geralt / Pixabay

For those unfamiliar, social proof is the psychological phenomenon of how people’s behavior can be swayed to conform to the behaviors of the people around them.

It’s the celebrity on the billboard wearing the jacket you now want.

It’s the laugh track on your TV comedy show.

It’s your friends doing your bragging for you to the cutie at happy hour.

And it’s those customer testimonials and customer ratings that you should be gathering and displaying on your online retail website.

Social proof is hard-wired into human psychology, as was demonstrated in the famous “Street Corner Experiment” in 1968. Social psychologist Stanly Milgram demonstrated the principle of social proof with four people on a busy street corner looking to the sky—at nothing at all. A startling 80% of passersby conformed to the same behavior.

Yeah, we’re sheep, basically.

But while this ingrained behavior isn’t exactly voluntary, it IS pretty smart when you think about it: There IS wisdom in the crowds!

Consider the fundraiser where people guess the number of jelly beans in a jar. Studies consistently show the average of all the guesses is amazingly accurate, often coming closer than any individual guess.

So while people can’t help being swayed by social proof, they’re often wise to do so.

How’s your website stacking up in social proof? Take the quiz. Do you have:

  1. Testimonials/reviews:

If people are saying nice things about you, share it! And even when people complain about you or your products in a review, sharing it gains trust.

  1. Customer ratings:

As a conversion tool, I give customer ratings 5 stars.

  1. Customer-generated content:

Encourage your following to share their passion for you and your products, then use their words, pictures and videos to add authenticity to your business. There are numerous creative ways that companies are leveraging their own customers for content: This link provides a number of examples to inspire.

  1. Social Media presence:

Show your followers and shares. What better way to grow your followers and shares?

  1. Validation logos:

Borrow the brand recognition of your biggest clients, and show their logos. Here, I’ll demonstrate. UpSellit works with:

6. The number of satisfied customers:

How did McDonald’s sell over 99 billion burgers? It certainly didn’t hurt that they told us so.

  1. Case Studies

Provide a data-driven, in-depth analysis of a current customer’s results with your product or service to give potential customers peace of mind.

How did you do on the quiz? Anything less than 7 out of 7 shows room for improvement! But don’t take my word for it:

“Anything less than 7 out of 7 shows room for improvement!” –Mahatma Gandhi