When running an ecommerce business, social proof is a powerful weapon.
It can play a role in positioning your brand as a trustworthy organization, help you reach a larger audience, and more than anything else, it can allow you to boost your conversion rates by influencing consumer purchasing decisions.
And, in 2022, social proof is more important than ever.
According to BrightLocal, in 2021, 98% of consumers consulted product ratings and reviews before making a buying decision. Moreover, 21% of shoppers used the internet to find info on local businesses daily. 35% of buyers did so multiple times per week. 22% at least once per week. And 16% of them read reviews at least once per month.
In fact, only 1% of consumers never seek out some form of social proof when informing themselves about businesses in their area.
But while most entrepreneurs understand that social proof can make a difference, they're often on the fence about the best way to use it in ecommerce.
The following tips are excellent ways to make customer feedback a driving force behind your store's success. So let's get into them.
Use Visuals to Draw Attention to Customer Reviews
If you're thinking of displaying customer testimonials on your ecommerce website, the first thing you have to do is ensure it captures your audience's attention.
And what better way to do so than by focusing on visual presentation?
You see, people do wonderfully well with visuals. According to scientific research, the human brain can successfully process images and attach meaning to them in as little as 13 milliseconds.
So, if you can find a way to present the social proof on your site in a way that involves images, screenshots, or videos, you should absolutely do so.
For an excellent example, you can check out the GILI Sports homepage. When displaying customer feedback on its site, this brand prioritizes reviews that include user-generated content that shows the products in action. So, potential buyers can see what the GILI paddleboards look like when in use, how they're packaged for delivery, and how much space they take up in storage.
Make Social Proof More Engaging
Another great way to call web visitors' attention to the social proof on your ecommerce site is to look for ways to make it engaging.
Videos are an excellent solution, seeing how they can effectively tell personal stories. Short clips created by your existing clients are always a superb way to show potential buyers what they could be getting by investing in your brand's products.
For example, if you check out DJI's YouTube channel, you'll see that it's filled with short films shot by content creators using the brand's camera equipment. Each short video tells a customer story (with a bit of visual pizzazz for good measure). But more importantly, it shows how far content creators can expect to go when using the brand's products based on real-life results. Spoiler alert: they can go pretty far.
Now, your marketing budget may not match DJI's, and that's OK. You can still find ways to make your social proof more engaging.
On Shopify ecommerce sites, you can use live updates to add a dose of excitement to social proof. Orizaba Original does this on its homepage, where visitors are alerted every time someone buys an item.
It's a small way of adding a dose of excitement to social proof. But seeing how well it works, it might just be all the excitement you need to convince your audience to convert.
Ask Experts for Their Opinion
Visual presentation and nifty tricks can help you use social proof to its maximum capacity in ecommerce. However, they won't always provide you with the benefits you need to stand out among your competition. Especially not if you operate in a low-trust industry like fashion or wellness.
If you find that you need a bit of an extra push to convince potential customers that your business will deliver on its promises, you might want to seek out the opinions of experts in your field.
SomniFix, for example, employs social proof from a sleep medicine dentist on its homepage, knowing that some of its potential buyers may be on the fence about giving mouth strips a try.
This is a great way to encourage consumers to trust the brand – even if they (rightfully) feel that the concept of taping one's mouth to get a better night's sleep sounds completely bonkers.
Note that SomniFix doesn't stop at using expert opinions to prove that it's a trustworthy business. It also dedicates a whole website section to the science behind mouth taping, complete with a list of scientific references for anyone to check and read before making a purchase.
Now, if getting an industry insider to talk about your product doesn't seem doable, you can still use someone else's authority to build trust in your brand.
Sourcing ratings and trust badges from third-party resources is an excellent way to do just that.
For example, Zatista pulls user reviews from Trustpilot and proudly presents them on its homepage, showing all website visitors that it's a trustworthy shop for buying art online.
And Pela goes in a slightly different direction, displaying social proof in the form of media mentions. The brand quotes various magazine articles discussing its product – an excellent method of boosting its authority.
After all, consumers already trust publishers like Entrepreneur and Apartment Therapy. Showing that they had good things to say about Pela's product proves that Pela is a reliable brand.
Be Open About Who Your Customers Are
One of the biggest challenges with displaying conversion-driving social proof is that too many ecommerce brands have misused customer testimonials in the past.
Amazon, for example, states that it deleted 200 million suspected fake reviews in 2020 alone. Moreover, the Competition and Markets Authority identified more than 16,000 Facebook and Instagram groups where brands traded misleading reviews in exchange for money.
Now, if you're an ecommerce brand that's still trying to break through in a competitive field, the general mistrust that fake reviews have generated in the industry poses a real problem. After all, how can consumers know whether the social proof on your site is for real or not?
Well, there are a couple of tips you can use to prove the genuineness of the social proof on your homepage.
For one, you can take the time to point out which of your reviewers are “verified buyers,” as done by Impossible. As you can see, for each review on its product pages, Impossible shows a name, a profile photo, a trust badge, as well as info regarding the product the person purchased.
Alternatively, you may choose to put the spotlight on your satisfied customers.
The marketing team behind Part-Time YouTuber Academy understood that the key to its success lies in the success of its clients.
That's why it chose to dedicate an entire website section to customer interviews. Here, satisfied customers have the chance to go into detail regarding the value they received by investing in the product. And, the brand gets a super-effective form of social proof that goes far beyond what a 3-sentence review ever could.
Use Marketing Campaigns to Generate More Social Proof
Finally, as you look for ways to effectively use social proof in ecommerce, don't forget that getting people to leave an opinion isn't always easy.
According to Statista, about 40% of UK consumers rarely write online reviews.
With this in mind, it's easy to conclude that, to leverage the full power of customer testimonials, you have to get your hands on some of those testimonials in the first place.
The easiest way to accomplish this is to create an automated email campaign. Design a follow-up email that asks customers to submit a review and set it to be automatically sent a few days after your buyers have received their items.
Or, if you want to take things a step further, use social media platforms to connect with your existing customers and encourage them to become advocates of your brand.
Grovemade, for instance, bases its Instagram content calendar almost entirely on user-submitted images. And while this allows the brand to create a highly aesthetic feed, it also fulfills the double purpose of turning Grovemade's online presence into one giant example of social proof.
Sure, Grovemade's approach is not something that all ecommerce businesses can recreate. However, if you do sell products that look good in photos and videos, you should definitely consider encouraging your buyers to submit user-generated content.
Do it by inviting buyers to tag you in their social media posts. Create dedicated hashtags users can add to images that feature your products. Or organize giveaways where users have to submit a testimonial to win an attractive prize. The choice is up to you. But rest assured that the end result is going to be great.
Using social proof is a great way to set your ecommerce business apart. But to reap all its benefits, you have to know that showing reviews or ratings simply isn't enough anymore.
So, to get the most out of the social proof on your distribution channels in 2022, remember to:
- Make your testimonials engaging and visually attractive
- Leverage expert opinions, third-party trust badges, and media mentions
- Show that your product reviews have been submitted by real people, and
- Encourage as many customers as possible to become advocates of your brand.
As you can imagine, the process won't be short (nor will it, truthfully, ever end). But rest assured that your efforts will pay off. Especially now that so many people read reviews when shopping online.