All over the world, trust in advertising is decreasing. People prefer word-of-mouth recommendations. With this in mind, companies would certainly benefit from implementing a social proof marketing strategy.

Why? Because it can turn curious visitors into potential customers.

Imagine that you want to brush up on your online marketing skills. So you decide to book a consultation with a marketing specialist. You stumble upon 3 professionals.

One has collaborated with big brands like Netflix and has 100 stellar reviews online. Another one has 50 reviews, most of which are negative. The third specialist has no reviews or credentials.

Which one do you call?

The first one, right? Why? Their expertise and abilities are backed up by the experience others have had. You would rather listen to social proof than trust a professional with no reviews or credentials, right? This is what makes social proof marketing so powerful. It taps into our basic needs.

In today’s article, we explore everything you need to know about social proof in marketing—what is it, why it’s important, and what are the best practices to make use of it in your company.

Are you looking to add social proof to your marketing strategy? Explore Xara Cloud’s templates for inspiration and get started.

What Is Social Proof?

In 1951, Solomon Asch started the conformity experiments. One of these experiments is called “the line study.” Here’s how it played out.

Fifty college students were told they were about to take a vision test. Each participant was seated in a room with seven other participants. In reality, these were seven “actors” meant to play the part. The participants didn’t know this. They simply thought these people had enrolled in the study as well.

Then, they were shown this picture and were asked which line was most similar in length to the target line.

which line was most similar in length to the target line

Source: Simply Psychology

Of course, the answer is quite clear. Well, the study participants answered this question last, after they had heard all the other answers. The seven actors were instructed to answer this question wrong.

What do you think happened?

In 12 trials, 75% of those who took part in the study conformed to the group’s opinion at least once. While this is a pretty extreme example, it goes to show just how powerful social influence is.

Asch’s experiments were the first to study conformity and obedience in humans. But the term “social proof” was coined by Robert Cialdini in what came to be the holy book of marketing: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.

So, what is social proof? It’s a social and psychological phenomenon referring to our tendency to look for clues in others as to how we should behave, which doctor we should go to, what we should eat, and so on.

And this tendency goes off, especially in uncertain and ambiguous situations.

The Covid-19 pandemic, for instance, was one of those uncertain events that sparked people to look up to what others are doing. Remember when people started stockpiling toilet paper during the early days of the pandemic? Well, this is an example of social proof in action. Social proof also had something to do with people’s decision to wear masks.

example of social proof

Source: Xara Cloud

Our innate tendency to look up to what others think or how they behave explains why people trust word-of-mouth recommendations best. We look for guidance from people we trust, who share our values and interests.

These studies hint at the importance of social proof in marketing. But let’s dive deeper.

Why Is Social Proof Marketing Important?

Why Is Social Proof Marketing Important?

Source: Freepik

It’s quite clear that social proof is a powerful agent of influence. We’ve all been persuaded by it at some point in our lives.

Social proof marketing is so impactful that we are now living through the creator economy. Nowadays, brands use influencer marketing and other word-of-mouth marketing strategies to capture the attention of customers.

Crazy, right?

This doesn’t mean that you should throw away your marketing materials and ditch all other marketing strategies. It simply means that you should put your customers at the center of your strategy.

Social proof marketing empowers others to help you build your brand’s trust and identity. It creates an open system, where people can engage with those who have tried your products or services.

Using social proof in marketing is an efficient and cost-effective way of increasing conversions.

But what makes social proof marketing so effective?

We Have an Innate Need for Belonging

Humans are social beings. We function in groups. We seek the approval of those around us and want to be accepted. This need for affiliation and connection motivates our behavior. It affects many of our day-to-day decisions.

This is one reason why social proof marketing is so effective.

People want to find out what other customers think of certain products. Whether they want to buy a laptop, book a trip to Costa Rica or find a trustworthy social media agency, they are more inclined to look for online reviews.

We Are Attracted to Similarity

We tend to gravitate toward people who share our interests, beliefs, and values. Similarity feels safe, comforting. And we are more inclined to trust and imitate those who are similar to us.

User-generated content and influencer marketing appeal to this tendency. Consumers mention their needs when they write an online review. Their writing style or reasons for buying a product could convince leads to become customers.

The same holds true for influencer marketing or celebrity social proof. Each content creator infuses their reviews and content with their style, values, or interests.

When there’s a match, people trust this person’s beliefs and actions. They are inclined to invest in the products this content creator is endorsing.

We Crave Transparency

Given that people are wary of marketing tactics, brands that promote transparency gain trust and appreciation.

Client testimonials, online reviews, and user-generated content tap into this need. They remove the middleman and create a bridge between current customers and prospective leads.

Satisfied customers give people a feel of the value of a product and can generate more sales than paid ads.

We Trust Experts

We Trust Experts

Source: Freepik

Another form of social proof is the one given by industry experts, thought leaders or authoritative sources, such as review sites. We trust these sources because more knowledge is usually associated with more credibility.

This is why awards and meetings with industry leaders are such valuable social proof for companies.

All in all, business owners and marketing professionals should use social proof to increase sales, generate brand loyalty and create brand awareness. The way you leverage social proof, however, varies with the type of social proof in question.

Types of Social Proof

One of the most popular ways to demonstrate social proof is through online reviews. There are other types of content that count as social proof. Here are some social proof examples:

  • Case studies

Case studies are lengthy pieces of content. They allow you to take an in-depth look at customer success stories.

They are best used for industries such as real estate, or business transformations, where interested people could benefit from watching how the entire process or service unfolds. More so, you can use them in business proposals and presentations to wow your prospective customers.

