How to “A/B Test” Social Proof on your Ecommerce Store

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Social proof is a useful marketing tactic that influences customers’ decisions in your favor. You should always A/B test your ecommerce social proof for dramatic results.

Let’s imagine a scenario – you have been out of home since morning, running errands, and you start feeling hungry. You walk down the street, looking for a place to eat but are unable to find a known restaurant. The bunch of eateries located on the street are the ones that you haven’t tried. You look at them and see that only two of the five places have people inside. The other three are deserted. What would you do? Would you prefer going to one of the restaurants that already have customers or an empty one?

Well, if you are like most people, you would choose to go to a restaurant that’s already filled with customers, even though you know that it may take them more time to serve you.

Similarly, you are more likely to buy a product that has been recommended by someone you know or that has received good public reviews.

This common consumer behavior is due to a psychological phenomenon known as social proof.

What is Social Proof?

Social proof is a theory of public behavior based on the idea that people are more likely to follow the route or actions of the masses, assuming that they reflect the right behaviors.

The power and influence of social proof became more widely known and valued with the emergence of the ecommerce world. But, it has been studied since as far back as the 1930s.  Muzafer Sherif, a Turkish social psychologist, was the first one to recognize the power of group influence in 1935. He identified the difference between the perceptions of people exposed to it and those who were not.

However, the term ‘social proof’ was coined in 1984 by Robert Cialdini in his book Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion.

How Does Social Proof Work in Ecommerce?

While the concept can be applied anywhere, it is widely used by ecommerce businesses to influence customer behavior.

The lack of interaction between buyers and sellers in the ecommerce world poses several challenges for both sellers and buyers. For sellers, it is difficult to convince and satisfy customers about the quality of their products. For customers, on the other hand, it is often difficult to make buying decisions just by looking at the pictures.

Since customers are unable to personally see and check a product before buying it. Hence, most of them rely on various factors to determine the authenticity of the buyer and the quality of products.

Social proof is one of the most important  factors that digital consumers consider before making a purchase decision.

The reason?

People tend to trust the opinions of others a lot more than what a brand says about its products itself.

If used correctly, social proof can serve as a powerful conversion rate optimization tool for ecommerce businesses.

How to Use Social Proof on Your Ecommerce Store?

 Word of mouth is undoubtedly the most powerful form of social proof.

But, you cannot just rely on your existing customers to bring you more business. You need to find more ways to tell your prospective customers that a large number of people trust your business and love your products.

Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to add social proof to your website. All you need to do is to find out which of them works for you the best. And like with all other elements of a website, there’s no better way of finding out the best ways to add social proof on your ecommerce store than A/B testing.

To help you get started, here are some ways you can add and testsocial proof on your ecommerce store:

Customer Reviews

In a survey, 93% of the respondents said that their purchase decisions are impacted by online reviews. In another survey, 92% of the respondents confirmed that they read reviews before buying online. This is why even leading brands make use of customer reviews to earn customer trust.

The statistics are enough to convince that you need to have reviews on your website to win consumer trust and increase conversion rate.

But, you need to a/b test various formats of customer reviews to find out which ones work best for you. Take a look at the following examples to get a better idea:

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Amazon uses the good ol’ star rating method to show how popular each of its products is among customers.

FreshBooks, an invoice and accounting software for small businesses, chooses to go the extra mile by displaying testimonials in a written format. They also display customers’ pictures and credentials as well as ratings to make the most out of this trust-winning tactic.

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Using Real-Time Data or Numbers

This principle works the same way as people generally get more attracted to crowded shops than the empty ones. Just like a shop or a restaurant that is full of people make others believe that they must be offering good products and services, displaying various stats can help convince your website visitors about the quality of your products. You can choose to display any of the following stats:

  • The number of existing customers or community members
  • Number of sign-ups
  • The number of downloads
  • Purchases made within the past few hours or day
  •  Showing the number of items left in stock to create FOMO (the fear of missing out).

