Generally speaking, consumers prefer not to blaze new trails. Rather than do something completely new, they’d prefer to follow in the footsteps of other buyers, sticking to those things that are tested and verified. This is fundamental human psychology; you probably wouldn’t want to be the first person to try a new medical supplement or diet product, for instance, but may feel far more confident about it if you know that other people have done it and had a positive experience.
That’s the basic concept behind social proof—and it’s a concept too often overlooked by today’s marketers. When leveraged correctly, social proof can actually be a valuable way of boosting confidence in your product or service. And it can be especially advantageous for e-commerce stores, which is what we’ll look at today.
Different Forms of Social Proof
Let’s start with a clear definition of the term. When we talk about social proof, we’re talking about the validation of your product/service/content through the demonstration of some action taken by a previous user.
Social proof can come in a number of forms. The most powerful are probably reviews and testimonials from previous customers, but there are other forms that can also have some utility. Social sharing and online ratings can be impactful. Actually, something as simple as a Like on your Facebook post constitutes some small form of social proof.
Why Social Proof is Powerful
No matter what form it takes, social proof can help your online consumers purchase more confidently. This largely comes down to trust. In order for anyone to make a purchase from your e-commerce site, they need to trust that their transaction will be quick, convenient, and secure, that they will be charged the amount you say you’re going to charge them, and that the product will arrive in just the condition and timeline you say it will.
This concept of trust takes on a much different form in a traditional brick-and-mortar store where the buyer can simply pick up a product, inspect it with their own eyes, and make an immediate assessment about its quality.
Online shoppers don’t have that luxury—so why should they trust you? That’s where social proof comes in. Your customers can’t necessarily see the product for themselves, but they can see proof that other people have bought the product and been satisfied with it.
To put it succinctly: with social proof, you’re persuading potential buyers that they can purchase your product and not regret it.
Additional Benefits to Social Proof
Social proof can be a powerful trust-builder, but there are also some other ways in which it benefits your e-commerce brand.
One advantage is discovery. For example, imagine someone who is scrolling through Facebook and sees that their friend has “liked” an image of a new blender. That person may not have been actively seeking new appliances but stumbling upon this blender—and seeing that their friend has vouched for it in some small way—immediately puts it on their radar.
Social proof can help build brand affinity, as well. When a social media user routinely sees your brand mentioned, liked, engaged, or rated by their friends and colleagues, it helps them develop a connection with it, even before they move to purchase one of your products.
Not only can different forms of social proof be powerful but they can also be cost effective. A five-star review from a previous customer can carry at least as much weight as a paid ad, and it doesn’t necessarily cost you anything.
A final note about social proof is that it’s something you can leverage across different channels—effectively making it valuable fodder for your content marketing efforts, your email newsletter, and more. When added to your product pages, customer reviews and testimonials can also be validating “trust factors” for the website itself.
Using Social Proof in Your E-commerce Marketing
The trickiest thing to remember about social proof is that it’s ultimately user-generated; it’s not something you can simply purchase, as you might an advertisement, but there are things you can do to cultivate it. For example, we’ve often recommended that our clients reach out to some of their best, most loyal customers and simply ask them directly for a testimonial or a review. You can also ask for reviews on your invoices, receipts, and in post-checkout prompts.
Social proof is far too valuable to be neglected, which is why we’d recommend a digital marketing strategy that actually helps to generate it. If that’s something you’re interested in discussing, reach out to enCOMPASS today and let’s chat!
SHARE THIS ARTICLE: