The world of online marketing is like a crazy maze. Beware of all who enter, and with good reason.
The internet is littered with fake experts, and too good to be true promises (which always are too good to be true).
You must have seen some of them:
“Make $500 000 with your first online course launch.”
“Young lady makes $2000 overnight from blogging”
“This ebook will teach you how to x100 your income in one month!”
All these shady businesses will have an effect on the legit ones. So, how can you stand out and inspire some trust in your customers?
Say hello to social proof!
Think about it. Have you ever bought a product without looking at the reviews first or without a recommendation from someone you knew? Your answer is most likely no.
Well, that’s how integral social proof is to easing the minds of customers.
What is social proof?
Ever heard of “herd mentality”? It describes the way people are influenced by their peers to behave in a certain manner.
That’s the basis of social proof – you see a bunch of people doing the same thing. You assume it’s the right thing to do. You do it too.
This means it is possible to ease your prospects’ anxieties and push them to make that final purchase decision by showing them that other smart individuals have used your product too. Best of all, social proof makes your customers feel confident about their decisions.
Here’s the thing though.
Not all proof elements are created equal. Some are more persuasive and impactful than others. Even the placement of that proof can have an impact.
If you’re going to incorporate social proof on your website, you should maximise it. Paste that proof everywhere possible on your website. The key is to have the right kind of proof on the right pages.
1. You can use case studies as social proof
This is by far one of the most powerful types of social proof.
Why? It tells a complete story (if done well). With case studies, you get a holistic view of your customer’s journey. You get to learn:
- what their life was like before they invested in you
- what prompted the purchase decision
- the obstacles they had on their way to a better outcome
- how you helped them overcome these obstacles
- the exact moment they experienced transformation
- what life looks like in the aftermath of this transformation
A success story is the best kind of story in this case.
Does your case study need all these elements? Yes.
It’s more effective than simply having a customer say: I had a great experience working with Jane, and I highly recommend her. (There is a place for that kind of proof which we’ll visit later).
Where should you display case studies?
They’re so powerful they can stand on their own. In fact, you can have a separate page to feature your success stories.
While you can have these on a separate page, you should also include product- or service-specific case studies on your sales pages.
You can do it in a number of ways:
- strategically embed video case studies into your sales page;
- use case studies as a response to questions on your FAQ page;
- condense the success story into a testimonial and have a “read more” link so prospects can access the full case study from your sales page.
These are just a few ideas.
2. Use Customer testimonials
These are much easier to put together than case studies. Simply ask people with whom you’ve worked (and have had success) to write you a testimonial.
Unlike with case studies, you shouldn’t hoard all your testimonials on one page.
A testimonial doesn’t tell a whole story.
That means it won’t have much impact standing on its own. It needs to be backed by something else.
- you can place it next to a contact form or a call-to-action button,
- on an order form
- on a sales page, right after you’ve given the benefits of your product/service
- on a newsletter opt-in form. This is excellent for those who don’t have a large number of subscribers to use as social proof.
- on your About page.
And so on….
3. Strength in Numbers
The most common use of this type of social proof is to have social sharing buttons in your blog posts.
You’ve likely seen this one used a lot and that’s because it works. It tells people this is a quality blog post that should be read. It has the same effect as comments.
Obviously, this only works for people with high traffic sites. If you have zero comments and zero social shares on a post, you may want to keep it to yourself.
Some other ways you can show strength in numbers:
- number of users
- number of downloads for software, tools, or resources
- number of subscribers
- Displaying subscriber count is powerful proof.
4. Endorsements from influencers
Influencers are people with massive authority in your industry. Everyone knows them, likes them, and trusts their opinions.
Imagine getting an endorsement from one of the big players in your space. The boost would be incredible! It tells website visitors you’re a big deal, and you’re worth listening to. That’s what you want, right? If someone prominent has praised you, show it off.
How do you land such an endorsement?
- Zone in on an influencer.
- Get on their radar by engaging with their content.
- Make contact via email.
- Do something spectacular for them.
- Ask for an endorsement.
Yes, it’s easier said than done, but that’s the general path you need to take.
Don’t want to take this route?
You can also pay to play.
In other words, you can hire influencers/brand ambassadors to endorse your brand or products. If you have the funds, it can be quite profitable.
5. Media Mentions
Have you ever seen logos of different publications splattered across some websites? Sure you have. It’s commonly used.
It doesn’t have to be a formal media establishment like CNBC. It can be a popular website in your niche. If you’ve ever been featured there (guest post, interview, etc.), you can place the logo on your website as a form of proof.
This is almost always displayed on the Home Page.
Here’s a pro tip for landing media mentions:
Go to a site called HARO, a platform that connects reporters with sources. If you have expertise in an area, you can easily become a source. You have a means of connecting with reporters and getting those much-coveted media mentions.
6. Trust seals and certifications
Trust icons help customers feel safe about working with you. Certifications have the same effect.
Sure, we no longer live in a world where credentials matter as much as results. But many people still rely on these signals so they can feel reassured in their decisions.
Certifications that demonstrate your expertise can give potential clients a push in the right direction.
This works best for service pages.
E-commerce websites, payment processors etc, a trusted logo/certification goes a long way to engender trust in the visitor’s mind.
Now, let’s talk about trust seals.
These are especially crucial for order forms.
Here are some examples of trust seals:
- SSL certificates
- privacy badges or statements
- money back guarantee
- credit card logos
These are the most common ones.
No order form or sales page should come without at least a few trust icons. This is where money is exchanged. Your customers need to know their information is safe.
Sometimes all it takes is to have credit card iconography. You should probably have the most popular and trusted seals in your niche.
7. Reviews and Ratings
This one is a no-brainer. You’ve probably never purchased a product from Amazon or any other online store without reading multiple reviews.
If it doesn’t have at least a four-star rating, you’d be even more skeptical and cautious.
What is the perfect placement for reviews and ratings?
On product pages.
This is more applicable to eCommerce stores.
Some people find it useful to incentivize customers to provide reviews. They give a freebie or credit toward another purchase.
Mobilize customer advocates, and you’ll have an organic system for generating the kind of reviews that will inspire others.
10. Client or Customer List
A creative way to display social proof is to feature a client list.
Have you ever gone to a website and seen a collection of company logos scroll across the screen on their client list? Impressive, right?
It helps if your clients are recognizable names in your industry. This is even more impactful than a verbal endorsement from an influencer.
Social proof isn’t something that’s just useful. It is critical. Your customers want to see these proof elements because they want to feel confident investing in you.
When you call on other people to tell your prospects how awesome you are, the message hits home more powerfully. And when you do decide to blow your own horn, at least you’ve got the testimony of dozens of people to back you up.