Social Proof has become indispensable for eCommerce brands as they’re a great source of validation.
Robert Cialdini coined the term Social Proof which is one of the six key principles of persuasion. It’s based on the simple premise- “People like you have purchased this product, so you should consider buying it too!”
If you’re looking to build social proof but bumbling with questions, we’ll be answering them for you. But, if you want to jump right in to the examples, be our guest.
What is social proof in online business?
Social proof is evidence of validation proving that your business is credible, trustworthy, and customer-centric based on the feedback from customers. It can also be demonstrated by having affiliation with recognizable and reliable third parties.
How do I build social proof in an online business?
You can build social proof with customer reviews, ratings, trust badges, awards, and testimonials from experts.
Above all, customer satisfaction builds social proof in an online business.
You can include your customer testimonials with actual images.
Booty Bands, a health and supplement brand has a client hall of fame where it features before and after pictures of its clients who have experienced positive results.
This testimonial talks about two things- losing weight post pregnancy and finding a workout program that offers support to keep pushing.
This is how customer satisfaction enables social proof for your eCommerce brand.
Smart Tip- Ask for reviews every time a sale goes through. Make it easy for your customers to leave reviews and feedback.
Don’t just stick to testimonials on your site but get listed on third-party review sites like TrustPilot and Amazon.
50% of online customers visit the website after reading reviews online. This is an important development in getting them to checkout or getting them to sign up for your email newsletters.
Terra Origin is listed on TrustPilot which has high credibility. Here is a genuine review showing appreciation for its customer service.
The update on customer service shows their commitment to delivering exceptional customer experience.
Does social proof increase conversions?
Social proof increases conversions without a doubt. Displaying testimonials on your sales page increases your conversion rate by 34%. But you don’t have to overdo it. Give the shoppers enough information about the product. Remember: social proof is not a replacement for product description—it’s an addition.
How do you use social proof in sales?
The money lies in your high-intent pages. Your checkout pages and contact us pages are the best places for displaying your social proof.
Here’s a shocking statistic explaining one of the major reasons for cart abandonment.
18% of the customers state lack of trust in parting with their credit card information. The main reason why you need to include social proof in your checkout pages.
All said and done, you must have a customer support chat in place so your customers aren’t left hanging.
Keep in mind- Social proof can help drive attention but a bad product or poor customer service can’t be swept under the rug.
Social proof is a means to an end but not the end itself.
Don't forget to read: Checkout Page Mistakes eCommerce Businesses "Unknowingly" Make
How does social proof make for a better customer experience?
Using social proof helps customers feel assured of a positive buying experience. Social proof helps in reducing buyer’s remorse and quell last-minute doubts.
As per a Baymard study, 12% of the customers abandon carts because of an unsatisfactory return policy.
Here is a Trustpilot review of Terra Origin’s customer service. The reviewer was issued a refund which accounts for a good customer experience.
Here’s a word of advice- No amount of good marketing can compensate for a bad customer experience. Be open to negative feedback and resolve the complaints if things go wrong.
How do I show social proof on my website?
Social proof on a website includes testimonials, user-generated content, data and statistics, awards, and recognition. Milestones and third-party recognition too display compelling social proof.
You can show social proof on your-
Finlandia displays its Google reviews on its homepage. 63% of the customers use Google for reviews about a product.
Here’s a caveat you need to follow- Recency in reviews plays an important role. Don’t ever stop asking your customers for reviews.
There are two reasons why social proof in checkout can help you drive conversions.
- 18% of the people don’t trust eCommerce brands with their credit card information.
- 9% of the customers stated the lack of payment methods
To build trust signals, you must include Visa, Master Card, Norton Security, or DigiCert trust badges on your checkout page.
Asos has a DigiCert Trust badge that their data is secure with them.
Here is a payment security badge assuring the users of keeping their financial security.
Finally, have all the trust badges you would want if you were buying from an eCommerce brand.
That’s the only thumb rule you need to be following when it comes to sending trust signals.
Learn checkout hacks: 24 effortless Shopify checkout page customizations that increase sales
Why do eCommerce site owners need social proof?
eCommerce site owners need social proof because it-
- Builds trust. 88% of the customers treat online reviews on par with personal recommendations
- Drives purchases. 97% of the customers affirm that online reviews influence their purchase decisions
- Beats competition. When divided between two products, 35% of the customers stated that better reviews influenced them to buy the higher-priced product.
