It is human nature to care about what others think. Whether it is deciding on an outfit, a car,  any other type of purchase or even a physical change, many people get comfort from seeking approval from others.

Of course, there are others who are bolder and like to make their own pathway, but the large majority feel better knowing they are similar to others. This is why people go to popular restaurants or choose clothes that are ‘in fashion’.

This concept is known as social proof and it is something that has made its way into the digital marketing world. Word of mouth recommendations have long been a big part of successful marketing, with businesses generating new sales through customers telling their friends and family about how good their new purchase is. Now we have online platforms and features dedicated to social proof, in the form of reviews, ratings, likes etc.   

The power of online reviews and ratings

You see Google reviews, Tripadvisor reviews, Trust Pilot reviews and all kinds of other apps and websites where happy and unhappy customers share their experience of a company’s service and products. In the last decade, we have seen a significant increase in the volumes of reviews left and how much those reviews sway people when they are looking to make a purchase.

If someone is booking a holiday, instead of just reading the information that the hotel provides about its facilities and quality, people can now read hundreds of recent reviews to decide whether it is the kind of place that they will want to stay and if it is worth the money. For a larger financial purchase like this, social proof tends to be an even bigger factor. 

Before people buy something expensive, they usually do a fair amount of research to check whether it is the best option for them. Reading reviews and ratings allows a consumer to get a better idea of whether it is the right option and whether it is worth paying that money for. If they are deliberating between two similar hotels but they see that one scores 4 stars out of 5 on Tripadvisor and the other one scores 3 out of 5, the higher rated hotel is likely to be chosen.

It isn’t just online purchases that people like to do research on either, a study showed that 50% of shoppers will research products on their smartphone before they buy them.

How to use social proof in your marketing

Companies use social proof to persuade their customers to make a purchase. For example, using marketing messages such as ‘90% of customers rated this product as excellent’. Showing consumers that the majority of people like something, makes them believe that they will also like it. 

There are many examples of companies using the concept of social proof and other psychological techniques to drive more sales, or to get customers to take the action the company wants them to take.

Facebook and Instagram likes are a great way to show consumers that others like products.

Betfair carried out an A/B test where they leveraged some of these psychological techniques to try to increase their click-through rate. They used a technique known as Loss Aversion (i.e. using messaging such as ‘Don’t miss out!’), while also sharing the number of likes that they had accumulated on Facebook.

As expected, this combination of loss aversion and social proof had a positive effect for Betfair: they experienced a 7% increase in their click-through rate!

If you haven’t used social proof to improve your conversion rate yet, give it a try to see how you can reap the benefits for your business.