As business owners and marketing professionals, we all have a common goal: to attract customers who love our products and services.
Word of mouth is perhaps the best way to convert the friends and family of your most loyal customers. But in the digital age, there’s something just as powerful: social proof.
Why social proof is so important for your business
What others say about your business can be 10 times more powerful and persuasive than what you say about yourself. And, Studies show nearly 70 percent of online consumers look at a product review prior to making a purchase.
Human beings are wired to look around and do what other people are doing. We have something called mirror neurons in our brain that influence our behavior, including our decision to buy something. Social proof, in the form of testimonials or reviews, shows potential customers that there are people like them who already purchased – and loved – your product or service, convincing them to do the same.
Testimonials are also the perfect vehicle to tackle objections head on. If you ask the right questions, your customers will let you know if they had any hesitations prior to purchasing your service. They’ll also say what you did to assuage their fears, which in turn, will comfort potential buyers who have the same concerns.
Timing is everything
The perfect time to ask your customers for testimonials is always during the experience of using your product or service or just immediately after. It’s important to gain that fresh energy and that insight that comes from a recent experience of your product or service.
Another best practice is to set up an automated email after a customer purchases your product or service. Be sure to feature the specific product or service purchased and ask the customer to write a review about their experience. You can then share these reviews across your product/service pages, website and social media pages to attract more customers, which naturally boosts your conversion rates.
Don’t stress over the perfect timing of asking for reviews. The bottom line is to simply ask.
Make your social proof stand out
When displaying social proof, in the form of testimonials, on your website, it’s important that the words stand out to potential customers.
Remember, humans are wired to copy what others like them are doing. So, it’s our job to show potential customers that we already have adoring customers just like them. Make sure your testimonials reflect the specific struggles, desires and results of your ideal customers.
The more specific, the better. Be sure to ask your customers to quantify results when you can. For example, “I saved $500 per month by using ABC Service,” or “My advertising ROI doubled in the first quarter after using XYZ Product.” Potential customers want to know that they can get the same results by using your product or service.
Finally, be sure to include details about your customer, not just their quote. Details like their name, location, business and website add further social proof that this is a real person who loved your product or service.
Ask the right questions
Depending on your industry or business, there are specific questions you need to ask to get to the root of the customer experience. This is not only a great way to generate social proof for your business but, it’s a way to stay connected with your customers and learn how to improve your products or services.
Here are some general questions to get you started:
- What hesitations did you have about purchasing [product or service]? Remember to mention the specific product or service the customer purchased. This question helps you get to the bottom of any objections your potential customers may have. You can also use the responses to this question in future promotional materials.
- What changes have you noticed in [problem/issue]? Great businesses solve a problem for their customers. Ask your customers how their situation improved since using your product or service. Did their conversion rate increase? If so, by how much? Getting specific about the results helps potential customers realize that your product and service can help them, too.
- What specific feature did you like best? This question helps you understand in more detail why your product or service works. It also allows potential customers to imagine themselves using your product or service, which is a very subtle and powerful conversion tool.
- Would you recommend this product or service? Why or why not? Use this question to get short blurbs or sound bites you can use in your social media marketing or across your website. If someone says they would not recommend your product or service, use that as a learning experience to improve your product or service for the next customer.
- Would you be open to answering additional questions about your experience? This question is a great way to offer a “customer spotlight” to highlight a customer success story. It also helps if you want to write an in-depth case study about a particular product or service.
Use the right tools
One way to collect social proof is to manually capture screenshots of blog comments, social media comments or review sites where your product or service is mentioned. Create a folder and save all of the screenshots for future promotional efforts.
Pages like Yelp can be a great way to highlight your business, especially brick-and-mortar stores. But be careful how you respond to negative reviews. Your online reputation is at stake, and you want to make sure you respond appropriately and genuinely to all negative comments. Don’t take it personally; use it as an opportunity to improve your business.
There are many online tools you can use on your website to boost social proof. With tools like Proof, Fomo and Provely, you can display real-time customer activity notifications on your website and let your existing customers sell for you.
As social media guru and word-of-mouth expert Andy Sernovitz says, “A happy customer is the greatest advertisement.”
Your happy customers are waiting to tell you how much they love your products and services. All you have to do is ask.