What is Social Proof?

What is social proof and why does it matter for your business?

To explain, let’s look at two examples. Let’s say there are two, nearly identical companies that make and ship nutritious, homemade granola bars. To set themselves apart in such a crowded market, both champion their unique ingredients, freshness, and specific health benefits.

The prices are the same. And without knowing anything else about them, you’d not be able to distinguish one company from the other.

Here’s where they differ:

The first company has a Facebook pages with thousands of fans talking about how much they love the product. They have written and video testimonials featured prominently on their website. They feature a counter on their website that shows how many bars they are selling in real time, and the number is ticking up constantly.

The second company has none of that. Their website just shows the product and the price, and lets you checkout. They offer their own backstory, and provide detailed descriptions of each bar, but it all comes from the company.

The first company is using social proof. The second is not.

And if you’re like most people, given the option between the two, you will choose to purchase from the first company.

Why? Because human beings will conform to the actions of others under the assumption that those actions are reflective of the correct behavior. That’s social proof.

When we see others are doing something, and more than that, they’re excited or happy or satisfied in those actions, we’ll follow. And companies can take advantage of that psychology in order to help marketing their products and services.

Positive reviews, social media activity, proof of popularity or demand are all ways to employ social proof for your business. Show prospective customers that your offerings are popular among others, and you will help to convince them that buying from you is the right decision.

Marketing Trends – Part 4

Welcome to the latest installment of our weekly blog series, Marketing Trends. Each week, we will identify a key trend in the world of marketing. We’ll discuss the trend, why it’s important, and suggest ways that you can take advantage of this trend in your company.

Last week’s trend was Negative Calls to Action.

Today’s Trend = Featuring Customers

You, as a marketer, can spend all of your time and energy telling people how great your brand is, how many people you’ve helped with your products, how crappy your competitors are, and how you’re the answer to the ills of the world.

But there is just one problem, it’s coming from you. It’s coming from your company. Of course you think you’re great. We’d expect you to as consumers.

And in the new age of advertising, it’s not enough for you to think you’re great. Other people, real people, not on your payroll, need to think you’re great too.

Review sites like Yelp, and social media have changed the landscape. Nowadays people do a lot more research before any buying decision. And they want to find out what other people have to say about you, people like them.

That’s the genesis of this week’s marketing trend, featuring customers in your marketing.

It’s not a new thing, but it’s gaining in popularity. More and more companies are actively recruiting brand enthusiasts, customers who can promote on your behalf. Those customers are being featured in everything from social media posts to TV commercials. And it adds a new level of trust between the company and the marketplace.

How can your company take advantage of this trend?

You can start by actively recruiting your own ambassadors. Reach out to loyal customers and make a connection. Find out who they are and why they purchase from you. Pick some of the most representative customers and get their permission to use their likeness and their words in your promotional materials. Testimonials, written or video, are a great place to start. And begin to build your brand around the people that really matter, your customers.

What marketing trend should we cover next? Now accepting submissions for marketing trends that we will cover in an upcoming installment of this series. Submit your ideas via our contact page or in the comments section below.

Everything You Need to Know About Online Reviews

In last week’s “week in review” post, I took a stab at placing Yelp and the BBB in the same playing field with regards to what they do, from a business’s perspective. The BBB used to be the third party authority on whether or not a company was trustworthy. But with the rise of online reviews, and social media, the authority on whether or not a company is trustworthy is found in the direct experiences of other people (consumers).

So what’s the reason for having the BBB?

I won’t spend an entire post asking that question. Instead, let’s focus on the online reviews. Online reviews are everywhere:

  • Yelp
  • Amazon
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Your website
  • Forums and discussion boards
  • Ordering platforms like Seamless
  • Anywhere else people interact online

Most reviews are outside of your control. All that you can do is service your customers at the highest level, work to ensure you don’t get a lot of negative reviews, and respond when you do.

But you can also encourage positive reviews to offset some of the negative reviews you’re bound to get. You can use links in email signatures, a form on your site, and social media pages to direct your happy customers to post reviews for you. The more positive reviews exist for your company, the more likely people will trust that you follow through on the marketing promises that you make.

And positive reviews are there for you to incorporate into your marketing. Many companies today use real customer experiences to help convince new customers. You can use testimonials in your promotional materials, and post reviews on your website.

At the end of the day it is all about trust and reputation. Consumers trust other consumers more than they trust marketers. So encourage positive reviews and address negative reviews in order to keep those consumers forever in your favor!

How to Use Testimonials to Achieve Marketing Success


Testimonials are becoming more popular in marketing. They have value because they tell people that:

  • This company is trustworthy
  • This company is good at what they do

When real people take the time to compliment or thank a company, it means something to us. And as marketers, we need to see the value in those comments and reviews, cultivate them, and take advantage of the opportunity to use them in our marketing.

So where in the process should you use testimonials?

  1. Beginning – use testimonials on ads that attract people to your storefront or website. Testimonials on ads show people that you really do live up to the “hype”. Any marketer can claim their company is good at what they do, but when real customers support that, it carries a whole new level of meaning.
  2. Middle – use testimonials on landing pages and websites, as well as in follow up materials that go out to people before a sale is completed. At this step, it’s important to support the claims you’re making about how effective your offering it. Testimonials specific to certain features or aspect of your value proposition are key.
  3. End – use testimonials in the checkout process to reassure customers that they are making the right decision. These testimonials (if you have them) might work best if they explicitly state something about an initial fear, but they were glad they went ahead and purchased because of this reason or that reason.
  4. After the end (Bonus) – follow up with customers after a purchase to see how their experience was and ask for a testimonial from them.

Little Things 8 - Testimonials

Welcome to this week’s edition of “Little Things”, a weekly blog series covering the small changes that you can make to improve marketing performance.

Last week’s topic was using customer surveys.

This week’s tip:

Use Testimonials

As much as people are learning to tune out traditional advertising, there are still marketing strategies that connect with consumers. They might not want to hear what you think of the product your selling, but they definitely want to know about what people who purchased from you think about it.

The rise in popularity of user reviews of products and services can be tracked back through the digital age, from Amazon to Yelp, Angie’s List to Facebook. Nowadays, almost any ecommerce site worth visiting includes feedback from customers on their product pages.

Take a cue from what shoppers are looking for, and start collecting and showcasing testimonials from satisfied customers.

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Follow up with your customers regularly in the form of surveys (last week’s tip), promos, and service check-ins
  2. Use these follow ups to solicit feedback testimonials, positive feedback equals testimonials
  3. Put someone in charge of reviewing all feedback on a regular basis
  4. Pull out those quotes that can be used as testimonials, follow up with the person who provided it to get inform them of your intention to use the quote and get their permission
  5. Or you can cut out most steps above and build in a reviews section on your website so that all the work is automated

More testimonials will mean more sales. It’s an easy way to improve your marketing, and it takes very little extra effort from anyone on your team.

Happy customers are a marketer’s best friend!