Have you ever gone on a Tinder date? From the moment you know your date’s name, you probably stalk them a little online before meeting up.
After all, you don’t want to go out with someone who’s different than you expected.
Did you know that eCommerce shoppers do the exact same thing when they’re ready to buy from you?
It’s true: 81% of buyers conduct research online before they buy anything.
What do they see when they find you on Google? A ton of positive, glowing reviews and demo videos, or nearly nothing?
In this case, “nothing” is a death sentence for your bottom line. You need social proof to show buyers that you aren’t some huge scam artist.
What is social proof?
Humans are social animals. We follow fads, consume opinion pieces like crazy, and gossip about everyone in our lives.
It stands to reason that humans want validation from other humans, right?
It’s a monkey-see, monkey-do situation that has a real impact on your eCommerce sales.
When we see other people buying something, it affects our buying decisions, too.
That’s where social proof comes into play. It touches on:
- Uncertainty: When we aren’t sure what to do, we see what other people are doing. If people are raving about your product, a customer is more likely to buy it as a solution to their problem.
- Similarity: We copy people who are similar to us. This is why customers love buying curated looks and products from influencers—they’re relatable and act like everyday people.
- Expertise: Customers want to hear from experts before they buy. They need to hear that you’re legit from pros in the space before they’ll believe the claims on your website (no matter how great your website may be).
Social proof comes in the form of reviews, influencer posts, endorsements, and media badges. The idea is to share content produced by a third-party that isn’t affiliated with your brand.
5 reasons you need social proof
“Cool, but why do I care about this?” you might wonder. It sounds like a lot of work gathering social proof, so is it really worth the payoff?
Our vote is “yes,” and here are 3 reasons why.
1 - Remove uncertainty
The internet is an awesome thing, but to your customers, you could be anybody. That’s scary.
Customers can see or touch your product in real life before buying, so they’re a little nervous about trusting you with their money.
Fortunately, social proof removes fear and uncertainty.
92% of shoppers trust non-paid recommendations more than any type of advertising.
2 - Influence the decision-making process
Shoppers need an extra nudge to add an item to their cart and actually buy it.
They’re heavily influenced by other people’s recommendations, which you can tap into with social proof. 92% of customers trust peer recommendations, which removes buyer anxiety (and encourages conversions).
3 - Social proof is scalable
Social proof doesn’t disappear once your eCommerce biz grows.
You can reuse social proof again and again to keep getting awesome results.
Every review, post, and video can be repurposed in your marketing materials. For example, reusing social proof in your Facebook Ads can boost click-through rates by 300%.
Introducing social proof’s BFF, UGC
Social proof is what customers need to pull the trigger on a purchase. User-generated content (UGC) is what delivers social proof to the customer.
UGC shares raw, authentic information about your products.
It’s content sourced from real-life, relatable people.
That means ditching the models and art studio for content sourced from everyday folks who are just like your shoppers. Everything from reviews, ratings, and customer photos brings shoppers one step closer to buying.
And boy, does it work. Customers who see UGC convert 161% more than people who don’t.
3 ways to use UGC as social proof
UGC and social proof don’t come from your customers’ family and friends, either. 70% of shoppers trust recommendations from total strangers on the internet.
Use these 3 tactics to generate more UGC and social proof for your eCommerce store.
1 - Ask the experts
Are there expert content creators in your niche? These influencers are great for big-ticket items like homes, cars, computers, and fitness equipment.
Because consumers trust expert opinions. 67% of shoppers say unbiased expert endorsements make them more likely to buy.
Generate expert proof for your campaign to bolster your credibility.
For example, if you sell diet or weight loss products, expert content from a dietician or doctor would solidify your claims with nervous shoppers.
Old Spice did a great job of integrating expert content. The brand asked Dr. Cory Hartman to create sponsored content for the brand, boosting credibility about the efficacy of Old Spice deodorant.
2 - Source ratings and reviews
Did you know that customers trust reviews 12X more than your product page copy?
Instead of creating more studio-perfected content for your website, you need raw, authentic social proof that boosts customer trust.
The best way to do that is sourcing honest reviews or ratings. Platforms like:
… make it easy for people to review your products.
Since 93% of shoppers read reviews before buying anything, you want as many high-quality reviews as possible.
You can source more reviews or ratings by:
- Following up: If you have a customer’s email, ask them for an honest review. You’d be surprised how many people will do it if you ask nicely.
- Incentivizing reviews: You can’t ask customers to leave you a 5-star review (that would be dishonest), but you can ask them to leave an honest review in exchange for a freebie or discount. Some people are more likely to take action if there’s something in it for them.
- Displaying reviews on your site: It’s a weird psychological trick, but customers are more likely to leave a review if they see other reviews on your site first.
Check out Campman for this strategy in action. They showcase reviews right below an image gallery packed with UGC—it’s a persuasion double-whammy!
3 - Gather influencer endorsements
Nobody cares about celebrity endorsements these days (Except for Oprah Winfrey, actually).
Only 38% of customers trust celebrity endorsements, while 50% trust influencers.
If you don’t have influencers in your corner, now’s the time to start.
An influencer endorsement goes beyond a surface-level review. They gush about your brand on their social media feed, doing a mini unboxing or how-to video for their followers.
When you find an authentic, trustworthy influencer in your niche, you’ll get instant access to their engaged fanbase that’s excited to follow the influencer’s recommendations.
Fiji Water tapped into influencer endorsements through a partnership with Danielle Bernstein. They created Bodyworewhat, a collection of 8-minute workout videos that promoted Fiji Water while delivering valuable workouts to Danielle’s followers.
eCommerce is a tough gig these days, and we know it’s hard breaking through the online noise. Customers have so many choices today, and that’s why social proof and UGC are so important for eCommerce.
By leveraging authentic UGC, you can move the needle at every stage of the customer journey. But where in the world do you find the time to source UGC, anyway?
That’s where we come in. Rely on Trend to source vetted content creators to get your UGC campaign off the ground in less than a day. Sign up for Trend now for free.