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Consumer Behaviour

Tips on Leveraging Social Proof to Get Subscribers & Customers

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When was the last time you gave away your email address online? Was there any reluctance in handing it over?

Most internet users tend to protect their email addresses in fear of receiving too many promotional emails they’re not really interested in. Obviously, this is a problem for marketers who want to use email subscribers to grow their business.

But what if there was a way to beat this natural fear?

We believe the answer is social proof.

Social Proof in a Nutshell

Social proof is defined as a psychological phenomenon where people follow the actions of others in order to conform. In other words, it’s people doing things they see other people are doing.

The Wall Street Journal recently published a study aimed at understanding the effects of social proof in consumer behaviour. In it, researchers sought to find out whether social proof was a more powerful motivator than saving money or protecting the environment. They tested four different messages to convince respondents to use electric fans over air conditioning.

The first message told the customer they could save up to $54 a month on electricity.

The second message told the customer they could help save the environment by eliminating up to 262 pounds in greenhouse gases.

The third message tried to convince customers by reminding them saving energy was being social responsible.

The fourth message told customers that 77 percent of their neighbours were using fans to save energy.

As you may have guessed, the fourth message, the one that appealed to positive social proof, was most effective. In this instance, positive social proof proved to be more convincing than saving money, saving the environment, and being social responsible.

How do you use social proof in email marketing?

It’s doesn’t take much, to be honest; just use a simple reinterpretation of the examples by the study above.

1. Show proof of subscriber numbers

Showing the number of subscribers to your email list lets potential customers know that it’s common behaviour for other people to sign up, and more importantly, that it’s relatively safe. Simply adding a subscriber count mechanism to your opt-in forms allows you to tap into the desire of readers to do what others are doing, thus driving email subscribes.

You can also make your calls to action more relatable. Statements like, “Be part of a network of sales professionals 15,000 strong and growing receiving our weekly newsletter,” speaks to a reader’s impulse to join in on the action and see what he is missing out on.

2. Use testimonials from influential figures

If you’re lucky enough to have connections with influencers in your industry, then by all means, do everything you can to get a testimonial from them about your email list. These figures act as endorsers, reassuring readers that “Hey, you should sign up too!”

It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book. People want to look up to industry influencers because they want to achieve the same success.

How do you use social proof to increase email conversions?

With your email list already built thanks to social proof, you can then move to the next step: conversions. Fortunately, social proof can work here too, and again, all it takes is a little tweaking of the examples mentioned previously.

1. Show off your number of customers

Again, people want a sense of security knowing that other customers have already bought your product or paid for your service. When sending a product-related email encouraging people to purchase, include how many people have bought the same product or service and you’re bound to drive conversions.

The key here is to trigger a fear in missing out in an offer that others have signed up for or purchased. Part of it is curiosity, but a greater part of it is knowing that something, your product, must be worth paying for since many people have done so.

2. Highlight reviews

Reviews are perhaps the most influential factor in shaping a purchase decision, so you definitely want to leverage positive reviews of your products. Include positive, concise, but brief reviews of your products/services in newsletters, and you’re  guaranteed to see an increase in conversions sooner or later.

A Warning

Of course, all of these tips boil down to transparency. If you make things up just to leverage the advantages of social proof, you run the risk of things blowing up in your face, and your reputation forever tainted.