How to Boost eCommerce Conversions with Social Proof

Jun 26, 2021 8 min read


How to Boost eCommerce Conversions with Social Proof

Reading Time: 8 minutes

With the increase of competition in eCommerce, sellers have begun to utilize the most effective psychological technique called Social Proof. Social proof plays a vital role in boosting eCommerce Conversion.

It was said by a famous marketing cartoonist Tom Fishburne stands true today for this method that “The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing”. Let us see, how does social proof work? Will it really contribute to the growth of your eCommerce business? What are the various types of social proof you can incorporate in eCommerce marketing?

I answer these questions in this article along with some tips on how to boost conversions with social proof. Let’s begin with understanding what social proof is and why it is important for every eCommerce business.

Social proof in eCommerce – What is it important? Why should you care about it?

Dr. Robert Cialdini, a famous psychologist and marketing expert, coined the term Social Proof in 1984. He mentioned it first in his ground-breaking book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. The book advocated that in an unfamiliar situation, people tend to take actions based on how others around them behave. 

For example, if a person is new to a city and looking for a place to dine at, they will choose to go to a restaurant that is beaming with customers and not the adjacent one where they can see very few customers. 

This is because humans tend to believe in collective wisdom. If they want to make a decision, they will rely on the judgment of other people who have made a similar decision and succeeded.

In the above example, the new guy in the city trusts the judgment of many others who must have tried the restaurant in the past, had a good experience, and so they continue to visit the place. 

This trust in the experiences shared by others forms the foundation of social proof marketing. Social proof in eCommerce marketing refers to showcasing the actions, words, and reviews of customers or third parties about your brand. The objective is to make the audience believe that the product would be a good fit for them because it has been so for others like them.

Importance of social proof in eCommerce conversions

Engaging with an online store for the first time is an unfamiliar situation for a person. The brand is new to them and they have no idea about its authenticity.

Because people can’t physically see or touch a product they are buying online, social proof marketing becomes all the more important for eCommerce businesses. 

According to a Nielsen study, a whopping 70% of consumers trust opinions posted online while making a purchase decision. Another study confirms that social media influences the purchase behavior of 87% of consumers. It also revealed positive product reviews garner 113% more sales and can potentially raise the product price by 9.5%!

So reviews, ratings, testimonials, comments, social media posts are all examples of strong social proof in eCommerce branding. They enable customers to feel more confident while buying from an eCommerce store. And thus, social proof in eCommerce is an integral part of boosting conversions.

7 ways to leverage Social Proof in eCommerce and boost conversions

Let’s talk about the different ways you can use social proof in eCommerce. I’ll also share some really good social proof examples that you can quickly recreate and adapt.

1. Showcase user-generated content on social media and product pages

User-Generated Content (UGC) is anything that a customer says about your brand online. So a product review, a good customer experience story, a video of a customer using/suggesting your product, etc are all examples of user-generated content.

UGC is one of the most influential examples of social proof. In fact, 79% of consumers say UGC impacts their buying decision in favor of a brand. So if you want to boost your eCommerce conversions, try to get your customers to talk positively about your brand.

Tips on how to garner user-generated content for your eCommerce brand:

  • Create a hashtag and ask customers to post their experiences online using that hashtag. This way, you can easily find and feature UGC on your brand’s social platforms.
  • Create giveaway contests to encourage your audience to raise awareness about your brand. Asking people to tag their friends in the comments, to share something on their story and tag your brand, etc are common types of giveaway contests.

2. Display customer testimonials on the online store/product listings

Good customer testimonial format example on the Milanote website

WikiJob, the largest jobs website in the UK, once A/B tested their conversions with and without featuring testimonials. Unsurprisingly though, the landing page with customer testimonials led to 34% higher conversions.

A customer testimonial sends a strong trust signal to your visitor. But more importantly, elaborate testimonials from others enable the visitor to understand how the product will likely benefit them too. This paves the way for more informed purchase decisions.

Tips on how to leverage customer testimonials to boost eCommerce conversions

  • If there are certain words you would love in a testimonial, ask questions using those words so the user is subconsciously led to include them in their answers too.
  • Feature video testimonials on your product pages. They leave a lasting impression and provide a scope for a more nuanced review of your product.
  • Use tools like Yotpo or Loox to automate the “leave a review” email campaign. These tools not only collate all the data but also make it easy to feature those reviews on your product pages.
  • Repurpose the testimonials in different ways in your social profiles, website, and product pages.

3. Invite industry experts to share their insights on your social media/blog

KleenOWipe, ask experts to share their experiences and contribute on their social channel

This tactic is useful for B2C eCommerce too but it’s particularly more lucrative for B2B online businesses. In the case of B2B, you deal with a smarter customer who also knows the ins and outs of marketing.

