The answer, of course, is a definite yes; your website needs social proof.
But first things first:
What is Social Proof?
If you haven’t heard of social proof before, here’s the technical, by-the-book definition:
Social proof is a “psychological phenomenon where people conform to the actions of others under the assumption that those actions are reflective of the correct behavior.”
To summarize that mouthful, social proof is basically monkey see, monkey do; people will follow the crowd under the assumption that what the crowd is doing is correct.
Everyone’s choosing restaurant A over restaurant B? Restaurant A must have great food.
People are shopping at Brand X rather than Brand Y? Brand Y must have really lousy clothes.
Social proof follows the concept of “normative social influence.” It basically means that people follow what others do, say, or wear in order to be liked, accepted, or considered “normal” by societal standards.
It is a bit of a chicken-or-egg situation; societal standards are defined by what the people consider to be normal, and what they consider normal is whatever is in line with their societal standards.
But that’s a topic for another time.
The Role of Social Proof in Marketing & Sales
Next big question:
What does all this have to do with your website performance?
Whether you’re selling a product or a service, one of the biggest obstacles you have to deal with is apprehension. Even though people are a lot more comfortable with online shopping now than they were fifteen, twenty years ago, there is still that level of uncertainty that stops them from purchasing a product.
Think about it; even when customers can actually see, touch, smell, or examine an item, they’re still apprehensive about buying it. How much more if they can’t physically pick it up? The usual indecisiveness is doubled—or even tripled—when buying online.
Which is why social proof is such a powerful tool for marketers; it directly addresses consumer apprehension and, if strong enough, eliminates all purchasing-related doubts.
Because it eases personal doubts by utilizing the influence of the crowd.
When you read a testimonial by someone you personally know or really look up to, you’re convinced of the product’s quality. That’s social proof in action.
When your favorite YouTuber recommends a brand that you’ve never heard of, you immediately look them up with the intent of purchasing some of their products. That’s social proof in action.
When a widely popular Hollywood star admits to having had the same problem you’re currently having and endorses a product as the solution that worked for them, you’re convinced this is the holy grail and immediately order several sets for yourself.
That’s social proof in action.
It’s basically using third-party influence to convince someone to try or buy whatever is being offered.
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Do I Need Social Proof for my Website?
More than 70% of American consumers say they read product reviews before purchasing said product. Moreover, 63% of American consumers favor websites that have verified product ratings and reviews.
Based on these statistics, it’s fair to assume that social proof can serve to boost your website’s performance in terms of sales and conversions, whereas a lack thereof may only hurt it.
How to Improve Your Website Performance with Social Proof
That being said, what forms of social proof can you include to greatly improve your website and increase web leads?
Objective and straight to the point, customer reviews basically describe how the product or offer performed with respect to what was promised.
Where to put it?
Displaying reviews on your website is great if you sell highly technical products or are competing in an oversaturated market.
Testimonials are often more subjective, biased, and emotional compared to reviews. One could even go so far as to call them short stories from happy, satisfied customers.
Where to put it?
If you’re in an industry that deals with long-term solutions (i.e., skincare, makeup, health and wellness, weight loss, etc.), testimonials on the landing page are great for convincing first-time visitors to stay on your website.
3. Real-Time Statistics
As the name suggests, this is a counter that shows visitors the current numbers of the website they’re on. It’s similar to those restaurants that boast stats such as “Over 10,000 Served!”
It’s great for proving your legitimacy (if you have this many visitors, your site probably has good content) and for adding a sense of urgency (if this many people have purchased your product, your stock is probably running low).
Where to put it?
For ecommerce websites, we recommend placing the number of purchases on the product page of the corresponding item (like what Wish.com does) so that visitors are aware of the best-selling products and the products that could be running out of stock. For hotels that allow booking through their websites, it’s also a good idea to let visitors know how many people are looking at a room that you’re currently eyeing.
Social proof is fairly easy to gather and implement. The tricky part is knowing which type of social proof will best serve your website performance and marketing efforts. You’ll probably need to experiment a little to get it right, but the results will be worth it.