To help your eCommerce brand surge, using the right social proof can either make or break you.
Founder's special- eCommerce marketing strategy: 12 questions founders should ask themselves
7 types of social proof with proven examples to help you get inspired
1. Customer testimonials (show verified reviews)
Customer testimonials convey their experience using your product. While they’re nothing new, verified reviews are a rarity.
Verified customer testimonials show a high level of trust compared to non-verified reviews. The average customer reads 10 online reviews before making a purchase.
Besides, 92% of online customers are more likely to trust non-paid recommendations than paid ads.
Bite convincingly uses its verified reviews on its product page.
The term Verified Buyer sends trust signals to users vouching for the credibility of this review. Remember, trust builds persuasion.
Why it works
Customer centricity: The questions convey the product’s authenticity of being skin friendly. It means that the brand builds products for its customers.
Feedback: The pros convince the users about the positives of the product. By mentioning each of the pros, users know what to expect from the product. This is great for reducing buyer’s remorse.
The review mentions the ordeal the reviewer had to go through because of eczema caused by sweaty underarms. It has even helped her pursue her passion for rock climbing.
This means she is a recurring customer.
Focus on recency: Reviews come with a limited shelf life. The newer the review the greater it drives trust. Reviews less than three months send greater trust signals.
2. User Ratings (Have aspect-specific ratings)
User Ratings are the norm but it takes more to convince your customers.
Customers will only buy from a business with a minimum business rating of 3.4 stars.
User ratings are vanity if they don’t quantify aspects. Quantified star ratings offer a bird’s eye view of the product. Users are aware of the pros and cons and can make well-informed decisions.
User ratings with opinions also help get the gist of why the customers bought a product.
Gymshark has aspect-specific ratings which show Value, Comfort, Range of Movement, Quality, Sizing, and Length.
This helps in making an informed decision and reduces the perceived risk of buying a product.
Why it works
- User measurements: The review has the height and the size mentioned which can help users in making a purchase decision
- Review reporting: The review has options for users to answer if they found it useful. The ‘Report’ option helps in flag suspicious reviews and keep the reviews legitimate
- 5-star rating: With a 5-star rating that measures various aspects, this 5-star rating sends higher trust signals. 57% of the buyers only buy from a brand that has at least a 4-star rating
Don’t delete negative reviews: Deleting negative reviews may look good on paper but in reality, it means your business is shady. 30% of online buyers consider reviews fake if there are no negative reviews.
Moreover, responding to negative reviews shows your commitment to customer experience.
3. Make use of user-generated content (Let your customers become your brand ambassadors)
Social proof by common people works better in influencing purchase decisions as compared to celebrities. User-generated content is not paid and hence has a higher level of trust associated with them.
87% of the buying decisions begin with online research. User-generated content, especially videos, have a higher engagement rate.
Verishop has live streams of its customers talking about their experience post-purchase. This is a social proof example for eCommerce brands to follow because 70% of the customers trust a product recommendation from people whom they don’t know.
Why it works
- Induces self-efficacy: By watching a customer demonstrate their experience, users are more likely to feel assured that they can confidently buy the product. Self-efficacy refers to a person’s belief in their capability to perform tasks necessary to attain intended outcomes.
- Relatability: Users are highly likely to trust people to whom they can relate. This sends high trust signals and people often like product recommendations from whom they relate to.
Include below the product testimonials: Including your customer testimonials right below the product can trigger higher conversions. According to the principle of base rate fallacy, people are likely to remember the information they’re first exposed to.
4. Do product recommendations differently (Use the social cognition)
Product recommendations form a critical part of social proof in eCommerce.
Two main reasons!
It creates social cognition because 70% of the customers are highly likely to trust recommendations they don’t personally know.
Social cognition refers to the principle that people are more likely to do certain things based on watching others.
Another reason- product recommendations are far more trustworthy compared to ads.
Flo Living uses product recommendations on its homepage. It offers supplements for PCOS, irregular periods, and menopause. Here is how social cognition is in action.
Flo Living does product recommendations using a vanishing pop-up. This elicits curiosity from first-time visitors who may be suffering from the same health problems or looking for the same supplement.
