In a recent study conducted by BrightLocal, 88% of consumers trust user reviews as much as personal recommendations. There is immense power in utilising social proof to counter the perception that businesses are “faceless entities.”
An example of social proof occurred through the final season of Game of Thrones. Whilst filming, a Starbucks cup was left on set and went completely unnoticed during editing. Eagle-eyed viewers spotted the cup and plastered it across social media. According to CNBC, Starbucks received an estimated $2.3 billion in free advertising due to this. Whilst it isn’t obvious (or perhaps deliberate) social proof, the numbers themselves show how effective the voices of many can be when it comes to marketing.
Starting-Up Social Proof
The importance of social proof is incredibly crucial to the success of your business; especially in the initial steps of starting up. Whether this be via website content, testimonials from a person of influence, or case studies, the word of peers or those with highly regarded opinions and expertise are a precious thing.
People want to know that they can put trust in your business, and proven examples of how your business has helped others will go towards this, as well as a professional blog that showcases your own knowledge with relevant reads about your industry. An excellent example of use of testimonials in ecommerce is Shopify who have included a call to action to allow other customers to share their own stories. This shows that the business cares about consumer opinions and also incentivises new customers.
In this regard, it is also vital to make use of “Trust Badges.” There are a number of different types of Trust Badges such as Google Customer Reviews, Trustpilot’s trust boxes or a star rating from Feefo are all examples. Trust Badges can also come in the form of those brands that you work or are affiliated with being presented to your audience either on your website or in store. Trust Badges are also be used for media mentions, awards and certifications that verify authority. In the beginning of your business, Trust Badges can help you build validation through well known names and stand out from competitors.
High Street retail stores have an advantage with physical people available to talk through a product or help with a purchase. In ecommerce it is important to aid the consumer with their decisions through a variety of social proofing. Big online corporations like Amazon, ebay and Etsy have inbuilt review systems for sellers and specific products that aid the customers in making their purchase leap.
A number of businesses outsource to 3rd party companies like TrustPilot to manage their review systems. TrustPilot does not allow businesses to edit the reviews, therefore providing an honest, trustworthy service. Through this, businesses can leverage their reviews to boost their traffic, sales and revenue by putting trust in the consumer. Again, this exhibits care from the business side and can also provide much needed insight for improvement.
Another simple yet effective way that utilises social proofing is displaying real-time site statistics. Much like Trust Badges, statistics can be glanced over quickly and allow for a quick and easy validation process. Displaying them in real-time shows an active use of your website but can also create a positive sense of urgency. Whilst this is only a small inclusion to your website, it can increase your conversion rates.
Effective use of social proof can provide many things for your business. As well as free advertisement, it also allows you to build a trust link between your business and your client base. A lot of reviewers (particularly those who have been with a brand since the beginning) are evolving into Brand Ambassadors, providing a stronger link with the consumer through in depth product knowledge. With social media interactions constantly changing, it would be ill-advised not to utilise social proof as part of your ecommerce business.