How do consumers make purchasing decisions? If you look into the research surrounding buyer psychology, you’ll realize that most people don’t form brand and product sentiments based on their own research or experience.
Instead, they tend to adopt the opinions of their social circle and follow the actions of the people they think know what they’re doing.
In psychology, this is called the informational social influence phenomenon. In marketing, however, we refer to it as social proof.
Social proof is a powerful tool. When used well, businesses can leverage it to inspire conversions, increase brand/product awareness, and establish authority and credibility (yes, even in competitive industries).
But even more notably, consumers are becoming increasingly dependent on a social proof when deciding how to invest their hard-earned money.
A report published by Power Reviews in 2021 revealed that 99.9% of consumers consult online reviews when shopping online. And more importantly, 98% of people believe reviews to be essential in helping them decide what product to buy.
In other words, if you want your marketing activities to yield results, you will have to employ some form of social proof to demonstrate that your brand can be trusted to deliver on its promises.
This guide will give you several proven-to-work ideas on how to use social proof to boost your marketing efforts. Let’s get into it.
1. Show Stats, Stars, & Numbers
One of the best ways to incorporate social proof in your marketing efforts is to display star ratings and relevant stats or numbers. Why? Because ratings (particularly average or aggregated ratings) ease the purchase decision-making process for consumers.
In fact, any data point that can help you prove, through numbers, that your business is capable of solving consumer pain points can be a marvelous way to inspire your target audience to convert.
For instance, you can choose the classic approach of showing off product ratings on your homepage, product pages, or social media feed.
A quick look at the Polk website shows how this brand employs the strategy, ensuring that product ratings are positioned in a highly-visible spot and making the social proof element clickable so that buyers can jump straight to the Reviews section of the page when evaluating an item.
The brand Toggl achieves a similarly positive result but with a slightly different approach. Instead of calling web visitors’ attention to the fact that it offers a software product with a positive App Store rating, Toggle points out that its app is “trusted by over 5 million users across 120 countries.” That’s not just impressive. It’s convincing as well.
In some cases, you can also use the power of numbers to present your audience with statistical data that may convince them to try your solution. On the Aura homepage, the brand provides web visitors with numbers that testify to the software’s capability of boosting sales.
Note how the data is paired with information about how it was collected, achieved by linking to the brand’s guide to advanced repricing tools, which (conveniently) includes an overview of the results achieved with every one of the mentioned solutions.
Finally, if you want to make the most of social proof in the form of numbers, ratings, and stats, don’t forget to use data sources that your audience will appreciate.
This unobtrusive solution is convincing, boosts authority, and looks good on any sized screen. And most importantly, it allows your unique sales proposition to shine while still employing the power of numbers and aggregated ratings to show prospects they can count on you to deliver.
2. Display Client Logos, Media Mentions, Awards, & Trust Badges
In most cases, social proof acts as a set of guidelines for consumers who feel like they’re not informed enough to make the best buying decision.
It’s a way for them to explore the opinions and feedback of those they consider knowledgeable, showing that social proof converts because it adds a dose of authority and credibility to a situation where most people feel conflicted or even incompetent.
With this in mind, it’s easy to conclude that one excellent way to use social proof to boost your marketing efforts is to prove your brand’s credibility by piggybacking on the reputation of those whose seal of approval you’ve earned.
By displaying client logos and media mentions, showing off awards, and employing trust badges on your website, you can:
- Boost brand trust (which automatically inspires conversions).
- Prove competence by showing that your solutions have a history of fulfilling consumer needs. And;
- Convince your target audience that they can feel safe putting their confidence in your business.
For an example of how you can do this, check out the Canary Mail homepage.
There, you’ll see that the second screenful (right below the hero image) features a prominent section pointing out that the security-oriented app is used by people who work at Sequoia, Stanford, NHS, Harvard, IEEE, and Yale. This is a super-effective way to present this form of social proof.
And not just because the names of these organizations carry an aura of authority, but even more so because UX research shows that web users spend 74% of their total browsing time looking at the first two screenfuls of a page.
That means that this instance of social proof is guaranteed to be seen and noticed by the intended audience.
For a similar effect, show off media mentions from trustworthy publications. Call your target audience’s attention to the fact that your brand or product has been recognized as a top performer by a resource they trust.
By doing this, you can extend that trust to your business and give prospects a gentle nudge that will encourage them to convert (or at least seriously consider investing in your solution).
