Offering social proof for ecommerce customers is a powerful thing. Consider this study on influence reported by the Wall Street Journal, in which researchers presented four sets of homeowners with four different arguments for using fans instead of air conditioning.
- Save $54 per month on utility costs
- Eliminate 262 pounds of greenhouse gases per month
- It’s the socially responsible course of action
- Most of their neighbors already used fans instead of AC, making it the popular choice
Those who received the fourth message reduced energy consumption by 10 percent compared to a control group. None of the other options reduced energy use by more than three percent.
Good news: You can harness this social proof principle for your ecommerce store. While ecommerce customers may not take your word for it, offering them social proof can convince them to convert and build loyalty with your brand. Here’s how to use this to your advantage.
Display Customer Reviews
Customer reviews are so ubiquitous these days, it actually seems suspicious if they’re missing. A single positive review can increase conversions by 10 percent, so put them right where customers can see them (on product pages) as they’re hovering over the “add to cart” button.
Including a handy filter feature will help customers examine the positives and negatives for themselves so they can make a smart purchasing decision. You may also want to display the most publicly supported ratings (whether good or bad) on top, so customers can get a quick feel for consensus. Hosting your online store on a customizable cloud ecommerce platform will allow you to optimize the demonstration of social proof to users.
Tell Customer Stories
Reviews are a helpful starting point, but they rarely achieve the same depth as storytelling. There’s a great chance shoppers will see themselves reflected in others’ stories, thus compelling them to buy a product. Seeing an anonymous user submit a 3-star review doesn’t provide much insight. Meanwhile, a detailed account of why a peer decided to buy a certain item, and how it bettered their quality of life will.
A few weeks (or months) after a purchase, try sending out a customer satisfaction survey with a storytelling component. Then, choose the most persuasive to display on your site, (taking permissions and user privacy into account). Or, try crowdsourcing stories through your social media channels.
Post User-Generated Content
Speaking of crowdsourcing, is anything more fun than creating a community around your products? Posting user-generated content is a great way to augment your copy and images. For example, ModCloth incorporates real customer photos into their style gallery. Shoppers can see how fashions look in the “real world” before buying. This can be more influential than merely seeing them on model in a studio.
One way to collect user-generated content is to create a social media hashtag. It’s the best of both worlds: you get publicity within a buyer’s circle of online acquaintances and you can easily crowdsource the best of this user-generated content to feature on your website.
Build Trust with Influencer Testimonials
The more powerful the source, the more effective the social proof. If reading a stranger’s review can help clinch the deal, imagine what happens when they hear it from a trusted public figure. Influencer testimonials give your sales a boost. These individuals already have a loyal audience. They transfer social proof to you when they endorse your product or brand,
When it comes to offering social proof for ecommerce customers, you don’t have to take our word for it. Try it at your online store and see the results for yourself.