Understanding the Power of Social Proof

Social proof is a psychological occurrence where people will look to the masses when making a decision, modeling behavior according to what other people are doing. 

A simple example is when you ask a friend what doctor they use, or where they get their haircut. Your friend may have actually done zero research before choosing the business, but because their experience was positive or above expectations, you may be more inclined to choose that same business. Even if your normal process in choosing a doctor or hair stylist normally includes reading reviews on several different review sites first.

Instead of hoping for a referral, businesses can use the power of social proof to attract more clients by using this tactic at every client touch point. And if you’re using social proof to your business’s full advantage, it should be included in your emails, blog posts, popular website pages and landing pages, and most of your marketing channels.

Here are some ideas that could bring your social proof strategy to fruition.

Build up your online reviews

Your online review pages are often being seen by potential clients before they ‘purchase.’ This is a critical time where your reputation could make or break someone’s decision to start a relationship with your business. In fact, 70% of Americans seek out opinions from review sites before making purchases.*

You and your staff should be in the habit of asking happy clients to leave a review on sites that are important to your business, like Yelp or Facebook. This is an effortless way to build up your online reviews, but it may have to mature into other strategies like sending automated review requests via email or text message. Also, don’t underestimate the power of incentive when asking. If you promote a monthly giveaway for clients who leave a review, you’d be surprised how successful of a reminder that can be!

It’s also important to note that when potential clients are in deep research mode, they most likely aren’t just reading reviews on one site. If you have a review site with less than 3-stars, point your happy clients there. A handful of 5-star reviews can boost that page to 3.5 or even 4-stars which is a much-needed place to be.

Post testimonials on your popular site pages

Authentic testimonials can be powerful in the early stages of potential clients as well as new clients. Remembering to market to new clients is important because although they chose to do business with you, did you win their business a second time? New clients are actually more important than prospects because you’ve already won their attention and business once. Now you need to solidify the relationship. With that in mind, you should be strategically placing testimonials from clients in their early stages on pages in your website that other new clients frequently visit.

For example, your dermatology practice may offer free or affordable consultations for acne scarring. Typically, patients will make their first appointment after the consultation. But mentally they haven’t truly committed – they may still be in research mode – and you need to make sure they come in for that appointment. They will most likely go back to your website to look at before/after results again. Next to those photos should be the social proof of testimonials because those new patients may relate to those happy patients’ stories, and in turn, want the same results. 

Share your client success stories

Based on most of the marketing we see everyday, it’s safe to say that most businesses don’t realize that saying they’re ‘the best’ is actually a bad practice. It’s not compelling because it’s not paired with proof. Success stories, on the other hand, are great proof. They share a true accomplishment for your client, as well as your business. These stories are a great tactic to share with your returning clients who are thinking about making a big purchase with your business.

For example, your spa may have a loyal group of clients who consistently come in for your standard facial. After six months of visits, your automation software triggers an email to those clients promoting your Signature Vitamin C facial. The email has a primary call-to-action, ‘Request an Appointment,’ and a secondary call-to-action, ‘Read Success Stories.’ Those success stories could persuade those loyal clients to splurge on the luxury service for an even better result.

How do you get those success stories? An incentive isn’t a bad idea here either.

Promote your business stats

A big part of social proof is the feeling of community. People feel more inclined to purchase a product or service if they know that 3,000 other people did as well. A great way to build that need for community in your marketing is by using your business data and numbers. This persuasive element is great to use during the purchase or appointment making process.

As a veterinarian, you know that many pet owners take the health of their animals seriously, and they won’t bring them to just any veterinarian. Instead of saying, “We’re the most popular vet in town,” you can add meaning to this statement with data. “Keeping more than 500 animals healthy in the tri-state area.” That number is simply the average number of animals you saw in the past three or four years. The data doesn’t have to be difficult to pull, it just has to be true, powerful and displayed prominently.

Another example is showcasing your online review success beyond the review sites. “4.5-star rated on Yelp, Google and VetRatingz.com.” Your reviews don’t need to be 5-stars only in order to promote them. 4-4.5 stars is acceptable and authentic.

Influencer mentions and endorsements

Influencer marketing is here to stay and it’s because of the successful results this strategy achieves. Social proof continues to go back to trust and acceptance, and influencers are valuable for that and their strong audience following. If your business currently has an ad budget, consider taking those funds and putting it towards a local influencer. Your business doesn’t need a big social media presence to work with an influencer, but it does need a consistent one. Working with an influencer can increase your brand awareness through more followers, and bring in more potential business.

Based on SproutSocial data, 40% of people say they’ve purchased a product online after seeing it used by an influencer on social media. But they have to be right for your audience. It doesn’t have to be a world-renowned celebrity. The influencer could be an industry expert. For example, if your medical practice just brought on a pediatrician, you could work with a local mommy blogger who posts about why she finds the flu shot important and where she felt most comfortable bringing her kids.

Your business has a variety of ways to find and display social proof that will bring in more clients. This will make writing powerful headlines for your marketing pieces a lot easier, and keep eyes on your brand.

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