you convince the ‘doubting Thomases’ to buy from you.
So, in this guide, I’ll take you through what you should know about social proof in e-commerce, from its definition to how you should implement it today.
What is social proof in marketing?
According to Wikipedia, social proof is the social and psychological phenomenon where we copy the actions and behaviours of others when making decisions. As humans, we’re wired to follow the steps of those who’ve been in our situation. It happens everywhere, and marketing is no exception.
For instance, say you’re new in Toronto and craving some coffee, you’ll go to Google and search for the best coffee shops there. No brainer.
Chances are, you’ll visit Dineen Coffee because they have more social reviews than Library Specialty Coffee and De Mello Coffee. You’ll subconsciously assume their coffee is fantastic, considering that people are flocking their shop.
As you can see, social proof is very important in marketing. It shows that people use and love your products. You can incorporate it by featuring your customer testimonials, reviews, and user-generated content that we’ll discuss later.
Why social proof is important
Online stores aren’t like brick-and-mortar ones where anyone can walk in and buy from you.
Most consumers prefer to know the experience of others before trusting you with their money. That’s why nearly 70% of them read through online reviews before making purchases.
Well, social proof is the best form of word-of-mouth marketing for e-commerce stores. By including it in your marketing, you’ll build trust with potential customers and entice them to buy from you.
Also, reviews help prospects to make a better purchase decision. How? They highlight the good and bad sides of your products.
How Social proof works
Let’s discuss the three main principles that social proof is centred around.
Imagine you want to buy an electric bike for the first time. Considering you don’t have any experience using the equipment, what will you do? Save your money. Maybe. But I guess you’ll do some basic research, pick two to three products, then read their reviews.
Eventually, you’ll choose a product that fits your needs (based on those reviews). That’s how the principle of uncertainty works.
Subject matter expertise
Before I buy any expensive item, I often consult experts first. It’s the same way students turn to teachers for advice.
Your audience will also want to know what the pros think about your products. Some might even ask them for recommendations on the best one to pick.
Subject matter experts are well-informed. Most of them have experience using different products and services. They, therefore, help us avoid making costly mistakes.
The desire to conform
Tell students in a class to group themselves today, and you’ll see them side with their friends. That shows people prefer going where their kind is.
Your consumers have similar behaviours. They will choose the products that the majority of their tribe buys.
A good example of conformity in e-commerce is how Amazon uses the group factor through their “best sellers” and “Amazon’s Choice” badges to get more conversions.
Statistics show that the products with “Amazon choice” and “bestseller” badges get a +25% and +3% increase in conversion rate, respectively.
I don’t know about you, but assuming I’m not sure about the right product to buy, I’ll pick the one my tribe chooses, and in most cases, it’s the “bestseller” or “Amazon’s choice.”
Types of social proof in e-commerce
There are different types of social proof you can use in your e-commerce store, and in this section, we’ll discuss them one by one.
The truth is, prospects will read through reviews to know more about a product’s performance, quality, satisfaction, and many more. In fact, according to a survey by Statista, customers value information on a product’s performance and satisfaction the most.
To boost your conversion rates, you should capture both on-site and off-site.
Let’s go over the two quickly.
On-site customer reviews
Do you know that 92% of consumers will hesitate to purchase from you if they don’t find customer reviews? Well, you’ll miss out on sales if you’re still hesitating to feature customer testimonials.
One of the best places to show the testimonials is directly on your site, just next to or below your products.
Here’s how Amazon does it:
They even make it easy for potential buyers to filter through the positive and critical customer reviews to get a good feel of each product.
Off-site customer reviews
The other reviews you should capture are off-site ones that customers leave on third-party platforms like TrustPilot and Google Customer Ratings.
The big problem with such reviews is you don’t own them. But the good news is you can embed them on your website with plugins.
A good example of a store that features Google Ratings is Breville.
If you click on the reviews, you’ll find that they’ve sourced customer testimonials from marketplaces like Best Buy and Amazon, where they sell their products.
Showcasing trust badges
So, how will you convince potential customers that your store is legit if it’s not as popular as Amazon, Walmart, or Best Buy?
There are lots of ways you can do so, but we recommend using trust badges. People fear purchasing from cons or trusting them with their card details.
And here’s the proof:
According to a checkout usability study by Baymard, 17% of visitors abandon carts because they don’t trust the sites with their payment details.
But by including trust badges, you’ll show that your store is legit.
Some of the trust badges you can use are payment seals, especially if your business isn’t widely recognized. We recommend you go with Norton since it gives most people a sense of security when shopping online.
You can add it to your homepage or checkout form.
Also, consider featuring other trust badges like media mentions, certifications, and awards.
Endorsements work like a charm.
You can generate several leads by collaborating with influencers and celebrities. Of course, some of the leads may not be ready to buy from you at the moment, but they’ll eventually do so when they need your product or service.
Here’s a brand that capitalizes on influencer marketing:
Kevin Hart has more than 100 million followers on Instagram where he proudly endorses Trek Bikes. Kevin’s followers are likely to shop from Trek Bikes since the duo gives them real-life experience using the bikes.
Another way to feature celebrity endorsements on your site is to embed their photos on your homepage like Dog for Dog.
