August 10, 2018

This is a guest post from Greg Roth from UniTel Voice and Startup Stockpile. As a marketer and an entrepreneur, he loves helping businesses discover new apps and use technology to grow. Enjoy the post and let us know if you have any questions or feedback! Turning it over to Greg now…

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How do you make a sale? Ask any experienced salesperson and they will tell you that you need to be two things to your customers: likable and trustworthy.

As a salesperson it’s your job to use your gift of gab to present yourself in a way that builds rapport and trust. If a customer doesn’t like you or trust you, you’re not making the sale. Period.

This is also true for brands. If customers don’t like your brand or trust it, they’re not going to buy your product.

But a brand can’t speak for its self (in the literal sense) like a salesperson can. So how does a brand convince people that it’s likable and trustworthy?

This answer is social proof.

Social proof is a psychological construct where people are influenced by what they observe other people doing. Basically, if a person sees that other people like and trust your business, they’re more likely to try your product. This social phenomenon can be a very powerful marketing tool. Here’s a real world example:

When I was in college I managed a campus bar. One of the tricks we used to boost sales was to tell our doormen to card (check people’s IDs) slowly. This created a line outside the bar. Once we had a line, we were the place to be.

Even though other bars had no wait to get in, no cover charge at the door, and cheap drinks, people would flock to wait in our line, pay our cover charge, and buy our full price drinks.

As long as people thought they were going to the bar where other people wanted to be, they were happy.

Now, fifteen years later, as a digital marketer at UniTel Voice, I use social proof to boost our ecommerce sales. I’m no longer tricking college kids into waiting in line. I learned that in the real world, there’s a better way to generate authentic social proof – create a product people love, offer reliable customer service, and add value as an industry resource.

Accomplish those three things and you can use social proof to attract new customers and grow your business. Here are seven examples of authentic social proof every marketer should leverage:

1. Customer Testimonials, Case Studies, Spotlights, & Logos

Customer testimonials are social proof gold. They come in all shapes and sizes – text, images, videos, long stories, short quotes etc. For businesses with a consultative sales process, you might want to use a detailed case study as a testimonial that demonstrates how your product helps solve your customers’ problems. You might also consider having a customer spotlight section on your blog highlighting customer success stories.

If your sales process is more transactional, it helps to sprinkle customer testimonials, in the form of short quotes addressing sales objections, throughout your site (especially at your point of sale).

Another idea is to set up a happy customer page to show off real people who love your product. If you provide services to blue chip clients, simply displaying your customers’ logos on your site can be the ultimate symbol of credibility.

Showing off your happy customers on your website, ads, emails, and landing pages is an excellent way use social proof to increase conversions. In fact, BigCommerce found that you can use testimonials to generate 62% more revenue from every customer who visits your site.

Tools you can use to identify happy customers:

2. Online Reviews & Ratings

With over 88% of online shoppers looking at reviews before making a purchase, online reviews should be a critical part of your business’s marketing strategy. They affect your company’s web presence and overall online reputation.

Whether a customer Googles your business, uses GPS to find your location, or researches your competitors, they’re going to see your online reviews, and it’s going to influence their purchasing decision.

Tools you can use to get more reviews:

3. Trust Symbols, Awards, Associations, & Affiliations

Trust symbols are website badges (recognized and provided by third-parties) that signal to visitors that your business is trustworthy. Here are the top trust symbols you should consider displaying on your site to increase your credibility and boost sales:

  • Security badges or seals indicating that your check-out process is secure and has been verified by a trusted third party like Verisign or McAfee.
  • Awards from trusted organizations recognized in your industry can give you a lot of credibility.
  • Membership badges from industry associations showing your business is vetted by authorities in your industry.
  • Certification badges relevant to your business demonstrating that you and your team are certified experts and up to snuff.
  • Co-branded content from advertising partnerships or system integrations wherein the credibility of the brands you work with brings credibility to your own brand through association.

4. Press Mentions

Like testimonials and reviews, positive coverage by the media shows your customers that your business is worthy of attention. If you, your products, or your business is mentioned by a popular news outlet, consider displaying their logo on your site as social proof.

Awesome DYI guides that can help you get press:

Affordable services that you can hire to help you get press:

5. Real-Time Customer Activity Notifications

A recent trend in social proof marketing is to actually display real-time customer activity on your website (e.g., displaying the total number of people of have visited, viewed, signed up or made a purchase on your site). In doing so, you’re essentially showing people there’s a line outside your business – same principle as the bar example I used above.

Displaying real customers taking action in real-time has been proven to boost your credibility, conversions and sales. By showing the stream of people who have recently signed up or made a purchase on your site, you can use your existing customers as social proof and let them sell for you.

Tools you can use to display real-time customer activity:

About the Author

 

Greg Roth is the Head of Marketing at UniTel Voice and the Editor of the blog, Startup Stockpile. As a marketer and an entrepreneur, he loves helping businesses discover new apps and use technology to grow.