Let the wisdom of crowds work for you
Social Proofing is essentially the utilisation of evidence, or the opinions and actions of third parties in support of a company's products, services and unique selling propositions. Marketing relies on social proofing to demonstrate the experience other customers had with the product, prove their popularity or endorsement of a product by a third party e.g. industry awards. The theory behind this being that by seeing other people have endorsed, or purchased a product or service, customers may be reassured that it is therefore more likely to be good/better quality.
In a situation when website visitors do not have full information about the company's products they rely on the experience and clues provided by the other visitors thus creating shortcuts to making decisions.
This can become even more effective when highlighting that the person, or business, using the product/service are similar to the potential customer you are trying to influence, as the social proofing then becomes even more relevant to them.
For example, on a very simple level this could be a business trying to sell their services to a travel company by highlighting that they currently work with other similar travel companies.
Customers do not rely on the information from the seller only according to Feefo 2019 Consumer report, 96% of consumers read reviews of some form, and 80% find online reviews helpful.
In an eCommerce situation a potential customer does not have the ability to check the quality of a product as they would in a bricks and mortar shop. Thus, potential customers are more likely to rely on the opinions of others to make a decision. We must remember that in a physical shop, customers may still go online to check the reviews so social proofing can be important for successful offline trade also.
Social proof messaging can be particularly powerful when the company manages to showcase the experience with the product by consumers from different segments. We aspire to create a link between the product and the customers for whom it was created. Is this hotel popular with solo travellers or families? Is this skin product for teenagers or mature customers? Are we responding to the aspirations of sustainability conscious consumers?
Social proofing can and should go beyond demonstrating the number of visitors who booked a room or bought an item and create a community of customers loyal to the brand.
A key and direct benefit of social proofing is in increasing conversion rates on wide range of pages; product details, product listings, landing pages, the list goes on.
For this reason it is important that the types of social proofing you utilise are relevant to the pages you display these on, which you can, and should, always AB test to make sure you get this right and maximise its effectiveness.
It's also very important that the data shown is accurate and 'honest' to ensure the bond of trust you are building with your customers is built on solid foundations.
The most common form of social proofing people think about are messages like 'X number of people have purchased this today' which you will regularly see on retail or travel websites.
But there are many more types which you can explore and utilise as part of your conversion rate optimisation strategy. Some of the most common forms are listed below, though this list is by no means exhaustive:
Some of these themes are explored in more detail in this blog post about social proof.
Webtrends Optimize can help in several ways to implement and validate social proofing elements throughout your site or digital assets.
From collecting data real-time on your sites and/or importing your historic data to provide the information required to power this, to automating the display of a variety of social proof messaging tools, and testing and analysing each and every implementation.
Our platform allows you to do it all - as part of our standard offering (no upgrades needed).