Social proof is critical to selling online. It provides online buyers with external confirmation that other consumers have used your product, making them feel more confident to purchase through your store.

Online social proof can include anything from product reviews, blog posts, social media followers, and news segments that mention the business. They act as a form of validation that legitimises your company in the eyes of its consumers.

What is social proof and why it works?

Social proof is a psychological theory that describes people’s tendency to rely on the behaviour of others and their opinions to inform their own. Various studies attest to the fact that most people are highly likely to do something if presented with proof that others have tried it. Seeing other people, especially from the same demographics interact with a company creates some sense of trust with those who have not made the purchase yet. It also indicates that your business solves a need that they have in common.

How social proof sells online

Building trust

According to research, at least 70% of online consumers look at the ratings and reviews before making a purchase. Testimonials and reviews are social proof that your products or services are genuine, trustworthy and that they solve a need because others who have bought them before had a great experience.

Social proof improves sales

The majority of consumers are hesitant to make a purchase online, especially if they don't know what to expect. Providing reviews and testimonials can help ease your potential buyer’s concerns, ultimately improving your sales. A high star rating, for instance, is universally known as a selling point for online stores. To help seal the deal, consider setting the reviews to appear on your landing page for everyone to see.

Simplifying decision making

Social proof works by streamlining the decision making process for the clients, especially where they have many options to choose from. It does this by providing a safe path of least resistance that consumers can follow without overthinking it.

Leveraging social proof

When it comes to online selling, social proof comes in the form of reviews. Online reviews provide a first-hand verification that commends the virtues of your company and helps to supplement word of mouth acclamations. When looking to improve your online sales through social proof, consider displaying any glowing review you get on your website, be it on Facebook or Yelp.

If possible, also provide a URL link to the original endorsement. You can also incorporate different forms of social proof into your marketing. For example, if you have a high score on Yelp, you may want to feature this conspicuously on your advertising material and your webpage.

Types of social proof

Testimonials

These are sentiments about your business from people who have used your brand. In theory, this helps to boost your credibility.

Reviews and Ratings

Did you know that at least 63% of online consumers indicate that they are more likely to purchase from a site with product reviews and ratings? These reviews become even more powerful when they involve opinions of a big population.

Influencer Endorsements

Celebrated industry experts and celebrities are a great source when it comes to social proof: the more relevant and influential the endorser, the more powerful the social proof. Their endorsements help you to establish authority and prove your value.

Media Mentions

This is a classic example of social proof- the more media logos you have of reputable news media that has reviewed, mentioned or featured your products, the stronger the social evidence. If possible, take excerpts from these mentions and paste them on your website.

Subscriber Counts

This is another proof that people are more comfortable joining the crowd. If you can make numbers play for you, we highly recommend putting your social media to work. For instance, when asking for a subscription via some form of opt-in, always include your email list.

Social proof provides an excellent way for marketers to inspire online customers to take action.  Now that you know and understand the value of social proof, consider adding them to your website, social media platform, advertisements, and any other place you can leverage them for your company’s online success.