Types of Social Proof That Drive Customers to Buy

8 min read
Jun 16, 2022 11:30:00 AM

Let’s face it, humans are social creatures who can be heavily persuaded by others. Friends, family, the media, and even absolute strangers can compel you to change your hair color, try a new perfume, or even travel halfway across the world.

If you’re thinking, “I could never be swayed by anyone,” ask yourself: Ever waited an hour to get a table at a restaurant you heard rave reviews about, rather than going to the place next door with lots of seats? How about purchasing the same shade of lipstick your favorite social media influencer featured in their latest tutorial? This is the outcome of social proof, and it’s everywhere.

When it comes to e-commerce, it’s not a stretch to recognize that customers are inclined to shop at online retailers that come highly recommended. Online retailers are always exploring new ways to increase conversion rates and boost sales.

With so many options for buyers to choose from, it’s critical you know how to convince new and existing customers to purchase your products over the competition. Incorporating social proof is a proven tactic that can improve online conversions and grow your e-commerce business. But what exactly is social proof, and how does it help attract more audiences and drive sales?

This article reveals what social proof is, how it works, and the best types to drive your customers to buy, buy, buy!

What is Social Proof?

First presented in psychologist Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence: Science and Practice, social proof is when people copy the actions of others to determine the correct behavior.

Simply put, when in doubt, people do as others do.

The reason for this is based on the core principles of social proof: uncertainty, similarity, expertise, and number.

Uncertainty

People in unfamiliar situations that cause doubt will often look to others for guidance.

For example, you’re at the gym and want to try a workout machine you’ve never used before. Chances are, you’ll watch others use it and then replicate what they do when it’s your turn.

Similarity

When making new or foreign decisions in a group setting, people tend to follow the actions of those they consider similar to them
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Man choosing between two similar cars
Let’s say you’re shopping for new hair products with friends, but don’t know which shampoo to buy. One friend with hair totally different from yours selects one shampoo, while another friend with hair like yours opts for another. Based on the similarity in hair type, you end up buying the same shampoo as your friend with the same type of hair.

Expertise

People equipped with knowledge typically make informed—and better—decisions, which is why those in unfamiliar circumstances look to other people, organizations, or companies they regard as experts for guidance.

For instance, you’re looking to book an overseas trip but don’t know the best place to stay. To help, you search reputable travel sites and skim the customer reviews to see which hotels received the highest ratings.

Number

Strength in numbers is a thing, and that definitely rings true when it comes to deciding whether an idea is correct or not. The more people who find it acceptable, the more legitimate it seems to others.

Perhaps you’re unsure about investing time into the latest Netflix series. However, after hearing from numerous people that it’s the best show of the year, you can hardly wait to watch the first few episodes.

So how does this all apply to the world of e-commerce?

Online retailers use social proof to build trust, demonstrate the legitimacy of their brand and ultimately, persuade new customers to shop on their site. Look at any high-performing landing page, and you’ll notice social proof is a key element used to strengthen customer confidence in purchasing decisions by eliminating any concerns standing between them and the “buy” button.

The Benefits of Social Proof in E-Commerce

Using social proof on your e-commerce site isn’t just a good idea, it’s a necessary one that comes with a lot of advantages.

Increases Conversions

e-commerce shopper

Creating social proof can be your website’s greatest resource for generating sales. Nearly 80% of people say that social proof like user-generated content (UGC) significantly impacts their purchasing decisions.

By including visual social proof, such as customer reviews, you’ll be able to move more shoppers from exploration to deliberation, then from deliberation to procurement. In fact, 54% of individuals have bought something online after seeing visual UGC displaying it.

Motivates Your Customers

Placing captivating social proof on various pages of your e-commerce website—homepage, category pages, sales pages, for example—and linking that content to your product feed persuades shoppers to visit corresponding product pages. It also creates a more engaging experience that helps users feel inspired to search through your site more. And the more they explore, the higher the chance they’ll purchase more items.

Builds Credibility

With so many online retailers to choose from, customers need proof they’re spending their money at a legitimate store.

On average, a shopper reads 10 testimonials before making a purchase decision. Using social proof like customer testimonials or user reviews not only builds trust with your customers, but also helps showcase your brand as one that is credible. The more evidence you provide on your e-commerce site, the easier it is to earn a shopper’s trust. And once you earn their trust, the more likely you’ll earn their business, too.

