Building social proof on websites is a newer online marketing technique to boost your conversion rate and increase sales. This is where you add specific things on your website to make it look really popular and well-liked to increase the chances of visitors liking and using it. Social proof was originally made famous in the marketing world by Robert Cialdini’s excellent ‘Influence’ book.
Here is the brutal truth though – most online businesses are doing a poor job with building social proof and are missing out on great results. It’s certainly not just a simple case of adding social media icons, product ratings and testimonials on your website and then hoping for the best.
To ensure your website gets best results from social proof, I’ve created the ‘Buzzworthy’ technique. Following this new technique will boost your conversions and sales on any kind of website, and get all kinds of visitors raving about your website and products. It involves finding compelling social proof elements, adding them to your website, and then testing them to see which perform best. Let’s get started with the 10 steps for this new technique:
Step 1: Hunt for compelling customer usage stats
Showing high amounts of customer usage makes your website/service seem much popular – think of the highly compelling McDonalds ’99 Billion Served’ sign. It can be something simple like the a high number of customers you have, or a high number of downloads or products you have sold. And always try to find usage numbers that imply savings or money generated too – these often engage visitors the most. These can be really influential for using on your homepage in particular.
So go ahead and spend a few hours brainstorming with colleagues to find customer usage numbers for your online business that are highly engaging. Here are a couple of good examples to inspire you:
Step 2: Find compelling testimonial snippets
Testimonials really help build social proof, but many websites make the mistake of using really long-winded, boring, non-engaging testimonials. Not every testimonial is equal!
To help boost the power of your testimonials, you need need to look through your current testimonials and find your most compelling snippets in them and use them instead – think short and sweet, under 25 words is perfect. You should also bold words that mention benefits or good results as these are key things to highlight. Twitter is a great place to find short testimonials and you can even embed tweets on your website.
If you can, try and find a photo of the person giving the testimonial, as this adds credibility and a human face to your website. Here is an example of a high impact, short and sweet testimonial snippet with photo:
Step 3: Make your social media elements more buzzworthy
This step is one that many online business do a poor job of – many just add Facebook and Twitter share icons to their header or sidebar, often without realizing the potential negative effects – if you have low share numbers (e.g. 12 likes and 18 tweets), this will make your website look like a ghost town.
To make the social media elements for your website more buzzworthy ensure you have good share amounts for each of your social media share icons (at least 100 for your website, but can be lower for products or blog posts). Don’t even show them on your homepage or in the header until you have high amounts accumulated – to help seed and grow them ask your friends, colleagues and family to share them. This is an excellent example of very buzzworthy social media share numbers:
To get an even bigger impact from your social media elements, use a Facebook plugin that shows your visitors which of their friends are liking your site. Using the power of social proof from friends was shown to work extremely well in Robert Cialdini’s ‘Influence’ book. WP Mashsocial is an excellent plugin to try for this – here is example of it in action, also showing a great buzzworthy amount of Twitter followers:
Step 4: Find compelling media mentions and awards
Showing that your online business was mentioned on popular websites or that it’s won awards is an excellent way to boost social proof even further. This works in the same way that ‘As Seen on TV’ stickers on products really helps to sell them.
So for this step, take some time to look through your past media mentions or awards won (from news sites, blogs etc) – the more well known they are, the better the effect. And if you don’t have any good ones yet, what better time to start improving your PR efforts? Here is a great example to learn from:
Step 5: Obtain reviews from experts in your field
Proving that experts like your website or products is another very powerful way of building better social proof and making your website even more buzzworthy.
Therefore for this step you should spend time reaching out to obtain short reviews from experts that relate to your online business – the more famous they are, the better the effect. If you can obtain this in video format it will be even more powerful. Here is a good example – a conversion expert building social proof for a landing page creation tool called Unbounce:
Step 6: Find logos of your well-known customers
This one is a nice, simple easy step to follow. Showing logos of some of your more well known clients or customers will help give your social proof and conversions a good boost. The more famous the logo, the better social proof boost it will give your website. So go ahead and spend time reviewing your client logos to find the best. Here is a great example of this buzzworthy element in action on a homepage with a highly compelling customer usage headline:
Step 7: Get more ratings particularly from 3rd party sources
A simple way to increase social proof is to gain more ratings (and reviews) from your visitors. This is because the more ratings your products have, the more popular it makes your website seem. Ideally need at least 5 ratings and reviews for your most popular products. Having no ratings causes negative social proof and makes visitors wonder why you have no reviews. To get more ratings you should email your customers and offer them an incentive to leave a review, like a discount or gift certificate.
To really increase the effect of ratings on your website you need to prominently show ratings from popular 3rd party sources like Trustpilot.com. Having a good 3rd party rating along with many people giving ratings (at least 100) will significantly increase your social proof and also build credibility and trust. You can see this in great effect at AO.com:
Step 8: Add most buzzworthy elements to key places on homepage and top entry pages
Now you need to work with your web designer to add these buzzworthy elements to prominent places on your top entry pages like your homepage (check your web analytics tool for these). These pages are the most influential place to show your compelling social proof elements, and it ensures they get seen as soon as visitors arrive.
Some best practices are to add them on your homepage above the page fold (the page area that visitors see first without having to scroll), add them on the sidebar of your top performing SEO traffic pages, and add smaller ones to your website header area. This will give you a good starting point to really boost your conversions before you start tweaking and testing, as we will now discuss.
Step 9: Test variations to find best performing
Just like all key things you add or change on your website, doing A/B testing is essential to find which variations most engage and convert your visitors. The same goes for the buzzworthy content you have just created and added to your top entry pages. Here are some things to run tests on for each buzzworthy element you have created:
- The title associated with each one
- The call-to-action link or button for each one
- The size, style and color of each one
- The location on the page of each one (above page fold is usually key)
To get best results you should use an A/B testing tool like Visual Website Optimizer (if you have enough traffic – at least 5,000 uniques per week for the page you want to test). If you don’t have enough traffic you can run quick feedback surveys to ask visitors which variations they find the most compelling – learn more in this low traffic A/B testing guide.
Step 10: Sit back and watch your conversions rocket
Here is the best step. Just sit back and watch your website conversions start to skyrocket over the next week – more sales, more subscribers, more leads, or whatever your website’s goal is. Then continue to tweak and test your buzzworthy content to grow your conversion rates and even further.
Now time for you to try it…
I hope you can see the amazing potential of The Buzzworthy Technique for your website and your business – it doesn’t take long to implement to start seeing fantastic results.
Go ahead and give my technique a try and let me know how it works for you – please leave a comment below with your results, or if you have any questions about it.