14 Examples of How to Use Social Proof in Marketing
You’re hungry and looking for a place to eat.
You start to consider the options.
There’s the new restaurant that food critics have been raving about. There’s also the spot down the street that always has a line out the door. Maybe you can try the place that friends have been recommending. Or you can always do a quick Google search to find top-rated eats nearby.
This is social proof in action.
We’re naturally drawn to the things that are new, popular and being talked about.
This makes social proof a powerful marketing tool that can build brand awareness, increase credibility, and most importantly boost sales. In this article, we’ll cover what social proof is and examples of how brands have used it as part of their overall marketing strategy.
What is social proof marketing?
Social proof is the concept of following the crowd — if everyone is doing it, we should too.
Social proof marketing is an extension of this, using the experience of others to influence customers — if everyone thinks it’s great, then it must be great.
And it’s becoming increasingly prevalent, especially online.
Customers can now be influenced from far beyond their immediate social circle, and this influence comes in several different forms.
It’s in blogs featuring must-buy products. Likes & shares showing what trends are now in. And product reviews giving an honest look into the customer experience.
It’s also pretty powerful.
One study found that 87% of buying decisions begin with research conducted online before the purchase is made.
Below we’ll cover the different types of social proof, with examples of how other brands have used it as part of their marketing strategy.
Examples Social Proof Marketing
1. Customer Reviews: Free People
With 97% of consumers say online reviews impact their purchasing decisions, customer reviews are arguably one of the most powerful forms of social proof.
Customer reviews can be featured on your homepage and in advertisements. Including reviews on specific product pages adds to the overall customer experience and can help encourage customers who are hesitant to buy.
Additionally, use 3rd party review sites like Google, Yelp, TrustPilot. These sites often appear in the top search engine results, so this can help build brand awareness and adds more credibility to your brand.
Clothing retailer Free People uses customer reviews throughout the buying process.
In advertisements, they use ratings and reviews from customers as part of the ad copy. With verbiage such as “5-Star” and quotes from submitted customer reviews.
They even sometimes use these customer reviews quotes in subject lines for email marketing. For example, one campaign subject line simply said ‘I have 12 different colors in this tee!’
On their website, they have a specific menu category for Top Rated products from customers.
The brand also features customer reviews on each product page. With comments like “Best sweater I own” or “This sweater is a dream, perfect for everyone” being the best-promotions they could ask for.
2. Testimonials: Nuud
Much like reviews, testimonials are another way to use the customers voice for social proof.
Testimonials differ as it is more of an endorsement rather than feedback. They are typically gathered and curated by the brand itself — such as working with loyal customers who will say something positive.
Use customer testimonials on your homepage and in marketing campaigns. Add the customer’s photo and logo alongside their testimonial. It’s best to feature more well-known, recognizable brands if possible.
Cosmetic retailer Nuud has focused their marketing on the overall customer experience, being that what they offer is better quality, better for the environment, and most importantly loved by their customers.
To best convey this, Nuud’s website features customer testimonials with video.
Video testimonials can be especially effective because you get to hear the customer experience in the customer’s own words. It makes testimonials more authentic, and as a result more trusted by other customers.
In Nuud’s video, each customer gave a unique testimonial for why they buy the product. It steers clear of staged scripts. Instead you hear customers speaking candidly, saying quotes like “The fact that there’s no crap inside the deodorant”.
3. Case Studies: Slack
Case studies are a great way to show your product or service in action.
Being more in-depth and formal, case studies provide real-life examples of how others have used your product or service and benefited from it. From this, customers can see ways they can benefit too.
Case studies are particularly useful for B2B brands, as it gives a deeper analysis of applicable solutions and the potential ROI.
Slack features case studies from a wide range of customers, including new startups to big-name brands like FOX, Target and IBM.
The case studies section is titled “Customer Stories”, and covers how each of these brands used their software. This includes interviews with the brands themselves, as well as key growth figures.
4. Customer Base: WuFoo
Another way to use social proof through customers is by featuring any popular brands that use your product or service.
This can be done by adding a section to your homepage with your customer’s logos. For this strategy to be effective, be sure to feature brands that your customers are likely to recognize.
WuFoo by SurveyMonkey features their customer base prominently on their homepage, even before many users need to scroll through. Which makes sense, as their customer base includes house-hold names like Disney, Amazon and Microsoft, just to name a few.
