According to a recent report from SproutSocial, consumers make purchasing decisions based on four elements:
- Recommendations from friends.
- Product reviews.
- Brand familiarity.
- Advice from significant others.
This information clearly shows that three out of four of the most common purchase drivers have to do with social proof.
And that’s not all. BrightLocal discovered that 77% of buyers “always” or “regularly” read reviews when browsing for local businesses in 2021 and that 97% of people wouldn’t consider using a brand with an average star rating of 2 or fewer stars. With this in mind, it becomes clear that your website needs at least a few instances of social proof to attract customers and move them through the sales funnel.
But what are the best ways to add social proof to your website? The following are our top picks for 2022 and beyond.
Focus on Authenticity
Testimonials can have an enormous positive impact on shopper behavior. But, the above-quoted BrightLocal Consumer Review Survey also uncovered some worrying statistics. 62% of consumers believe they’ve seen a fake review online. And only 7% don’t worry about fraudulent feedback on Facebook. Moreover, according to Statista, 2.7 million fake online reviews were detected and removed in 2021, showing how widespread the problem really is.
So, if your goal is to drive the success of your business by employing social proof, there’s one thing you absolutely must do, and that’s to focus on authenticity.
Pay attention to the type of social proof you utilize. Furthermore, be careful about how you show it off so that you can reap its benefits, encourage your target audience to trust your brand, and maximize their chances of converting.
For example, research from TINT discovered that 72% of consumers find user-generated content more trustworthy than branded messages. So, you might want to explore ways to show off social proof in its rawest form. And the great thing is, there are a couple of powerful ways to do this.
On the one hand, you could embed UGC directly from your social media profiles, as done by Fenty Beauty. This brand invites customers to upload their looks and use the #fentyface hashtag on Instagram for a chance to be featured on the website.
On the other hand, you could take things a step further and employ video, allowing customers to provide feedback in their own (unedited) words. This is the effect Bay Alarm Medical goes for on their homepage, including several video interviews with happy users, asking them to share why they love the brand’s products. It’s a super-personalized way to deliver social proof. And the best thing is, it’s easy to set up.
Rely on Expert Authority
While it may be true that people trust their friends and family when it comes to purchasing advice, there’s one more group of people consumers look to when making buying decisions: experts. Scientists, influencers, and in-house technical specialists all hold a lot of authority, which you can use to prove your brand’s credibility.
Cerebelly is an excellent example of a brand that points out its products’ quality by relying on the authority of experts, scientific research, and third-party certification. It even has a handy chart potential buyers can study, which compares the ingredients and benefits of Cerebelly’s products with those of its competitors, clearly showing that this particular brand offers a type of baby food far superior to anything else available on the market.
Skincare brand Augustinus Bader goes a step further with expert-provided social proof. On a page dedicated to its founder, the brand lists his qualifications, teaching positions, and publications. All of this works to show potential customers that they can trust the company and even expect next-level results from their purchase.
Of course, businesses operating in some industries may not have the opportunity to source testimonials from scientists or experts. However, they can still effectively work on utilizing credible social proof in the form of media coverage or third-party trust badges.
Highlighting media recognition on your website, as done by Gili, is a super-effective way to show that your products have been recognized for their quality and innovativeness — especially if you’ve secured a mention in a famous web publication or a niche authority.
And, if you’ve won any awards, it’s also not a bad idea to point this out on your site. It’s a simple strategy utilized by leading SaaS brands like Chorus, which shows that your claims aren’t just empty promises but guarantees that your brand delivers an exceptional user experience.
Highlight Specific Product Benefits
If there’s anything that your product does better than other options on the market, it’s always a good idea to point it out on your website — ideally, with the help of some well-written copy.
However, in addition to making these benefits a part of your unique sales proposition, you could also choose to employ social proof to ensure potential buyers notice and understand key product features.
Brands like KURU Footwear do this spectacularly by opting to highlight user reviews that mention specific aspects of the brand’s products that they enjoy. In the example below on their orthopedic shoes page, you can see that the social proof featured on the product page addresses benefits such as comfort, support, and style, all of which are aspects people consider before choosing what shoes to buy.
Naturally, you could take this approach up a notch as well — especially if you have the budget to produce social proof that’s engaging and valuable.
A quick look at the Mixpanel Customers page shows that this brand employs several types of social proof: embedded tweets, trust badges, testimonials sourced from review sites, and case studies that offer exhaustive information on ways the brand’s product helped customers solve specific pain points.
Use the Power of Numbers
According to scientific research, when presented just right, numbers can be super-persuasive. This is why including star ratings, statistics, and the number of your customers/social media followers is a powerful way to include social proof on your website.
Something as easy as pointing out that your product or business has a 5-star rating on Amazon or Google could be the key to attracting and converting new customers. And, if you do the work to present this information in a visually appealing way, you could even turn this form of social proof into a sales driver of its own.
For instance, the Lifesum homepage points out that the app has over 300k reviews, with a 4.6 average star rating on Apple’s App Store.
SmartRecruiters takes its own approach to use numbers as social proof, presenting website visitors with statistical data regarding the results its existing customers have managed to achieve. These include 166% more applications, 63% faster response time, etc.
And HubSpot uses figures to prove its credibility by pointing out that it has over 3 million social followers, 150k customers, and that its blog section gets 7 million visits per month.
Of course, when using numbers to sell, there are two things you need to keep in mind.
First and foremost, don’t feel like you have to use numerals to prove your business’s reliability or the quality of your products. Sometimes the best products in a category aren’t the most popular ones, whether due to a higher price or their specific use case.
Secondly, don’t give in to the temptation to present your brand/offer in perfect light. Research has found that a 4.9 rating was more efficient at driving conversions than a 5-star one, proving that consumers aren’t looking for empty promises but proof of your brand’s ability to meet their expectations.
As you can see, there are many ways you can add social proof to your website. And the best part is, you don’t have to stick with just one option presented in this article. In fact, you could even go all out and include every single form of testimonial discussed in this guide.
However, if you want to ensure that the social proof you utilize on your brand’s homepage yields results, make sure that it’s highly visible and beautifully presented. Also, ensure that it gives relevant information to your audience and that it’s genuine. There’s nothing worse you can do than include fake or misleading reviews on your site. Yes, they may boost sales for a short time. But at the end of the day, people will realize they’ve been deceived, which could lead to a whole set of consequences and hinder your brand’s success in the long run.