Importance of Social Proof to Attract Customers

“When you say it, it’s When your customer says it, it’s social proof.” – Andy Crestodina

With regard to social proof, the quote above sums it up very well. Even if people do not accept, following the crowd is what most people do, and industry experts and people who deal with the mind call this social proof. The reason companies have begun using social proof to attract customers is because it is the easiest way to get concurrence and alleviate apprehensions of prospective customers. Social proof has gained importance since customers have become intelligent and more informed, and gather sufficient information about a company before connecting with it. Research shows that social proof is important to customers – within America alone, more than 70% customers look at product reviews before they actually buy, and at least 63% say that they would be more inclined to buy from a site on which they can see reviews, product ratings, and comments from actual product users.

It is in the best interest of companies then to use social proof to attract customers. Social proof is defined as “a psychological phenomenon where people conform to the actions of others under the assumption that those actions are reflective of the correct behaviour”. This may not be what companies want, but they have no choice but to conform since social proof does benefit companies, and proves to be a rather powerful tool for companies to allay the doubts and fears of prospective customers. We have mentioned this several times before that, products with good reviews are more likely to sell. In addition, prospective customers are more likely to believe other existing customer reviews as opposed to claims made by a company about its products and services. Prospective customers want substantiation of a company’s claims from their peers – without social proof prospects are unlikely to become customers.

It is all around and companies just need to know how to use social proof to attract customers and gain more profitability. Research shows that social proof has the ability to improve significantly and swiftly the business prospects of a company, and it would be foolish not to leverage on it. Given it is now established that companies should use social proof to attract customers, the next part of this is which strategies surrounding social proof should companies use to gain more benefits. Does your company use social proof to attract customers?

We have mentioned before that one of the best and indispensable tools for the success of any business is positive word of mouth from customers. Customer testimonials are perhaps the strongest and most potent form of social proof to attract customers. Research too corroborates this – 92% people admitted to trust the recommendation of a peer / associate / friend with regard to a company. Additionally, 70% people said they would trust recommendations from random people rather than believe only the claims made by the company. It is not surprising then that big brands and companies provide a place of prominence to customer testimonials on their website and social media sites. The idea is to highlight the value of the company’s products through satisfied users. Research shows that testimonials increase conversions by as much as 34%, and it would be beneficial for companies to use the most appropriate format for testimonials on their website and social media sites.

Another form of social proof to attract customers is endorsements and product advertisements using celebrities and popular industry experts. Positive words and praise from such personalities increases the reliability and affinity towards a company’s products. The company aims to prove the value of its products by backing its claims by celebrity and authority figure endorsements. Is it any wonder that companies have increased the use of film stars, high achievers, and popular figures to create hype and buzz for their offerings?

Although seemingly bland, case studies are effective social proof to attract customers. Companies publish reports and situations to highlight the views of high authority figures, and case studies are a great way to corroborate claims made by them. This is because in-depth reviews are seen as more authentic and are more effective in altering and forming positive perceptions.

Creating a sense of urgency and making prospects believe that they would miss a great opportunity is another way of using social proof to attract customers. This form addresses the emotional and social needs of customers – if their peers / associates have bought a product, it becomes a matter of pride to own the product too. Feeding off these ‘fears’ of missing out,  companies create a buzz by comments such as “few spots left”, “last 2 days”, “only a few items remaining” and other such frenzy creating comments. Some companies also use countdown tickers on their website and social media sites to increase conversions and buys. Customers hate feeling as though they may have missed a great deal or opportunity, and would much rather buy than feel this way.

Getting the press and media involved is another way to use social proof to attract customers. Every piece of publicity that a company can gain is sure to help its chances of selling more, and being in ‘the news’ is a high visibility method of grabbing attention. People tend to believe media reports or at least divert their attention towards companies and products that receive media coverage.

It is highly doubtful that you would have seen a company’s website not flaunting its long list of ‘happy customers’. This is one of the most effective strategies of social proof to attract customers. By displaying the names of its customers, what a company is actually doing is saying that if these big companies are happy with it, others should give the company a chance and join the list of happy customers. Companies also continually post statistics showing how many new customers joined them, and how many more buys their existing customers have made. As mentioned, following the crowd is what social proof is about – hence it is very likely that the higher the number of customers of a company, the greater the company’s chances of using the numbers to attract more customers.

This is the age of digitization. However, with so much information placed online the fear of data and identity theft are concerns in the mind of customers too. Companies that display seals of trust on their website, and have secure online stores, are likely to see an increase in conversions by at least 42%. Customers want the comfort of shopping online, but they also want to know that their private and personal information will remain safe and secure. Even the slightest hint of a problem is enough to make customers leave. This is another form of social proof, and is a great way to attract and retain customers.

Irrespective of the size of a company or the industry within which it functions, social proof is now one of the core strengths that helps to generate more leads, and gaining more customers. It is however, important to remember that gaining social proof will not prove effective if it is not managed well. It is essential to use it when communicating with prospective customers in order to make it the driving force to decide in a company’s favour. Social proof is everywhere – it depends on a company to use it to attract and retain customers for a long time.

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