Using Social Proof to Boost Your Online Shopping Site Conversions

Humans are inherently social beings. As such, we are passionately interested in what others are doing, and why. When we positively judge the behavior or reactions of the masses, we use them as a guide to our own. Psychologist Robert Cialdini coined this ‘’social proof” – a concept that describes “what is correct through reference to what other people think is correct, especially during times of crises when we don’t have time to think and have to make a decision right away” (source: Psychology Notes HQ).

To illustrate how this concept works in real-life: have you ever driven past a restaurant and seen patrons queueing outside? You probably thought that the food must be excellent if people are willing to wait outside, and considered visiting the restaurant in the future. The set-up for this was likely strategic – most restaurants ensure that their waiting area has limited space so that people queue outside and create the impression that the place is in-demand.

As an eCommerce business owner, you also may have already been influenced by social proof. Perhaps you noticed that a respected retail company is already making use of a payment gateway in South Africa and decided to request a demo because the technology solved the company’s payment issues.

Online customer reviews are perhaps the most effective form of social proof. Star ratings provide a point of reference for consumers’ purchasing decisions and can ultimately shape the way people perceive brands. According to Invesp, 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business. And 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

The bottom line is that you’ll sell more if you show your customers there are thousands of shoppers like them out there. Have a look of some of the onsite and social practices that could convince your prospects to add products to their cart and proceed through the checkout funnel.

Recommendation engine

Tailored recommendations have always been a part of online selling, and one way to pull this off is to give customers a peek into others’ carts. Shoppers normally see these suggestions as “people who bought this also bought..” messages after they’ve completed an order. This website extension, which gathers data on customers who have bought a similar product, is a great opportunity to cross-sell.

Bestsellers and popular products

This approach works especially well for customers who like to jump on the back of current trends. If you can figure out which products have been ordered the most, you can compile them in a section labeled ‘’Bestsellers’’ or ‘’Most Popular” to actively promote your best-performing merchandise on the landing page.

Client logos

Companies that make use of your product/service have enormous value of association and recognition connected to them. You may not always get a client testimonial, but you can request the use of their logos. By displaying these on your site, you are showing your prospects that other successful companies are happy with what your brand offers them. Getting the input of your customer base is one of the most effective ways to confirm your credibility as an eCommerce website.

Trust badges

By placing trust seals on your payment gateway page, you can increase buyer confidence in your checkout and boost transaction volume. According to a study, trust badges had more success in creating a sense of security in shoppers. These badges are available from your website’s SSL certificate provider, payment processor, or hosting company. There are a range of badges you could add such as Norton, McAfee, SLL Value, or even your Visa – Mastercard seal.

Social media

Social media presents a wealth of sources to help establish your brand as a reputable one. You can let the metrics speak for themselves – Large numbers of followings, likes, shares, and retweets present an opportunity to sell more to a wide potential range of customers. Other than these, you can also invite industry influencers or celebrities to act as an ambassador for your brand or endorse your product/service. They can, for example, provide educational content or share live streaming of an industry event they are attending.

If you are mentioned naturally by other brands (such as winning an award or receiving industry recognition), share them on your social media account. Leverage user-generated content such as contests, quizzes and hashtags to create a buzz around your brand. When you engage your followers on social media, you’ll have a better chance of directing them to your site.

Key takeaway: Many marketers and eCommerce website owners use social proof as a way to boost conversions by putting the minds of hesitant customers to rest.