According to the most recent surveys, 92% of consumers read at least one review before buying something online. More striking, 47% of people will only buy products rated above 4 stars. However, despite these statistics, very few businesses have an effective strategy for using Social Proof in eCommerce.
What is Social Proof
Social Proof is a type of conformity. When a person is unsure how to act, they will often look to others for clues. Because of this, Social Proof is one of the most effective ways for eCommerce websites to build trust.
Surveys and reviews in the last couple of years have confirmed the importance of social proof to eCommerce:
- 95% of 18-35-year-olds read reviews before trusting a local business (2018 consumer review, BrightLocal)
- 63% of all customer check Google reviews before visiting a business (2018 internet survey, ReviewTrackers)
- Purchase likelihood with five reviews is 270% higher than with no reviews (2017 customer survey, Spiegel)
Social Proof And Consumer Behaviour
Most of the techniques on our list simply apply Social Proof to eCommerce website design. However, some incorporate other psychological principles. Here is a quick summary of the other psychological effects to look out for:
- Base rate fallacy: Base Rate Fallacy occurs when contextual or general information is neglected when analyzing more recent information.
- Commitment and Consistency: Once we have publicly committed to something, we are more likely to carry through and deliver on it.
- Mere-exposure Effect: The Mere-exposure Effect is the way a positive reaction can be induced simply from familiarity.
- Self-efficacy Theory: Self-efficacy is a person’s belief in their own competence. Remarkably, this belief is one of the best predictors of success or failure.
- Social Cognition: Social Cognition explains the way most people gravitate to things that resemble themselves.
- Social Comparison Theory: Social Comparison Theory describes how individuals evaluate themselves through comparison, rather than absolute terms.
Ways to Use Social Proof in eCommerce
If you have positive reviews about your products or services, it makes sense to display them on your homepage. Scott Dunn displays a carousel of customer reviews that build confidence in their service.
Research has shown that we have a strong tendency to copy others’ choices when we are hesitating. Moreover, seeing that someone else has had a positive experience will give your visitors more confidence to purchase, subscribe or fill in a form.
We automatically presume that our peers have a good reason for doing something or buying a particular product. So, if you have a popular product, let potential customers know it!
If the number is high, then display how many people have already bought a certain product. Your customer will certainly be influenced by knowing that a large number of other people have already chosen to buy this product.
It is much more powerful to show visitors how many previous customers recommend your product rather than recommending it yourself. Saying “We recommend…” or “We advise…” will immediately set a commercial tone and will not inspire confidence. Instead, showing them that their peers have recommended a certain product or service will be more trustworthy and will have a greater impact.
People also feel inspired to carry out an action (like making a purchase) when they see proof that it has been done many times before, meaning there haven’t been any snags in the process and that they can confidently carry out these same actions themselves.
Presenting your product as the #1 (be that the best-rated, best selling or fastest-growing, etc.) immediately gives your customers confidence and satisfaction with their purchase decision.
Displaying the number of people who have already “liked” your product is an effective persuasion tool.
This form of Social Proof taps into our desire to follow in the behavioral footsteps of our peers and will automatically attach a positive bias towards a product.
It may also encourage your customers to “like” the product themselves which will augment your product’s visibility online.
eCommerce website design is a form of a sales pitch. Muddle your words with a confusing advert or landing page, and your audience will lose interest. Get the pitch right, and your audience will become valued customers.
Social Proof is one of the most effective ways to build trust and interest in your products. By including customer reviews and testimonials on key pages, you can send your conversion rate through the roof.