This section of their page includes text saying “Trusted by some of the world’s most popular brands” with logos of the brands included just below.
5. Media Mentions: Ice Kitchen
Draw attention to where your brand is being mentioned and by who. Again, this contributes to credibility and trustworthiness.
This can include:
- Media mentions (i.e. As Featured in Time Magazine)
- Key Endorsements (i.e. Used by Top Professionals…)
- Certifications (i.e. Fair Trade Certified)
- Awards (i.e. Online Retailer of the Year)
U.K brand Ice Kitchen highlights their award-winning status on their homepage, as well as having a whole section dedicated to the praise they have received from top publications.
Between the list of awards and quotes from sites like Wall Street Journal and Women’s Health, customers are able to know this is a tasty, high-quality product without even trying it first.
6. Social Media: Frank Body
It should be no surprise that one of the best channels for social proof is social media.
With the ease and accessibility to post and share, social media gives away for several different types of social proof. This can include:
- High follower & subscriber counts
- Engaged audiences that like, share and comment
- Brand mentions & shout outs from customers
- Customers reviews and star ratings
- Tagged photos & posts
In addition to this list, social media is a great way to leverage user generated content — any content that is created and shared organically by users. This can be posts, images, tweets, videos, live streams, etc.
One of the best examples of social proof and social media comes from Australian brand Frank Body.
Frank Body got the word out about their brand with the combination of hashtags and UGC. The brand actively encouraged users to share images with with the brand’s hashtags #letsbefrank and #thefrankeffect. Now, over 100,000 images of customers happily covered in the brand’s signature coffee-scrub have been uploaded to Instagram.
As a result of their UGC-focused strategy, Frank Body has brought in over $20 million in earnings.
7. Customer Features & Spotlights: Serena & Lily
Social proof through user generated content is not limited to just social media.
Featuring user generated content on your website is another way to build trust and influence customer’s buying decisions. In fact, 77% of online shoppers said that user generated content, like customer photos, influence their buying decision more than professional photos.
Generally speaking, this social proof strategy is reserved for e-commerce brands with products that can be captured in images. (added bonus if the products are Insta-worthy).
Furniture brand Serena & Lily have a dedicated section for customer spotlights.
Customers can upload content directly to the site, or use social media with the brand’s hashtag. The content is then shared as inspiration for other shoppers, with the items from the images listed below for purchase.
8. Customer Referrals: Freshly
92% of consumers trust suggestions from friends and family more than traditional advertising.
That said, customer referrals are very valuable. It shows that people loved your product or service so much, they wanted to share it with others.
Customer referrals work for almost any business type — whether it be e-commerce products, SaaS subscriptions, membership programs, etc.
Using tools like Tapfiliate, you can easily start your own affiliate and referral marketing programs to incentivize customers to share your brand.
Customers can promote via websites, social media and blogs, using referral links to send traffic to your site. In exchange for their promotion, customers earn a commission for every successful referral — this is typically for when their referrals end up making a purchase or signing up for a service.
Meal delivery brand Freshly has made it very easy for customers to refer their friends and family to sign up.
Freshly emails customers their own referral link to share, and also includes convenient social sharing to popular platforms in just a few clicks. It takes little effort from customers to make their referrals.
It is even prominently featured on their homepage with the eye-catching text saying “GET $40” so it’s hard for any customers to miss.
On top of the $40 bonus given to customers making the referral, Freshly also gives $40 to the person they referred. Typically, brands give a bonus like Freshly, or offer a discount or credits for future purchases.
9. Influencer Promotions: Revolve
Products being promoted by someone famous isn’t a new concept. But thanks to social media, this strategy doesn’t require an Oprah fame — now virtually anyone can gain enough fame to give a celebrity endorsement.
That said, influencers can be a very effective type of social proof.
With a strong presence on social media, influencers have loyal followings and built up a level of trust with their audience. Typically, they are within a certain niche, whether it be fashion, makeup, skincare, fitness, travel, wellness, tech, DIY, and so on.
As you begin seeking influencers to partner with, take into consideration your own audience, the type of content you’d like to promote and the type of partnership you’d like to have. You can read more about influencer marketing here.
