The Importance of Social Proof in E-commerce and How to Track It

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One of the first pieces of advice I ever got when traveling was to never go into an empty restaurant.

If the locals don’t trust the food there, then you shouldn’t either.

Even without ever hearing this piece of advice, if you were faced with two unfamiliar restaurants to choose from; one was full of people enjoying their meal and time together, and the other had only its staff inside, social proof dictates that you would naturally go for the one with the crowd.

What is Social Proof

Social proof is the concept that we are influenced by the visible choices of other consumers. It can validate your users’ own interest in your offering. It can also spark or further their interest in your brand for fear of missing out. Social proof is also an important ingredient in building trust with your user.

Showing that others have tried, tested and been satisfied with your product or service reduces the risk they perceive in parting with their money. 

Social Proof In Action

In September, 2020, Qreuz carried out a study of one hundred product pages to see which form of social proof was most popular. We looked at the top sites in the “clothing” and “jewelry” e-commerce categories, as ranked by Alexa at that time. and found that including the ratings and reviews on the product pages to be the most popular form of social proof.

graph showing social proof on e-commerce pages 2020
Data source: Qreuz

The second most popular option on the product page was using none at all. To learn how to track the impact of your social proof, read until the end of this article.

Other forms of social proof you can include on or off your site include;

  1. Social media comments, likes, followers and shares
  2. Influencer marketing
  3. Earned press
  4. Expert endorsement 

Why Social Proof is Important

If you’re not using the power of social proof to your advantage, your landing pages, social media posts, product pages, and other marketing channels may not be converting as well as they could be.

Social proof is especially important in digital marketing and e-commerce because the user does not have the opportunity to experience your product in person and feeling, the quality for example, for themselves. 

Data source: BrightLocal

BrightLocal found that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. According to the same study, 59% of users look to more than 2-3 review platforms before making their decision. So don’t focus too heavily on one review platform, engage is social listening and resolve any negative comments right away. 

How to Measure the Impact of your Social Proof

All the statistics are great, but how do you really know what works well for your store and for your users? It is important to optimize your site based on the results generated on your own store. 

There are many different types of social proof you can use to build trust and generate more interest in your business, so it can be difficult to know which would be most effective without testing it first. 

There are two ways to do this:

Method 1: A/B testing

A/B testing is a method of comparing two versions of the same web page against each other to see which one performs better. To carry out an A/B test, you must change nothing else about your website or marketing during a specified amount of time. This way you know that any changes to your performance can be safely attributed to the changes you want to test. 

Example: Month 1: Product page with Google reviews

       Month 2: Product page without Google reviews

After two months of testing both options, you can look to your data and see in which month there were more conversions. This will tell you weather including reviews is something which your users appreciate. 

Method 2: Track the Impact of Social Proof in Your Sales Funnel

A more direct approach to testing the impact of your chosen social proof is to link your conversion date to the views of your social proof.

By marking the view of your social proof as a trackable event and linking that to your conversion data, you will be able to see how many people who saw the Google reviews, in this case, went on to make a purchase.

Attribution of user behavior during the funnel until conducting a purchase is one of the key disciplines every marketer in e-commerce needs to fulfil. Ideally, your tracking solution will attribute the views of social proof content directly to your conversion data. Like this, you can even add a value to your social proof content and understand how much revenue it accounts for.

Final Thoughts

Social proof is a powerful tool to use at the right moments in the user journey. With the strong research, the right tracking solution and some old-fashioned testing, you can harness that power to the max!

What experimenting have you done with social proof on your site? I’d love to know in the comments below.

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