Social proof: what is and how to use it to boost your sales and reinforce your brand

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Have you just started your online shop and you don’t know how to increase your sales? Does your website receive traffic, but it still has low conversion?: you need to use social proof in your e-commerce.

Don’t know how to do it or where to start?

Don’t worry — in this article we explain everything you need to know about this strategy to help you sell more and improve your brand’s image.

What is social proof?

Social proof is based on the social influence phenomenon. According to Wikipedia, it is “a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation”.

That means that we need other people’s confirmation to verify that our decisions are correct. Check it out in this video.

So what does that have to do with an online shop?

Social proof in marketing is offering clear proof to the users that their purchasing decision has been approved by other people like him.

This will give you credibility and will reinforce the users’ trust in your brand, which will also encourage them to buy.

Social proof in an e-commerce

There’s nothing we can do about it, it’s just how we are, we prefer to act in groups. “If everyone is doing it, it must be for something, right?” That’s what we think in our subconscious.

Social proof is important for any kind of shop, but even more important for an e-commerce. Bear in mind that when users reach your shop, they are alone — there are no salesmen or other users.

Because of this loneliness felt by the online shopper (and thanks to the help of social proof), we are going to show them that many other people have been in their place before and bought our products and services.

That subconscious confirmation of knowing that other users decided to buy can be the push they need to make the same decision.

Why is it important to include social proof in your online shop?

When you visit an online shop as a buyer, you know that “they are trying to sell” and that the information is not 100% objective. That is why we look for other users’ opinions to verify the quality of the products.

We want other people like us to confirm whether that product is what we need or not.

That is why including social proof in our online shop is so important. By using it we are saying: “it is not us saying that we are good, it’s those who have made purchases saying it.”

Let’s move on to the practical part. Do you want to know how to add this social proof to your e-commerce?

Get ready, ‘cause here we go.

9 examples of social proof to boost trust in your e-commerce.

You don’t need to implement all of them today, but you’ll want to tomorrow (at least if you want your sales to increase). ;)

1. Testimonials

We have to start with this one since it is the most common one.

You’ve seen it thousands of times; the option to add testimonials is a default option in most of the templates and themes for WordPress online shops, Prestashop, etc.

It is nothing more than adding a small text with another person’s or a client’s opinion about you or your products. It is probably the most basic form of social proof, but it still works very well.

Keep the following tips in mind:

  • Adding the buyer’s real name: an anonymous opinion has way less impact.
  • Adding a picture: you gain credibility.
  • Short text: nobody is going to read 12 lines. Better short and to the point.
  • Very visual: attractive and easy to read.
  • Stars: even if they are not all 5-star products, they help and look nice.

See how they do it at Tienda Animal.

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If you use WordPress, you can use these plugins to include testimonials.

As you can see, you don’t even need to touch the code to install them.

Extra tip: look for the best ones to show on the homepage where users will see them right when they begin to scroll.

2. Influencers

The testimonial or image of a relevant person transmits their authority and credibility. Although you may see that there’s a conflict of interest, it is one of the forms of social proof that works the best.

The influencer’s opinion and pictures are better located on the home page than on the product cards.

Here you have another example from the Tienda Animal website.

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Tip: another option opens up when you’ve worked with important clients. If users see that big companies trusted you, their own trust will increase. Have a look at the logos that we show on our homepage. ;)

3. Client opinions

You’ve realized the boom of those businesses that base their success on other clients’ opinions, haven’t you? Even though it’s called a collaborative economy, it is just about getting the most out of the power of social proof.

Testimonials can be seen as more artificial, especially when talking about the product’s benefits too much. Opinions, on the other hand, are a more natural source of information for the buyer.

According to this piece of news, 97% of users look for another opinion before buying. It’s better to make that easy for them, right? And if that opinion includes the star system, even better.

4. Performance statistics

It is one of the easiest forms of social proof you can add to your e-commerce.

When users visit your website, you have to show them that they are not the first clients. But, how exactly can you show them that they are not your guinea pig?

With performance statistics.

This data shows that other people trusted your company. For example, if you sell a tool, you can add a concrete figure of how many people are already using it.

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Another example: have you ever seen that in the WordPress plugin repository, one of the most visible pieces of information is the number of active installs?

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Pure social proof.

Tip: specific numbers are more credible. It will always be better to say 3,561 than 4,000.

5. Social networks

Can you use Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram as social proof? Not only can you, but you must.

Surely you have reached a website that you didn’t know on more than one occasion and when you saw the Facebook icon you went to check the number of followers to get an idea of its relevance.

We are social animals!

Besides the number of followers, there are more examples of social proof found in social networks:

  • Last publication date
  • Interaction with users
  • Responses to opinions

Facebook itself uses it for its advertisements when it says “X, Y, Z, and 3 more people like…“

Substitute “X, Y, Z” for three of your Facebook friends’ names and you have an unbeatable piece of social proof.

6. Picture of clients with your products on social networks

It is about amplifying your clients’ opinions by using social networks.

The idea is to promote the fact that your buyers take a pictures your product and share it. When other users see the pic, they will not only see it as a sign of trust in your brand, but they will also see a more real version of the product.

How can you do this?

  • Launch a raffle
  • Best picture competition
  • Use special hashtags
  • Offer discounts in exchange for social proof
  • And more!

Need more ideas?

Have a look at our posts about 7 Strategies to sell on Instagram with your online store and generate more engagement and How to run a Facebook contest to increase the reach of your e-commerce.

7. Blog

With a blog, besides generating more visibility and capturing leads or generating authority, you also generate social proof for your online shop.

The comments, having good SEO positioning, or the fact that your content is successful on social media will add credibility to your brand.

If you want to learn more about how to develop your content strategy, have a look at this post.

9. Q&A from clients

In order to implement this social proof tool, you need a big amount of users, but it is one of the most effective techniques.

It is about clients themselves answering other indecisive clients’ questions. It is like having the customer service outsourced to other clients. Nice, right?

Think of Amazon and its section for every product called “client questions and answers.”

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The e-commerce giant, understanding the necessity of social proof, promotes it more and more. For example, for those products without questions, it offers the users the most common questions for them to ask.

  • Is this a durable product?
  • Is it easy to use?
  • What are the product dimensions?

In addition, if you leave your opinion about a product, every time someone asks something about it, Amazon sends you an email like this:

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9. Close environment as a social proof

We mentioned it before when talking about Facebook; users give more value to the opinions of people they know. We are not only referring to friends and family — there are other ways.

  • Geolocalized social proof: the system checks the visitor’s location and changes the message: “3,565 clients in Madrid / Barcelona / Seville trust our service
  • Tripadvisor: if you log in with Facebook, it recommends you places depending on your friends’ opinions and visits.
  • Booking: they tell you when and from where the last reservation of the hotel you are checking out was made.

Big websites are permanent examples of social proof.

Are you going to add social proof to your e-commerce?

We are convinced that as a user you value them, so… why don’t you give your visitors that final push with some social proof?