How to increase your sales online with social proof

February 28th 2023
10 min
Grafik mit Kundenbewertungen Social Proof - Peel and Pulp Digital.

Used correctly, social proof, one of the most powerful psychological concepts, gives you a degree of control over the performance of your online shop.

Imagine you want to buy a stand-up paddleboard, read test reports and end up with 3 products from different online shops that you shortlist. You don't see any differences in quality so far.

At the first online shop, the stand-up paddleboard has 4.6 stars, 108 reviews and shows photos of happy customers who use the paddleboard. The second online shop has only four 5-star reviews and online shop number 3 has no reviews at all. Where would you buy your stand-up paddleboard?

Like you, the majority of people feel the same way. They tend to go for the first product.

In this blog post you will learn how to use social proof and increase your sales.

  • What is Social Proof?

  • How and why does social proof work?

  • What effective measures are there?

  • How can you specifically increase your conversion rate on the product detail page and in the shopping cart?

Social proof means we look to others to make a decision for ourselves

Social proof is one of the most powerful psychological concepts that works especially well when we feel insecure. We look at what others are doing to derive a decision for us. We see what the preferred option is and use Social Proof as a shortcut.

You have an orientation, you know what to do and that saves you valuable time and energy. Freely according to the motto 'Monkey see, monkey do'. People orientate themselves by people (Robert B. Cialdini).

People looking for Orientation Social Proof - Peel & Pulp Digital.

The use of social proof in marketing is no longer a secret. More and more brands are using different psychological concepts to achieve their sales goals. That's why many users don't respond as strongly as they would have a few years ago.

What can you do about it? Use Social Proof to take away the insecurities of your users. Ask yourself or your customers what would prevent them from ordering from you and ask your testimonials to address these objections and make them positive.

Social proof works best when your target group is close to your reference group

Your reference group are the people you show in your online shop, e.g. in the form of pictures and mention in texts. They should be as close as possible to your real customers.

The aim is for your customers to identify with the needs and wishes of your reference group and to feel connected. Only then can social proof unfold its full effect.

Interestingly, women are more prone to fall for social proof. For example, if you hardly show any women on your site, they are less likely to order from your site or contact you.

4 effective forms of social proof that you can use for yourself and your online shop

1. Show reviews and testimonials

Everyone knows them, the stars on the product and customer votes that can lead to an increase in your sales or, in the case of a negative review, to your product being left in the warehouse.

Many people now claim that they are no longer influenced by reviews because they believe that these mainly come from the company itself. And yet studies prove the opposite.

Especially if you have no other clues and the reviews and testimonials take away your insecurities because they address exactly these, they strengthen you in your purchase decision and have an effect!

How SkinnyMe Tea uses Social Proof on their Online Shop - Peel & Pulp Digital. How SkinnyMe Tea uses Social Proof on their Online Shop - Peel & Pulp Digital.

Companies like BOOM! by Cindy Joseph and SkinnyMeTea use social proof very cleverly. Their entire online shop seems to consist mainly of reviews and testimonials sharing their honest experience and enthusiasm.

How Boom by Cindy Joseph uses Social Proof on their Online Shop - Peel & Pulp Digital. How Boom by Cindy Joseph uses Social Proof on their Online Shop - Peel & Pulp Digital.

What does this mean for you? Ask your customers not only to praise your products, but also to address real insecurities of your target group and to name the advantages. It doesn't always have to be 5 stars. Only 5-star ratings tend to be viewed sceptically by your users. Small negative points, which have no real influence on the purchase decision, underline the honesty of the reviews.

In addition to textual reviews, ask your customers for pictures and videos in which they use the product so that any further questions, e.g. about the colour or consistency of a product, can be clarified.

2. provide incentives for customers to share their experiences with friends, family & acquaintances

92% of users trust recommendations from someone they know, such as friends, family and acquaintances, and are 9.8 times more likely to buy something when they see a post from them than when it comes from paid influencers.

92% vertrauen Empfehlungen von Freunden und Bekannten, Photo von priscilladupreez - Peel & Pulp Digital.

What does this mean for you? Set up a referral programme and create an incentive for customers to share their experiences with their friends and on social media platforms. The best way to do this is by addressing uncertainties and showing the product in action. You can then use these testimonials for your website.

3. Use influencers & celebrity endorsers

Influencers and celebrities are highly trusted by their followers and fans, and if they trust your product, they will start to trust your brand. In addition, studies show that users of social media networks now suffer from the fear of missing out (FOMO).

Laptop Influencerin von laurachouette - Peel & Pulp Digital.

What does that mean for you? Find out who has many followers in your industry, fits well with your target group and shares the same values with you. Use discount codes to encourage your influencers' followers to buy your product.

Don't just rely on one influencer, use several. This has 3 advantages:

  1. You increase social proof, if several influencers trust you, then this has a stronger influence than if only one does.

  2. You receive high quality content in the form of posts/stories/reels, which you can use for your marketing activities.

  3. You increase the number of touch points of potential customers with your brand and thus the probability that they perceive your brand.

4. Use large numbers

If several thousand have already bought a product, then it must be good, right?

What does that mean for you? Think about what big numbers you can place. This simple measure will help you build trust with potential customers.

5. Use live notifications

Live notifications not only create a sense of urgency and fear of missing out, they also show that other people are interested in your product or have bought it. The team at Foundr, a platform with online courses for start-ups, knows exactly how to use this to their advantage. They use notifications that pop up again and again to show who and from where someone has just bought an online course.

How Foundr uses uses Social Proof: Live Notification - Peel & Pulp Digital.

What does that mean for you? If you have enough customers who shop with you throughout the day, then live notifications can give your potential customers the final push to choose your product. If you have fewer customers, then you can also define that the messages are repeated.

Use social proof on every page of your online shop to increase your conversion rate.

Not only at the end of the buying process, but also at the beginning, your users ask themselves:

  • What can the product do for me?

  • Are other customers satisfied with the product?

  • Can I trust the brand?

That's why we recommend placing social proof along the entire customer journey as an integral part of your marketing strategy. Starting from the advertising measures to generate attention to your product page, which encourages your users to buy, to the checkout to give your users the security to make the right decision.

How you can use social proof on the product detail page

In addition to BOOM! by Cindy Joseph and SkinnyMe Tea, Lush also relies heavily on social proof:

  • Based on the high number of reviews, users can see how many customers have already bought the product and are satisfied with it.

  • They show pictures/videos that users have posted on social media platforms.

  • The reviews specifically address the problems of the individual customers and how the Lush face mask helped them.

How Lush uses Social Proof on their Online Shop - Peel & Pulp Digital. How Lush uses Social Proof on their Online Shop - Peel & Pulp Digital.

How to reduce the abandonment rate in your shopping cart through social proof

Studies such as those by the Baymard Institute show that almost 70% of users who put something in their shopping cart leave the online shop for various reasons without buying anything.

As in the entire online shop, BOOM! by Cindy Joseph also relies on real testimonials in the shopping cart that encourage users to actually buy the product(s).

Negative consequences of social proof

Also be aware that if you have very few reviews on your shop, it can lead to your users having the impression that the majority do not order from you and they therefore look for other alternatives.

Are you interested in using Social Proof or other psychological concepts on your online shop? Feel free to contact us or give us a call and we will arrange a free initial consultation.