Why it works
- Creates social cognition: Since people are exposed to the pop-up frequently, users might be interested in buying the product. In this case, if other women are buying, female users are considering buying if they too have a similar problem
- Testimonials: By featuring testimonials of their actual customers, Flo Living is demonstrating its commitment to ensuring a remarkable customer experience
Another reason why product recommendations are remarkable is because it works on the mere-exposure principle.
Simply put, the number of times people see things, they’re more likely to engage with them. Case in point, here’s an example from Patch MD.
Here’s an image from its website where a user has just bought its Multi Plus Patch 2 supplement. With recurring notifications such as this, a user is bound to click one such notification. The name Multi Plus Patch 2 evokes a curiosity that users might just be compelled to click on the notification.
- Include user testimonials with their images: While plain testimonials are good, they don't have a lasting impression. Using testimonials with actual images of your customers ensures transparency
You might be interested in reading: eCommerce Product Recommendations: Strategies, Examples, Do's/Don'ts
5. Be humane on social media (be there for your customers when they’re least expecting)
Empathy is an underrated trait that businesses often overlook. Caring for the customer even if there is no obligation is one of the undeniable ways of building loyal customers.
Lo and behold, 95% of the customers express that trust in a company makes them more likely to remain loyal to a brand.
The same goes for community building. Chewy surprised one of its customers by offering a refund after her dog passed away.
Chewy had no business obligation but it still offered a refund and empathized with the user.
Why it works
- Humane touch: It conveys that business is not just about making profits but also caring for your customers. By offering flowers to the customer, it offers condolences and mourns the loss of a dog which is what its brand centers on.
- Building a loyal community: Customers have a lot of options when it comes to brands. However, only a brand that cares for its customers is able to acquire customers without the acquisition cost.
Not only pet parents but users, in general, will want to associate themselves in the future.
- Respond to reviews within 24 hours: Customer support is a vital cog in your customer experience process. Respond to reviews as soon as possible but don’t wait for more than 24 hours. Negative reviews need to be handled professionally by assuring the reviewer of a speedy resolution
6. Add social cause to social proof (Let your good work speak for itself)
If you’re invested in a social cause, that's the ultimate social proof you can get.
Cause marketing is a collaboration between a for-profit business and a non-profit organization for a common cause.
It has its benefits-
- Helps you devote your time to social responsibility
- Increase brand loyalty
- Build trust and long-lasting relationships
What better social proof can you show to your customers?
86% of the customers are more likely to buy from purpose-driven companies, even more, if it shares the same beliefs and values as them.
Chewy uses its social responsibility efforts as a form of social proof.
Since 2012, it has donated more than $97 million pounds of pet food supply to ensure shelter and rescue animals get the best care they deserve.
Here are the testimonials of Chewy’s shelter partners strongly endorsing their good work.
It has partnered with more than 7500 partners till date.
Why it works
- Conveys their values: Chewy has to this day donated more than 93 million meals to shelter animals and served in 50+ states in the USA. This conveys that their brand believes in making a difference in the lives of shelter and rescue animals
- Helps stand out: 64% of the people report that brands who actively communicate their purpose are more attractive. This helps you stand out among your competitors
Include video testimonials: Including video testimonials to your website about the cause and the difference you’re making can help you connect emotionally with your audience.
Create 'About Us' that have a lasting impact. Read Building the Perfect eCommerce About Us Page (& Inspiring Examples)
7. Stamp of approval (Get the approval of certified experts)
An expert’s stamp of approval refers to the approval of a certifying body or individuals who hold the expertise or regulating authority.
This kind of social proof demonstrates that your product is legitimate, effective, and safe to use.
An expert stamp of authority is needed for pharmaceuticals and supplement brands that are subject to high regulations.
Why it works
- Reduces risk aversion: Medicinal supplements often need a doctor’s prescription. The users can be assured that since a doctor who holds an MD has certified it for consumption, there shall be no side effects
- Trust signals: When a doctor with prestigious credentials approves its use, it strengthens the trust of first-time buyers. Once they experience the benefits, they’re likely to come back for a second purchase
- Offer a free consultation: If you are an eCommerce brand that offers nutritional or health supplements, you can offer a free consultation from a doctor or nutritionist. This is a trust symbol signifying an expert stamp of approval.
Editor's Note- This content has been updated