Reduces the Number of Online Returns

Though convenient, shopping online limits how close a shopper can get to a product. Often, this translates to higher return rates. Incorporating social proof like customers photos, ratings, and reviews provides online shoppers with useful information that enables them to evaluate your products better.

Research shows that nearly 70% of online consumers look at product reviews before making a purchase. By including social proof like reviews, you’ll be giving your potential customers the proof they need to make an informed decision—therefore lowering return rates and increasing your overall profit.

Best Types of E-Commerce Social Proof to Drive Conversions

Now that you know what social proof is, it's time to delve into the proven ways that social proof can increase your online conversions.

Product Reviews

Recent studies show that an astonishing 91% of shoppers between 18 and 34 years of age trust online reviews as much as a recommendation from someone close to them. It’s no surprise then that product reviews are one of the best types of social proof to have on your e-commerce site.

When implementing product reviews into your website, make sure to strategically place them on specific product pages. For example, if a customer left a positive review about new wireless headphones, display it on that product page. This will add credibility, which in turn will encourage the shopper to purchase the item.

Product Ratings

Top Rated product reviewSome people prefer value in numbers, which means they’re likely to skip reading customer reviews or other word-related social proof on your page. Product ratings are an effective way to appeal to these shoppers because they provide data in a way that’s quick and easy to review.

Adding high product ratings to your pages is also a great way to let customers make informed purchasing decisions—especially since 94% of consumers only consider businesses with 4-star ratings or higher. Like product reviews, ratings should appear on specific product pages. A five-star rating for a particular brand of jeans should appear on the product detail page for those jeans, not another pair.

Customer Testimonials

Fact: 70% of people trust a recommendation from someone they don't even know.

Customer testimonials are one of the most common and valuable types of social proof because they help create connection between shoppers. When this happens, your customers will begin developing a deeper sense of trust with your brand.

When including testimonials on your website, try to keep them short and include each customer’s name (first name is fine) and photos to add credibility and highlight products.

Social Media

User-Generated Content (UGC) is a powerful social proof that can help raise awareness about your brand, which in turn, can lead to more online sales.

Eighty-seven percent of people say social media posts help them decide what to buy, so curate UGC to share on your social platforms that include pictures of happy customers using your products. You can also highlight user-generated content on your product pages to show products in actual settings no copy can ever truly depict.

Endorsements

Want to take advantage of your social media pages even more? Feature a popular influencer or celebrity with your products to get products flying off your virtual shelves faster than ever!

Nearly 50% of consumers depend on influencers for their purchasing decisions. Utilizing influencer marketing won’t just help boost sales by offering a form of credibility many shoppers seek, but it’s often less expensive than traditional marketing campaigns. Just make sure to align with individuals who reflect your target audiences and are considered a reliable source with a large enough following to expand your brand’s reach.

Case Studies

Depending on the type of e-commerce business you have, case studies are a great way to showcase how your products and/or services provided positive results to existing customers.

This form of social proof is best for B2B businesses but can work for any e-commerce site, as long as your case studies relate to prospective customers.

If you decide to use case studies on your website, make sure to include relevant data to persuade shoppers and prompt purchases.

Looking for more types of social proof to boost e-commerce sales?

Carting Frequency social proof

Here are a few other social proof tactics to take your e-commerce site ever further:

  • Real-time numbers that show how many customers are currently using a product, how many people are looking at the same product, or the number remaining of a specific product, is an easy way to create some serious FOMO and create a sense of urgency to buy.
  • Email campaigns that incorporate customer callouts and shout-outs are an extremely emotional selling point that creates suspense, gratitude, and connectedness.
  • Trust badges, such as logos, add another layer of credibility that can boost conversions by ensuring your buyers are shopping at a legitimate e-commerce store.

Final Thoughts

Social proof exists everywhere around us. And when it comes to e-commerce, it is essential to enhancing customer engagement, creating trust, and compelling shoppers to hit the “Buy” button instead of leaving their cart empty or abandoned.

Whatever type(s) of social proof you decide to implement into your e-commerce website, recognize that this dynamic tool will set you up for long-term success by increasing credibility and conversion rates; that’s a win-win for your customers—and your business.


Ready to Drive Your E-Commerce Conversions?

Partners handshakeGranify’s innovative machine learning can help you identify the right types of social proof for your e-commerce site, so you can engage your customers while boosting sales. Schedule a consultation to find out more about what we do, and how we can help your business succeed.

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