  • Existing customers & brands

If you’ve had some well-known clients, you might want to showcase their logos on your website. When people see you have collaborated with big brands, they might be more inclined to buy your service or product. This is an easy yet efficient example of social proof in action.

Existing customers & brands

Source: Neil Patel

  • Ratings, customer testimonials & reviews

One of the most common ways to showcase the value of your brand is through ratings, testimonials, and reviews. You can add a rating and review system straight to your website and make sure that people can find your products or services on review websites, such as Amazon, Facebook, or G2.

The benefits are added: engage with your customer base, attract leads and create buzz around your brand.

  • Celebrity social proof & influencer marketing

When a celebrity or influencer promotes your product, they create social proof around it, especially if your target audience looks up to these people.

Perceived similarity between the celebrity and the target audience is a must for this social proof to be effective.

Nike is famously known for using celebrity endorsements. Celebrity social proof certainly worked for Nike. The brand’s name is associated with worldwide athletes and artists. The use of celebrity social proof might not be appropriate for every brand, but you can certainly look for social media influencers in your niche.

  • Expert social proof

This is when an industry leader expresses approval of your product or service. It could include posting on social media, blogging, or talking about your product.

A good example is Skinceuticals. With Allure’s seal of approval, they gain the confidence and trust of those who are unfamiliar with the product.

  • Real-time statistics

Another type of social proof is showing real-time stats on your website. An example of this could be to display the number of customers who are viewing a particular product. Or how many items are left in stock.

This type of social proof works due to the impact of social influence and fear of missing out.

Visitors who see how many customers are viewing the product might perceived it as a sought-after item. They don’t want to miss out on what it has to offer.

Social Proof in Action: 3 Best Practices

Are you looking to reap the benefits of social proof in your business? Here are three social proof strategies that will help you grow your brand.

1. Case studies

While these fall under the longer-form content category, case studies are great for building trust amongst prospective customers.

They might not be as suitable if your e-commerce business sells certain products, such as clothes or candles. Usually, you don’t need to go through the trouble of writing extensive case studies if you sell plants or clothing. User reviews and testimonials suffice in this department.

This form of social proof caters more to those who offer services or certain products, such as software or mobile apps. It’s an in-depth evaluation of how you collaborated with the customer and a detailed display of the results.

Think about your happy customers and contact them. Make sure you have a pre-set list of questions to guide you through the interview. Then, write the case study.

There are so many ways to integrate case studies into your marketing strategy.

For instance, you could create landing pages centered around case studies or include them in business proposals.

Ideally, you would embellish the case study with attractive visuals and presentations. Use a client testimonial template to design eye-catching case studies. Whether you want to upload them to social media platforms or create stunning presentations for the sales teams, Xara makes it easy to do so.

2. Client Reviews & Testimonials

Client Reviews & Testimonials

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

Consumers read about 10 reviews before making a purchase. Customer feedback matters. It affects brand reputation and, subsequently, sales and revenue.

You may have the best product on the market. But that doesn’t mean anything if no one knows about it. Leveraging client testimonials and online reviews is mandatory if you want your business to stand out.

Here are some effective ways of using reviews in your strategy:

  • Have a designated review page on your website
  • Make use of review sites
  • Share the stories of satisfied customers on your social media platforms
  • Showcase client testimonials on your website, presentations, and emails

While online reviews are user-generated and require no effort on your behalf, client testimonials go further. You need to reach out to clients, prepare the right questions, and create a testimonial that aligns with your target audience.

An effective customer testimonial tells a story. It inspires, touches on how you can solve your audience’s pain points, and ultimately, motivates them to act. To truly make your testimonials stand out, you have to incorporate visual storytelling into the mix.

Creating visually appealing client testimonials can strengthen your brand’s identity and turn leads into future customers. Seeing is believing, after all. Data visualisation comes in handy when you want to showcase clear outcomes, while design platforms make it easy to stay on brand. Just choose a client testimonial template and customize it to your liking.

Client Reviews & Testimonials Xara

Source: Xara

Client Reviews & Testimonials Xara

Source: Xara

Let your customers do the talking for you. Social proof marketing is all about this.

3. Awards & Certifications

You’re strolling through downtown Rome looking for your next bite. Most likely, you’ll choose the one with a TripAdvisor award sticker on the front door.

However, when you’re running your business online, you don’t have the luxury of physical stickers or diplomas. You have to showcase them on your website, on third-party apps, or in your business proposals.

Accolades, certifications, and awards can be used to establish credibility and expertise. They put your business on the map and showcase your competitive advantage.

Websites like G2 or Capterra give out awards based on authentic client reviews and have an excellent reputation online.

Show those awards off! One way to do so is by adding an awards section to your website. This section should contain brand logos you’ve collaborated with, awards badges, and client success stories.

You can also create social media posts where you mention the awards and thank your customers. More so, you can include them in your presentations and hand them out to the sales team.

However you decide to go about it, Xara offers a testimonial template suitable for your needs. Our social proof templates are a foolproof solution for your website, presentations, and social media channels.

Client Reviews & Testimonials Xara

Source: Xara

Use Xara to Create Stunning Social Proof Content

Social proof marketing has always been a powerful tool for businesses of all sizes. Now, it’s more impactful than ever. Consumers are skeptical of paid ads and eager to find out what others think about products or services before making a purchase.

Therefore, using social proof in marketing campaigns is a must. We know that creating visually appealing marketing materials is no easy feat. Xara was designed with this in mind. Log in, choose a design template, and personalize it as you see fit.

Try Xara Cloud for free and create social proof content that sells.

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