I have always been a believer in the scientific method. If you can test a theory, with verifiable results, then it’s theoretically much easier to prove to the world that you’re right. About something, at least.
About two years ago, I set up a test with five different companies, all in wildly different markets. All the tests were designed to prove (or disprove!) my theory: Adding an element of social proof to a given landing page (in this case social proof was defined as the displaying of Facebook likes on a page) would increase said landing page’s conversion rate. Here’s an example of one of the landing pages that was setup: I circled the two elements of social proof on this page. Social proof can be loosely defined as any third-party ‘endorsement’ of a product, service, or company.
So, what were the results of the test you ask? Well this version of the landing page currently converts at just under 12 percent today. What was the conversion rate prior to adding the Facebook like button (which by the way, is just an image; there’s no physical button. People can’t tell the difference apparently)? Just under nine percent. And just so you don’t get your panties in a twist, the traffic being sent to this landing page, and all the others, was from the same source: AdWords.
Each landing page received 400 visits, which was a statistically significant number based on similar tests other marketers have done. If you want to see the landing page in its entirety, it’s right here. (Full disclosure – I am the owner of this landing page.)
There are many different ways to use social proof in your marketing. There are many types of social proof in general. The ones I have found to be most effective (in terms of implementation time and cost) are:
Displaying Social Counts on the Landing Page Above the Fold
There are tons of great plugins and scripts that make it quick and easy to add social counts and sharing buttons at the top of every blog post or article you write. And I have verified (in another series of tests I performed a while ago) that displaying those ‘social share’ counts near the top of the page actually causes people to share the post more.
One thing to note: it has been my experience that when you display social counts on a landing page with less than 100 likes, from all networks combined, it has a slight negative effect on conversion rates. So just be aware of that possible side effect.
Displaying Trust Symbols
This practice has been written about by others repeatedly. It may not be termed social proof, but when you hear other marketers mention ‘trust symbols’ that’s what they are. Proof that some third-party organization has labeled your brand, product, or service as trustworthy.
Some of the more common trust symbols for online merchants include the McAfee logo, the PayPal logo, and a security certificate authentication badge from one of the more well-known ssl certification companies.
This is probably one of the more underutilized but powerful social proof elements you can use. I’m not talking about adding one of those pop-up talking spokespeople thingies to every page of your site. I’m talking about getting customer testimonials either on camera or via text, and displaying the faces of those customers on your landing page.
Real people, talking about real results. Additionally, adding video of your CEO or another C level executive to your site has powerful effects. One company who consistently does this, and also tests numerous other social proof elements on their home page, is InsideSales.com. If you hit their site, you can just go down the page and tick off all the types of social proof you’ll see. It’s like they read my post before it even published.
What are your favorite ways to use social proof?
Screenshot Image credit: Adam Torkildson, June 10th, 2014
Featured Image credit: Ludwig Gatzke