For online clothing retailer Revolve, influencer marketing has been a key part of growing their brand. Revolve has over 3,500 influencers promoting their clothing, from micro-level influencers to celebrity influencers like Kendall Jenner.
And it’s not just Instagram posts.
Revolve has invested heavily in the influencer-event of the year saying, “Coachella has become this global event that everyone knows about, so it’s really played to our advantage; there are so many influencers from around the world that want to come and want this opportunity to be part of the brand”.
This includes an exclusive pre-festival party, which requires each influencer to post twice a day using pre-designated hashtags to promote the brand. On top of that, the brand then uses the influencers to curate special collections for their site — such as the dedicated “Festival Looks” section which features outfits worn by other influencers for the event.
The outcome of their all-in influencer strategy? An astounding nearly 70% of Revolve’s sales came from influencer promotions.
10. Expert Approval: Quip
A recommendation from an expert in the field can go a long way, adding credibility to your brand’s products or services.
Social proof from experts could be an endorsement, recommendation, quote, testimonial or even more collaborative content like an interview or case study.
Toothbrush maker GetQuip’s website includes content from dental experts throughout their site. The review section has a special section for reviews from professionals, with testimonials and a statistic that over 20,000 dental professionals work with them.
Additionally, the homepage shows that the toothbrush was the “first subscription electric brush & refillable floss accepted by the American Dental Association”.
This all shows that Quip is not only up to industry standards, it’s also the product they recommend to use.
11. Share Stats: Code Academy
“Wisdom of the crowd” type of social proof is best shown in your numbers. With customer stats, you can show off your popularity, and entice others to want it too.
Strategically display the number of customers, active users, downloads, subscribers, followers, etc. This can include figures such as:
- Number of years in business (i.e. with 10+ year of experience)
- Percentage of industry (i.e. join the 33% of users)
- Number of countries you operate in or your customers are in (i.e.in 100+ countries)
E-learning platform Code Academy capitalizes on their large customer base by making it the first thing you see on their website. With this strategy, customers will want to feel part of the group and join those who are already taking courses.
Additionally, they establish credibility and expertise by saying “First, we invented the best system for learning to code. Seven years and 45 million learners later, we’ve perfected it.”
12. Rankings: Hootsuite
Rankings combine customer reviews, expert opinions, media mentions and stats all in one — making for an effective type of social proof.
After all, why wouldn’t we want to buy the brand that’s ranked the best?
Feature these rankings on your website or in marketing text. For example, “2nd Best Restaurant in Amsterdam” or “Voted Safest Car 2020”.
Typically, these rankings should come from credible sources, such as Consumer Reports Best Products or G2’s market research reports. It is a way to convey authority and expertise in the industry — it is proof for why your product is better than your competitors.
Hootsuite uses their rankings as a way to backup the positive reviews from customers. So instead of only trusting other users, audiences can see that the software is the best in the industry based off of rankings.
The rankings come from established software review sites, including G2 and Gartner.
13. Trust Seals: 1Password
Trust seals are an added confidence in your brand, and can dramatically increase your conversion rate.
This is a way to show that your site is safe and secure, and that your business has been verified to be trustworthy by a third party. Trust seals can include
- Secure payment badges
- Third-party endorsements
- Certifications such as GDPR compliant
- Home-made badges like money-back guarantee or free returns
1Password not only displays their trust seals, they have a whole page with information about what certifications they hold and how they are compliant. With the company’s software built around protecting passwords, these trust seals are especially important.
14. Top Selling Products: SnapFish
As we mentioned, social proof is based around following the behavior of the crowds.
Featuring top-selling, popular products is an effective way to use social proof in your site design and encourage customers to make a purchase.
SnapFish features the top products on the homepage with a section titled “What’s Hot”.
Have a “top products” section on your site. Display this on the homepage, as part of the navigation bar and as a filter option. Additionally, use banner displays with phrases like “Customer Favorite” or “Best Selling”.
Similarly, you can also use this type of social proof to make customer recommendations such as “Other Customers Also Bought” or “Trending Now”.
Social proof is not only a marketing tool, it’s also a great way to engage customers and enhance the customer experience. With these examples, you can begin working with customers to promote your brand and put the customer front-and-center.
For more marketing tips including how to start your own affiliate marketing program, be sure to visit the Tapfiliate blog.