What is Social Proof? Hint: It Super-Charges Your Lead Generation

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We all want a silver bullet.

An easy hack we can use to get more leads, conversions, and profit.

As any experienced entrepreneur knows, there’s no such thing.

But there is social proof, which is pretty close.

Social proof is one of those marketing phrases you hear a lot.

And even if you don’t know exactly what it means, it’s a powerful tool.

Imagine you’re driving down a desert highway looking for a car dealership. You find one, but it’s empty.

So you keep going.

A mile later, you see a party in front of a different car dealership. There’s even a giant billboard overhead. It dons the face of a smiling customer and a positive testimonial.

You decide to pull in and check it out.

Why did you do that?

Aside from the obvious—the lights, the party—what was the underlying psychological force that influenced you to pull over?

It’s called social proof—and it comes in many forms.

Let’s dive in.

What is Social Proof?

Social proof is the concept that people trust other people when making a decision about investing time or money into something.

You’re probably already familiar with how social proof works in your day-to-day life.

You might see people wearing certain brands because other people do.

Or if a few friends are gushing over Chipotle’s new menu item, you’ll probably end up trying it.

As business owners, social proof is arguably your most influential selling tool.

It’s important to know exactly what it is, so you can leverage it.

So here’s a complete definition:

Social proof is a psychological phenomenon where people copy others’ actions. This happens when people are unable to determine how to act appropriately and assume others possess more knowledge about the situation.

Social proof can make or break a business—what other people say about your business will form the impression others have about it.

The great thing is that you can influence what propects think by cherry-picking your social proof.

Have 8,000 subscribers on your email list? Why not use that stat to influence a visitor to join?

Did your last customer say you were the “best pizza joint in the tristate area”? Use it.

You want to gather plenty of social proof to showcase your brand as one to be trusted and one to be desired.

But leveraging social proof in your sales funnel isn’t just about including a few testimonials.

It’s more complicated than that.

There are many types of social proof, so let’s talk about them.

Type of Social Proof #1—Testimonials

Testimonials are one of the strongest types of social proof you can use.

Testimonials are quotes about your business.

Use the right ones, and you’ll see big results.

Check this out:

This is an A/B test on the WikiJob site that shows a 34% increase in conversion rate.

All they did was implement 3 small customer testimonials.

Yet, that small change dramatically increased their conversion rate.

Cool, right?

Here’s a tip—make sure the testimonials are your best.

Don’t recycle generic customer quotes.

It may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people use a “great customer service” testimonial over a gushing one that sells the specific benefits a customer received.

Also, try to use testimonials that counter the objections of your audience.

For example, position a testimonial next to your checkout button that affirms the service is worth the price. That will ease prospects’ concern about the price.

Type of Social Proof #2—Reviews

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Are you in e-commerce?

If you sell physical products or services, reviews are paramount.

PowerReviews notes that 95% of shoppers consult customer reviews.

And 86% of consumers say that reviews are an essential resource when making purchase decisions.

Those are pretty big numbers.

People want to see what other people think about your product.

Reviews carry a heavy weight in your prospect’s mind. So it’s important you get them for your product.

If you don’t have any, start collecting them.

Just ask past customers to review your product after they’ve used it. You can send an email follow-up.

When you do get some impressive reviews, make sure they are front and center on your website.

Type of Social Proof #3—Vanity Stats

Here’s one you may not have considered before, but the effect is powerful.

It’s quite easy to do, too.

Even if you have no testimonials or reviews, you can still use vanity stats effectively.

Vanity stats are statistics that show your service is credible.

While they are not solid statistics, these metrics still reflect well on your business.

Some examples of vanity stats include:

  • The average satisfaction rating you’ve received from clients
  • The number of customers you’ve served
  • Your years in business

And, believe it or not, these numbers can be utilized to sway customers in your direction.

We use this on the AutoGrow landing page. For example:

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By flexing our vanity stats, our business looks more credible to first-time visitors on the site.

By knowing that over 400 other companies have worked one-on-one with us, a new prospect is more likely to sign-up with us.

Everyone wants to be assured they’ll be in good hands after the purchase is made. And vanity stats accomplish that.

See how that works?

When it comes to using vanity stats in your own sales funnel, try using a number.

It could be the average rate of recommendation or the number of calls you get everyday.

Those numbers will reassure prospects that they aren’t taking a gamble on your company.

And obviously, the higher the number, the better it looks.

Type of Social Proof #4—Press Logos & Third Party Logos

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Many sites feature press logos to bolster their credibility.

When you showcase the approval of an authority, you “borrow” their credibility.

People tend to paint you under the same brush of authority if, for example, you’ve been featured on CNN.

If your brand is not very well known, displaying press logos on your website is a great move.

The more acclaimed the press source, the better.

Thumbtack tested the efficacy of press logos.

The study included more than 6,000 visitors to their landing pages. They determined that including press logos increased sign-ups by 17%. 

If you haven’t been featured in the press, you can just as easily use third party logos to create social proof.

It’s the same idea as the social proof bar above. But if you don’t have any notable clients or press, find a way to include logos of third party companies.

These are things like accreditations (maybe your website is SSL encrypted), networking groups (if you’re a part of any, showcase their logo) or the apps you support.

Another option is showcasing the logos of businesses that use the type of solution your company provides, but present it clearly in the text so you don’t mislead visitors.

This will make you look more credible by association.

The key to this tip is in borrowing credibility of more trusted, larger brands.

Type of Social Proof #5—Case Studies

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Case studies are a more detailed way to show what you’ve done as a service business.

With a case study, you can document what you’ve accomplished for a customer from start to finish.

The purpose is two-fold: not only are you demonstrating how great you are at what you do, but you’re also taking readers through the process.

This also helps a future customer visualize working with you.

It’s kind of like a mini-sales funnel in itself. Or a lead magnet to be accurate.

A case study is the most believable social proof there is. In fact, using a case study grew Neil Patel’s revenue by 185%.

He found that while case studies may not generate the greatest number of leads, they dramatically increased the closing ratio.

Another example—Optimizely utilizes case studies right on their landing page:

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How To Incorporate Social Proof into Your Sales Funnel

Now, you may be thinking,“all of these types of social proof are great, but how do I use them?”

More importantly, “how can I plug it into my sales funnel to make sales?”

If you aren’t clear on what a sales funnel is (or need a refresher course), read this article.

You’ll want to introduce social proof wherever it makes sense on your website.

Especially when a prospect is asked to make a decision (like an opt-in or to buy).

This will increase your prospect’s confidence, reduce their feeling of risk, and get you better leads, quicker.

So, for starters, plug some testimonials into your landing page.

Include a number of clients serviced to date (or some other vanity stat) on your opt-in box.

Conclusion

You don’t have to be a huge company with millions of testimonials to leverage social proof.

You don’t need social proof plastered to every step of your sales funnel for it to make a significant difference, either.

But when used in the most fundamental steps of your sales funnel, it can be potent in collecting leads.

But in order to capitalize on this tactic, you need to know and implement the type of social proof that matters to your market.

Trust me, you’ll see results.

Do you currently have any form of social proof on your website? What’s the first thing you can do right now to get a testimonial?

Let me know in the comments.

Keep Hustlin’, Stay Focused,

—Matt

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