Everybody loves to have some form of social proof prior to making a purchase. Social proof, or sometimes known as informational social influence, is available in various forms. From a psychological point of view, they are a way through which people assume others’ actions as a reflection of correct behavior. This phenomenon becomes particularly prominent in ambiguous social situations where people have little to no idea how to act or behave, and assume other’s actions in an attempt to, for a lack of a better phrase, fit in.
When looking at informational social influence from a sales and marketing perspective, it can translate to a form of evidence that testifies if other people have found value in a product and/or service. Also known as the bandwagon effect, people are more likely to purchase a product or service if others have done so in the past and are talking positively about it. It is a great way of increasing conversion rates by showing customers just how popular a product is.
In fact, products and services that have a form of informational social influence backing them, were shown to sell 12 times better than those that don’t. Likewise, over 70% of all online shoppers search for various forms of social proof, such as customer reviews or testimonials, when looking to make a purchase. What’s more, 63% of customers are likelier to buy something after being exposed to endorsements or other forms of informational social influence.
Examples of Social Proof
There are many forms of social proof out there, but when it comes to sales and marketing, these can be narrowed down to the following examples:
- Testimonials coming from clients and/or customers
- Positive or negative word-of-mouth
- A company’s name and logo, if it belongs to a well-established brand
- Customer case studies
- Ratings and feedback
- Research and statistics that substantiate the claims
- Seals of approval coming from governmental or well-respected organizations
- Total number of followers on social media
- Celebrity or micro-influencer endorsements
- Industry expert attestation
Their Power & Influence and How to Use Them
Credibility is the bread and butter of every sales presentation. You can pitch your product for hours on end, but as long as that customer isn’t convinced that you can actually deliver on the promised value, all your efforts will be mostly in vain. Using endorsements in these sorts of situations is sure to establish that credibility required in making a sale.
Testimonials can achieve this since they aren’t direct sales pitches. They come across more as an unbiased source that enables the formation of trust, by using someone else’s voice to present the success of your product.
Choosing the Correct One for the Right Audience
Using the right endorsement, on the right kind of audience, is imperative in achieving the desired level of trust and credibility. To do this, however, you will first have to understand your audience’s wants and needs, their general behavior, and to what cues they respond best.
So, depending on their preferences, it’s probably better to use testimonials that provide the product’s details and explain why they satisfy the customer’s needs, instead of just using the general “I think it’s great” type. It never hurts to have several samples and use them in accordance with every buyer’s persona.
Present them Everywhere
Be it on your website, the company’s newsletter, on social media, in direct mail, and even in your sales pitches or boardroom meetings, endorsements can have a considerable effect on those listening. When it comes to your website, for example, adding one of your best endorsements that speaks to the majority of your audience right on the landing page, can be a wise choice. Likewise, you can create a separate page that’s dedicated to testimonials and other meaningful and appropriate examples of informational social influence.
In Email Campaigns
Email campaigns can also benefit tremendously by incorporating them. There are several ways to approach the issue so as to generate the most results. But in short, however, they can help increase sign-up and click-through rates, as well as to drive sales. It is, however, important that the ones you use, address the “what-ifs” or other hesitations your clients might have in regards to your products or services.
Given the many advantages testimonials have to offer, some may be inclined to create their own, regardless of whether they have satisfied customers willing to take part or not. Do this at your own peril. Faking these customer endorsements can place your brand at risk. It’s always important to remember that the purpose is to establish trust and credibility between your business and clients. If, by any chance, people find out that they’re fake; your reputation may have an incredibly hard time recovering.
Video is, by far, the most potent form of content that is able to capture people’s attention and interest. When it comes to video testimonials, their impact cannot be neglected. As compared to text, video leaves less room for interpretation; it is more appealing and engaging, tackling the emotional side of things better than plain old, text. Seeing someone talking about something with a smile on their face and a tone of appreciation in their voice has a higher impact than just reading the transcript.
In short, testimonials can play a key role in, not only driving sales but to also increase the brand’s reputation and trustworthiness. They should be part of every salesperson’s arsenal as they were proven time and time again to provide a sizable ROI.