How to use social proof to build trust online?

Trust is an underlying element for online sales as according to TrustPulse, 83% of customers don’t trust advertisements, but online reviews.

No matter how much high-quality traffic you drive to your website, your page visitors will not buy your products if they haven’t established a good relationship with your brand.

When your potential buyers land on the page, you have to help them build trust with your company right away using a number of trust signals. Otherwise, you will end up with a low-converting leaky page and a burned marketing budget.

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Photo by Rowen Smith on Unsplash

In this article, I will explain how you can build trust with people who land on your website for the first time and convince them to buy your product.

Before diving into the key content elements that will help your audience believe in your product, let’s first explore the concept of social proof, a term once coined by Robert Cialdini in his book Influence (1984).

What is social proof?

Social proof is a concept that describes a psychological mechanism that drives people to follow the actions of other people. When we are unsure about the steps we need to take, we tend to rely on the public’s common opinion. In simple words, we often rely on “what others say” to back our buying decisions.

When choosing to buy a product, people often rely on recommendations from their close social circle – friends, colleagues, and family.

Have you ever decided to go to a new restaurant because your friend has posted a mention of it on their Instagram feed? If your answer is yes, you have been subject to this psychological mechanism at least once.

Key elements of social proof

There are many ways you can use social proof to boost trust among your website visitors. Let’s explore its most common tactics, such as client logos, testimonials, reviews, case studies, awards, and recent customer activity.

Integrate client logos

Mentioning the top of mind companies among your potential buyers can become a powerful way to build trust when your lead has just entered the website.

Expose the client logos high on the page. Ideally, you would try to integrate them on the above the fold area, which is the first screen a user sees after opening a webpage.

Take a look at how Latana has incorporated its client logos in the above the fold area. The logos represent a few recognizable brands from the tech industry. A brand manager in a tech startup would find them look quite familiar!

Latana

When thinking of placing client logos on the website, make sure to choose the most recognizable ones. Would you trust a branding agency that worked with Adidas or some local gym brand? The answer seems obvious!

Are you targeting only startups? Then make sure you place the client logos, which represent startups, not corporations. Keep in mind your target client and use the power of logos as one of the social proof tactics to build trust and convert visitors into clients.

Look at how a recruitment solution, Traffit, focuses on targeting more prominent brands such as Randstad, Toyota, Antal, and more. No doubt, they focus their business effort on enterprise companies.

Traffit

For example, when HR managers working in companies similar to the presented brands enter the page, they know they are in the right place as they understand the tool serves the needs of HR managers of more established companies.

Check out similar examples of integrating logos which Juro used.

Show your media coverage

Have you been covered in major media outlets? If so, don’t hesitate to mention this! Who would not know the Economist, Harvard Business Review, or Tech Crunch?

Making your target audience aware of your engagement with publishers helps establish trust.

Take a look at how Jon Torres uses the logos of major media publishers where he was mentioned as an expert.

Jon Torres

Show client reviews and testimonials

According to Trustpilot, a whopping 89% of online buyers read reviews before purchasing a product.

Client reviews and testimonials can be a powerful tool to break objections that block users from clicking a “buy” button.

So how can you collect and make the best use of reviews and testimonials?

Ask your customers to review your product or service shortly after the purchase. Remember to reach them asking for a review when they have already tested your product and experienced its value.

For example, if you are a software development company, you would ask your client to give a review when they have already achieved their business milestones with a new software tool. For example, when they get their first 100 users or generate 3K in recurring revenue.

There is no point in asking for reviews before your client experiences the value of the solution you have delivered.

You can utilize smart tools such as Trustpilot that will help you collect reviews with ease. Also, consider integrating chatbots into your marketing effort to ask customers for a review of your product or service when there is the right moment for it. Here’s a chatbot collecting data about customer’s satisfaction. It can also be designed to collect reviews that you can later use as your social proof.

chatbot

With this or similar tools, you can automate the process of requesting reviews by sending automated messages, create customized review pages, and have your reviews appear high on Google.

Collect client case studies

While testimonials and reviews present your customer’s opinion in a brief form, extended case studies can help clients understand a bigger picture. Also, it helps them dive deeper into what challenges your product or service solves and what outcome they can expect.

The case study content structure is usually broken down into several categories, such as an overview, challenge, process, solution, and summary.

Check out how Digital Silk structures their case studies. Apart from a standard format, they also show the results they managed to achieve with each client.

Digital Silk

The process of creating a case study requires collecting and processing in-house information about a customer – talking to a sales representative or account manager who was in charge of selling the product and ensuring a customer is happy when using it.

Ideally, you also want to schedule a 20-minute interview with a client to clarify and confirm the case study’s details. Don’t forget to get your case study authorized! You should be 100% sure your client agrees to have the case study published.

