Social Proof: The Word-of-Mouth of the Future

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Social proof is the new word of mouth for ecommerce websites. Once upon a time, customers bought products at their local stores, and then talked to friends about their likes and dislikes. Word of mouth becomes more difficult to attain when you are dealing with online customers in far-flung areas of the world. However, social proof allows people to see that your products and the general shopping experience at your ecommerce website are liked by others, replacing more traditional word of mouth advertising. Here are a few ways of making sure that your website visitors are exposed to social proof of your high quality.

  • Allow users to ‘Like’ or otherwise approve of your website and products on social networking sites.  It is usually easy to install a simple button that does not detract from sales or conversions. As a bonus, this usually comes up on the customer’s social networking page, giving you a little extra positive exposure.
  • Don’t be afraid to brag. If you have reached a landmark number of issues or have high scores in follow-up surveys, advertise this in a prominent part of your landing pages. People assume that a crowd of happy customers cannot be wrong.
  • Seek endorsements. Contribute products to popular review sites, magazines or whatever media deals specifically with your product category. If you get a positive review, mention it and even link to it wherever appropriate. Like social media, this will give you additional publicity in addition to street credit.
  • Seek industry awards. People tend to give high value to awards and other third-party organizational endorsements because they are difficult to get. The downside, of course, is that they are indeed difficult to get. Nonetheless, it takes only a few minutes to nominate yourself… so go for it!
  • Use social proof in product recommendations. Think of Amazon’s, “People who bought this product also bought X.” Customers are less likely to view this as an upsell than other types of recommendation. In addition, there is a good chance that they will add Product X to their cart. This kind of recommendation feels friendlier and more authentic.
  • Use advanced personalization where positive. One of the advantages of being an ecommerce website owner is that you can immediately tailor the shopping experience to the demographic of the person doing the shopping, especially if that person has a profile with your business. Different types of social proof work best for different personas. Your job is to begin experimenting and develop a personalization plan that is perfect for your customers.
  • Place customer favorites on the home page. If an item is being bought more than others, make this clear. Most people like to have the ‘latest thing’ and will consider a popular item more valuable than others. 
  • Allow product reviews. These are an important part of your product pages, because they allow viewers to virtually interact with other buyers of the same product. Product reviews from customers are more important to your ecommerce website visitors than any other recommendation.