Building social proof on websites is a new online marketing buzzword to help you boost your conversions and increase sales. This is where you add specific things on your website to make it look really popular and well-liked to increase the chances of visitors liking and using it (a term made famous in the marketing world by Robert Cialdini’s excellent ‘Influence’ book).
Here is the brutal truth though – most online businesses are doing a poor job with building social proof. It’s certainly not just a simple case of adding social media icons, product ratings and testimonials on your website and then hoping for the best.
To make sure your website gets the full power of social proof, I’ve created The Buzzworthy Technique. Following this new technique will boost your conversions and sales on any kind of website, and get all kinds of visitors raving about your website and products. It involves hunting for highly compelling social proof elements, picking the best ones, then adding them to your website and testing to see which perform best. Let’s get started with the 10 fairly simple steps:
Step 1: Hunt for compelling customer usage stats
Showing customer usage stats make your website/service seem much popular – think of the McDonalds ’99 Billion Served’ sign. It can be something simple like the number of customers you have, number of downloads or number of products sold – these can be really influential on your homepage in particular.
So go ahead and spend a few hours brainstorming with colleagues to find ones that are highly engaging. And always try to find ones that imply savings or money generated too – these speak volumes! Here are a few good examples to inspire you:
Step 2: Find compelling testimonial snippets
Testimonials really help build social proof, but many websites make the mistake of using really long-winded, boring, non-engaging testimonials. Not every testimonial is equal!
To help boost the power of your testimonials, you need need to look through your current testimonials and find your most compelling snippets in them and use them instead – think short and sweet, under 25 words is perfect. Looking on Twitter is a great place to find short testimonials like this.
If you can, try and find a photo of the person giving the testimonial, as this adds credibility and a human face to your website. Here is an example of a high impact, short and sweet testimonial snippet with photo:
Step 3: Make your social media elements more buzzworthy
This step is one that many online business do a poor job of – many just add Facebook and Twitter share icons to their header or sidebar, often without realizing the potential negative effects – if you have low share numbers (e.g. 12 likes and 18 tweets), this will make your website look like a ghost town and drive visitors away!
To make your social media elements more buzzworthy you need to make sure you have high share amounts for each of the social media icons being shown (at least 100 each). Don’t even show them on your homepage or in the header until you have high amounts accumulated – to help seed and grow them, go ahead and ask your friends, colleagues and family to share them. This is an excellent example of very buzzworthy social media share numbers:
And to get an even bigger impact from your social media elements, use a Facebook plugin that shows your visitors which of their friends are liking your site. Using the power of social proof from friends was shown to work extremely well in Robert Cialdini’s ‘Influence’ book. WP Mashsocial is an excellent plugin to try for this – here is example of it in action, with a Twitter share icon with a great buzzworthy amount of Tweets:
Step 4: Find compelling media mentions and awards
Showing that your online business was mentioned on popular websites or that it’s won awards is an excellent way to boost social proof even further. This works in the same way that ‘As Seen on TV’ stickers on products really helps to sell them.
So for this step, take some time to look through your past media mentions or awards won (from news sites, blogs etc) – the more well known they are, the better the effect. And if you don’t have any good ones yet, what better time to start improving your PR efforts? Here is a great example to learn from:
Step 5: Obtain reviews from experts in your field
Proving that experts like your website or products is another very powerful way of building better social proof and making your website more buzzworthy.
Therefore for this step you should spend time reaching out to obtain short reviews from experts that relate to your online business – the more famous they are, the better the effect (and if you can obtain this in video format it will be even more powerful). Here is a good example – a conversion expert building social proof for a landing page website:
Step 6: Find logos of your well-known customers
This one is a nice, simple easy step to follow. Showing logos of some of your more well known clients or customers will help give your social proof and conversions a good boost. The more famous the logo, the better social proof boost it will give your website. So go ahead and spend time reviewing your client logos to find the best. Here is a great example of this buzzworthy element in action, along with a great compelling title:
Step 7: Review most compelling from last 6 steps
Once you have collected some buzzworthy elements listed from the last 6 steps, next you have to decide and prioritize which ones are likely to be the most influential and compelling for your website visitors.
So go ahead and review them with your colleagues and pick the 3 or 4 that you think will be the most buzzworthy. This will vary by what type of website you have, and how many compelling ones you can find. For example, you may have poor social media share numbers, and no famous clients to show, but a really great expert review to use.
Step 8: Add to key places on homepage & top entry pages
Once you have picked the 3-4 most compelling ones, get your web designer to create some small website modules for each of them (like shown in the best practice screen shots for recent steps).
Then add these buzzworthy modules to key places on your top entry pages (check your analytics tool for these) – these pages are the most influential place to show your compelling social proof elements, and it ensures they get seen as soon as visitors arrive.
For example, add them on your homepage above the page fold (the page area that visitors see first without having to scroll), and on the sidebar of your top performing SEO traffic pages. This will give you a good starting point to really boost your conversions before you start testing.
Step 9: Test variations to find best performing
Just like all key things you add or change on your website, doing A/B testing is essential to find which variations most engage and convert your visitors. The same goes for the social buzzworthy content you have just created and added to your top entry pages. Here are some things to run tests on for each buzzworthy element you have created:
- The title associated with each one
- The call-to-action link or button for each one (if you have enough, give visitors links to see more)
- The size, style and color of each one
- The location on the page of each one (above page fold is usually key)
To get best results you should use an A/B testing tool like Visual Website Optimizer or Optimizely (if you have enough traffic – at least 1,000 uniques per week for the page you want to test). If you don’t have enough traffic you can run some quick usability feedback surveys to ask visitors which variations they find the most compelling – a perfect use of UserTesting.com or Qualaroo.
Step 10: Sit back and watch your conversions rocket!
Here is the best step! Just sit back and watch your website conversions start to skyrocket over the next few days – more sales, more subscribers, more leads, or whatever your website’s goal is. Then continue to tweak and test your buzzworthy content to grow your conversion rates even further.
Now time for you to try it…
I hope you can see the amazing potential of The Buzzworthy Technique for your website and your business – it doesn’t take long to implement to start seeing fantastic results.
And it’s going to be much more powerful than simply adding testimonials and some product ratings on your website!
I want you to give my technique a try and let me know how it works for you – please leave a comment below with your results, or if you have any questions about it.