Utilizing Social Proof to Boost Your Amazon Sales
Success in the hyper-competitive Amazon marketplace requires continuous iteration. Increasing sales conversion rates involves a multi-faceted approach. One such approach is to build your marketing infrastructure around the theory of social proof as it pertains to eCommerce. While the term social proof might sound abstract, the concepts behind this doctrine are anything but. Continue reading to find out how social proof can work wonders for your Amazon eCommerce business.
- What is the Theory of Social Proof?
- How Does Social Proof Work?
- Data-Driven Evidence that Social Proof Works
- How to Increase Sales Conversion Using Social Proof
- Examples of Social Proof in eCommerce
What is the Theory of Social Proof?
The theory of social proof was initially postulated by psychologist Robert Cialdini. Cialdini explored how the influence of others impacts individual behavior. When faced with uncertainty, an individual will seek out opinions or guidance from others. One reason why humans turn to others for decision-making is the biological wiring to connect, and social behavior is a large part of our adaptive toolkit.
Long before Amazon.com, or even any “.com”, scientists attempted to study social behavior one individual at a time. But social neuroscientists later learned that analyzing “two heads” was better than one, adjusting their study to the simultaneous scan of two parties during socialization.
As society evolves, so must our methods of communication. Older, outdated models of communication present interactions between humans in both interpersonal and business settings as far too simple; message; sent. Message; received. In reality, the human brain as well as our communication is a much more complex web of interdependent messages. Therefore, an eCommerce marketing communication must consider the social nature of human beings if the composer of that communication wishes to be highly influential.
How Does Social Proof Work?
Social proof is also present in the principle of similarity. As part of Cialdini’s theory, the principle of similarity explains behavioral motivation as a derivative of relatability. Ambivalent consumers, for example, will make decisions, or behave in ways based on how they see those of a similar age, gender, religion, community, appearance, etc doing so. Seeing others ‘like you’ behaving a particular way communicates which behavior is appropriate or not.
In the context of eCommerce, consumers who see others like them purchasing or desiring a product send an implicit message that that product is desirable and of value.
Social proof also works when expertise is conveyed. When individuals who are perceived as having knowledge or expertise are heard or seen approving a product or behavior, significant influence is exerted.
Finally, the greater the number of humans who perform the same behavior, or again, buy or want the same product, the more catalyzing the social proof becomes.
Data-Driven Evidence that Social Proof Works
Data offers concrete evidence of the efficacy of social proof. One study found that 92% of online consumers look first at product reviews before making a decision about whether or not to purchase. This is the social proof theory at work!
Another study found that product reviews are 12-times more trusted compared to the general product descriptions customers know are written with the intent to entice.
In addition, this study reported that customer reviews can increase sales by 18%. Direct evidence of the positive impact on sales and conversions.
What can be concluded from these statistics is that customers place more trust in the opinions of one another about whether a product is valuable and high-quality. They also view these opinions as unbiased because customers are not(usually) being paid to give their opinion.
How to Increase Sales Conversion Using Social Proof
Social proof acts as a roadmap for your customers, showing them where they can find which products are best suited for them. These strategies nudge customers to finalize purchases by creating and reinforcing feelings of confidence and desire. You can also use social proof tactics to encourage customers to post ratings and reviews, further reinforcing your overall goal.
Using social proof is simpler than you may think. For example, you can simply state in your content that a large number of other people liked your product, instead of explaining to them why they should buy it. As an example, asking potential customers to “Join 20,000 other satisfied customers” is an excellent social proof example of encouraging subscriptions.
eCommerce businesses can use the following social proof strategies to increase their conversion rates. In order to be as competitive as possible, you should try to implement as many social proof strategies as you can.
Examples of Social Proof in eCommerce
The number one most commonly used form of social proof is customer reviews. Reviews can also come in the form of testimonials or feedback.
Most Amazon sellers are familiar with this form of social proof. Getting positive customer reviews plays a huge role in gaining favor with Amazon’s algorithm.
