There is a significant difference in the perception a reader might have about something they see on your company website and information delivered through a news provider they trust.
The crux of social proof is that customers value what other people say about a brand more than what it says about itself!
Even though a press release is content you’ve written, featuring that content on a respected, high readership site, edition or newsletter acts as social proof by associating your brand with an industry expert or trusted channel.
Adding backlinks, social media posts, and logo features into the mix means you can leverage a press release to maximise exposure, boost credibility and position your company as an expert.
The Value of Social Proof
Social proof is the concept that consumers look for evidence that a product or service is desirable, relying on other people’s opinions to validate their choices.
For example, when you buy something from Amazon, you will be prompted to leave a review – the more reviews, and the higher the rating of a product, the more likely the next person is to buy it.
If an event is selling out, we’re more inclined to buy tickets. Not because we independently think the event sounds fantastic, but because we get a sense of urgency and fear of missing out based on the fact that lots of other people think it sounds like a great thing to do!
Businesses still need excellent quality on-page content, but to demonstrate social proof, they need to expand their sights and engage with customers in other places where they already choose to consume content.
How Does a Press Release Act as Social Proof?
We’ve touched on this already, but the premise is that whenever your brand, product or idea features in a third-party publication, is included in an article or video by a respected industry expert or is endorsed by an influential channel, it gains social proof.
You can make that association more visible by:
- Cross-posting press releases on social media or a website blog or news page.
- Adding logos to product pages or within your sales funnel, i.e. endorsed by ABC News or as seen in XYZ Today!
- Creating on-page content to demonstrate social proof, such as ‘recommended by xxx’.
Linking back to the publication or news channel adds further credibility. It creates a two-way link with one backlink referring traffic to your website and one heading the other way to substantiate the information you’re sharing.
On-page content is a vital element of your marketing strategy, but getting customers to join your sales funnel is essential – establishing reliability and brand awareness is the first step.
A final benefit is that press releases can act as standalone social proof. Still, if you include relevant and interesting information, there is a greater likelihood that other third parties will share your content.
Data, research studies and statistics about your sector or a particular trend have broader relevance and ensure you expand your reach further with every re-post.
How to Use Social Proof in Marketing
Customer expectations are higher than ever, and you need to be proactive about improving the visitor experience and helping your audience make positive decisions.
Social proof embedded within your marketing can improve conversion rates and foster trust in your brand, and there are plenty of ways to go about it.
1. Publishing Independent Opinions to Build Trust
An objective opinion from a third-party expert, a review site, or a customer supports the information you publish about your product or service.
Adding reviews, ratings or testimonials reassures prospective buyers that they can rely on your company, with independent reviews a tried and tested way to back up your advertising.
You can also use social proof to enhance customer loyalty and keep your audience returning to you – whether they need to buy something else or want to keep up to speed with trends or new announcements.
2. Showcasing Why a Customer Should Buy Your Product
As we’ve seen, social proof creates a sense of urgency and scarcity and encourages customers to check out, making a product seem more desirable – even if the price point and features haven’t changed.
Publishing evidence of social proof on your site that shows a high rating, purchase numbers, or low remaining stocks means a buyer is more likely to check out rather than bouncing off the page or abandoning a cart.
3. Making the Decision-Making Process Simpler
If you’ve shopped online recently, you’ll know that the volume of choice is overwhelming – many people browse multiple sites or channels simultaneously, resulting in information overload and decision paralysis.
Incorporating social proof reassures your customer that what they’re viewing is an easy win; they don’t need to visit another website or compare any other product to solve their problem or find the solution they’re after.
People will always choose something that appears very popular or highly rated over anything else, so you reduce the friction and steer your customer towards the checkout by giving them the confidence they are making a good choice.
4. Reducing Returns
The catch with reviews is that – sooner or later – someone might simply not like your product, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing! Reviews can open you up to criticism, but they’re also a great opportunity to work on your customer engagement.
Here are a couple of examples:
- A customer says the product doesn’t do what they want it to. You respond, share a video explainer or a link to instructions, and leave that conversation visible to anybody who might experience the same issue.
- A customer is unhappy and wants a refund. You apologise for their disappointment and offer an immediate refund or a replacement – it’s open and transparent. The next customer won’t be worried about buying something and not being able to return the item.
User-generated content, in the form of reviews, can be informative and useful for prospective customers because they get an insight into the item’s quality.
The information is trusted because it’s impartial (and a form of social proof!) and gives you a way to create dialogue and pre-empt questions or explain the best use for your product so your buyer can make an informed decision.