To stand out in a crowded marketplace, building credibility around your service is the way to grow. How would you make it easier for merchants to do business with your service? And how can potential clients tell if you’re trustworthy and if merchants are satisfied with your service?
Leveraging social proof can help you build credibility as a Shopify Partner or Developer, which in turn helps merchants make better informed decisions about how your app or service can help them.
In this article, we’ll cover what social proof is, and six powerful ways you can leverage it to strengthen your brand and build credibility with merchants, so that you can grow your business. Let’s get started.
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What is social proof and why is it important?
Social proof, first coined by Robert Cialdini, refers to the conformity of people to the behavior of what others are doing or have done. In a given situation, when a person is unable to determine the right behavior, they are more likely to rely on the knowledge of other people.
The more people who have taken a specific action, or the stronger their endorsements, the more likely others are to follow suit. Relying on other people’s previous or current action is the assumption that other people who have faced the same situation have better knowledge.
"Your app or service may be the best in your category in the Shopify App Store, but without sufficient social proof, merchants may have a hard time believing that it is."
Your app or service may be the best in your category in the Shopify App Store, but without sufficient social proof, merchants may have a hard time believing that it is.
Social proof helps merchants to overcome skepticism, and make them willing to do business with your service without worry and resistance.
You might also like: How to Use Psychology to Shape Your Ecommerce Success.
Generate social proof and build credibility
Building trust gives merchants confidence and the willingness to use your app or service by eliminating the feeling of fear and uncertainty.
You can create social proof almost out of anything that’s based on the work you’ve delivered and content generated by your client merchants.
It’s not about counterfeit promises, but real and verified data and success indicators that have already been achieved by your service.
The most practical ways to build trust around your service are reviews, testimonials, case studies, display trust badges, partner showcases, and create a portfolio.
1. Display merchant reviews and let them do the talking for you
Insightful reviews on apps and services are as helpful for merchants as much as they are for Shopify App Developers and Experts alike.
Leaving honest reviews is an opportunity for merchants to participate and share their feedback about the app or service. A five-star review with positive comments verify the app and service’s value. Every good review of the app or service is a proof of having an active and engaged merchant base!
Negative reviews also help developers and experts to find gaps, and improve, their product and service. Also, it's important that you know how to handle difficult clients so your company doesn't lose customers.
Shoppify’s review and rating system has a high credibility level since no paid, incentivized, or manufactured reviews are allowed, according to Part C, Section 2 of the Partner Program Agreement.
Any fake or unsolicited reviews that are not aligned with Shopify’s Terms of Service are reviewed and deleted regularly. For instance, in order to leave a review, a merchant should meet basic requirements, such as being able to post a review only 45 days after a store lunch and should not be on a Shopify trial.
Building trust with customer reviews and ratings plays a big role in merchants’ decision whether or not to install the app or use experts’ services.
You can display Shopify Expert reviews on your website to build credibility and attract more merchants to the app and service.
Getting reviews is not always done voluntarily by merchants but also can be accomplished upon your request. Reviews content and rating depends on how a support representative communicated, the impact and value brought, and their timelines in solving cases or requests for help.
If you have reviews rated three or below, that’s not the end of the world. That's actually a great opportunity for improvement! Those low ratings are triggers to improve features and operations mentioned in the ratings, and build customer satisfaction over time. If you accept the issue your merchant clients are facing and show effort in fixing it, your support will be priceless in helping them become even more successful.
Let merchants know their feedback is a great help, as they are indeed, and a motivating factor to improve product and service further.
Replying to reviews actually impresses merchants. Thus, don't forget to leave a reply regardless of the content star rating. By replying to reviews, you build better relationships, and take your communication to the next level.
You might also like: How to Get Reviews for Your Shopify Apps.
2. Use testimonials to demonstrate key results
Testimonials are another way to show merchants proof that you deliver what you promise.
Simply, testimonials are recommendations from satisfied customers. Instead of working within a predefined rating system, such as the five-start system on the Shopify App Store, testimonials go more in depth than reviews, almost like a detailed story about how your service helped a merchant with improving their business. The copy of a testimonial usually affirms the positive effects your service has on a merchant-client and the value delivered.
You can display testimonials as hero images or quotes on the sections of your landing pages, and place them near a call-to-action button, pricing page, “about us” page, or home page.
Customers, industry experts or influencers can all give testimonials. You can ask merchants to give testimonials while you’re in contact with them, or immediately after you have addressed their concerns. Experts or influencers can share testimonials upon request. Experts have the ability to share their opinion on your product from a knowledgeable standpoint while merchants will provide real, personal experience that they had with it.
Once you get your testimonials from merchants or experts, it’s time to create buzz around it. If you have consent, adding your reviewer’s headshot with a happy face and their associated brand name will create a positive impression. Also, mentioning details such as a full name and position of a reviewer, along with the name of their company will make testimonials look unique and adds a layer of authority.
You might also like: The Ultimate Guide to Getting Powerful Client Testimonials.
3. Create case studies to showcase your app or service
Collaborating with a merchant client to share a case study about their success is a great way to demonstrate social proof.
A case study is a detailed story that outlines what your merchants achieved with your product or service. It’s in-depth proof that your app or service delivers on what was promised, and, in many cases, demonstrates how it has gone above expectations.
A case study begins with discussion of the past experiences about why the merchant needed your product or service, and follows a concise narrative about how your product or service went about solving the merchant’s problem and/or helped them achieve their goals. Then, you can include both qualitative and quantitative results and explanations that show the outcome.
