Visiting your Web site is a lonely experience, especially in the age of social media, where people are used to interacting on sites where there’s a constant stream of activity (like Twitter and Facebook). In fact, people are now relying more on the opinions of friends and peers before making decisions. So it’s not easy for them to make a decision in isolation on your Web site. You can help them by providing “social proof” – that is, the opinions of other people – on your Web site.
Look for ways to show your site visitor that people just like them have gained benefits from your products and services. Choose people with the same background, same demographics, and same needs as your ideal customer.
Here are some five ways to use the power of social proof on your Web site.
1. Written testimonials
This is probably the most common example. It simply involves a written note from somebody who has used your product, and speaks positively about it.
The most powerful testimonials are:
- Verifiable: They use the person’s real name (which could be checked if desired) and possibly even a photograph
- Results-based: They describe the results and benefits of using the product
- Specific: They mention specific results (for example, “a 300% increase in profit in 6 months”)
- Relevant: They appear on the page that describes that product (rather than only being on a separate Testimonials page)
2. Testimonial video
A written testimonial is good, but a video testimonial is even more authentic. It conveys enthusiasm, sincerity and is less likely to be fake.
It used to be difficult to create good video, but now it’s a cinch because modern smartphones have very good video capabilities. Record your customer testimonials, upload them to YouTube, and then embed them on your site.
All the points previously mentioned (verifiable, results-based, specific and relevant) apply to video testimonials as well.
3. Case study
You can also tell a more detailed story of how a customer or client used your product successfully. First describe their problem, and then explain how they used your product to solve it – and of course be specific about the results as well.
Case studies take more work than testimonials, but they can be just as powerful, so use both if possible. Case studies can also be used in situations where testimonials are not appropriate (for example, if you work in a sensitive area where customers don’t want to be identified).
4. Customer comments
Allow your customers to add their comments, feedback and product reviews to your site, to describe in their own words how they like your product. This is a double-edged sword, of course, because they might post negative comments! But if your products are high quality, the positive reviews should outweigh the few negative comments.
For example, Amazon does this with the books on their site, allowing customers to add their own reviews, and even allowing them to rate the book from 1-5.
5. Social media ratings
If appropriate, allow site visitors to share the page on social media platforms. Your Web developer should be able to provide you with a “widget” that makes this easy for site visitors, and the widget shows the number of times it’s been shared. Of course, this is not the same as the number of people who bought your products. But high numbers do help site visitors know that many other people liked the page enough to share it.