There’s more to social proof that just testimonials.
Here’s a little illumination before we get down and dirty:
The most powerful force in marketing is buzz, which is exactly why you should consider a pre launch process for every product you release. How would we define buzz?
In general, buzz is the emergence of a common topic among the collective conversations humans are having with each other at a given point in time.
When we learn that Harry and Sally are talking about the same product launch as us, and then hear about another pair, and another… we become a part of the Buzz.
When you are about to make a decision, what question is in your head? What are you thinking about? What can seal the decision for you?
We would suggest that one of the most powerful influences would be hearing from someone else very similar to you that has already made the purchase and can thus share the same good results hopefully that you are looking for. That’s social proof.
Seeing someone else making or having made the same decision you’re about to make – that’s something to be a part of.
Social proof appeals to our natural, very basic instinct to be a part of something; a pack, a group, or a larger social unit. We’re hard wired to desire this – it’s pure, beautiful human nature.
And you can use this nugget to help people find their justification for buying your product.
Effective Kinds of Social Proof
1. Implied Celebrity Endorsement
This one should be handled with care, but can help when done right. Let’s say you’re marketing skating shoes, and you sell the same kind that celebrity skateboarder Tony Hawk uses. Somewhere in your scheme you could mention “the same shoes used by Tony Hawk.” By showing the buyer that the product is good enough for a star in your niche, it’s most probably good enough for the hobbyist.
2. Testimonial Case Study
Do your testimonials explain specific results? Instead of using a 3-sentence endorsement, what if you studied a client and then showed exactly what they employed from your product, why it worked, and how they could build on it? This becomes much more than the “Product X rocks and you should buy it!” option. The specificity and thoroughness of a case study may be just what the doctor ordered.
A second form of this is the before–after model. Ask a client how they were doing before your product and how things improved immediately after, followed by long term benefits. For example:
“I was making 10 sales a week before buying Magic Marketing. Two weeks after purchasing I was already up to 18 sales a week and now, 8 weeks since I started using the product, my average week sees 23 sales! My sales more than doubled from Magic Marketing and I’m still learning more!”
This highlights immediate and long term improvements, which will speak to a wider audience.
3. Quantity-related social proof
The idea is to have a visual representation of the quantity being sold, or to have a limit in the quantity available. As a side note, be sure to justify a limited quantity, especially if it is a digital product. A few ways to do this:
- Show an image of the physical products or a screenshot of a report showing unit number (for instance)
- Tell your audience the site will go down once you’ve sold out
- Use a countdown for products available
- Limited quantity bonuses
These items, especially the limited quantity bonus, give you a reason to email your list:
Just so you know, the first 100 that included the bonus have already sold out, so best you get moving and to get your hands on the last 50 bonus giveaways!
All these quantity displays show that others are buying, proving to the lead that other people are making the plunge as well and that they are not alone.
4. Blog Comments
If you run a blog around your product or blog, make comments easy to find. You could even highlight some of them or use them as testimonials. Remember that people almost always scroll down to see comments on blogs immediately, to look for social proof that the post is worthwhile.
Another way to collect and show social proof is to host a call and let users message in questions that you answer during the session.
1. Ask your customers for stories with really great outcomes, then send them out and challenge others to send in their own reports. This not only gives social proof, but also encourages consumption.
2. If you send out an email blast to your list and get questions, you can use those questions as social proof in future emails (“so and so asked this great question… and here’s the answer”) 3. Casually show the number of times something was downloaded, or a post was viewed, number of people watching, etc.
For the Record…
Yes, you can overdo it. Once it becomes unbelievable you are then only hurting yourself. Finding the balance is key.
How To Place Testimonials and Other Forms of Social Proof
The key point is, when someone looks through testimonials or other forms of social proof, they are trying to find a testimonial by “themselves” or someone like them. They are looking for the easiest touch point to relate to, so the most influential social proof are the ones from their same peer group.
Or, they may be looking for proof that something works. To help give your benefit or feature list more impact, follow it with a testimonial attesting to the result. For instance, if you have a tool with a key automation feature, you should probably add a testimonial right after the copy, from someone who had used it and saved a lot of time.
Another example would be to put a testimonial in your signup form from someone who enjoyed your free lessons.
Place your testimonials so they are directly related to the minute context of that part of your sales message.
What If You Don’t Currently Have a Community?
How do you collect and show social proof if you’re launching a new product but have yet to assemble a supportive community?
Use the number of opt-ins, number of times people Google a key niche-related search term, or something else to create a peer group on the fly.
Your audience’s common interest in your niche is enough to mold a community out of it. You just have to get a little creative.
Highlighting the existence of this peer group will act as social proof and build further buzz around your product.
Let’s wrap it up here
When you’re crafting your social proof, just remember these key points:
- Social proof is most effective when given by someone similar to the reader – similar “situation,” similar interests and reaching a similar desired outcome.
- Social proof is more than testimonials!
- People want to be a part of a community and that community is inherent social proof that other people are doing or purchasing something the target wants.