Few would challenge the premise that basic human psychology explains why consumers choose one product over another. Moz cites Psychologist Robert Cialdini's conclusion about the importance of e-commerce social proof in the buying process. The best selling author and psychologist claims that when people feel uncertain about what to do or buy, they typically follow the crowd and trust what others do.
Research supports the influence of social proof. Hubspot reports Invesp's research findings, claiming that 90% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase. Remarkably, 88% of those same study participants also said that they trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
So how can your e-commerce site demonstrate social proof ? Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to do so.
How Can Your E-commerce Site Demonstrate Social Proof?
There's nothing quite like a personal endorsement from a friend or trusted family member to make a prospective customer take notice. That is why AddThis believes in using share buttons as a social proof tool.
Share buttons make it easy for customers to promote a business. Strategically placed share buttons on a website encourage customers to essentially become part of the sales force spreading the word about brands they like. There are a variety of share buttons available.
A floating share bar is located in highly visible spots on both mobile screens and desktop pages. What makes this type of share bar so popular is that it floats to the left of a webpage on desktops and to the bottom of the screen on cell phones, staying out of the way of the content for easy reading.
Another share button that delivers results is a popup version. As is suggested by the name, this button pops up on the page in a prominent and highly visible position. Even digital amateurs can easily add this share button to their website since no coding is required. Fortunately, popup share buttons work equally well on mobile and desktop screens without extra custom code required for each type of device.
The fourth type of share button is known as an expanding share button. As the name implies, this button expands when a site visitor hovers over it, allowing them to share content with 200 or more media sites.
Inline share buttons offer another type of button that can be used for promotional purposes. This button is embedded in the content. This unobtrusive method gives a brand complete control over where they place the button for a seamless customer experience. E-commerce companies frequently use inline share buttons on product pages.
As the popular adage claims, pictures are worth a thousand words. That's why image sharing is so effective. If you hover your image sharing tool over a picture or graphics, then it can be shared.
Finally, banners can also be shared to add to any company's bag of promotional tricks. These images are strategically positioned at the top or bottom of a digital screen for maximum impact.
Positive reviews are crucial for business success in a marketing environment where a company's rankings are published online via sites like G2, Consumer Affairs, and Trust Pilot. Startup companies must prioritize getting those first reviews as soon as possible since prospects may not trust a company that doesn’t have online feedback.
CXL strongly encourages business professionals to regularly monitor review sites and forums. A timely response to comments is both expected and required to promote a positive impression worthy of building trust with prospective customers.
WPForms is a popular tool you can use to ask for those all-important customer reviews you need to build trust with future customers. Users love the fact they don't have to write code to produce customer surveys perfect for capturing the valuable feedback all businesses need.
Be forewarned. As tempting as it is to ignore the negative reviews, you must respond.
Considering the time-consuming nature of this type of oversight, it makes sense for many small and medium-sized business enterprises to utilize a reputation management tool for this purpose.
A few of the more popular tools currently being touted are Brand24, Mention, YouScan, Google Alerts, SocialMention, and Reputology. For businesses on a strict budget, the free options available are Google Alerts, BuzzSumo, Hootsuite, and SocialMention.
Publish and Track Site Activity
As mentioned above, people want to feel like they are buying from a business that is active and reputable. A software tool that tracks sales, page visits, and other specific actions is ProveSource.
The main features of this tool are auto-tracking, page visits, and integrations with specific third-party platforms. Additionally, ProveSource makes it easy for marketers to customize title color, links, icons, and other design elements.
TrustPulse is another social proof business tool worthy of review, featuring attractive, eye-catching popups that visually track purchases, signups, and demo registrations. A free version encourages budget-strapped startups to give it a try. With a short, three-minute setup process, TrustPulse promises to boost sales significantly. Similar to ProveSource, TrustPulse is compatible with WordPress, WooCommerce, Mailchimp, Shopify, AWeber, and many other platforms.
Fera encourages a wishlist counter as another e-commerce social proof tool that can bolster business sales.
The way it works is that it targets abandoned carts as a method for converting hesitant buyers. The wishlist counter operates much like the other tools listed above by promoting the popularity of certain items as a way to help persuade hesitant buyers with the social proof they need for an extra gentle push to checkout.
Trust Seals or Badges
Any conversation about social proof is not complete without discussing the benefits of publishing trust badges on your site.
These are the small icons that confirm your company's reliability so that prospective customers feel safe providing sensitive payment information. It's no secret that consumers have heard too many horror stories about identity theft and other business scams designed to cheat unsuspecting people out of their money.
By using trust badges, a startup company basically elevates its trust status by association with established authority sites. In a competitive situation, displaying the right trust badge can actually make the difference between making a sale and losing out to a competitor.
When you consider the reality of an online transaction where customers are expected to provide credit card information to a company they have never heard in the pursuit of a product they have never seen or touched, then it becomes clear why trust badges work.
SSL badges are some of the most common badges on websites. For example, on Google Chrome, you have probably noticed the lock icon that signifies that a website is secure and has an SSL certificate. When a site visitor sees that lock, they are typically much more confident providing personal payment details.
Another seal that builds trust with first-time visitors is a money-back seal. Consumers are less reluctant to purchase online if they believe they can return the product. One of the strategies Amazon used successfully to build one of the largest online ventures in the world is offering a money back guarantee.
Free trial trust badges are also growing in popularity. Risk-averse consumers are more likely to consider a free trial. This "try it, you'll like it" philosophy is a proven way to reach out to hesitant buyers with trust issues.
Free shipping is also an attractive way to win over new customers. That's why placing a free shipping trust badge on a corporate website makes sense. In a competitive marketplace where consumers can click away from your business to a competitor's site in a split second, marketers must use every social proof tool available to achieve the best results.
Testimonial Collection and Management
Testimonials work hand-in-hand with positive reviews to convince new prospects to take a leap of faith and make that purchase. Testimonial Tree offers software that automatically collects and shares positive testimonials from your satisfied clients. This tool promotes customer stories on review sites and other social media platforms.
Another major player worthy of review by marketers intent on utilizing testimonials to the fullest is Boast.
This company's secret weapon is video. Marketers are beginning to appreciate the power of video as giants like YouTube and TikTok continue to leverage consumers' love of this type of creative expression. Compared to text testimonials, video testimonials often make a longer-lasting impression.
User Generated Galleries
Marketers who follow metrics and statistics in their search for marketing data are quick to appreciate the overwhelming impact of photo images. Search Engine Journal reports that a whopping 77% of consumers say that customer photos influenced their buying decision more than professional images that were bought and paid for by the company.
Socialphotos is an app that can be uploaded to a corporate website to collect and display customer photos for marketing purposes. The basic plan is very affordable with current prices starting at $15 per month. This plan offers unlimited page galleries. Socialphotos assists new clients by uploading the app for them to make it easy to get started.
There is substantial evidence that social proof lends significant credibility to any company's reputation.
Savvy marketing professionals embrace tools that can deliver the social proof necessary to increase conversion rates. Favorable reviews and customer testimonials have become the marketing life force in the evolution of the e-commerce marketplace.