4 Social Proof Strategies For More Persuasive Marketing

Ever gone out for dinner, only to find a place with a few different restaurants that offer similar food, with similar prices? The only difference between them is that for one restaurant, there’s a long line of people waiting to be seated, while for the others there’s no line.

What would you think upon seeing this kind of situation?

I’ll tell you – your thoughts would probably be along the lines of: “The one with the long line must have better food. The other places probably suck.”

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In internet marketing terms, you just got influenced by social proof.

(I’ve already explained what social proof is in a previous blog post, by the way.)

The stats are pretty impressive. 70% of people nowadays will look at product reviews before deciding whether or not to make a purchase, and product reviews are 12% more trusted than product descriptions from the manufacturers.

But product reviews aren’t the only types of social proof out there. In fact, in her blog post, “Social Proof is the New Marketing”, blogger Aileen Lee talks about the five types of social proof that are currently most effective on the Internet.

  1. Expert social proof - social proof from a credible expert in the industry, such as a prominent blogger or business leader. This could be in the form of a blog post, a press quote – or even something as simple as a Twitter mention.
  2. Celebrity social proof – this is an endorsement of your product from a celebrity. This can backfire though, if the celebrity is not properly matched to the brand, or if they have a bad image.
  3. User social proof  – approval from people who have actually used your product/service. Customer reviews, case studies – some brands even get people to create videos of themselves using the brand’s products/services.
  4. “Wisdom of the crowds” social proof  – approval from a large group of people. It’s social proof that speaks about the popularity of a product: “X Billions Served”, “Most Popular Tunes”, etc.
  5. “Wisdom of your friends” social proof – approval from your friends who have used the product. You’ve probably seen it on Facebook widgets that show you how many of your friends have “liked” a certain product or brand page, or on Twitter where it displays how many of your followers are following another person.

Of course, you’re not limited to only these 5 types. There are other effective social proof strategies that you can implement in your business. Here are a few:

  • Testimonials

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You should definitely have seen these around before – basically, they’re user reviews from people outside of your brand.

The power of testimonials is in their objectivity. Because they come from people who don’t have any connection to you or your brand, in theory, they have more credibility.

If you haven’t already, you should start collecting testimonials and sprinkling them generously over your website. Put them on the pages that will be seen most by your website visitors.

For example, it’s a good idea to have some testimonials on the page where you’re offering say, an eBook download. That will increase conversions by a whole lot.

It’ll help even more if you can provide real photos of the people who gave the testimonials, or even a video.

  • Subscriber Counts

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Numbers matter. People feel more comfortable about “joining the crowd”.

That’s why you’ll find that your call to action will be a lot more successful if you include numbers – especially if you’re asking for opt-ins or subscriptions.

“Join 200,000+ of your peers! Get more articles delivered to your inbox, as well as our monthly newsletter!”

Something like that will work very well, especially if you mention the benefits of subscribing, and mention that joining is free and easy.

In fact, the “join XXXXX  of others” tactic has been shown to increase the subscriber conversion rate by 1400% – so if you have a sizable mailing list, you might want to consider showing it off in this way.

  • Ratings and Reviews

These often come along with testimonials, but the powerful part of this strategy is in the rating or scoring system.

By itself, a review may not be powerful enough to convert – but adding a score for the product can change that.

This is because the ratings are usually the average scoring provided by a large number of people – and as I mentioned earlier, the wisdom of a large crowd can go a long way to convince people that something is worth buying.

  • Influencer Endorsements

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According to Andy Crestodina: “The more relevant and influential the endorser, the more powerful the social proof.”

If your business has ever received a compliment from a well-known person who’s respected by your audience, you’ll want to take it and put it up on your website or landing page.

Conclusion

Social proof equals sway. If you want to have more sway among your prospects, you’ll want to develop some strategies to put social proof to work for you in all your online marketing endeavours.

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