3 Important Ways to Use Social Proof in Conversion Optimization

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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: socialproof 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.

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

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.

Talking Heads

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.

What are your favorite ways to use social proof?


Screenshot Image credit: Adam Torkildson, June 10th, 2014

Featured Image credit: Ludwig Gatzke

Adam Torkildson
Adam is the owner of Tork Media. He writes on Marketing, PR, PPC, Native Advertising and how these all interact with each other on sites like Forbes, SocialMediaToday, SEJ, Examiner and others.
Adam Torkildson
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  • http://www.moxiedot.com Kelsey Jones

    You bring up a good point re: social count above the fold. I am always impressed more by articles that have a high share count and *sometimes* it makes me more likely to read it.

    • http://adamtorkildson.com Adam Torkildson

      It’s all about the perception. It seems logical that if lots of people have shared it, then it must be at least somewhat good. Herd mentality baby!

  • http://perry.bernard.co.nz Perry Bernard

    Good point about low figures having a negative effect. I think this might differ though, depending on the genre and reader’s expectations, but yes, as a rule, I would assume low figures could simply prove to achieve the opposite of what you intended.

  • Keith Tenney

    Perception has always been bigger than reality, Adam you are spot on with this!

  • sonia

    great article adam and you are right about the power of “real” testimonies, sharing experiences, seeing the faces of your past and present customers. the most convincing tool previous conversion.

  • Matt

    Great article. With FB going to the dogs, it’s good to know that likes are still useful for something. I’ve always had an inkling that this is the case. The psychology of it is fairly basic. It’s good to have some real numbers to back this up. Thanks much for sharing!

  • http://www.sunnybatra.com/On-The-Go-Mimico-Waterfront-Condosmico-Waterfront-Condosdos sunnybatra

    Hi Adam!
    Great to see you again.Personally, I think each landing page received 400 visits, which was a statistically significant number based on similar tests other marketers have done. It was very useful for me. Keep Such sharing ideas in the Future. Thank you for your good information.