If shoppers don’t trust your business, you’re going to have a difficult time generating leads and securing sales.

Don’t believe me? Simply think about the last time you visited an online store that was totally new to you. Odds are, you browsed around for a little while. You may have even added an item to your cart. But when it came time to enter your payment information, you left.

Sound familiar?

There are many reasons this situation could occur. The good news is there are also plenty of ways you can convince more first-time buyers to stick around and become customers. Similarly, you can take actions that encourage existing shoppers to become repeat customers.

Today, I want to talk about social proof, which is one of the best ways to build trust with your visitors. I’ll start by defining social proof and then show you several ways you can use this helpful marketing strategy to grow your business.

What is Social Proof?

Before I cover different ways to use social proof, I think it’s essential that we define the term.

In marketing, social proof is both a psychological and social response that shoppers have when they see other people enjoying a product. The desired result of showing social proof is usually some form of engagement, like an email signup or a sale.

For example, if a friend convinced you to buy a new book, social proof likely played a role in your decision. Your friend said it was good, so your thought process was, “if they like it, I probably will too!”

The thing is, social proof from strangers can be just as valuable as positive word-of-mouth from trusted friends. It doesn’t matter if you sell digital products, physical goods, or services; social proof will directly impact your success.

Now, let’s look at a few social proof strategies that business owners and marketers like you can use to spark new growth and engagement opportunities.

Gather More Customer Reviews

If I had to choose one strategy every business leader should take away from this post, it’s this one. Reviews are, without a doubt, one of the most powerful ways to build trust with your audience and secure more sales.

Research shows that a mind-blowing 97% of consumers say reviews directly impact their shopping habits. You don’t even need to see that statistic to know it’s the truth. Think about the last time you blindly bought a product without looking at a single review.

At this point, it’s so easy to learn what others think of a particular product or service that it’s one of the first things new visitors look for when they discover a new business. Instead of asking your audience to leave your site to see reviews, I recommend adding options for customers to leave reviews directly on your product pages.

Once you start racking up reviews, new visitors can easily see what other people think of each product on your site. If you want to see how well this strategy works, look no further than Amazon. The eCommerce giant is so successful in part due to its robust review system.

I suggest sending out review surveys to your email subscribers and social media followers too. Use this opportunity to learn how to improve your various products and services. At the same time, you should keep an eye out for positive testimonials that you can use on your site or share with other social media followers.

Show Live Sales Notifications

Live sales notifications are another way to show social proof on your site. Simply put, sales notifications are unobtrusive alerts that let shoppers know when other people are taking action on your site.

Depending on your notification tool, you can set up a whole list of different alerts designed to trigger specific actions from your audience. For instance, you could set up a live notification to appear when someone subscribes to your email list. This is an excellent way to show that you’re trustworthy and that people are actively signing up to get your company’s emails.

We’ve had tremendous success using these types of alerts during flash sales. We typically see a surge in new traffic during new promotions. When these new visitors see that other users are taking advantage of our coupon code, they will likely follow the same path.

You can even customize your campaigns to show when users buy specific products. So, if you’re trying to get that one overstocked product out of your warehouse, live sales notifications can make it happen while still building social proof for your brand.

Ask for User-Generated Content

User-generated content (UGC) really puts the “social” in social proof. UGC is any type of content made by a customer or prospect that promotes your product or brand. So, when someone gets their order delivered and shares photos on Instagram, they are creating UGC for your business.

Social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are the best places to cultivate user-made content. The first thing you’ll need to decide on is the type of UGC campaign you want to use to build social proof.

I like to create giveaways catered to existing customers and encourage them to share positive content focused on our brand. In our case, I ask users to share campaigns that they created with our software. I’ve found that this helps me learn more about how our customers use our product, but it’s also a great way to build social proof when new people find our site.

Instead of only seeing our posts, they can see how other real customers are taking advantage of our product, which generally leads to built-in trust, and potentially, new sales. When you consider that social media drives 31.24% of all website referral traffic, it’s easy to see how cultivating and sharing UGC is a crucial part of every social proof strategy.

Highlight Trust Badges

The final piece of social proof advice I have for you today is this; use trust badges when you can. You’re more than likely familiar with these seals of approval, even if you’ve never heard them called “trust badges.”

These little social proof tools are essentially endorsements from big-name companies like McAfee and Norton antivirus, as well as PayPal. They can also be something simple, like a badge that promotes a 100% money-back guarantee. When visitors see that a business is endorsed by well-known and trusted brands, they are more likely to instinctively trust you.

If you want to know how powerful trust badges can be, consider this; studies show that when used correctly, trust badges can improve your form conversion rate by an impressive 42%!

In my experience, the best place to include these badges is on your contact and payment forms. These are usually where visitors leave because they don’t want to give your company sensitive information, like their email address or payment information. When shoppers see a familiar logo in the bottom corner of your payment page, they are far more likely to complete their order.

Final Thoughts

I believe social proof will continue to play a crucial role in eCommerce and SaaS-based businesses in 2022. The tips offered here today should help you figure out what direction you want to take in the year ahead. My piece of advice from the beginning of this post still stands; when you’re in doubt, start gathering customer reviews. Before long, you’ll have a robust social proof strategy that results in new visitors engaging with your brand.