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The Power Of Social Proof In Ecommerce

the-power-of-social-proof-in-ecommerce

The rise of visible social proof being shared on eCommerce comes as a direct response to the success of the strategy. When shoppers are reassured by other shoppers that their purchase will be worthwhile, they are immediately reassured, and much more likely to spend their money. It’s no surprise then, that social proof continues to grow into a stronger merchandising strategy as time goes on.

What is Social Proof?

Social proof is originally a concept that emerged outside of the realm of eCommerce. It refers to people’s reliance on feedback and actions of others to help them decide their own actions in a given situation. In terms of retail, it can be seen as a direct continuation from ‘word of mouth’ recommendations; one of the strongest forms of social proof around.

If someone you know and trust recommends a product or store to you, you’re likely to take their word for it. Since you trust their judgment and they have already experienced the service, the ‘risk factor’ is removed; you know what you can expect from this new merchant you will engage with. If we look at it this way, it’s clear that social proof has been around for as long as retail has, and has been relied on.

As with everything else, eCommerce has helped social proof grow into something bigger than before. Customer confidence needs to be boosted even more than before when it comes to anonymous websites that people may have just stumbled across. How do customers know they can trust you? This is where social proof comes in.

92% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase, because they are so available. These online reviews have come to be expected, and trusted as much as personal recommendations. As eCommerce evolves, social proof is therefore becoming necessary to any business that is looking to stay relevant with a popular brand image.

How Does It Work?

Social proof relies on three core principles to work:

  1. Uncertainty
    – In new situations, people are unsure of which actions to take
  2. Similarity
    – In group situations, people look to those who have already taken similar actions
  3. Expertise
    – People look for guidance from people or organizations with expertise in the space; who have an informed opinion on the matter

How To Make It Trustworthy

Since it is common knowledge that brands want to promote themselves, testimonials given through the website themselves may not give the social proof that shoppers are looking for. A way to resolve this issue is by using a third-party review site that doesn’t have any affiliation with the brand in question, in order to improve transparency.

Being able to see other shoppers’ reviews here means that the customers can trust that the reviews are genuine. Keeping in all of the reviews; good and bad, also lets shoppers know that the brand is trustworthy- leading to increased conversions and potential lifetime customers. 

Why Is It So Popular?

Allowing social proof empowers the customer. Just as they will look at other reviews before they make a purchase, they are aware that if the product does not meet their expectation- they can leave a review too. This gives the customer some power in the situation. Since negative reviews can have a huge negative impact on any business or brand, the customer is further reassured that they will receive a product with quality. 

This social proof strategy builds trust early in the funnel, and these kinds of trust signals are very important in ensuring a positive relationship and brand image. Reviews are at the core of social proof, as people like safety in numbers.

Where Can I Use It On My Website?

Social proof can be positioned throughout the website and brand experience. The following are all forms of social proof that are important and can strengthen your ecommerce brand:

  • Social media likes and shares
  • Long form testimonials
  • Customer reviews
  • Case studies
  • Influencer or celebrity endorsements
  • User generated content
  • Earned media

If your website isn’t using any of these; now is the time to get engaged. If your store is able to incorporate all of these, you will only see growth in positive customer feedback.

Conclusion

At its essence, social proof creates a direct line of communication between customers and the merchant. When the issue of anonymity and possibility of no accountability arrives through the online experience; this is where social proof comes in as the answer.

Special thanks to our friends at FastSimon for their insights on this topic.
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