Social Proof in Marketing: How to Convert More by Building Trust First [2023]

Justin Berg
Co-Founder at Simple Testimonial
Last Updated: 
September 13, 2023
In This Article

Earning the trust of new visitors is a crucial aspect of converting cold traffic.

One powerful tool to achieve this is social proof, which serves as an effective lever for building trust and growing a business's potential.

Social proof is a foundational marketing principle that influences visitor behavior and drives sales.

Understanding this concept and effectively incorporating it into marketing strategies can help businesses move visitors further along the path to becoming customers, ultimately fostering growth and success.

How Social Proof Functions

Utilizing social proof leverages the psychological phenomenon in which individuals rely on others' opinions or actions to make decisions.

This influential factor confirms a customer's choice, using the approval of others as evidence that the product or service is worth their time, money, and attention.

It accelerates engagement, conversion, and persuasion by demonstrating expertise and insights through external validation.

Why is Social Proof Significant?

Social proof plays a vital role in influencing the decisions of individuals, as they tend to follow the behavior of the majority, also known as the "wisdom of the crowd." This phenomenon captures the attention of potential customers because we are naturally curious about popular trends and the appropriate response to them.

The impact of social proof is backed by data, indicating its importance for businesses.

For example:

  • 71% of people are more likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals.
  • 91% of shoppers read at least one review before making a purchase decision.
  • 80% of US shoppers seek recommendations when making a purchase of any kind.
  • 54% of people are motivated to purchase a consumer packaged good after observing user-generated content (UGC) related to the product.
  • 63% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase from a website with product ratings and reviews.

Considering these statistics, it is clear how essential social proof is in advertising. For instance, when presented with two ads for the same brand, one with social engagement and a customer testimonial, and another without, most people are naturally drawn to the one with social proof. This illustrates the significant difference social proof can make in a business's online marketing efforts.

There are various forms of social proof, each of which can be utilized by businesses to establish trust among customers, users, and potential customers. By incorporating social proof in their marketing strategies, businesses can achieve better brand credibility, ultimately leading to increased sales conversions and a loyal customer base.

6 Types of Social Proof

1. Crowd's Influence

This refers to the measurable popularity indicators of a brand, which can make potential customers feel more comfortable purchasing from or exploring your offerings. Examples include:

  • Social media followers, likes, comments, views, and shares
  • Viewership numbers on live broadcasts (Facebook or Instagram Live)
  • Number of subscribers on email lists

2. User-Based

This type of social proof is driven by consumer opinions and reviews, as they hold significant influence over purchasing decisions. Reviews and ratings can be displayed on your website, through an app, or on open platforms like Yelp, Facebook, or Google. Peer-driven feedback can result in higher conversion rates.

3. Celebrity Endorsement

Although paid-for partnerships may not always be considered as authentic, they can still be effective if genuine. Celebrity and influencer endorsements can be in the form of public social media posts or collaborations with industry bloggers and complementary businesses within your niche.

4. Friends' Input

This type of social proof relies on the approval of a user's friends on social media or through word of mouth, like user-generated content (UGC). UGC is not sponsored content, making it a more authentic and trustworthy representation of a brand.

5. Certification

Certification involves the endorsement of an authoritative figure or organization in your industry, such as being verified on social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram.

6. Expert Opinion

Expert social proof occurs when an industry expert publicly recommends or associates with your products or services. Examples include Instagram stories, TikTok shoutouts, or featuring an expert as a guest on an Instagram Live session.

Best Examples of Social Proof

1. Displaying Customer Testimonials

Showcasing customer reviews on on-site is a highly effective way to leverage social proof in your business.

Encourage and gather reviews, especially ones with images, to display on each product's page. This helps convince potential customers by offering insights from real people who have already purchased the product.

2. Showcasing Top-Selling Products on Category Pages

Highlighting best-selling or trending products on category pages is another way to use social proof.  Demonstrating that a product is popular reassures customers that they are making a good choice by purchasing it.

