This week, we feature an article by Jessica Collier, VP of Growth Marketing at Assembly Software. She shares what social proof is and how it nurtures credibility, builds trust, and increases profitability. Social proof is a psychological phenomenon marketing teams can use to nurture brand credibility and trust. It is founded on a simple idea: […]
This week, we feature an article by Jessica Collier, VP of Growth Marketing at Assembly Software. She shares what social proof is and how it nurtures credibility, builds trust, and increases profitability.
Social proof is a psychological phenomenon marketing teams can use to nurture brand credibility and trust. It is founded on a simple idea: when we are unsure what to do in a given situation, we look for clues in other people’s choices and—in many cases—will copy them.
This insight underpins so much of modern marketing. The last time you browsed for a product or service online, the chances are you encountered social proof marketing. And, quite possibly, you were influenced by it—even if only subconsciously.
So what is social proof? And how can it boost customer trust in your brand? We’ll consider these questions before exploring a few forms social proof can take.
According to social proof theory, people take cues from others to guide their own choices and behavior. It manifests across our lives and society—from how we greet each other to how we respond to comedy.
The idea has been highly consequential in marketing. Suppose consumers are uncertain about a purchasing decision. In that case, they are susceptible to social influence: noticing what others have done—then, quite possibly, emulating it. Social proof marketing is about providing customers with those clues.
We are bombarded with choices as consumers in today’s world. Selecting between products can often be confusing. Whether buying a new fridge for our home or an office system with VoIP phones, we want to reach a safe and informed decision.
Any number of concerns may be playing on a customer’s mind.
Of course, your business can try to address these questions in its own terms all day long. But, according to social proof theory, a different approach may also be needed. What people really need is reassurance from other customers—a different type of evidence.
Consumers want to reduce their uncertainty—and lessen the risk. That’s why customers often scroll quickly down to the reviews of service. Or want to know about other businesses using a particular SaaS product they’re considering.
Social proof in marketing is about providing reassurance—evidence and information demonstrating other people (or businesses) successfully using your brand.
Here are some of the many ways to build social proof into your marketing.
Customer reviews are the most ubiquitous example of social proof. They demonstrate positive experiences (hopefully!) people have had with your product. Reviewers are also likely to refer to additional details or benefits—contributing to a richer, fuller cumulative product profile.
As well as your own website, build a presence on other websites or forums that collect user reviews in your niche. Aim to provide potential customers with a range of sources to draw on—corroborating the positives you have outlined. Thus, encourage people to leave excellent reviews on an appropriate range of forums (e.g., Trustpilot) and link to these.
Your brand can leverage other relationships, existing customer loyalty, and achievements to nurture a sense of credibility and expertise.
For example, consider displaying the logos of firms who already use your product (e.g., “Trusted by some of the biggest names”). That can reassure customers browsing your website. Those other companies clearly think the product is good enough. And if it works for them…
Draw attention to any awards the brand has achieved. Whoever granted the award—whether experts, users, or peers—clearly valued your product. Again, that’s an encouraging sign for potential customers.
Case studies can provide nuance and perspective—less a review and more of a narrative, explaining the customer’s experience using your product.
Try to give contextual reassurance to people considering your brand. For example, if selling personal injury software, potential customers will have extensive questions. Will the product work in my setting? Does it offer the features I need? Will the software be easy to implement? A case study can help address these (e.g., “Take a look at our success stories”).
The details will vary depending on your industry sector. How long should it be? What format? (Video is always popular!) Strive to give the customer’s direct, first-hand voice. That will be more authentic and reassuring. Indeed, it is the essence of social proof.
Strong client relationships will make case studies easier to produce. Know your customers and nurture their goodwill. Happy, understood customers are more likely to invest time in providing a positive case study—and other forms of social proof (e.g., referrals and reviews).
Popularity can endow an instinctive social proof upon a product. Thus, if one of yours has been a long-time market leader, shout about it in your marketing!
Some brands include more precise, real-time statistics like these to signpost popularity.
As well as leveraging social proof, this can leave the consumer keen not to miss out on a potentially good deal.
Get brand exposure on podcasts, channels, or blogs of key influencers in your sector. It needn’t be the biggest celebrities: micro-influencers are a very effective route. That becomes a social proof for the people who engage with that influencer and introduce your brand to a new audience.
Get customers to engage with your brand and—in doing so—create user-generated social proof content. This might be, for example, photos of customers using your product in interesting ways. Engagement like this suggests to customers that others are happy with your brand—perhaps indicative of high-level customer loyalty and strong client relationships. Prospective customers will take note!
Use product badges to weave social proof into your marketing and product descriptions. Define simple product labels (or “badges”) indicating popularity, endorsement, or some other sort of social proof. For example:
These demonstrate—at first glance—that the product has earned value or trust. Utilizing social proof in your marketing strategy can significantly boost the engagement rate among your customers and build trust in your brand.
Embed social proof in your own marketing:
But also facilitate wider social proof marketing. Indeed, some of the most effective (e.g., expert reviews, influencer coverage) may be distributed on third-party websites or channels.
Don’t just tell people how great your product is—show it.
Jessica Collier is VP of Growth Marketing at Assembly Software. Her passion for digital innovation and agile marketing has led to significant success in innovative tech marketing, client collaboration, and driving conversion results.
For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors, go to customerserviceblog.com.
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