Why social proof is key to your website’s success (and how to harness it)

Social proof is one of the most powerful tools in a marketer’s arsenal.

We’re social animals, which means we’re constantly looking for signs of what other people are doing to help guide our own decisions.

If the people your customers look up to and consider peers use your product or service, they’ll tend to want to use it themselves.

A great example of this was during the 2014 World Cup, when FIFA tried to ban superstars like Neymar and Luis Suarez from wearing Beats by Dre headphones at the behest of Sony, one of their official sponsors.

Sony even went as far as sending every player taking part in the World Cup a free pair of its own headphones (that’s 736 sets!).

Why would Sony spend so much trying to get the stars of world football to wear their headphones instead of a competitors’?

Because they understand the power of social proof.

Your business doesn’t need to be as big as Sony to take advantage of our primal instinct to fit in with the pack.

In fact, the average person is influenced by social proof in much more mundane ways all the time.

It’s why people tend to choose the busy restaurant over the empty one across the street when they’re looking for somewhere to eat on holiday.

It’s why they go and see the movie all their friends are raving about (and avoid the one their friends have all been panning).

It’s why they’re much more likely to buy a TV from a brand you recognise from friends and familys’ living rooms than the make they’ve never heard of.

How to use social proof to make your marketing more effective

If you’re like most people, you base what you buy from Amazon on the reviews.

If a product has hundreds of 5-star reviews, you can be confident it’s going to be good.

You want your website to instil the same kind of confidence in your potential customers. You want them to pick up on all the signals that tell them “I can rest assured this is going to be a good buy”.

Testimonials

The first way to convey trust signals on your website is a glowing testimonial.

Take a look at this one from Fiverr’s homepage:

And this one on Shopify’s site:

If your customers are willing to go on the record endorsing your service, it shows visitors to your site that you’re the real deal.

We’d argue that a single testimonial is more effective than hundreds of words of copy explaining the virtues of your product or service when it comes to establishing trust .

If you own a B2B business, we’d recommend you get in touch with all your clients for a testimonial. Best to do this after you’ve just delivered a piece of work they’re over the moon with.

B2C businesses can use Facebook and Google reviews. They can also send out a follow-up email to customers asking how they found their experience shopping with them and splatter the best quotes across their homepage and in strategic places on their site.

Showcase how many customers you have

Another simple but effective way of generating social proof on your site is by showcasing how many clients or customers you have.

For example, Hootsuite tells visitors to its site that its app is “trusted by 800+ of the Fortune 1000” right at the top of their homepage (alongside the logos of some of their biggest customers):

Hubspot also dedicates space on its homepage to showing how many customers they have (again, alongside the logos of some of the most prestigious):

In the B2C space, the online mattress retailer Casper dedicates plenty of space to social proof on this landing page:

A visitor to one of these sites can’t help but see this and think “they must be good if that many people use them”.

While you might not have millions of customers or clients from the Fortune, we bet your numbers look impressive in context. We recommend you shout about how many happy clients you have or how many products you’ve sold on your homepage – especially if you know you’re more established than your direct competition.

Combine the two

An especially effective way to add a strong trust signal to your website is to combine testimonials and statistics.

Here’s an example from Basecamp’s homepage:

And another great example from Shopify:

This is an incredibly powerful way to showcase social proof on your site, and one we recommend any business replicates – whether they’re B2B or B2C.

By including testimonials and compelling statistics about your popularity on your homepage and beyond, you’re establishing trust with your potential customers and setting yourself apart from the competition.

We recommend you start by gathering as many quotes and relevant stats as you can. Then pick out prominent places across your site to feature them. Your homepage is a great place to start, followed by product or service pages and the sidebars across your site.

This will ensure you’re getting the most from social proof, which is one of the most influential tools in a marketer’s toolkit.

If you want more help getting your website up to scratch (not to mention your marketing strategy), get in touch with us today.