Social proof is a marketing tactic that leverages the need for people to conform to the actions of others. People do this because they perceive everyone else doing something as an indication of what is expected of them. It’s basically peer pressure for marketing. That’s why it plays a vital role in inbound marketing.
Companies rely on testimonials to provide social proof, build trust and increase conversion rates. Inbound marketing is all about getting those conversion rates. However, testimonials also provide your competition with a look into your client list. That’s a nice way to hand them your business on a silver platter.
If that idea is making you a little hot under the collar, you can provide social proof without depending on testimonials. Here’s how to use different types of social proof as a form of inbound marketing without the need for ratings and reviews.
Try to drum up some media mention by sending out press releases. You can determine how broad you want to go. As a small local business, your local paper, radio and TV stations are excellent options. However, if you are national, you can go for magazines, national news shows, or even major programs like The Social.
Depending on what you do, segments on talk shows can pop up at any time that could be relevant to your product or service. It doesn’t hurt to send press releases out on a regular basis to see if you can get some media mentions. You can then post them on your website and social media pages to incorporate social proof in your marketing.
Industry Badges and Trust Seals
Many industries have badges that can be placed on your website to show you are certified, licensed, compliant, etc. This can make people feel more comfortable and trusting of your business. Even something like the Verisign trust seal can work as it shows your website is secure.
Working with recognizable brands for third-party services is very important. When people recognize you work with the best, they will feel they will be hiring the best or buying the best with your business. Whether it is UPS for delivery, PayPal for payments or working with third-party platforms like Amazon, Constant Contact or Shopify, trusted brands work in your favor as well.
Show Off Your Social Share Count
Add your social share counts to your web pages as social proof your info is trusted enough to be shared by your visitors or customers. This works especially well on your blog posts but can be used anywhere really.
Show Off Your Numbers
Easy to read stats can help build brand credibility. This can be done in a number of ways including:
- Number of subscribers
- Customer use
- Number of orders
- Success rates for each service you offer
- Percentage of market share if you’ve got that info
- How many downloaded white papers, ebooks, etc.
The numbers for social proof are concise and simple.
List or Flag Your “Best Sellers”
This is a subtle persuader that can help people make a decision. You can apply a flag on your product pages, or have a list on your home page, or landing pages for your digital marketing campaigns that highlight your best sellers.
The “Also Bought” Mention
Along the same lines as your best sellers, you can let people know what else your customers bought. This serves two purposes:
- If someone is not overly convinced they want the product they are looking at, it will show them a similar but potentially more suitable option.
- It can work as a cross-sell influence while providing social proof people are ordering your products.
Real-time stats are commonly used on Amazon and travel sites. It lets people see how many others are doing the same thing as them whether it’s making a purchase or booking a trip. It triggers the “fear of missing out” (FOMO) so people want to take action.
When people see what’s happening it grabs their attention and encourages them to take the next step before someone else does.
Sell with a Celebrity
Celebrity social proof won’t work for every business, as it can be hard to convince a celebrity to help your product. However, celebrities and industry experts can provide instant credibility to your business. If the budget allows, you can try paid endorsements.
Feature Posts & Products
Highlight your most popular blogs, products and services to show you have plenty of interest from others. It also shows what you offer is appreciated. Top sellers, for example, allow people to find something quickly without having to search on their own.
There is a psychological principle based on similarity. Basically, people like people they think are like themselves. As egotistical as this sounds, it offers a good social proof tool because you can entice prospects by showing them examples of others who have loved what you offer. Focus on things like case studies, subscriptions and ebooks you offer for download with enticing similar calls to action like “25,000 people can’t be wrong” or even more precise if your product is industry-specific like “10,000 doctors and counting” or “Downloaded by 25,000 real estate agents.”
When influential people sing your praises, people tend to listen. Influencers are popular on platforms like Instagram and can be hired or often persuaded with free samples. When you can have someone with “power” over a large group of followers speak for you, you can leverage that power by getting them to mention your business.
Create a Sense of Urgency
Along the same lines of FOMO, when you create a sense of urgency people might jump on a sale if they think the opportunity is nigh and won’t be there forever. A favorite tactic is simply adding a countdown ticker to your shopping cart or product description pages. Combine the timer with the number sold or visitors and you can create a frenzy.
Encourage users to incorporate your brand-related hashtags on their tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram posts, etc. You can then use those posts and embed them on your landing pages as well as your own social media.
If you thought testimonials were the be-all and end-all to social proof, you can see this is not the case. These ideas are relatively easy to try and can really help improve your inbound marketing efforts.