When was the last time you visited a restaurant without referring to online reviews or asking a friend or two about the place? Well, since you are living in the current era of consumer internet, that would have been zero times.
Social Proofing or Social Influencing is the new marketing and a direct influencer of brands’ sales growth.
In a world that’s constantly connected through the internet, relying on public opinion has become the need of the hour. It has become one of the natural reflexes to assume what would a majority of people do in the current situation before taking a decision. This, according to digital marketing experts, is called social proofing.
If you are wondering whether you fall into the category or not, just recall yourself asking for the most-ordered dish at a restaurant or reading user reviews before booking a movie ticket or just simply ordering coffee at Starbucks because it’s ‘considered’ cool.
In this article, we are going to discuss the consequences of social proofing on your ecommerce business sales both directly and indirectly. As the write up concludes, you can expect a clear idea about the following three aspects of Social Proofing.
- What is Social Proofing?
- Influence of Social Proof in International Ecommerce Business
- How to leverage Social Proof in Your Marketing Efforts?
Let’s get started.
What is Social Proofing (or Social Proof Psychology)?
Wikipedia defines Social Proofing (also known as Informational Social Influence) as a psychological and social phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior in a given situation.
In simple words, Social Proof Psychology is a blend of both Influencer Marketing and Referral Marketing, which indirectly influences buyers’ purchase decisions and effects consumer behaviour through multiple channels. Meanwhile, marketers define Social Proof as an untapped gold mine that has the potential to unlock numerous opportunities for global brands.
Importance of Social Proof in International Ecommerce Business
Social Proofing has become a method of demonstrating one’s choices over a social media platform via a brand mention, online recommendation, video testimonial, blog writing or just leaving a product review on your platform. One major issue here is the other side of Social Proof – reviews can be either positive and negative.
According to the underlying psychology of Social Proofing, consumers have become hardwired and skeptical about trusting a brand or a product without taking into consideration other people’s opinions. This emerging consumer mindset has become a challenge for global ecommerce brands to handle.
Online shoppers are constantly seeking for a second person’s reviews with pleasant experience before making a purchase or choosing a product. Incorporating different types of social proofing into marketing – especially social media, YouTube, online review sites and business recommendation portals allows for a more impactful branding in the current digital age.
Types of Social Proofing for International Ecommerce Stores
Also referred to as Informational Social Influence, Social Proof can be used across both online and offline marketing methods. In the below section, we will cover the different types of social proof and how they can influence purchase decisions of your customers.
- Celebrity: Whether it is Beyonce’s new lipgloss or Ellen’s new jacket, we all love to possess things endorsed by a celebrity because they have a direct influence on buyers’ decision.
- Expert: Expert Social Proof Psychology can be categorized into two types – someone who is a direct consumer of the product or someone who decided to use the product in order to write a review aka Influencer. For example, Roger Federer endorsing a specific brand of tennis shoes delivers a psychological buyer confidence that it is the best brand.
- Influencer: A great example for User Social Proof Psychology is Influencers who write reviews on a specific genre such as gadget reviews or movie reviews with the highest number of followers can influence customer decisions with a video or a written review.
- Seals and Certification: Amazon Exclusive, Amazon Certified Refurbished, Fulfilled by Amazon are some real-life examples of how certification or endorsement from a reputed brand influences purchase decisions.
- Reviews and Testimonials: If 6 out of 10 friends in a group don’t have a great feedback for a product, the rest are influenced to consider the product superior. For example, watching a large number of people use or review a product on social media.
How to Leverage Social Proof Psychology in your Marketing Efforts?
Now that you are clear about what is Social Proofing and the various kinds of social proofs that influence customer/buyer/consumer decision-making process, let’s dive into the various aspects in which global ecommerce businesses can make use of Social Proofing to boost sales or generate profits.
Do not underestimate the power of Reviews, Ratings and Testimonials
If there’s one thing that influences your buyers’ purchase decisions more than anything else, it is ‘user reviews’ when compared to other critical factors such as delivery time, packaging and availability of products among others.
For an international ecommerce business that sells a specific category of products, testimonials that keep them in the conversations are more than anything. Certified Buyer tags on reviews or a statistical figure of the number of purchases made on a product are some of the great ways to keep the ball rolling.
Do not hesitate to encourage customers to leave reviews and rating – again and again!
It is a common practice for ecommerce stores or online stores to request for user reviews. However, not all stores actually respond to product reviews or user questions related to a product.
Listening to your customers’ opinions helps in exploring ways to deliver great customer service. Here are a few tips to ensure your buyers are leaving feedback on your site:
- Ask for Customer Reviews without being pushy.
- Make it easy to leave a feedback or rate a product purchase experience on your site.
- Reduce the number of steps involved in leaving a review.
- Use a simple rating field and a small message box to write a review is the simplest method.
- Send Reminder Emails to your buyers to leave a review.
- Add a Certified Buyer/Registered User tags to improve the authenticity of product reviews.
Make Expert Reviews more prominent on the site
If a reputed review site has got good things to say about your products, do make that visible on your site. For example, if CNET has got a great review of a new model of your Bluetooth speakers, promote the testimonial to enhance Expert Social Proof.
Make Testimonials Visible for your Site Visitors
If you are a newcomer in the market – whether you are promoting a single product or a bunch of services, every single testimonial counts. Expert testimonials also make their way into brands’ social media marketing strategies for improved online reputation.
Social Media Proofing
Customers can go a long way when it comes to voicing their experience with a product or service. Some might decide to speak up on social media with a hashtag or brand mention or just a post to your brand Facebook page. In such cases, ecommerce brands can proactively respond to their feedback with a call-to-action to redirect them to your product feedback page.
Leverage the power of Digital Influencer Marketing
The concept of influencers and thought leaders, which was once reserved for celebrities only has now moved to the general public as well. With the power of social media, influencers in every field have emerged from every nook and corner of the globe.
As mentioned on our previous article, “The more ‘natural’ an influencer marketing campaign feels, the more positively people will react to it, and the more buzz you will build around your product or service.” It is the natural human psychological tendency to be influenced by someone with a similar lifestyle.
For example, a YouTuber mom (with a substantial amount of subscribers) speaking about a specific brand of diapers and her experiences with the product – will immediately trigger a conversation in the comments section. Viewers opinions in the video comments create a large testimonial base for the brand, leaving a huge influence on someone who is still deciding whether to purchase the product or not.
Partnering with influencers to do sponsored videos to endorse your product is the first step to leveraging influencer marketing. Your digital marketing teams should be able to identify the right influencers and reach out to them for partnership.
Different types of Influencer Endorsements:
- Social Media Influencers
- Blogging Influencers for sponsored Ads
- Sponsored Videos on YouTube
- Celebrity Tweets with brand mentions
- Micro-Influencers with popular social media accounts
- Local Influencers – journalists, popular figures in the local communities, etc.
Seals and Certifications:
Other than the public brand endorsement, Social Proof Marketing also includes seals and certifications. Certified sellers, Secure payment gateways, Award-Winning service, SSL certificates and Endorsed by a global authority among others are some of the trust seals and certifications that can influence buyer decisions.
Statistical figures such as ‘since 1900’, ‘145 purchases this week’ and more can help improve customer confidence in your brand and improve sales. Ensure that your website adheres to standard guidelines before you include a seal trust on your website.
It’s your turn now
As an online retailer running an international ecommerce brand store you need to stay updated with the latest marketing trends for your business to stay up and running. Finding the right Sales Proof strategy that suits your ecommerce store helps improve ecommerce sales and boost ROIs.