The best thing about this strategy is that it’s not only reserved for being used on your website.
To see a great example, check out Moft’s Instagram feed.
There, you’ll see how effectively the brand supplements its traditional content with social proof in the form of media mentions — a great way to break up the monotony of self-promotion and show followers that the brand knows what it’s talking about when it comes to smartphone accessories.
Finally, if there’s any other type of accreditation, certification, or award that could help convince your audience that your business is reliable, trustworthy, and capable of delivering a superb customer experience, don’t hesitate to use it.
Whether that’s by adding a couple of trust badges to the footer of your website, as done by MarketBeat (note how the badges link to a relevant page on the issuing resource’s site) or showing off awards, rest assured that the small design detail will have a noticeable impact.
3. Upgrade Old-School Reviews with UGC
According to research conducted in 2017, user-generated content is a powerful conversion-boosting element.
A study executed by TurnTo Networks discovered that 90% of shoppers report UGC outranks all other marketing methods in influencing their buying decisions. And the same report found that people are willing to pay more (81%) and wait longer (81%) for products paired with UGC.
So, if you’re looking for strategies that will allow you to use social proof to the maximum of its capabilities, explore ways to incorporate UGC in your digital marketing efforts. The easiest way to do this would be to encourage customers to submit product reviews.
By motivating existing users to share their feedback, you can create a high-performing website element that can improve conversion rates on product pages. Also, generate ROI without spending any portion of your marketing budget on building trust.
Another super effective (and budget-friendly) way to add UGC to your website is to tell customer stories.
By allowing existing customers to tell (in their own words) how your product or service helped them solve a pain point, you’re creating an authentic opportunity for your future prospects to identify with the people who are satisfied with the experience you offer.
In doing this, you’re creating a positive bias, where the result is that your prospects expect your solution to work based on the positive experiences of people who used your service before them.
Check out how the Menlo Coaching Applicant Stories page offers insights into how the brand’s team helped applicants achieve their educational goals.
Even more, pay attention to the specific details provided, like the description of a situation when one of the business’s employees provided a service outside the contract just because they knew it would help the customer.
In addition to asking for just feedback or impressions, it’s not a bad idea to encourage your customers to enhance their reviews with images.
Gili Sports does this spectacularly on its website. The highlighted reviews on product pages not only contain images of the product in action but also include details like the verified user badge and purchased product info.
These kinds of additions turn user reviews into conversion-inspiring powerhouses guaranteed to motivate any water sports enthusiast to invest in the brand’s SUPs.
Alternatively, you could also employ user-submitted videos. Or, even better, take inspiration from Slack and transform customer stories into live-action or animated videos.
This format of social proof isn’t just engaging. It can also help you better explain the ways you’ve managed to help your customers and is an excellent way to inspire conversions.
4. Get Experts to Provide Their Two Cents
Finally, as you analyze effective ways to use social proof to boost your marketing efforts, don’t forget to consult the research on the people consumers trust the most.
Edelman’s Cascade of Influence Report, published in 2022, revealed that 66% of young consumers trust brand ambassadors who are experts, scientists, or who offer educational content. So, if you want to source social proof guaranteed to inspire conversions, it’s not a bad idea to find collaborators who fit these roles.
For example, on its homepage (as well as on its social media feeds), SomniFix shows a statement from a family & sleep medicine dentist. This expert speaks (from a doctor’s POV) about the ways nose breathing delivers health benefits like better sleep and a lower likelihood of experiencing nasal congestion.
On the surface, it’s a simple way to describe what the brand’s product does. But, thanks to the very fact that the statement is attributed to a doctor, web visitors are far more likely to believe that the benefits offered by SomniFix’s solution are actually true.
Or, if you want a more practical way to add social proof to your website, you could take inspiration from Lululemon. This brand employs its expert ambassadors to create exclusive content for web visitors.
This content includes articles, guided meditations, and workout videos, all of which support Lululemon’s commitment to healthy and active lifestyles and allows the brand to position itself as an authority in the fitness industry via the expertise of its collaborators.
Considering the tangible benefits of social proof, it’s a no-brainer whether you should implement it on your website, social media profiles, or in any of your marketing strategies.
Nonetheless, it’s still a good idea to consider what types of social proof would benefit your business the most. Yes, you can employ all the formats mentioned in this guide.
However, to ensure you’re getting the best ROI, it’s not a bad idea to evaluate your business’ needs and start small. That way, you can measure your results and decide how to proceed.