Take a look at how Booking.com use these very statistics to drive more conversions:

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Buffer, Hubspot, and Hootsuite, on the other hand, choose to use customer data/ statistics in a different manner:

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Expert Endorsements

No form of social proof is better than a well-known industry expert endorsing your brand or product. From establishing authority to generating more leads and driving more sales, expert endorsements can help improve business in various ways.

Another way you can give a similar boost to your business is by getting endorsements from celebrities.  While you can pay celebrities and experts to endorse your brands, natural endorsements is the best option.

Take a look at how WPBeginner uses expert endorsements to encourage users to create an account:

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Despite the fact that HootSuite enjoys the trust of a large number of customers, the company uses expert endorsements to utilize the benefits of social proof:

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NYX Cosmetics uses endorsements in a unique way.It features pictures of beauty bloggers and social media influencers on its homepage, with looks created using NYX products.

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Case Studies

Case studies are also referred to as long-form social proof. Although they are formal in nature, they are considered a high-authority form of social proof. Since case studies explain in detail how customers benefited from using certain products or services, they are generally considered more reliable by customers than brief reviews.

Shopify shares several success stories on its website to convince visitors that its products actually deliver the results they promise.

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Fitbit shares case studies in form of success stories to motivate more people to buy their fitness tracking devices.

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Customer Recommendations

One of the best ways to leverage the power of your existing customer base to drive more conversions is by asking your existing customers to rate the product(s) they bought on the basis of how likely they are to buy it again and if they would recommend it to others.

However, this is a bit lengthy process as it would require you to run a survey among your existing customers before mentioning the stats on your website.

Naked Wines presents one of the best examples of using this form of social proof:

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Media Mentions

Has your brand or a product been named one of the best in the industry by a leading newspaper, magazine or any other media channel? Make use of it to establish your authority and win the trust of more customers. This is an extension of how several authors use this form of social proof on their books to make more people buy them.

Here are a few examples of how different brands use media mentions of their brands/products on their websites:

FreshBooks

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Markhor, a high-end shoe manufacturing company

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Show What Other Users Are Doing

This can be done in a number of ways – by showing what others have added into their carts, by displaying what others are looking at, or by showcasing how many people have added a product to their wish-list.

Booking.com also utilizes this form of social proof on its website to drive more conversions. It indicates how many people are looking or have recently checked the same property for the same dates by displaying messages like this:

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Hotels.com, on the other hand, displays pop-up notifications like these:

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A/B Testing Social Proof on Your Ecommerce Store – Examples

Here we are a few successful examples to help you understand the importance of social proof even better:

· WikiJob

WikiJob is a digital community that allows professionals to share their knowledge about employers, interviews, assessments, and aptitude tests. While the company did grow up to become the largest job portal in the country, the manufacturers felt they weren’t getting maximum conversions and there was room for improvement.

After analyzing their website, the company realized that it was missing out on social proof – one of the leading factors in driving conversions in the digital world. They incorporated social proof, in the form of customer testimonials to their site. As a result, they  experienced a 34% increase in their sales.

· Express Watches

Express Watches experienced a 58.29% increase in their sales just by adding a reviews widget on their product pages.

Ecommerce Social Proof – The Final Word

Adding social proof to your ecommerce store is one of the best-known ways to make your visitors trust your brand.

It helps reassure them that people who have already bought your products/services are happy with their purchases.

The goal is to eliminate the fear that most online buyers have when buying from an ecommerce store for the first time.

As a business owner or marketer, your job is to figure out how to display ecommerce social proof on your website to get the best results.

There’s no better way of finding it than by running A/B tests.

In this blog post, I've discussed some of the ways you can add social proof to your ecommerce store. A/B test them to find out what works for you and what doesn’t.

And remember, every business’ target audience is unique. What works for others wouldn’t necessarily work for you so, just test it.

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