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How do people choose what products and services to invest in? Well, some will opt for solutions and brands that are familiar to them. Others will seek out the best deals. And a portion of consumers will prioritize convenience.
But no matter how your target audience makes purchasing decisions, one thing’s guaranteed: they will consult all available instances of social proof to verify they’re making the right choice by opting for your brand.
Not too sure about this? Just check out the data from Power Reviews. According to the brand’s 2021 Power of Reviews Survey, 99.9% of consumers read reviews. And 98% consider them to be essential in directing their shopping decisions.
So, if you’re looking for tactics to help fuel your business growth, here’s how to use social proof to reach your goals.
If you look at how consumers interact with business websites, you’ll notice that they form first impressions in record time.
It takes web users less than 50 milliseconds from landing on a page to form an opinion about a brand. Moreover, research shows their initial visual impressions heavily impact their willingness to continue interacting with (and buy from) the business they’re evaluating.
In other words, successfully using social proof to fuel your business growth requires implementing the correct design practices to ensure it’s noticeable on your site.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to optimize the placement of your social proof elements. For instance, knowing that people spend most of their webpage browsing time looking at content above the fold, it’s only logical to show off social proof in the hero section of your landing pages.
For instance, if you check out the Digestive Warrior homepage, you’ll notice that it includes an impossible-to-miss Reviews flyout in the hero section. On top of its super-effective placement, notice how well it contrasts with the background as well. These two simple design choices ensure that the clickable button is impossible to miss and that web visitors click on it to learn more about the benefits offered by the brand.
If possible, explore similar ways of highlighting social proof on your brand’s website. Point out that you offer the highest-rated solution in your industry. Show ratings in the topmost section of your homepage. Or use the area just below the page header to display select testimonials, client logos, or customer success stories.
Social proof can be super effective in helping convince your audience that your solutions are worth the investment. However, if you decide to employ this type of content to improve your site’s performance, you must do your best to prioritize authenticity.
Today’s consumers don’t appreciate staged user-generated content. In fact, the State of Social and UGC 2023 report from TINT discovered that authentic social proof earns the highest level of consumer trust.
Staged UGC, on the other hand, is considered the least trustworthy format of social proof businesses can use, outperformed by creator content, brand content, and influencer marketing.
With this in mind, it’s essential that, when choosing what UGC to show off on your site, you pick testimonials that are authentic, original, and even unfiltered.
For example, if you check out the Bay Alarm Medical homepage, you’ll notice a section containing video interviews with the brand’s satisfied customers. While the way the social proof is presented isn’t groundbreaking, you’ll find that the message communicated by these elements is an unfiltered look into how the brand’s customers feel about medical alarm systems, with one user even going so far as to state, “it’s really stupid not to get it.”
If you want to take this strategy a step further, consider producing and highlighting case studies that go into detail about how your solution benefits customers.
A great example comes from Forter’s Atmos case study. The study describes how the SaaS brand’s product helped the footwear retailer solve chargeback issues and minimize cart abandonment.
The reason this instance of social proof is so authentic is that it gets really granular with the details. The study lists the exact challenges experienced by Forter’s client. It also describes the solutions used to remove the pain points. Plus, the customer story provides data-backed results, which is a fantastic method to boost the authenticity of the social proof content and showcase Forter’s genuine dedication to helping customers overcome pain points.
Traditional instances of social proof — user reviews and ratings — work wonderfully to help convince prospects to convert.
However, if you’re trying to reach younger audiences, check out Edelman’s research on who consumers consider the most credible brand spokespeople. You’ll find that 66% of young consumers think experts are the most trustworthy brand ambassadors businesses can collaborate with.
So, if you’re looking to fuel business growth by utilizing social proof, it’s a good idea to find experts and scientists who will support your claims.
For example, you can do this in a fashion similar to SomniFix. This brand features a quote on its homepage from a family and sleep medicine dentist, saying that mouth breathing during sleep results in unwanted consequences. According to this expert, mouth tape could be the easiest way to fix the problem and prevent detrimental health effects.
Alternatively, list client logos/names (that prospects are familiar with) to build credibility through association.
Essentially, the point of displaying social proof is to show potential customers that your solutions work. So, if you know that your product is being used by brands to achieve impressive results, you can effectively make the point that your solutions play a role in allowing those businesses to be as successful as they are.
For a great example of this strategy in action, check out this post on Smash.vc. By pointing out that people from super-famous brands like Google, Fly Emirates, Samsung, IBM, etc., read the Investing.io newsletter, the author effectively communicates that the resource offers unique value that’s beneficial for small business owners as well as experts from some of the world’s biggest brands.
Lastly, as you explore ways to use social proof to fuel your business growth, don’t forget that consumers don’t always trust information on brand websites.
Research from Bizrate Insights shows that consumers do a lot of research before purchasing. And about 58.3% of consumers trust third-party reviews more than those on retailer websites.
In other words, if you want your social proof to genuinely fuel your business growth, consider sourcing testimonials and ratings from sources your audience already trusts — like Google, Trustpilot, or Yelp.
The one thing you must remember when implementing this tactic is that your source of customer feedback needs to reflect the entities your audience trusts and considers relevant.
For example, a B2B business like Lanteria knows that its target audience consists of professional users. And that’s why it doesn’t pull product ratings from Google. Instead, it sources them from platforms such as G2, Capterra, and Trustpilot, which hold much more sway in its industry.
Using social proof is a superb way to fuel business growth. However, as 81% of shoppers are concerned about fake reviews and ratings, you must know how to get the biggest punch out of the testimonials you display on your site.
For best results, stick to the best practices for using social proof outlined in the article. Of course, you don’t have to limit yourself to these four tactics — feel free to experiment with anything that feels right for your brand. But make sure you track site performance every time you change something about the testimonials you display and adapt your approach as, ultimately, the only way to grow your business is to be prepared to change in ways that will align with your audience’s wants and needs.