Pro tip: work with micro-influencers if you don’t have the budget to partner with celebrity influencers like Kevin Hart. You should Give them samples to create content around and share with their audiences.
Overall, partnering with an influencer is a clever way to reduce your content production costs. The majority know how to create engaging content. Some even offer cross-channel promotions to boost your brand’s reach.
Real-time activities show what’s happening on your site, whether people are buying from you, adding goods to their cart, subscribing to your newsletter, etc.
It’s a gentle way to engage with potential customers as the pop-ups don’t prompt them to take any action. Instead, it makes them stay on your site longer.
Here are the benefits of using real-time activity:
- It pushes prospects to buy from you. Imagine you want to buy an Adidas shoe online, then this pop-up appears, “David from Texas just bought an Adidas shoe 1 hour ago,” you’ll be motivated to buy the shoe, right?
- Creates FOMO. Prospects will hurry and buy goods with limited stock if they see that people are purchasing them.
- Builds trust with potential buyers. Real-time activity informs users that others are engaging with your store. And that boosts your credibility.
Check out this real-world example from Hush blankets:
They use ProveSource to showcase the customer engagements on their site:
Hush Blankets features the names and locations of the customers who’ve just bought their products (bottom left).
According to Wikipedia, user-generated content is any form of content, be it images, videos, texts, etc., that customers create.
It’s a free way to market your brand.
Most consumers also love user-generated content. In fact, research shows that 79% of them say USG content impacts their purchasing decision. Additionally, they are 2.4X more likely to admit that user-generated content is more authentic than branded content.
Source: Business Wire
By capturing UGC, you’ll show that your brand is authentic. It also displays customer loyalty towards your brand. For instance, if fans keep on giving you user-generated content, it means they’re satisfied with your products. And it will give your potential buyers the head-on to purchase from you.
Let’s see the different ways you can gather user-generated content today.
If you don’t know, most consumers will prefer to use social media to get information about a brand. A study done by Hootsuite shows that 44.8% of Global Internet Users used social media to search for brand information in 2020. That’s your chance to showcase your user-generated content when prospects visit your socials.
They will get real photos and videos of customers using your products. And even tips and tricks on how to use your products correctly.
One of the best ways to capture UGC on social media is by running contests using hashtags and rewarding the best content creators with cash, gift cards, etc. You can engage customers, digital content creators, and influencers.
The sweet part? You’ll reduce your marketing costs if your brand goes viral on social platforms.
See how Nike generates user-generated photos using hashtags on Instagram.
They’ve used the hashtag #justdoitnike.
Here’s another example from Brooklinen who retweet their customer experiences to their audience.
The buyer in the second tweet even clarifies that her review isn’t endorsed. And that can convince prospects to buy sheets and towels from Brooklinen.
Gather real customer photos
The user-generated photos on websites make potential buyers feel good about their purchases.
The easiest way to get such photos is to ask customers to take photos with your product and send them to you or upload them on your site. Say you own a general clothing store, you can feature different images to show potential buyers how they would look in your clothes.
A good trick here is to give away prizes like L.L. Bean to encourage people to participate in your contests.
L.L. Bean is an outdoor company selling several outdoor apparel. They conduct contests every year, and the winners go with a $100 L.L Bean Gift card.
Leverage on video content
Yes, prospects deserve to know the experience of other customers. But it’s sad that written reviews don’t give detailed information sometimes.
That’s where videos come in.
YouTube studied nine countries and found that the younger generation is more likely to watch more user-generated content. That’s proof you should include USG videos in your marketing.
With USG videos, you’ll build trust with potential buyers, especially when the videos come from people with different personalities. Unlike branded content, the buyers won’t rehearse what they’ll say and that makes the videos look authentic.
Check out this user-generated video marketing Rihanna’s Fenty products.
Fenty Products has launched a new product, and the YouTuber is showing her subscribers how to use it.
Building a community around your brand is a better way to connect with your customers and obtain user-generated testimonials.
Here are some of the pros of online communities:
- Strengthens customer loyalty
- Market your products through word of mouth
- You’ll get honest feedback from your customers and improve your products
- Increases buyer’s confidence and minimizes returns.
Note that the USG testimonials don’t come overnight. You’ll have to engage with your audience frequently.
An easy way to start a community around your brand is to create a simple forum to engage with your audience. It’s even better if you launch an on-site community where people share their photos and concerns like Sephora.
Sephora’s online community has several members. They can easily collect USG testimonials from the photos customer’s posts.
The more engagements a product has, the more information prospects will find to make the best purchase decision.
So, build that online community today, especially if you’re launching a new product.
Time to incorporate social proof in your store
As you’ve seen, social proof is very important in e-commerce marketing. And we’ve given you the different ways you can use it to market your products and services.
You don’t have to incorporate all of them. Just pick one or two and start from there. You’ll add the others with time.
If you follow our guidance above, you’ll see an improvement in your conversion rates. You’ll build trust with your prospects, and they’ll confidently buy from you.
Some will give your feedback to help you improve your products. Others will refer you to their friends. And nothing beats that in this competitive business world.
With Crowdfire, you can find curated content, schedule your posts, engage with your audience, deep-dive into analytics and create custom reports. Now introducing Social listening. Try it for free.