Positive reviews and recommendations are the biggest bringer or breaker of sales in our digitally driven world. With most customers today looking at reviews before committing to make a purchase, it is a wonder that companies aren’t running social proof campaigns. Hopefully by the end of this article, you will be all over it!
Social proof helps you to build credibility during the purchase consideration phase (when potential customers are looking at reviews online).
Smart companies go beyond managing their reviews and look to build social credibility and social proof proactively. This enables you to take full control of the online conversation and maximises your sales potential.
By building positive social proof online, you are building trust with a prospective customer, before they have even made a purchase.
6 Vital Statistics About Social Proof
1) 84% of customer’s purchases are driven by recommendations! A Nielsen report has discovered that 84% of consumers they are completely or somewhat driven by recommendations from family colleagues and friends, making recommendations the most highly ranked and important source of purchase consideration among potential customers.
2) 74% of consumers are mainly driven by word of mouth! Google, Ogilvy and TNS recently produced a report stating that 74% of consumers are mainly influenced by word of mouth when considering the purchase.
Robert Cialdini, author of the book, “The Small Big: Small Changes that Spark Big Influence,” explains why you should be paying more attention to the power of social proof and what you can focus on to get more customers in the door.
3) 58% of consumers share their experience on social media! SDL’s research discovered that 58% of consumers shared their positive experience via social about a company and that they also asked their friends, acquaintances and colleagues what their thoughts were before making a purchase.
4) 91% of business buyers are influenced by word of mouth! Usm’s report discovered that 91% of business to business (B2B) buyers are primarily influenced by word of mouth when making the decision on a purchase.
5) 54% increase in marketing effectiveness from word of mouth! Market share’s report indicated that word of mouth is up to 54% more effective than any other form of marketing.
6) Word Of Mouth is #1! Radius commissioned a report focused on how millennials make purchase decisions. The report discovered that word of mouth is the number one influencing factor for purchase decision making around fashion, consumer goods as well as expensive items like holidays, electronics and personal finance products. The report also discovered that for the older generation (baby boomers), suggested word of mouth is the single most impactful thing which influences their purchase decision around big ticket items such as investments.
13 Types Of Social Proof
1) Customer reviews: Cultured Code
Customer reviews are the most prevalent form of social proof and are spread out across a multitude of websites that are beyond any company’s control. Do you know all the sites where your customer’s reviews are? In today’s world, a negative review can get in the way of new sales and can bring business shuddering to a halt.
2) Customer referrals: Stitch Fix
Customer referrals are a great way to drive sales at a low-cost. As mentioned earlier, word of mouth is #1! Using your existing customers to demonstrate social proof to your potential customers is more likely to work than almost any other form of marketing. After all, who wouldn’t trust a friend who strongly recommend something? StitchFix is a great example of a company doing this. They ask customers to invite their friends to try a personal stylist for free and when their friend’s first order ships, they receive a $25 credit.
3) Industry influencers: Opera’s book club
Some industries are especially driven by high profile influencers who have the power to dramatically accelerate sales for companies when they give their endorsement. A great example of this is Oprah Winfrey with her book club. When she endorses a book, sales rocket throughout the US. In the UK, when Martin Lewis recommends a financial product to his loyal online audience, he drive sales in a way that no other form of paid for advertising could hope to achieve.
4) Qualified experts: Ostrich Pillow
Qualified experts who have the technical knowledge and credentials to endorse a product from a technical perspective lend credibility to any company beyond any celebrity endorsement. An expert’s endorsement is really affirming that it is good from a quality, health, medical and effectiveness perspective. A great example of this is Ostrich Pillow who have received medical endorsements from a sleep expert and a sports psychologist.
5) Industry bodies & scientific endorsements: Nature Made
Similar to industry experts are industry bodies. Getting the seal of approval from an industry body can counteract any perception in the market that the product is ineffective. This is particularly helpful for products which are innovating or inventing new solutions that have never been seen before which potential customers may be sceptical of but also works equally well for established brands looking to grow market share in cluttered marketplaces. Nature Made’s Vitamin Gummy vitamins are a great example of this who received USP endorsement.