It’s not just on Amazon- most major eCommerce brands feature customer reviews front row and center on their websites.
Not getting enough positive reviews? Just ask. While very happy customers may return to your product listing to leave feedback on their own, the best strategy to remind them is by request. You can also incentivize them by offering coupons and discounts.
In-ad Video Testimonials
Video is engaging and passive, with no reading required. A customer simply absorbs and is influenced by the happy customer.
When creating a video testimonial, you should aim for:
- No more than 60 seconds.
- Offer facts and information that future customers will find helpful knowing for their decision-making process.
- Give specific facts and information relevant to future customers
As we will discuss a bit later on, using influencers and/ or celebrities is an excellent way to convey social proof.
In a lonely world, we like to know, no matter how obscure, that we are connected. One social proof tactic eCommerce brands have been using to increase conversion rates is the use of pop-up notifications.
These simple pop-ups show information such as how many other people are viewing a product, and who recently bought a similar item. It’s a great way to show customers “others” are also interested in your products.
Additionally, case studies work best if you include data. Customers trust numbers and see them as authoritative. Make sure those numbers are real, not made up.
Because of their format, case studies are perceived as credible and serve as effective forms of social proof.
Using influencers and celebrities to showcase the desirability of your product is an excellent form of social proof. While celebrities usually require a substantial sum of money in exchange for endorsements, you can use the following influencer strategies.
- “As seen on”- use photos of celebrities wearing/ using your product or similar product.
- Use micro-influencers. Platforms like Instagram and Tik Tok have given “normal” people the opportunity to become pseudo-famous. These influencers usually have thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of followers for which you can expose to your product.
Collaborating with micro-influencers is great because you can choose influencers who represent your target audience.
They are also more affordable to work with than celebrities, and are more relatable, as well!
Oftentimes, influencers will promote your products in exchange for a free sample! You can also offer shout-outs on your own brand page, offer discounts as well as commissions.
This social proof is obvious, but the more followers the better. Having plentiful followers sends an implicit message your product is high-quality and in demand.
Media mentions are an excellent social proof strategy. Asking popular digital magazines or websites to feature and write about your product is a quick way to gain massive attention. Just make sure to choose the appropriate platform. If you sell diapers, you might not choose to have your products featured in The Wall Street Journal!
- Video reviews.
- Social media posts
- Blog article mentions
Instagram is a great place to promote user-generated content.
FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
A new trend has started which is a form of social proof in eCommerce. Fear of Missing Out, or as the kids are calling it these days, “FOMO”. FOMO works when an individual perceives an item as highly desirable, but there is only a limited quantity. This concept is especially useful when selling second-hand goods because there really is only one.
Regardless of how many products you have in stock, you can still use this tactic. You can evoke the feeling of missing out by:
1. Implying your product is highly desirable.
- You can achieve this by using statements such as “Editor’s choice”, or “Most popular”.
2. Creating the idea of limited availability
- You can do this by indicating there is “only 1 product left” “almost sold out”
3. Highlight missed opportunities
- “Just sold out”
You can also take advantage of this social proof tactic by creating waitlists for customers who are willing to endure wait times just to “not miss out”.
Badges Conveying Authority and Credibility
Featuring a badge or certification tells customers you are a trustworthy eCommerce seller, and that what they see will be what they get. Certification and trust badges have also been proven over time to increase your conversion rates.
The blue checkmark on Instagram is an example of social proof in action. Only those verified as “famous” or “influential” by the Instagram (which society has collectively agreed is a credible institution) are able to receive it.
If your Amazon eCommerce business is certified in any way, display these on product listings. Also, be sure to earn Amazon seller badges.
To summarize using marketing strategies driven by social proof can help eCommerce brands on Amazon to gain the trust of their customers. It also serves to increase perception of value and desirability. Finally, customers are influenced to decide in favor of making a purchase when they know others have done the same. Your Amazon customers will feel safer and more confident in their purchases knowing that others have had success with your products.