Case studies require careful planning and workflow. A good case study includes research and metrics to back up the study.
It’s good to have pages for case studies separated from the blog section. Here is a blog with a template on the ultimate guide on creating case studies by HubSpot, which recommends the sections that a single case study page should have:
- Case study title: How “Brand X” achieved “Y” by doing “Z”.
- Brand profile: A short section about a merchant’s brand, including their logo, website, and who participated from the merchant’s brand.
- Summary: A quick executive summary of the whole study (usually two-four sentences).
- Past experiences: What product, service, or solution the merchant used in the past, and how they tried to solve their problem or achieve their goals before using your app or service.
- Challenges: Here’s where you can really dig into the issue. This is a longer section about the problems that the merchant was facing (usually eight to 10 sentences).
- Resolution: Share how your product or service helped the merchant. Go into some detail about how they used your service or implemented your product. This section doesn’t have to be long (usually two to three sentences) but it needs to be ultra clear so readers understand exactly how the merchant worked with you or your product..
- Results: This section is arguably the most important. It’s where you prove how the project/campaign impacted a merchant’s business. It’s important to include qualitative and quantitative metrics depending on your product or service such as additional sales, conversions, ROI, the feedback the merchant received from their own customers, etc. Hard numbers are concrete, and they help results stick in readers’ minds.
- Optional sections: This is where you can add some creativity. You can also include some sections with quotes, future plans, and visuals to add your own unique twist to the case study.
Remember that instead of all text case studies, you can mix it up by including video case studies or testimonials (or use both together!) as it will make the content more captivating.
Videos have been proven to be more effective for people to believe what they see than reading. It’s a great way to showcase your merchants’ experiences with engaging storytelling in their own words. It doesn’t have to be expensive, either. You can request a video testimonial or case study by simply asking your merchant client to record a 30-second clip of themselves on their phone or computer, and to send you the file.
4. Place badges on your landing pages to indicate association with trusted sources
A “trust badge” is a digital logo or emblem placed on a website, usually near the call-to-action on hero or footer sections, to indicate the trustworthiness of your product or service. Trust badges usually are of well-known services such as marketplaces, review platforms, secure payment system, press or media mentions, i.e., Shopify, Trustpilot, Stripe accordingly.
Trust badges act as certifiable social proof because they associate your brand with highly trusted and reputable sources.
"Trust badges act as certifiable social proof because they associate your brand with highly trusted and reputable sources."
Third-party endorsement badges are one of the indicators that your service has been through professional tech reviews and approvals. Badges and awards indicate that you are a part of or have participated in, for instance, a well-known accelerator program, have received media attention from reliable sources such as TechCrunch, or have won an industry award, such as the Shopify Commerce Awards.
Techstars, Y Combinator, 500 Startups, ProductHunt, TechCrunch, and BetaList are just a few examples of accelerator programs and tech curation platforms that would be worth showcasing badges on your landing pages. These third-party endorsement badges let site visitors know your product or service is either being endorsed or has been reviewed by industry professionals. This can give your potential customers additional peace of mind knowing they're making a smart choice, as other industry leaders are vouching for your product or service.
5. Showcase your partners to show the extent of your ecosystem
To build credibility and authenticity and to indicate reliability and security, you can display the logos of your merchants, as well as third-party apps and services you partner with.
Displaying your partners on your site indicates those third-party apps and services have agreed to allow you to use their brand icons. Be sure to always get permission from your clients or partners before using their logos, and be sure to follow their brand guidelines, otherwise, they may ask you to remove their logos.
Including readable and recognizable merchant or partner logos are great, but they may be unfamiliar for some people. Consider adding the business names, their logos, and a short blurb about each of them to help viewers get a better idea who these clients and partners really are.
The value of recognizable customers is priceless: this leads people to think, “Well, if those companies use this service, then it must be good!”
"The value of recognizable customers is priceless: this leads people to think, “Well, if those companies use this service, then it must be good!”"
This shows that many other merchants have not only used your product or service and now trust you, but it’s also a great way to show off your experience working with a variety of merchants.
6. Create a portfolio of the work you’re most proud of
Another way to build credibility is to display the work you’ve done for your clients that you’re most proud of, and that has had the biggest impact. This allows site visitors to check out your service and app to see it in action:
Displaying the work you have done will allow the merchants to compare the projects to their own needs as they evaluate your product or service.
Use your portfolio to show off the work you've done and how it's helped companies in their industry. You can choose which type of portfolio will show off the most relevant skills based on what industry you belong to.
For example, if you are a web designer, then display the finished products with a nice aesthetic touch on your website. If you offer digital marketing services, make sure to include results of campaigns that have had great success on an easy-to-read timeline with graphs or infographics showcasing impressive growth rates. Or if you created an app or a store theme, provide link to the online store where it’s live, and provide both qualitative feedback as well as quantitative results to show its impact.
You might also like: How to Build a Great Design Portfolio.
Social proof comes in all shapes and forms
Social proof is one of the critical cornerstones to success in ecommerce, no matter whether you’re offering a product or service. The pull of peer influence is clear: people tend to do the things that others are doing.
Social proof is just one psychological marketing technique, and when you display client- or user-generated content on your site, your brand earns authenticity and authority, which will help you attract new clients and ultimately grow your business. It’s not you who promotes your service, but your customers, so let them do the talking for you.