Social Proof: How to be a friend and influence people
If I’m struggling to make a decision, I’ll turn to the wisdom of others for guidance – friends, family, that guy in the office who literally knows everything … I’m looking for advice I can trust.
Think about the last time you had to make a big purchase: Sure, there were a lot of variables contributing to your making a decision, but I’d be willing to bet that the opinions of other people was one of them.
We’re not alone! Research shows that 69% of consumers search for reviews online before converting and while reviews aren’t the only way to find out how others feel about the product or service you’re researching, they’re a fine example of how other people’s actions can influence our decision making process.
So how can you, as a business, be that friendly, knowledgeable voice helping the visitors to your website understand that you’re the perfect choice for them? You don’t. Social proof does.
Turn to the expert
A highly-regarded industry expert with a positive reputation will be thought of as an authority by others familiar with the industry. Organizations they’re associated with will often be met with the same positive opinion and will therefore also be highly-regarded.
Try This: AKA “Influencer marketing, brand approval from an expert can come in the form of press acknowledgement, being referenced in a blog, or maybe even a shout-out on Twitter.”
Lesson Learned Incorporate social proof from an expert on your key landing pages with a quote, or by embedding that Tweet.
Similar to the impact that an expert can have on public opinion of your brand, a popular celebrity can work in the same way. At least 25% of TV ads in the USA have successfully featured celebrities and you can’t tell me that when Jeff Goldblum tried to sell you lightbulbs in this funny 2 minute video, you didn’t think twice!
Try This: Admittedly it’s going to be tricky to get a mega-celeb to endorse your product. Far more realistic to reach out to well-known YouTube vloggers, or people with a good social media following Click & Tweet! . Send them a sample or offer the a freebie in exchange for a review or a bit of coverage.
Case studies, testimonials or reviews let users put themselves in the shoes of someone that’s already made the decision they’re considering. By sharing their experience, they’re creating a story for prospective customers to relate to, adding another level of persuasion over a simple product description.
Try This: Make like TripAdvisor.co.uk and consider hosting reviews, star-ratings and (if appropriate) invite users to upload images to add another dimension to their story and make it more relatable.
You could create a testimonials page, use a TrustPilot widget, or simply display review on key pages where a little extra persuasion might help.
Wisdom of The CrowdShowing your visitors how many other people have enjoyed your product or service plays on a form of social anxiety Click & Tweet! called Fear of Missing Out . FOMO is the worry that an interesting opportunity, never to be had again, will be missed – a very persuasive tactic considering how quickly things move online.
Try This: Incorporate Wisdom of the Crowd in your website’s calls to action by telling visitors how many other have already purchased/signed up/got in touch. Social Media Examiner do this well with their exit popup encouraging readers to be added to their mailing list.
Wisdom of Your Friends
Kind of like user reviews, only more persuasive because the recommendations are seen as more credible due to having more in common with our friends. We value their opinion because of this, and it’s why the ‘following’ list on Twitter works so well.
Try This: Feature your social media activity on your site Click & Tweet! . Think about how Facebook displays ‘likes’ and how your newsfeed looks in terms of your friends’ activity. Show your visitors how like minded people are behaving towards you.
Social proof isn’t a new concept, but there are lots of new ways to use it on your website. Bring to life the experience of speaking with an expert, joining in with a crowd or listening in on other customers’ experiences by incorporating endorsements, testimonials and reviews where persuasion really counts.
Maybe it’s a landing page with a high bounce rate, maybe it’s a product page, or maybe it’s on your contact form. Wherever it is, try different forms of social proof to influence your visitors and help them to convert.
Libby Bearman is CRO Manager at Browser Media, an inbound marketing agency based in Colchester, Essex. Working in digital marketing for over 5 years, she’s been immersed in usability and conversion rate optimization for the last 3.
Connect with Libby on Twitter, LinkedIn and G+.
Browser Media: http://www.browsermedia.co.uk/
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