Social Proof Definition: What Is Social Proof?
The buyer’s journey can be complex and unpredictable. It often starts with a trigger and progresses into a loop of exploration and evaluation. This loop is known as the ”messy middle” – the space between awareness and action, where customers are won and lost.
The fastest way to influence the buyer journey and help prospects exit the “messy middle” stage is by understanding what shapes their decisions and providing them with the information they need to take action.
The social proof principle is one of the most powerful biases that nudges people from consideration to action. In digital marketing, it refers to leads look for recommendations, reviews, and ways others have used a product/service before making a purchasing decision.
Along with social proof, marketers commonly leverage five other biases – authority bias, scarcity principle, power of now, category heuristics, and power of free.
Why Is Social Proof Important?
As human beings, we naturally tend to turn to others when determining courses of action, especially those with whom we share similar backgrounds or interests. In SaaS, social proof can evoke a sense of identity and reassure customers.
The social proof principle can benefit SaaS businesses by:
Raising Confidence in Uncertain Buyers
Apprehensive customers often find more comfort in a greater collective. Knowing that other people have already used the product plays a huge role in validating their own thoughts on buying it as well.
Increasing Brand Awareness and Conversion Rates
Social proof is a very powerful persuasion tool because, essentially, it is evidence that a product or service has been endorsed by others.
By creatively displaying social proof on your landing pages, you can stack the deck in your favor, increase awareness, and boost conversions.
Boosting Rankings on Google
Recently, Google announced a new product review algorithm update created to ensure that the most helpful reviews show up higher in search results. The main goal of the new update is to “reward” websites with detailed product reviews that “share in-depth research, rather than thin content that simply summarizes a bunch of products.”
Leveraging the social proof bias in unique product review content is crucial for preventing your organic traffic from declining and ensuring you stand out from the competition.
Supporting the Authority Bias
The authority bias describes the tendency to attribute trustworthiness and greater accuracy to the opinion of authoritative figures.
Social proof can be an excellent way to support the authority bias. SaaS marketers can focus on case studies and authoritative publications from renowned businesses to help enhance their brand perception.
Types of Social Proof
Today, SaaS companies have a wide array of options to choose from when it comes to integrating social proof. Among the most common ones are statistics, user reviews and testimonials, expert endorsements, and case studies.
Real-time statistics are among the best forms of social proof that SaaS businesses can leverage. You can use this to showcase the number of people using your service, the number of products sold every month, or any other statistic that is relevant to your brand and your customers.
Testimonials are one of the most straightforward ways to present social proof on your website. They offer objective opinions of how your current users feel about your product and can be presented in the form of text, video, or quotes.
Generally perceived as more authentic, video testimonials often yield better results.
Regardless of the format, testimonials should address a specific pain point and highlight how your product is solving that problem.
Expert or Influencer Endorsements
An endorsement from an expert or influencer can give your brand more authority. The key to succeeding with endorsements is making sure that these influential figures are relevant to your niche and target audience.
Third-Party Review Websites
Having “native” reviews on your website has become a must-have for SaaS businesses. Still, it’s good to note that social proof only works if users are able to trust the source.
As people become increasingly aware of fake reviews, collecting social proof on reliable third-party review websites is the way to go for brands looking to build trust with their audiences.
Third-party review platforms are considered more trustworthy by consumers because they feature reviews that have not been curated or edited. Depending on the industry, credible reviews can also come from niche websites.
In the SaaS industry, there are two prevalent review websites – G2 and Capterra. Both platforms include thorough reviews from verified users, making them a go-to place for customers looking to read authentic reviews when considering a software purchase.
Case studies are a great way to illustrate your business’ quality and reliability.
Case studies allow you to use data and customer success stories to create a solid piece of social proof that showcases happy customers and demonstrates how your product resolved a customer’s challenge.
Social Media Reviews and Ratings
Online reviews are a huge part of the decision process for consumers. In fact, 91% of consumers read at least one review before making a purchase.
To leverage customer reviews as a sales tool, you should ensure all your social media pages are up-to-date and keep engaging people to leave reviews.
On your website, consider showcasing your social media ratings, likes, or follows. On landing pages, cutouts from tweets can serve as an added authenticity factor.
How to Gain Social Proof
To effectively leverage the social proof bias, you will need a strong customer reviews strategy. Here are 5 simple ways to help you get started.
1. Make It Easy to Leave a Review
If leaving a review or testimonial becomes a hassle for the customer, they will be far less likely to do it. Whether it’s on your website or social media, ensure that people can easily contact you and leave a review.
