How to Use Social Proof to Influence Visitors and Increase Your Sales

How to Use Social Proof to Influence Visitors and Increase Your Sales

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It’s a cold evening on the town, and you’re looking for a place to grab a bite to eat.  You come across two restaurants - one is close to full, the other is almost empty.

Which one do you choose?

Chances are you’ll go to the one that’s close to full.

That’s social proof.  It’s a psychological phenomenon where we look to the opinions of others and additional "signals" to help us make decisions. It’s also a powerful persuasion tool you can use in your business to influence potential customers who are trying to make a buying decision.

One study found that social proof makes for better customers.  In fact, Trendyol, a fast growing ecommerce company in Turkey, started launching campaigns with celebrity endorsements, and saw a traffic increase as well as a 30% increase in sales.

In this post, we’re going to look at some simple but effective ways you can integrate social proof elements into your ecommerce store to help you influence customers and win more sales.

Let’s get started!

Types of Social Proof

In the ecommerce world, there’s quite a few ways to use social proof to influence visitors.

Here’s a list of the types of social proof we’ll be showing you how to implement in this post:

  • Proof in numbers 
  • Social following
  • Ratings and reviews
  • Expert mentions
  • Testimonials

Billions and Billions Served

Billions and Billions Served

Perhaps the most classic example of social proof is McDonald’s restaurant signs.  Started in 1955 by Ray Kroc, this is now a staple on many (if not all) McDonalds stores around the world.

Each sign reads “Billions and billions served”.  No doubt, if billions of people have eaten there, it must be pretty good right?

This type of social proof speaks to the popularity of your product.  On a smaller scale, a popular product feature, or a blurb that says how many customers you’ve sold to will increase conversions.

Basecamp

Billions and Billions Served

Naked Wines

Billions and Billions Served

Threadless

Billions and Billions Served

How to do it

If you want to get a bit creative with how you display this, you can reach out to the team at Elto to work with a web designer that can help make tweaks like this to your ecommerce store.

Here’s some example milestones that are worth mentioning on your storefront:

  • X happy customers
  • X countries shipped to
  • X products sold
  • X pounds sold

Influencing Visitors with Social Media

How often do you visit an ecommerce store and check their social media pages to see if they’re up to date and active?

The ecommerce benchmark for the size of a social community is smaller than you might think.

In fact, if you’re able to build a community of around 1000 fans, you’ll be outperforming over 60% of ecommerce stores.

Inkefx

Influencing Visitors with Social Media

Kipling

Influencing Visitors with Social Media

Formalitees

Influencing Visitors with Social Media

How to do it

Building an audience for your ecommerce store isn’t something that happens overnight.  Unless your product goes viral, it can take months to build a loyal audience.

That being said, there’s a few tricks that can speed up the process.

The Importance of Customer Reviews

Customer reviews have been around since the beginning of ecommerce, dating back to 1997 on marketplace sites like eBay, which is why so many visitors expect customer reviews nowadays.  

Storeowners frequently dismiss customer reviews as something they should be including on their store, as they can often be a pain to manage.  However, these days, more and more online shoppers are looking for them when making a buying decision.

By having customer generated reviews visible on your store, visitors are 63% more likely to make a purchase, and a product with 50 or more reviews could increase conversion rates up to 5%.

MixedMade

The Importance of Customer Reviews

Death Wish Coffee

The Importance of Customer Reviews

Quad Lock

The Importance of Customer Reviews

How to do it

There’s quite a few different customer review apps available in the Shopify App Store (including the Shopify Product Reviews app) many of which have a standalone service that let you incorporate reviews on any ecommerce platform.

I’d recommend testing out a few of them to see which one works best with the layout of your store, and the functionality you’re looking for.

One great feature of the Yotpo Social Reviews app is its “Mail After Purchase” functionality.  You can set it up so that a customer will get an email asking to review their purchase after a certain time period.

Popular review apps to replicate:

Yotpo Social Reviews
Product Reviews by Shopify
Kudobuzz
Super Reviews

Expert and Celebrity Mentions

Expert and Celebrity Mentions

Perhaps one of the oldest forms of social proof in the business world, is expert and celebrity endorsements.

According to Aileen Lee’s article “Social Proof is The New Marketing”, an endorsement by Jessica Simpson helped Beautymint grow to 500,000 visitors on day one of its launch.

Nowadays, however, you don’t need a massive budget to get ahold of some of these celebrities.

For instance, there are quite a few Instagram influencers, YouTube celebrities, and more that are looking to promote products regularly.

Some of them, you may have never even heard of, but you can bet that they have a huge following with amazing engagement rates.

Nowadays, you could even get Paris Hilton to tweet about your product for $4600.  Not bad.

Lebron James for Sprite

Expert and Celebrity Mentions

Park and Cube for Daniel Wellington Watches

Expert and Celebrity Mentions

Bellentina for La Perla Lingerie

Expert and Celebrity Mentions

How to do it

Often, you’ll find influencers and celebrities have some sort of contact information in their Instagram or Twitter biographies if they’re looking to promote products. Not only is this a way to get your product in front of a highly targeted market, but your brand as well.

It’s best to contact them through that designated email address, but it doesn’t hurt to get creative with your approach.

That being said, there are quite a few different services you can use that will make this process much simpler.

Resources to replicate:

Testimonials

Testimonials are a fantastic way to add credibility to your store, and can be built off the previous techniques we’ve discussed.

One of the most frequent practices is to highlight a specific customer review, or expert mention for your store.

In fact, word-of-mouth is the primary factor behind 20 to 50 percent of all purchases, while 63 percent of online customers say they are more likely to buy on sites with positive reviews.

You can highlight specific customer reviews for your store and use them as testimonials, or highlight other press wins as a form of testimony to your products.

Marie Forleo's B-School

Testimonials

Shopify

Testimonials

Bonus: Trust Badges can Increase your Conversion Rates

Want to add a bit of extra trust to your store?  Beyond the ones discussed above, you can add a trust badge that confirms security to your store.

Some badges have been shown to increase conversion rates by 30%.

Bonus: Trust Badges can Increase your Conversion RatesThese are just a few of the types of badges you can display to boost credibility with potential new customers.

Take a look at our Shopify Manual here to add a trust badge to your store.

Conclusion

Overall, it’s extremely important for your ecommerce store to appear trustworthy in today’s online buying environment, and implementing social proofs is one of the quickest ways of doing that.

Are there any other social proof techniques that you’ve implemented into your store?  Let us know in the comments below!



Conclusion

About The Author

Tucker Schreiber is an ecommerce entrepreneur and Content Marketer at Shopify. Get more from Tucker on Twitter.

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