6) Celebrities: Tracy Anderson & Gwyneth Paltrow
Celebrity endorsements are typically less effective as celebrities usually take extremely high fees to endorse products. However, when a celebrity endorses something with authenticity like Gwyneth Paltrow does with The Tracy Anderson System, it’s magic. Celebrity endorsements are most helpful as a form of social proof for products that have mass market appeal because of the broad reach and appeal that celebrities have.
7) Media Reviews: Fitbit
Good old-fashioned PR and media mentions can really help companies build visibility to a broad audience at a low-cost. Getting endorsements from credible media sources is a very powerful way of building credibility and being seen as safe for customers. Fitbit use the logos of the media who have reviewed them on their website as a form of social proof which is a smart move.
8) Client Logos: TypedForm
Borrowing brand recognition that potential customers have from your biggest clients by using their logos on your website is a really effective form of social proof stop tax form do the twenty one of my website when they have all of their biggest and best clients on the homepage stop if you think you’re doing this on your website don’t forget to get permission of your clients to do it I’m sure I’ll be happy to do it would be safer rather van sorry stop
9) Results You Have Delivered: Zendesk
There is wisdom in the crowds and they say! Organisations demonstrating that many thousands of customers are using their solutions are giving comfort to potential customers. They will believe that many thousands of people can’t be wrong. Zendesk is really good example of a company doing this well. They talk about 60,000+ companies trusting them with their customers. They also have the key client logos on their site too.
10) Case Studies: JWT
Demonstrating case studies of client success is a great form of social proof for B2B businesses wanting to demonstrate their effectiveness to potential clients. Advertising agencies are the masters of this. Because their work is so visually appealing, it is a no brainer to show it prominently on their site. JWT’s site is a great example of this.
11) People Like Me: Facebook
People are more likely to pay attention and take social cues from people like them. Facebook knows this very well which is why it shows people their friends who have liked pieces of content in the hope that it will entice them to also engage with that content and stay longer on Facebook
12) Scientific Endorsements
Beyond industry bodies, independent scientific testing is an enormously powerful form of social proof. Independent scientific testing is in ‘lab conditions’ and unbiased which increases the impact and credibility of the results. To be able to announce greater effectiveness, quality or safety on a scientific basis is a very strong form of social proof. Automotive brands and pharmaceuticals tend to do this because of the safety elements involved in their products.
13) Research Reports
Commissioning independent research with reputable research houses such as Nielsen, TNS or Euromonitor can help a company validate that their target customer absolutely need their product! It can also help reinforce a products effectiveness at a lower cost than a scientific study. By doing it with well respected research house, a company can lean on the credibility from those research houses – ‘Neilsen’s report confirmed we are best in the market’.
10 Tips To Building Social Proof
1) Make the review submissions highly visible and intuitive
So, you want customer reviews? Make sure you make reviews highly visible and ask for them, often! A lot of companies don’t give their customers the opportunity to give a review even though they would, if asked. All of the statistics say social proof drives huge uplift in sales so make it easy to catch those reviews! There are a variety of tools later in this article that I recommend you look at to catch and manage reviews on your website.
2) Ask Your Customers In Person
Nothing beats meeting a customer face to face and asking them for a review or recommendation. It’s harder to refuse when you’re sat opposite somebody! It’s also easy to capture when you meet a customer – you can just write it down and email it to them to have them confirm that they are happy to have it up on your website in the same day.
3) Offer an incentive to existing customers for their advocacy
Offering cash for reviews is dangerous and can result in a PR crisis. Nobody trusts a company that is discovered to be paying for fake customer reviews. However, providing existing loyal customers with a discount in exchange for them recommending friend is a great way for a company to drive sales at a very low cost as mentioned earlier in the article with Stitch Fix.
4) E-mail to ask but make it personal and well timed
So, you can email your customers to ask for a review but how many spam emails do you get a day?! If you want to do this then you need to make sure your email is very personalised using something like MailChimp and that the timing when you e-mail to ask for the review is perfect. For example, the day after a customer has received an excellent customer experience, they will be more likely to give a positive review. Using Mailchimp’s automated trigger e-mails is a smart way of doing this automatically.
5) Getting Reviews For Less Popular Products
Not all products are created equally so here is some ideas on how you can get product reviews for the less popular products.
