Why you may ask: Because people trust other people more than they believe marketers.
Taking into consideration this fact, using Social Proof is a must.
After reading this article, you will go further down the marketing rabbit hole and deepen your knowledge about tactics used in Marketing.
We dare to say that Social Proof shortens the consumer journey from prospect to buyer.
If you are a digital marketer, blogger, affiliates marketers, niche site owner, a seller, a business owner, an entrepreneur, or a C-level executive, using Social Proof as a marketing strategy will definitively give you an advantage over your competitors.
You may already be using some form of Social Proof as part of your marketing strategy stack.
Social Proof leverages elements of human psychology that have been developed along with evolution to keep us alive, build bonds with others, and create groups of people that thrived together.
In other words, as Social Beings, highly influenced by the opinions and behavior of others, Social Influence is deeply ingrained in our DNA.
Like it or not.
Why use Social Proof software? Simply said, because it works:
- Social Proof works no matter the industry.
- Social Proof works no matter the targeted audience.
- Social Proof works no matter what the product or service you are selling.
From eCommerce stores, selling eBooks, webinars, coaching, dentist office, hotels, stores, travel, hospitality, and the list goes on and on and on.
After reading this post, you will know:
- the Mind Tricks that Social Proof leverages
- how to add a Human Touch
- how to buyer’s anxiety, decision paralysis, reduce friction
Reason 1: The Mind, Use Mind Tricks proven to boost conversions and sales
Social Proof uses the Mind, our software (the body being the hardware), to bring consumers to action.
In the field of Social Proof itself, there are dozens and dozens of effective tactics that marketers can exploit. But those tactics would not work if they did not leverage the core of the decision-making process: the Mind.
In the book Positioning: The Battle for your Mind written by Al Ries and Jack Trout, they use the idea of positioning of the brand in the prospect’s mind. In other words, brands are mapped into our minds; we can refer to this as the Mind Map, where brands are mapped depending on the values, pricing, benefits, pros, and cons, etc. we attribute them.
So positioning’s raison d’être is to ensure that the potential customer knows where the brand stands in the market in comparison to its competitors in terms of value-added, strengths, and weaknesses. Companies can engineer this positioning in the Mind Map of entire populations.
So the starting line is not the product or the service itself; it is instead the minds of the prospects.
If you were to make a new product and keep it in a box for no one to see, that product would only have chemical values, and it would not have any brand, any values, any position, etc.
But the second you take the product out of secrecy, it automatically begins a process: it finds its place in the market, in the world. It has a position in regards to other brands. It has a spot in the mind of the consumers, it creates a web of people who make the brand.
Companies will invest money in advertising and branding to influence how you perceive the product.
You can see Coca Cola as Happiness (based on their campaigns) or as a “carbonated drink with 40gr of sugar.” Your perception of the product depends on tons of different factors like:
- your education
- your values
- our past experiences
- the effort that marketers made to position the product in your mind.
The beauty of Social Proof is that it uses basic human psychology.
Human beings evolved over thousands of years.
We cannot fight against our own DNA.
So brands and companies leverage the power that Social Proof has upon us to boost their conversions and up their sales.
Social Proof leverages humans’ need for:
- Well-being: Need for trust
- Looking outside: Search for credibility and security outside of their own being.
- Copycat: Tendency to replicate the actions of others. If others do it, then I can assume it is safe and OK for me to do it too.
- Tribalism: we want to be part of a tribe, a clan, a group of other human beings we can relate to
- “New Me” effect: Need to visualize their “before buying the product and after buying the product states.”
No matter which tactic you use, the principles are always the same across all industries, markets, cultures, etc. The concepts of Social Proof transcends race, creed, religion, and pretty much everything that makes us human beings.
Now let’s talk about the Emotions.
Reason 2: Feelings and the mechanism of Social Proof
Social Proof tackles emotions. And emotions are the basis of purchase decisions.
We are all consumers, and when we buy something, we look outward to find information about the product or service. But first and foremost, we are Emotional Beings.
Can we say that we are Human Feelings?
The first issue we face when making a purchase decision is internal; it is our feelings and our emotions.
Think about the emotional roller coaster you sometimes go through before making a purchase.
We don’t know.
And before we can buy, we need to know, even just a little bit.
