Even in America, where we celebrate individuals who stand out from the crowd, people are at their core social creatures. We move in herds, we care about others’ opinions, and if you want to influence us you need to show us that we’re not the only fools who would ever spend hard-earned cash with you. When done correctly on your website, this will increase leads and sales. Here are 5 different ways to incorporate social proof online.

Full Testimonials

I’m sure you’ve noticed testimonials, so they must work, right? (That’s social proof thinking right there). That is correct, but let’s put some actual proof to that. In a case study done by WikiJob, the addition of testimonials to their landing page increased conversions by a whopping 34%.

How to Implement

First, choose the right length. If someone writes a long piece singing your praises, good work! But you don’t necessarily want to include the whole thing. Pick out a bit or bits that come to one paragraph at most. Longer ones aren’t likely to be read.

Include as much information as possible. A line of text is better than nothing, but you should aim to include photo, name and company as well. Often an easy way to do this is to pull the person’s LinkedIn image (unless it’s WBLPD) – much easier than asking for one.

Lastly, make sure you have them in the right places. I recommend having them distributed throughout the site so that the visitor will see them as they’re browsing, rather than having to seek them out. If you have landing pages, include them there, too.

The Masses

“10 Quadrillion Burgers Served” is the classic example. How can that many people be wrong? It’s a rhetorical question – what matters is that if you have helped a lot of people, showing that on your website carries weight. Take a look at how project collaboration software Basecamp does it:

How to Implement

Choose a metric of your service that has a high number associated with it (make sure it’s an impressive number. If it’s a little lackluster, it’s actually worse than showing nothing at all). It doesn’t have to be customers; it might be years of experience, newsletter subscribers, etc. Then put that number next a corresponding form such as the newsletter signup.

Press, Experts, & Familiar Brands

Familiarity breeds trust. If you’ve worked with recognizable brands or industry experts, or you’ve been mentioned in the media in any way, you can leverage these on your site. These are different than testimonials because they don’t require any statement about your company; just the fact that you are associated with them gives you credence.

How to Implement

This is easiest implementation yet: place logos of the press or client brands prominently on your site (typically on the homepage). Just make sure that these are big enough names in your industry to warrant showing off.

If you can get a testimonial from an expert as well, do it! Very powerful.

Star Reviews

People are visual, and stars are flashy – it’s a great combo. Star reviews don’t just have to be for products, either, though they have proven to be very successful there. Service-based businesses can use directories and social media properties that include reviews to pull their star score and include it online.

How to Implement

If you haven’t already, set up profiles on Yelp, Google+, and Facebook, and ask happy clients to leave their thoughts on each of these. Once you have an established rating, bring that into your site. The way that you incorporate the 5 stars depends on your service, conversion goal, etc. At the very least you can include the star ratings with the testimonials, and if you have a significant number of reviews on another platform (“significant” is relative to industry, of course) you may want to point people there to see.

Keep in Mind

As you’re doing your best to show visitors that you’re trustworthy, your service is excellent, or your product is to die for, keep these two things in mind:

Negative Social Proof Doesn’t Work

It’s actually worse than nothing at all. Negative social proof is when you show the large number of people that are missing out on your product or service. Here’s an example of a failed advertising campaign:

“4 years ago, over 22 million single women did not vote.”

While the tone indicates that they should have voted, what people hear is “Hey, don’t worry about voting. You’re not alone – last year millions of women didn’t!”

Positive Social Proof More Influential than Saving Money

This is great news! If you are gaining customers through promotions and discounts, try using more social proof instead. You may be able to increase conversions and cost/sale at the same time!

Getting Started

Look at your site now. If it has no social proof, the easiest addition is testimonials. If you don’t have testimonials, ask! Happy clients are willing to help. If you don’t have happy clients, take a look at your product or customer service…you have bigger problems than your webiste!

If you need help in implementation, we’re available here or at (503) 489-8819.