3. Adding Verified Buyer Badges to Customer Reviews

To build trust with potential customers, add verified buyer labels to reviews on your website. A "Verified Buyer" label confirms that a real customer has purchased and reviewed the product, offering genuine opinions.

4. Promoting User-Generated Content on Social Media

Leverage user-generated content (UGC) on social media to boost social proof. Share customers' posts featuring your products (after obtaining permission) and tag the original poster. Encourage others to share their experiences for a chance to be featured on your social media platforms.

5. Featuring Customer Testimonials in Paid Ads

Using customer reviews as the foundation of pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns can create a strong social proof presence. Platform-specific ads, such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok, are ideal for showcasing customer testimonials alongside product images or videos.

6. Including Reviews in Email Marketing Campaigns

Incorporate customer reviews into email marketing campaigns by highlighting specific products alongside a selected positive review. This technique can capture the reader's attention and boost conversion rates.

7. Sharing Product Case Studies

Leverage customer success stories with case studies that provide detailed proof of how your product helped users. This type of content can be a powerful persuader for potential customers considering purchasing your product.

8. Running Influencer Marketing Campaigns

Influencer marketing campaigns can help bring social proof to your brand. Partner with influential individuals who have a genuine connection to your brand, and have them share their experience with your product to their followers.

9. Showcasing Awards and Accolades

Display any awards, recognitions, or accolades your brand has received as a form of social proof. These achievements can increase credibility and trust among potential customers.

10. Featuring Media Logos on Your Homepage

Place logos of reputable media outlets that have mentioned or featured your brand on your homepage. This can add a sense of credibility and reliability to your brand.

11. Obtaining Social Media Verification

Seek to get verified on social media platforms to boost your brand's credibility and trustworthiness. A verification badge serves as social proof and reassures potential customers that you are a legitimate business.

12. Creating a Branded Social Media Hashtag

Develop a branded hashtag unique to your brand and encourage customers to use it when sharing content related to your product. This allows customers to see a range of positive experiences from real people, further strengthening your social proof.

13. Demonstrating Proof of Demand

Show potential customers that there is a high demand for your product by displaying metrics such as sales figures, waitlists, or sold out items. This can create a sense of urgency and encourage customers to make a purchase.

The Undeniable Influence of Social Proof

Harnessing the Power of Trust and Reputation

Social proof operates on the principle of trust, reputation, and genuine customer satisfaction. Entrepreneurs often realize that satisfied customers can be their strongest marketing tool, as their testimonials can hold more weight than even the most persuasive advertising copy.

The essence of maximizing social proof lies in evaluating your business, its accomplishments, and the rapport with former clients. This enables the creation of powerful digital marketing messages based on authentic experiences.

Utilizing Social Proof in Contests and Landing Pages

While establishing social proof, it's crucial to integrate it into various marketing strategies, including contests and landing pages.

These platforms provide opportunities to showcase your business's value to potential customers, encouraging them to give it a chance.

Building Trust with No Sales Yet?

For businesses just starting out and lacking social proof, focusing on building trust is essential, even without any sales to show for it.

Social Proof FAQ

What Is an Illustration of Social Proof?

A typical example of social proof can be found in customer reviews displayed on business websites. Showcasing various forms of customer feedback, such as text, images, or videos on collection or product pages, helps build trust and persuade potential consumers to explore a product further.

What Are the Six Categories of Social Proof?

  1. Wisdom of crowds
  2. User-generated
  3. Celebrity endorsements
  4. Recommendations from friends
  5. Certifications and qualifications
  6. Expert opinions

How Does Social Proof Apply to Business?

In a business context, social proof represents a confirmation that other consumers have purchased a product or service and found value in it.

Is Utilizing Social Proof Ethical?

Using social proof is considered ethical as long as it is done correctly and transparently. Unethical practices include paying for fake reviews or attempting to manipulate customer behavior dishonestly. Genuine and voluntary customer promotion or reviews make the use of social proof ethical.

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