Do you have trust issues with the website, the brand, the security of the payment gateway, the quality of the product, etc.?
Do you experience fear-of-missing out?
You feel decision paralysis, uncertain that you are getting the “right thing”?
What about risk aversion and doubt?
If we are to spend money, we want to spend money on the right thing and not regret it later.
It is very natural to look at what other consumers who bought the same service or product are saying.
It is our way to find meaning, confirmation, and reduce the anxiety that we may feel before hitting the “Buy” button.
In marketing, nothing beats the opinion of others.
Consumers, including myself and yourself, stopped believing what marketers are saying about their own products.
If something is recommended by someone close to you, like a friend, a family member, or a colleague, the person’s opinion has a very high chance of influencing you.
Even in the case where a complete stranger leaves a review or a testimonial, even a stranger has a high impact on your opinion.
Now, what a brand or a company says about itself will never beat what other people say about the said brand or company, even if they are strangers.
That alone tells you how powerful Social Proof is.
The mechanism of Social Proof:
- We look outward for answers, confirmation, information, security… to reduce anxiety, friction, mental barriers and provide us with a sense of trust that we are doing the right thing
- We are social beings, and what we think and feel is influenced by others, we are part of the human tribe and look to other human beings for confirmation.
- We trust other people just like us more than brands, companies, and corporations
- The human touch beats branding, advertising, and suspicious self-promotional statements made by companies.
- Testimonials and reviews by people just like us have a similar impact that testimonials by celebrities and brand ambassadors have on us.
Without the human touch, you will be missing one vital element in your marketing strategy.
Reason 3: Social Proof Reduces Anxiety, Mental Barriers, and Friction
When people buy a product or a service, they go through a series of steps that we call the “Consumer Journey.”
Each step is a milestone. And each milestone has a few roadblocks.
So between the moment a consumer is exposed to a product or service until the moment he or she hits “Buy,” the company selling the service or product needs to be able to juggle with a series of strategies and tactics to reduce, and preferably remove, the roadblocks along the way.
The purchase is a mix of logical, emotional, conscious, and subconscious choices.
We are Emotional Beings, Social Beings, and I have doubted for a few years the amount of Rationality there truly is in our decisions.
We often underestimate the emotional aspect of the sales journey.
The roadblocks to a sale are a mix of the following:
- rational, logical friction (“already have so much stuff already”)
- mental barriers in the subconscious of the potential buyer (“I am worth it”)
- one element is always present: anxiety.
- anxiety is about multiple factors: price, warranty, post-purchase regrets, no the right thing, missing features, bad customer service experience, and the list goes on and on.
Prospects always have anxiety, whether they are aware of it or not.
So the role of marketers is to reduce if not altogether remove the anxiety that the prospects feel.
Social Proof helps marketers skip some steps. For example, a potential buyer may visit 2-4 review websites before making a purchase. By providing with Social Proof directly on your platform, you reduce the amount of steps that prospects will take outside your platform.
There are multiple tactics that you can use to reduce anxiety, such as cool ads, visually appealing design, excellent copy, incredible features, discounts, free stuff, free shipping, warranty… but nothing can replace Social Proof.
Social Proof is an add-on on top of all the other elements of your marketing stack, and we can even say that it should be part of your marketing stack.
The main advantage of Social Proof for marketers is that it is a tool used to reduce anxiety in their prospects’ minds. Social Proof uses something that is of our DNA, that is, the need to be part of a tribe, to look for other people’s opinions, the need for trust, the tendency to copycat what others are doing… because if others are doing, and they are feeling fine, then I can also do it without any stress nor any risk.
Without being able to reduce anxiety in prospects, your conversion and sales will fail to skyrocket.
Mind Tricks: Starts with the Mind, and not the Product or Service itself. Tactics you plan to leverage should be part of a logical flow of conversion that leads to a sale, using a mix of emotions and psychology. Sell a “new, you.”
Human Touch: Indirect praise. Provide an enhanced state of trust and credibility for the brand, by using what other people are saying about the product or the service; this is better than ads, branding, and self-promotion.
Reduce Negative Emotions: Remove frustration, paralysis, and anxiety-causing elements that may stop a prospect from continuing its journey until clicking the “Buy” button.
We wrote a review of the Best Social Proof Software, have a look if you want to know more.
Let us know if Social Proof is something you consider useful!