When you consider a purchase, you probably look for certain signals that you are making the right choice. You might read a product comparison article, check out reviews, or watch a Youtube video from an influencer. These are all examples of social proof. When used correctly on your website, social proof can help you convert more visitors into customers.
What is Social Proof?
Social proof is based on the psychological phenomenon of informative social influence. This is where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect the correct behavior in a given situation. In situations where we are uncertain of what to do, we look to people around us (friends, colleagues, etc.) and assume they have more knowledge about what should be done.
For your business, social proof refers to third-party signals that influence potential customers. For example, reviews from previous customers, awards from organizations, and social media mentions are all examples of social proof.
Including various types of social proof on your website establishes your business as more trustworthy and increases conversions.
6 Types of Social Proof
There are six types of social proof based on the who or what that is influencing your potential customers:
- Expert: This is when credible industry experts recommend your products or are associated with your brand.
- Celebrity: This is when celebrities or influencers endorse your products or become affiliated with your brand.
- Customers: This refers to existing customers who recommend your services based on their experience with your business.
- Crowds: This is when large numbers of people endorse your business.
- Friends: This is when people see their friends endorsing your product.
- Certifications: This is when a credible, third-party source confirms that your business is trustworthy, high-quality, etc.
Incorporating Social Proof on Your Website
The six types of social proof can manifest in several different ways. Depending on your industry, some of the following examples of social proof may be more or less important to include on your website.
Case studies can be considered long-form social proof. Depending on your business, some of your customers may prefer these longer, in-depth reviews instead of brief testimonials. Case studies are usually a more data-driven analysis of the product or service you provided a particular customer. Detailing the story of how you helped one customer can help potential customers envision themselves doing business with you, especially if they face a similar issue.
This form of social proof is especially powerful for B2B businesses and professional services. For example, a financial services firm may present a case study related to their bookkeeping for a small business. You can include case studies as individual pages or blog posts, videos, or downloadable PDFs on your website.
Testimonials are simple, short-form recommendations from your current customers. They can be shared throughout your website, but they should be used intentionally to help convert your customers. Your testimonials should be specific, credible, and able to counter actual objections. This means that fluffy praise about your product or service isn’t a valuable testimonial.
People are more inclined to believe your testimonials are credible if they include a photo of the person providing the quote. Including a picture, name, company, and role will legitimize your testimonials. We recommend incorporating your testimonials throughout your website instead of on a single testimonial page. You should at least include written or video testimonials on your homepage, as well as sales pages whenever possible.
Online reviews on third-party sites are similar to testimonials. Your potential customers may consider reviews to be more objective than testimonials. According to Nielsen, “recommendations from people I know” was the most trusted form of advertising, with 92% of consumers trusting this source completely or somewhat. This was followed by 70% of participants completely or somewhat trusting “consumer opinions posted online.”
You can incorporate reviews on your website in similar formats as testimonials. Reviews are an essential element of social proof for industries that are crowded or highly competitive, such as service businesses like carpet cleaners or pest control.
Positive sentiment on social networks is social proof from existing customers. For example, recommendations made in Facebook groups, Twitter mentions, or tagged photos on Instagram. You should acknowledge and amplify positive things said about your business on social media.
It may make sense for your business to feature this type of social proof on your website. For example, a boutique clothing store may include a gallery of customer photos on its website.
Trust icons are typically social proof from experts or certifications. For example, your website could include:
- Media Mentions: Include logos and excerpts from a magazine article about your business, a podcast reviewing your product, etc.
- Industry Accreditations: Highlight certifications from credible organizations on your website. For example, medical professionals who are board-certified would want to highlight that accomplishment.
- Prominent Client Logos: Showing off your existing customer base tells your potential customers that your product or service is good enough for a number of successful companies, so it’s good enough for them too.
- Significant Awards: Most awards and certifications include a badge for you to publish on your website.
Data & Numbers
Numbers and data points demonstrate how popular or successful your business is. For example, your business may collect Net Promoter Score data and include that on your website. Or, an online store might say “only X remaining” on a purchase screen to signal how popular a certain product is.
On your website, you might want to include a statement like “X customers served” along with another form of social proof like testimonials to strengthen the impact.
How to Ask for a Testimonial
When choosing testimonials for your website, you should include ones that are specific and authentic. A great testimonial will offer details like:
- What challenges your customer was struggling with
- How your product or service helped them overcome those challenges
- The specific results they experienced after doing business with you
These details paint a picture for those who are considering your business. They are able to see how you successfully helped people similar to them.
The best way to get a great testimonial is to ask for these specific details. You can invite a loyal customer to write a testimonial. Then, include their feedback on your website as social proof.
How to Ask for Google Reviews
Similar to testimonials, the best way to get more Google reviews (or any online reviews) is to ask for them. We recommend regularly sending an email or text to your recent customers. If someone recently made a purchase or received a service from your business, it’s a good practice to follow up with them and ask for a review.
You’ll want to include a link that goes directly to your Google reviews. To create a link for your business:
- Go to Google’s Place ID Finder
- Enter your business name to generate a place ID
- Add your place ID to the end of this link: https://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid=
Sharing this link with your customers will automatically create a window prompting them to write a review.
Leverage Your Social Proof
As your business grows, you’ll naturally get more testimonials, case studies, reviews, etc. You should leverage these instances of social proof on your website to build trust and increase conversions. Our Best Websites team can help. Chat with us to learn more about a website for your business.