We humans are social creatures. We’re drawn to other people, not only for comfort and safety, but insight as well. How other people behave tells us a lot about the world. In fact, more often than not, we use their choices and actions to guide our own. Experts call this social proof. The more people we see doing something, the more likely we are to do it as well.
Social proof applies to almost everything, but especially our purchasing decisions. One person might be wrong about a product, but it’s unlikely 1,000 will be. How many times do you read the reviews of a product or restaurant before making a decision? Therefore, companies looking to build their brand should do everything they can to showcase their existing customers.
How can they do this you may ask?
Broadcast Your Sales Figures
There’s a reason McDonald’s lists the number of hamburgers they’ve sold on their signs. Knowing a product is popular increases consumer confidence. You’re much more likely to take a chance on a restaurant that’s sold 15 billion hamburgers than one that hasn’t sold any. Popularity can be a sign of quality and we are highly influenced by what others think is popular.
In light of this, companies who want to demonstrate their value should draw attention to sales figures or any key numbers related to their products and services. Depending on your business, this might include downloads, subscribers, installations, products sold, or hours saved ‒ whatever metric you use to measure engagement and success. The bigger the numbers, the bigger the impact.
Customers trust companies whose products and services are in high demand.
Encourage Customers to Leave Reviews
Word of mouth marketing is effective because it comes from people like us, who share our needs and concerns. Online reviews are an extension of this. They tap into the personal experience of real people, which is why we trust them, almost as much as we’d trust the word of a friend or family member. Most of us judge a company’s reliability, expertise, and professionalism based on its reviews, so encourage and promote them wherever you can. A few ways:
- Ask Your Customers. The best way to get reviews is to be direct. Customers are happiest after a successful transaction, so make your request at the time of purchase or in a followup email immediately afterward. (“Happy with your experience? Leave a review!”) Knowing their thoughts affect other people also encourages customers to share. (“Let others know what you think.” “Your experience helps potential buyers with their decisions.”)
- Offer Discounts. Most customers read reviews, but few feel the need to write them. Knocking a few bucks off their purchase helps them say a few words about you.
- Direct Customers to Them. Reviews aren’t any good if no one reads them, so link to them on your website (e.g. “See what other customers are saying”). You can also display snippets from your best reviews on your homepage and product pages. Don’t over do it, though. Two or three is plenty.
Set Up a Referral Program
Recommendations from a friend or family member carry more weight than an online review or advertisement, so offering rebates for referrals is a great way to build your customer base. This allows your satisfied customers to do some of the leg work for you.
List Your Clients
Big name clients and customers bolster your credibility. Once a company has established themselves as trustworthy and reliable, anyone doing business with them benefits from that reputation and visa versa.
This doesn’t only apply to customer relationships, however. Partnering with companies in your field has the same effect. For instance, if you make tires, teaming up with a leading car manufacturer can help raise your profile among your potential customers.
Share Customer Stories
Success stories let you explore customer experiences in-depth ‒ the problems they faced, the steps you took to solve them, and the results you achieved. Include videos, before and after photos, customer interviews ‒ anything that demonstrates your value. You want to put viewers into the customer’s shoes as much as possible. The more proof they see, the more motivated they’ll be to reach out and do business with you.
Share Survey Data
Most companies use surveys to improve their products and services, but with a few tweaks, they can be effective marketing tools as well. And the best part? They’re easy and affordable to execute. Rather than soliciting feedback about your performance, focus on customer satisfaction instead. For example:
- Would you recommend us to a friend or family member?
- Would you buy from us again?
- How long have you been a customer?
- Was our team courteous and professional?
- How important is [FEATURE] to you?
Once you’ve collected enough responses, you can use them to motivate sales.
- 9 out of 10 customers would recommend us to a friend or family member.
- 80% of customers would buy from us again.
- Most of our customers have been with us for more than 10 years.
- Customers rate our team as one of the most courteous and professional in the business.
- Half the customers who bought this product said speed was important to them.
Surveys can be presented at the point of purchase or in follow-up emails, but generally they have to be short to be effective. The more questions you ask, the less likely the customer will make it to the end. Keep it short, sweet and to the point!