2. Engage With Mentions Online
Whenever a customer takes the time to mention or engage with your business, make sure to interact with them. This can be as simple as saying ‘thank you’ in the thread or sending them a direct message to show your appreciation.
3. Send NPS Surveys
Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys can be a viable option to identify satisfied customers at scale and foster a relationship with them. You could, for example, ask them how they liked your product. If you get a positive answer, you can ask them to leave a review.
4. Reward Your Customers for Reviews
Your time is valuable and so is your customers’. To encourage them to leave a review, find out what they like, and support that with an incentive. This could be a discount on the price, an extension of the trial, or a gift voucher.
5. Identify the Right Moment to Ask For a Review
To get optimal results from your strategy, you need to solicit customer reviews at the right moment.
Consider asking for reviews at strategic moments in the customer’s buyer journey, such as when the customer has the first moment of realization of value (e.g., the first time they used the product in a meaningful way).
Social Proof Examples From SaaS Brands
Let’s explore how SaaS brands can effectively use the power of social proof to ease the minds of apprehensive customers and influence buying decisions.
Click the categories below to see real-life social proof examples from other SaaS brands:
Table of contents:
Social Proof Used as Microcopy
Social Proof and Category Heuristics
Social Proof Used in Ads
Social Proof in Pop-Ups and Newsletters
Example #1: User Testimonials on the Homepage
Intercom is in the business of helping businesses create a better customer service experience for their clients. It’s also a prime example of how to leverage social proof marketing on your homepage.
Many websites tend to make the conversation all about them, but Intercom prominently shows its users as the main heroes, featuring an ocean of reviews and testimonials.
Scrolling further down, the brand has also featured a testimonial from a highly credible user right next to their sign-up form. This way visitors can visualize their post-purchase success and are more prompted to quickly sign up and try out the service.
Segment, a leading customer data platform, is a good example of how testimonials can seamlessly work in combination with other types of social proof.
On their homepage, Segment has included a case study by IBM that offers a review from a highly satisfied customer, as well as showcases the results that this client was able to achieve.
Example #2: Social Proof Used as Microcopy
If you’re a SaaS business, a trustworthy first impression is imperative. In this example, Segment is showcasing that they’ve been working with 20,000+ customers. In this way, the platform is drawing attention towards the microcopy and encouraging a positive first impression among new visitors.
Example #3: Social Proof and Category Heuristics
Our brain strives to be as efficient as possible and to streamline decision-making, we use both visual and mental cues. Leveraging both social proof and category heuristics on your pricing page can help subtly encourage visitors to take action.
Here’s how Segment is helping prospects further decide whether they should sign up, by featuring their existing clients on the pricing page:
Canva is another fine example of how you can weave heuristics and social proof into your pricing page. By highlighting each tier’s characteristics and adding “trusted by” badges, Canva helps potential customers find the right subscription plan faster.
The social proof and category heuristic biases can work hand-in-hand on other pages of your website, too.
On their customers’ page, Asana has successfully combined elements of both biases, ultimately simplifying the weighting of information for prospects and nudging uncertain visitors to make a decision.
Example #4:Social Proof Used in Ads
Google Paid Search Ads Extension
A great way to add social proof to your Google Ads campaigns is by including customer reviews. If you have reviews from multiple sources, you can add that as an ad extension for Google Ads.
Usage Data and Stats in Your Ad Copy
You can also incorporate social proof as part of your PPC strategy – and increase your CTR – by including usage data and relevant stats into the headline and copy of your paid campaigns or video ad creatives.
You could feature the total number of customers using your SaaS product, any industry awards you’ve won, the number of positive reviews online, and any big-name clients you’re working with.
Example #5: Social Proof in Pop-Ups and Newsletters
In subscription prompts and newsletters, the social proof bias can be used to highlight demand or create a sense of urgency.
See this example of an email subscription pop-up by Single Grain, for example:
As the subject line is one of the most critical aspects of any newsletter, remember to present your audience with a hook that captures their attention.
If you have a larger customer base, a subject line that reads “X number of happy customers can’t be wrong,” for instance, creates a correlation between high demand and buying in the prospect’s mind.
Conversely, social proof could be used in the body of the newsletter, as well. For users on a free subscription plan who might be considering an upgrade that offers specific features, a message such as “X number of people are currently using this feature” can be effective.
Take Your Social Proof Strategy to the Next Level
Done well, social proof can help you steer prospects towards making a purchase through a seamless-feeling process. In the long run, it can also create better user experiences and ensure your customers are happy to keep doing business with you.
That said, when it comes to utilizing the social proof bias, there is a chance you may face some poor reviews along the way. Here’s how to respond to bad reviews and keep your brand’s reputation intact.
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