• Boris Mustapic

How to Use Social Proof to Generate More Sales for Your Ecommerce Business

Social proof is “the tendency to see an action as more appropriate when others are doing it”. It’s a term coined by Robert Cialdini, the author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.


In other words, social proof is what makes people rely on what others think and do to make their own decisions.


If you’re running an ecommerce business, you can take advantage of social proof to earn customers’ trust faster, improve conversion rates, and make shoppers feel comfortable about buying from you.


How social proof works


Social proof relies on four principles:


  • Similarity - People tend to copy the behavior of those they consider to be similar to them. This is why you’ll see beauty brands marketing their products to be gender-specific (e.g., men’s soap).

  • Attractiveness - When imitating behavior, people usually look up to those individuals that are more physically attractive. That’s why ads mostly feature very attractive people.

  • Desirability - People are more likely to engage in certain behavior if they desire to possess the qualities of the person that’s exhibiting that behavior. Supplement companies rely on this principle heavily - that’s why their ads always feature physically fit individuals.

  • Uncertainty - The Internet (combined with worldwide shipping) has made it easy for people to purchase anything they want from anywhere in the world. The vast number of different products available to consumers makes it difficult for them to decide which product is right for their specific needs. This causes uncertainty and forces consumers to seek recommendations from other people.


In this post, we’re going to talk about how you can use these principles to your advantage. Keep on reading to learn about five different strategies that rely on social proof to generate more sales.


Get recommendations from experts


When it comes to choosing the best product for their needs, people often turn to industry experts and rely on their opinions to make their decision. This makes getting recommendations from industry experts crucial for growing sales for your ecommerce business.


Find experts in your industry and contact them to ask if they’d be interested in reviewing your products. Note that some experts will certainly ask for payment in order to compensate for their time.


Source: naturemade.com

Others might be interested in getting free products or other perks in exchange for a review.


Once you get a recommendation from an expert in your industry, make sure to let everyone know about it. Display the recommendation in a prominent place on your website and post about it on your social media pages.


Have a celebrity or influencer endorse your brand


As much as 49% of consumers rely on celebrities and influencers for product recommendations (Annalect). If you’re a smaller brand, you most likely won’t be able to get a big celebrity to endorse your brand.


However, there’s plenty of small and big influencers that would be happy to endorse and promote your brand in exchange for free products.


Source: instagram.com

Note that some influencers that have quite a large following will most likely ask for monetary compensation. However, research shows that most influencers charge $250 or less for a promotional social media post, making it very affordable for brands to generate social proof through influencer endorsements (2016 Bloglovin’ Global Influencer Survey Report).


If you find influencers that are an excellent fit for your brand image, you can also offer them to become brand ambassadors and actively promote your brand on a regular basis. This will usually involve paying influencers a monthly retainer or giving them a commission on the product sales they generate.


Take advantage of user-generated content


User-generated content, as its name suggests, is content generated by your customers. It includes social media posts, reviews, and testimonials. As much as 79% of consumers state that user-generated content has a significant impact on their purchasing decisions (Stackla).


Consumers read an average of 7 online reviews before making a purchase. (BrightLocal)

Additionally, it’s been shown that consumers read an average of 7 online reviews before making a purchase (BrightLocal), with 90% of them stating that reviews positively or negatively influenced their buying decisions at least once (Dimensional Research).


Source: instagram.com

Incentivize your customers to create social media content featuring your products by offering them discounts or prizes. Reshare their content on your own social media pages to give it more exposure.


Email customers asking them to review their purchase. Make sure to simplify the reviewing process to ensure that as many customers as possible leave a review.


Start a referral program


People rely heavily on recommendations from friends and family when making purchases. In fact, consumers are as much as four times more likely to buy a product if it was recommended by their friends (Nielsen).


A referral program is an excellent way to incentivize your customers to start recommending your products to their friends and family.


Source: harrys.com

When designing your referral program, make sure to implement meaningful incentives that your customers will consider valuable enough to be worth putting in the effort to recommend your products.


Different incentives you can experiment with include discounts, free products, and even monetary compensation.


Once you create your referral program, promote it by emailing your customers and posting about it on your social media pages.


Use sales numbers and social shares to your advantage


The principles of social proof dictate that people are more likely to buy a product if they see that a lot of other people have bought it. You can take advantage of this by displaying the total number of sold products on each individual product page.


Source: radioshack.com

Another thing you can do is to show the number of shares your products generated on social media. Finally, you can use an app such as Sales Pop to show product sales as they happen in real-time.


Use social proof to generate more sales for your ecommerce business


Getting social proof for your brand and products is a must if you want to grow your ecommerce business. Expert recommendations, celebrity endorsements, user-generated content, referrals, and sales numbers are all excellent examples of social proof that can help you gain shoppers’ trust more easily.


Are you already taking advantage of social proof to generate more sales? What type of social proof has worked best for you?


Let us know in the comments.