It’s no secret that online shoppers consume as consciously and smartly as never before. Surveys show that consumers are better informed and rely on the opinions of other customers to make a decision. Today, 92 percent of consumers read online reviews and trust the “community” more than advertising.
To restore confidence in e-commerce, social proofing is still essential. Social proof in e-commerce. But what exactly is to be imagined by the term social proof? How does the principle work, and what measures to inspire trust should one take as an online store at all?
Is it already owned by Social Proof?
The not so new concept of social proof describes the social phenomenon that people orientate themselves on the opinion of others to assess situations for themselves. In marketing, social proof is the tool that brands use to convince potential customers of their products or services through the voice of other consumers.
The increasing use of SEO and online marketing has significantly improved the effectiveness of social proofing tools as we know them today. The goal is to strengthen the online customer journey thanks to different signals of trust and to motivate new consumers to buy. Accordingly, these instruments are used very early in the customer journey.
How does social proof fit into the customer experience?
Companies have many options for integrating Social Proof into Customer Journey. These include likes and shares, trust symbols such as logos, pricing, star ratings in search results, case studies, support from celebrities or influencers, earned media, etc. It is also common to present customer reviews at key stations of the shopping trip on the website. Also, they can be used in advertising campaigns, email signatures, on product pages and not least on the checkout page of the shop.
Any positive evaluation of a company automatically serves to convince people and to confirm the reliability of the respective provider. Because Social Proof comes by definition by customers – and with decreasing confidence in today’s advertising, these voices win as a brand ambassador in importance.
The Marketing Potential of Social Proof in E-Commerce
Although Social Proof is relevant to all industries, it is downright elemental to online commerce. However, the number of trust signals or the number of people who evaluate the company or product determines how effective this evidence is. Here, the more, the better. For example, large e-commerce platforms or booking sites incorporate Social Proof in these forms:
- the number of views this product has received in the last 24 hours
- the number of orders of this article
- How many people have already looked at the product on the page
- the number of customer reviews of the seller
- the average satisfaction, based on customer reviews
It is obvious why more than one social proofing tool should be used.
On the one hand, growing competition and lack of trust in advertising are having more impact on customer travel and decision-making than ever before – and all the more must be countered. Buyers compare brands in just a few clicks in terms of cost, quality and customer experience. Social proofing elements are, therefore, effective SEO measures to differentiate products and services from online competitors.
On the other hand, it enables companies to include the “voice of the customer” in their messages. Customer recommendations, be it in the form of testimonials or positive reviews, allow shops to stand out from the crowd and bring them closer to the customer.
Customer reviews in focus
Better safe than sorry. When it comes to buying decisions, consumers have become more cautious. When making a purchase decision, it helps them to know that a product is bought by others and a company is trusted (or not).
The numbers speak for themselves: 92 per cent of consumers currently read online reviews, and 78 percent of buyers give ratings just as much confidence as personal recommendations. In addition, most people read up to ten reviews before making a purchase decision, and 54 per cent of respondents visit the site they’ve previously read positive reviews about. While reviews have been proven to have a significant impact on conversion rates in e-commerce, one should always distinguish between closed platforms and open, independent review portals.
Which shop can I trust?
If you do not find any of the typical signals of trust, you should continue your research. It is now common knowledge that online shoppers have experience recognizing manipulated or fake reviews. This behaviour towards consumers not only affects the credibility of a shop but the entire e-commerce industry.
Customers value transparency and honesty. Online shops that use Social Proof-like open review portals are better perceived by consumers and search engines and increase their traffic rate by almost 30 per cent.
In addition, everyone can make a visible rating for everyone. For example, trusted sites often end up in the first search results. Unlike proprietary solutions from the respective e-commerce platform, reviews on independent portals can not be edited, sorted or even deleted by the merchant.
Last but not least, social proofing strategies have a positive impact if the story of the shop is told by its customers. This opens up a direct channel of communication that delivers valuable suggestions for improvement to an e-commerce brand and, in turn, increases customer satisfaction.
This benefits both the consumer and the business, as better customer experiences lead to positive feedback and thus, higher brand awareness. In our online experiences, we are surrounded by social proof every day. Given that consumers are more informed and alert, this tool makes sense on social networks use websites and search engines. Only in this way can online shops create long-term trust and win or, at best, win back customers.