Thus, what you say about your brand holds little to no importance. What your smart customers need is strong social proof of your product’s usability. That is why having industry experts advocate your brand is an essential marketing strategy in this case.

Tips on how to use guest contributions to drive more sales

  • Feature guest posts from experts on your company blog. Expert insights on your blog lead a potential customer from the inspiration stage to the consideration stage. Moreover, your brand gains more visibility and more sales when the experts share the piece in their network.
  • Invite experts for social media takeovers. This expands your audience base plus gives your existing audience a chance to engage with experts. The result? A happy and loyal customer base.
  • Host podcasts or panel discussions with experts to establish your brand as an authority in your niche.

4. Create success stories of how your product/services helped customers

A case study example from Sprout Social

A case study is the most authentic social proof that you can use to boost eCommerce conversions. In a way, it is a testimonial with comprehensive details on how your product/service exactly helped a customer.

When a potential customer stumbles upon your case study example, they find themselves in the story you are telling. They learn how another person like them faced a similar problem and how you solved that problem successfully.

The outcomes other customers got from using your product acts as the most compelling element of any eCommerce conversion strategy. Although creating case studies demands more effort, but the ROI, especially in terms of lead generation, is worth it. 

Tips on how to build a case study for eCommerce business

  • Study your customers and narrow down the ones who are making the most of your product.
  • Get in touch with them, interview them on how they benefited from the product.
  • Create the right structure for the case study depending on your niche and target audience.
  • Use the template to build multiple case studies and promote them rigorously on different platforms.

5. Make the most of reviews and ratings on your product pages

How Amazon makes it easy to filter reviews and ratings

Of course, we all know how important reviews and ratings are when it comes to eCommerce conversions. But still, to put things in perspective, let me share one very vital piece of data here.

A shopper survey report in 2021 revealed that over 91% of consumers read a review before deciding to buy a product.

In other words, reviews can lead to a higher chance of conversions for 9 out of 10 product page visitors. So it’s only natural that most eCommerce businesses leverage reviews to boost conversions.

Moreover, reviews also have the potential to increase the visibility of your online store. How? Well, a review of your product would likely include words that you are targeting for search optimization. So they may eventually render your product page more relevant for your target keywords.

Tips on how to leverage reviews and ratings to boost conversions

  • Make it super quick and easy for customers to leave their reviews on your product page.
  • Sort the reviews so people can easily check the ones that are most relevant for them.
  • Learn the art of reputation management and respond to negative reviews tactfully.
  • If you are a new business, incentivize your first few customers to leave reviews on your product pages.

6. Showcase your existing customer base on website/social media

A good example from Slack on how to use the customer base as social proof

You may be a small business with only a few customers or a big one with a large client base. But what matters to your potential buyer is the social proof that you do have a customer base.

So make sure your online store features your client base. If you can show some prominent names, you are already winning it with brand credibility. If you have a small number of customers, see if you can get a testimonial from each one.

This is one of the least effort-intensive tasks that leave a lasting impression on your store visitors. Do it and see how your brand eventually starts bagging more sales.

7. Earn or pay for media mentions for overall brand performance

Pooja Dhingra, the founder of Le15, used PR smartly and quickly gained immense popularity for her brand.

It’s no secret that a lot of businesses don’t just earn but also pay for media mentions. You too can get on the bandwagon and get a headstart to build your brand.

Do a press release or collaborate with a media outlet to create a buzz about your online store. Or you could also aim to build your personal brand and share the story of your startup with media outlets.

As they say, no publicity is bad publicity. The more reads or views your brand story gets, the more sales it is likely to generate.

Wrapping Up

Social proof in eCommerce has become one of the most common eCommerce conversion hacks now. In the absence of concrete social proof, your target audience is less likely to trust you. This, in turn, leads to higher bounce rates and further reduces conversions.

If yours is a B2C eCommerce business, UGC can be extremely lucrative for you. Social media is your playground, do all you can to get people to talk about you. For B2B eCommerce sales, case studies and highlighting customer base can go a long way. But, certifications and trust seals are an absolute must.

Lastly, reviews and FAQs are very helpful in boosting conversions regardless of which industry you operate in. So make sure you help your buyer make an informed purchase decision by incorporating a user-friendly rating mechanism on your online stores.

Disha Shah is a co-founder of Pragmatic Consultancy and DIMC and has contributed to the success of various service-sector startups and SMEs for 15 years now. She has been faculty to various business schools and ran her own institute for 13 years. She has expertise in cost-benefit analysis, GAP analysis and guiding team to increase efficiency, reduce cost and increase profitability. She conducts various training programs on team motivation, leadership, costing, and process improvements. Apart from being a foodie, Disha is fond of dancing and reading books.