Sometimes, a client would prefer to avoid mentioning specific aspects of your cooperation and you have to account for his will.

So, what if you can’t uncover the customer’s company name and your client is against any form of the case study? You can still make use of the story! Strip your case study of the information that your client would find sensitive and publish it as a white-label.

The white-label case studies don’t mention the information that would breach your NDAs with the client and their company name.

Show your awards

Depending on the specifics and industry where you operate, you can show some relevant awards and nominations that you have received in the past.

For example, if you are selling a SaaS product, you can mention your success on the websites with reviews and curated content such as Capterra, G2, or Product Hunt.

If you are a B2B service provider and have been rated high on Clutch, a B2B review site, you can also mention your achievements there.

So how can you integrate award mentions?

Use the badges of the organizations where you receive reviews or get nominated for some awards.

badges

Check out how RedRag Marketing integrated the Clutch award on their page.

Mention recent customer activity

If you are selling your product online and have high sales volume, you can use this fact to create a justified impression about your product as being in high demand. It helps create some buzz and urgency.

As your products sell like hot buns, your leads will want to make a buying decision faster.

By integrating recent customer activity on your website, you can improve page conversion by 15%, according to Optin Monster. Just take a look at how Proof, has done it:

Proof

How to incorporate social proof?

We have already examined the main elements of social proof. Now, let’s recap how you can balance the use of social proof elements to enhance trust among potential clients.

Social proof on the main page

Make sure you place visual elements such as logos or badges high on the page as users rarely scroll to the bottom. If you have quite some information on your main page, you should expect your users to explore just a fraction of it.

The user attention span has been decreasing over the last decade. These days, brands have only 8 seconds to appeal to customers and keep them focused on your brand.

8 seconds

That is why you have to utilize visual elements higher on the page, in the above the fold area where their attention still lasts.

Back your words with reviews

Instead of placing testimonials as a separate section on your primary or product pages, you can use them as a supporting point to your statements.

There is a little reason a customer would trust everything you claim about your products as brands tend to over advertise themselves. To put your point across better, look for the excerpts of the client testimonials and reviews you have collected in the past. If they fit the context, place them next to your statement about your product.

Take a look at the example of implementation.

example

Create a separate menu tab

Include all your case studies in the dedicated menu tab, such as “Clients” or “Portfolio”.

Analyzing user flow on the pages of tech businesses, I have noticed that a big chunk of converting users has clicked directly to the portfolio and read case studies after landing on the main page or blog. These users were usually a step forward to buying products compared to other user segments.

Your client stories are an important touchpoint leading to sales. That is why you have to dedicate a special place to it on your page. Make it easy for users to find your portfolio by exposing it on your page – in both your page menu and the main page.

menu

You can follow the example of Mario Peshev, who has featured excerpts of his testimonials. This approach helps avoid cluttering the page with the extended text versions.

Mario Peshev

Fluxe Digital Marketing has placed reviews in a separate menu tab, leading a user to a page with all listed testimonials. They are supporting the written content with video. This is an excellent tactic! According to Wordstream, marketers using video manage to grow revenue 49% faster than the marketers avoiding it in their content.

Fluxe

Leverage influencers in your industry

Let industry influencers tell about your brand in their communities and spread a word about your company. How to get influencer mentions if you are not a small brand?

Interview them! After your interview is live, ask an influencer to share the link with their audience on social media channels. They would generally agree to do it – who would not like to generate some buzz around their brand?

For example, here is how Milosz Krasinski integrated interviews with the experts on his webpage.

Milosz Krasinski

What’s next with social proof?

You have learned about the following concepts that will now boost your sales effort.

  1. Social proof is a powerful psychological mechanism that drives user action online.  Multiple marketing tactics incorporate social proof.
  2. You can use the mechanism of social proof on your website to build trust with potential customers faster and convince them to buy your product. These tactics include showing awards, client testimonials, reviews, and clients’ logos.
  3. You should make smart decisions about incorporating the key elements which include social proof to reach your customers’ attention early enough in the buying process.

There is only one thing that you can do with this knowledge – action! Now, take the next step – create a checklist on what you need to do to boost users’ trust on your webpage.  Implement the changes and measure the improved conversion.

After you have optimized your page to convert at a higher rate with trust signals, you now can proceed with driving more traffic to your page working closely with your marketing agency or hire a content marketing consultant such as Launch Space or Margo Leads. Also, you can now focus on content distribution more, using social media channels to promote content with the tools such as Social Pilot and Viral Content Bee.


About the Author

Margo Ovsiienko

Margo Ovsiienko is a Growth Marketing Strategist. She creates content that converts website visitors into paying customers for SaaS companies and tech agencies. She is writing on her hands-on experience in marketing on her personal blog, Margo Leads.