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Social proof is the concept that people are more likely to be influenced to buy something from a business if other people have already had a positive experience with that business’s products and services.
It is a powerful marketing driver because people tend to feel more comfortable engaging with a business if others have given that company the stamp of approval.
This is one of the reasons why Amazon introduced its now-famous, “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” intelligent recommendation, which automatically informs customers of products that are related to the ones they just purchased.
This is a powerful form of social proof that provides comfort to customers by assuring them that their wants and needs are in line with the wants and needs of thousands of other shoppers.
And for many businesses, social proof is an invaluable source of authenticity that they can’t generate with their own marketing because it relies entirely on the willingness of satisfied customers to express their happiness to others.
But that can only happen if you offer a great product or service because without that, you aren’t likely to earn the type of rave reviews that can make your social proof marketing worthwhile.
There are many different ways to apply social proof to your business, but the most effective ways will always be visual, because people respond much more favorably to visual cues.
What follows are five examples showing how you can use arresting images to create the kind of social proof that can help convert prospects into customers.
You can view the visual summary of this post below or click here to read a detailed explanation of each kind of visual social proof.
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These days, it’s not unusual for customers who are happy with a company’s products or services to express their opinion on social media.
So it’s no surprise that many businesses have now assigned social media managers to monitor all their channels to find those positive messages.
But here’s where some businesses fail: Instead of blasting these reviews out so that others can see them in bold, visual form, they hide them in emails or website content that often gets lost.
Take a look, for example, at how the popular team collaboration tool Slack built the visual "wall of love" above to showcase positive feedback from happy customers.
You can do the same for your own brand by compiling tweets like the one below. The name of the business is clearly shown, and the customer’s accolades are easy to understand.
I can always trust @VismeApp for such quality content. These are super helpful tips for Social Media. Create your profile or your page like a Pro. #Socialmedia #Graphicdesignerhttps://t.co/nK2DTVwTka pic.twitter.com/8TBOgjfO98
— Havain (@Havain_FI) January 5, 2018
Viewers will not be confused by the message that the customer is conveying: That the company’s blog is worthy to read, which in content marketing terms means that it is "valuable."
What is value?
Anything your business offers that answers a reader’s most basic question: What’s in it for me?
In the example above, the company’s blog obviously provides the tweeter with value.
And the next time the newsletter for this blog goes out, the owner of the business can embed this visual testimonial as a way to market to the company’s subscribers.
Customers don’t like businesses that toot their own horn without backing it up in some tangible way.
And that’s exactly what drives the visual social proof of displaying the number of products sold on your website page.
Any company can claim that they are the best, but providing viewers with quantifiable evidence takes those claims to a level where people can actually measure a company’s performance.
In the example below, the company is touting how many people used its service in the past year.
But the company does something really smart because after providing the visual social proof of how many people took advantage of its service, it then offers an attention grabbing call-to-action (CTA) that invites users to sample the service for free for 60 days.
The placement of the social proof and the CTA are not an accident.
The company first established its credibility by citing the number of customers who have already signed up to use its service.
Once that credibility is established, then it’s so much easier for prospective customers to give a proven service a try, especially with a 60-day no-hassle offer.
And this type of visual social proof can work really well if you are an e-commerce site that sells a lot of different types of products because you can create urgency by displaying exactly how many of your products have sold and how many are left for customers to buy.
You can’t underestimate the power of an influencer that has established a powerful following through social media and other avenues because that person has built trust and credibility.
The problem many business owners make, however, is thinking that an influencer has to be a celebrity that everyone recognizes.
While that may be the goal of big brands, small businesses should focus on celebrities within their own industry because those are whom their target audience would most care about.
So, in the example above, you can see that the business owner posted an endorsement by John Jantsch, who is not well-known outside of marketing circles, but is quite influential within the digital marketing industry.
Jantsch’s endorsement is concise and to the point, but it strongly endorses Backlinko as a site that he finds valuable, and in making this endorsement, Jantsch is also telling his many followers that Backlinko is worthy of their time.
What are trust seals?
Take a look below and you’ll realize that you’ve seen these on some websites.
No matter what industry you’re in, there is some type of accrediting organization that can give your company the seal of approval when it comes to the level of security you provide your users.
So why is this a form of visual social proof?
Because it shows visitors that knowledgeable experts have verified that it’s safe for customers to give their personal information to your site without fear that hackers will steal their information.
Remember that social proof is all about confirmation by others that something is worthwhile, good, safe and efficient.
And just about every website asks for customer information, whether that involves filling out a form field like the one below or completing an online purchase.
Recent surveys have found that trust seals provide users with an increased level of trust when they are thinking about making a purchase on a website, which is a key to converting a visitor into a customer.
In fact, survey respondents went as far as to list the seals they trusted the most, including:
Case studies are one of the most effective and powerful ways that your business can communicate how your product or service has worked for customers in a way that is measurable over a span of time.
Because case studies take examples from real customers, they provide evidence that the claims you make about your products and services actually work in real-life situations.
But there’s a problem with case studies: They’re boring.
The truth is that most readers may crave the information you’re offering in your case study, but they don’t want to slog through reams of text to get to that information.
So, what’s the answer?
Turn your case study into a visual representation of the most important things you want people to know.
In this example, a company that offers financial and human capital management is doing a case study of the results achieved for its client Netflix.
This is an example of a case study that relies heavily on statistics that are visual and easy to read and, as a result, customers not only get strong social proof, they also get it in a way that doesn’t put them to sleep or make them stop reading.
The other benefit of turning your case study into visual social proof is that this type of content is much easier for readers to share, and we’ve already talked about the importance of social sharing when it comes to persuading people that your business is worth checking out.
Most business owners are aware that people respond to visual marketing in a much more powerful way, primarily because the brain is wired to process information visually.
So when you are trying to determine the best way to turn social proof into visual marketing, it’s important that you understand the creative ways you can present this information to your audience without making it seem forced.
And even though social proof is almost entirely triggered by your customers, that doesn’t mean that you can’t manipulate positive customer feedback to showcase it in the most visual and compelling way possible.
In a world in which attention spans are very short, and there is so much content for people to sample, visual communication is becoming increasingly important.
And visual content that can communicate information in a way that is entertaining, eye-catching and easy-to-understand will stand out in a crowded field in which everyone is vying for their piece of the pie.
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