6) Use One Click Polls To Build Social Proof
Running polls on your website doesn’t have to be complicated. You can just ask one simple question and have a yes or no answer. The responses are data that you can use as social proof. “85% of our customers say that they love our customer service”, “92% of our customers would recommend us to their friends”, “96% of our customers say that they enjoyed buying a product on our website…” You get the idea!
7) Give Free samples to celebrities and media and build a rapport with them
Getting celebrity or media endorsements does require persistence. They’re not going to endorse you if they haven’t tried the product so do make sure that you send your target celebrities and media free samples on a regular basis and try to build a decent rapport with them over several months – they’ll eventually cave in and mention you! Just as a caution, some celebrities and media take paid for endorsements which are expensive and lacking in authenticity.
8) Respond to reviews, wherever they are
Customer reviews for your product are going to be all over the interwebs! Keeping track of all these reviews is very difficult but if you use social media monitoring tool like Radian6, you will be able to get real time updated customer reviews for your product, wherever they appear. Replying to customer reviews, regardless of whether they are positive or negative is key… Say thank you to a happy customer, it’ll make their day!
9) Don’t ignore negative reviews
Negative reviews won’t kill you. A lack of responsiveness will! By tackling every negative review as quickly as possible, you neutralize the threat of it snowballing into a full-blown crisis. Customers only want to be cared for, after all!
10) Build customer feedback into the customer experience
You can build your requests for customer feedback into the customer experience. For example, Expedia ask their customers for reviews of their experience at the end of the transaction. It is now also very common practice for apps in the Google Play store to ask users for their rating of the app after they’ve used it for a few days. Trying to get customer feedback as part of the customer experience is much more effective than chasing their tail for feedback on an email!
9 Tools To Build Your Social Proof Today
Referral Saasquatch provides a solution that allows companies to reward their customers for referrals that they make to their friends. It’s a fully integrated referral and rewards management platform which connect with websites, social media, mobile, email and has an API for deep systems integration as well.
Referralcandy is very similar to referral Saasquatch. The technology gives customers a personal referral link which they then share with their friends. Referralcandy tracks referrals and then give out the rewards to those customers who have successfully referred a new customer to the business.
If you’re using WordPress there’s a great plug-in for customer testimonials call Testimonial Showcase. It’s only $16 and it allows you to capture and display testimonials from your customers across your website.
Survey Monkey is great solution to allow you to schedule and embed one click polls on your website to capture feedback from customers which you can and leverage as social proof.
Feedback loop integrates into websites and enables businesses to capture verified customer testimonials. Customers verify themselves with Facebook or LinkedIn. Feedback Loop testimonials are said to increase sign ups on websites by over 70%. They have a starter package which is free.
Repuso is a testimonial and review capture technology. It allows you to collect customer testimonials and feedback from social media which you can integrate into your website. It integrates with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Zendesk, Yelp, iTunes and Google Play. They have a starter package which is free.
Get Five Stars
Get five stars is an enterprise level solution for customer testimonials that allows you to analyse customer testimonials using advanced Analytics. It includes customer segmentation and NPS score analysis (NPS stands for Net Promoter Score and is an overall metric for how much customers like a company). It also delivers insights that can help you strengthen elements of your customer service. It’s starts by sending an email out to your customers asking for their feedback. If the customer feedback is positive, the technology encourages those customers to deliver another review out onto your other platforms such as Facebook, Google and or other platforms. It integrates with 40 review sites and has an integrated dashboard with integrated analytics across all review sites. The price of get 5 Stars is $39.95 per month.
Yotpo is a customer testimonial and customer retention enterprise level solution. The platform is optimised for customer review capture vial mobile and also allows customer testimonials to be packaged and distributed out into social channels. The platform integrates into Google seller, allowing you to improve your seller rating which helps to enhance your SEO ranking and drive traffic. The platform also allows businesses to engage with their existing customers to ask them questions about how they are enjoying the use of their product to drive ongoing engagement which helps retain customers for the long term. No pricing information is available on their website.
You’re looking to engage celebrity or online influencers there are a whole spectrum of tools. One which is extremely useful for all Industries is Buzzsumo which allows you to identify the most relevant online influencer for your category and contact them directly to strike up either a partnership or commercial arrangement to promote your product.
Do you have any other tools for building and managing social proof? Do you have any other types of social proof that you are using for your business? Let me know in the comments below!