There is a really great quote by the late Cavett Robert, founder the National Speakers Association, that really helps put the power of social proof into proper perspective.
Since 95 percent of people are imitators and only 5 percent are initiators, people are more persuaded by the actions of others than any proof we can offer.
Cavett couldn’t have been more dead on.
Social proof is one of the most powerful forms of influence.
Humans are naturally hardwired to take “mental shortcuts” to figure out what we should do and how we should act in a given situation. So when it comes to social proof, the more people doing the action the more correct the behavior must be.
That being said, you can most certainly use social proof strategically to build your email list.
Social proof works most effectively under two conditions; when we feel uncertain about something or when we feel a sense of similarity and connectedness to people just like us.
You might be asking how exactly does this apply to building my email list? It’s simple, let’s say a first-time visitor reaching your blog or landing page via search. They don’t know who you are or what you’re offering, so chances are they aren’t going to subscribe to your email list because there’s no trust involved.
As they roam your website, they’ll notice your opt in form saying, “Join the other 60,000 subscribers getting free email updates”.
Something interesting immediately happens, inherited influence.
Social proof allows this person to take a mental shortcut and decide to trust you and subscribe because 60,000 people can’t be wrong about you having some kick ass content.
Think of the Mc Donald’s “Over A Billion Served” on the golden arches. Most people don’t realize it because our minds are taking these mental shortcuts on the subconscious level.
Social proof also works in situations of likeness or similarity. People are naturally more inclined to trust the action of a person similar to them than a dissimilar one.
Ok, so hopefully by now you have a good idea of what social proof and how it works. Now to drive home the concept further, I want to give you two examples of effective use of social proof to build your email list.
5 Proven Social Proof Strategies
People want to belong. They also want to know that they’re making good decisions. Whether we realize it or not, we look at others to cosign if our behaviors is socially accepted.
Sharing your audience size validates your expertise. It indirectly tell people, “I know what I’m talking about.”
If you strategically place your audience size around your website, you’ll increase your credibility and grow your following much faster.
Coach an all-in-one solution solopreneurs who want to earn a living from selling courses and digital downloads. There are quite a few players in market, and as a new business in the space they need to demonstrate credibility at hello.
When you head over to their site, one of the very first things you’ll see is their audience size. This is a great way to build credibility for a new business because to a first time visitor it looks like you’re concept is valid.
Example: Social Media Examiner
The is a great example of social proof in practice. The Social Media Examiner team is doing an amazing job building that email of theirs as the numbers clearly indicate. That “540,000+ of your peers!” part is so powerful and effective; it tells an uncertain first-time visitor that there are a lot of people who think we have great content, and it speaks to those who tend to be influenced by others like them as the word “peers” clearly communicates.
Brian Clark and the team over at Copyblogger do a great job of utilizes the principle of social proof to building their subscriber base.
First off, the course is called “Internet Marketing for Smart People”. This immediately makes a connection to anyone who identifies themselves as, a) an internet marketer or b) a smart person.
This was smart of them because who doesn’t think their smart? Exactly…
After they make that connection, they drop the numbers on you to close the deal with the social proof. “Join over 51,000 smart people today” is the preverbal straw that breaks the camel’s back. 51,000 “smart people” on your list means you’re doing a whole lot of things right.
Visitors see this, mental shortcut occurs, and they hand over their info.
Social Proof can work for and against you. Hold off on displaying numbers until your list hits at least 3 digits. It’s about perception.
Example: Smart Passive Income
Ok, I know this isn’t exactly a audience or subscriber count share but stay with me. You see that number in the top right corner? That’s Pat Flynn’s earning for that month.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never met anyone who makes six-figure a year who was a) bad at what they do or b) isn’t an expert. And remember, he did six-figures in one month.
Clearly he’s doing some things right, so why wouldn’t you trust him?
Sharing his income not only communicates that he’s transparent but also that he’s a credible entrepreneur.
Example: Neil Patel
Testimonials are a powerful way to utilize social proof. It turns out that having a third-party speak highly of your you or your business is an effective way to build credibility.
This testimonial on Neil Patel’s site is great for two reasons. First, it comes from a highly credible and recognizable source. Timothy Sykes is an entrepreneur that has been all over the media, including day-time television. An endorsement from him holds weight.
The other reason is specificity. This testimonial highlights a very specific result. Notice how Tim uses numbers to communicate impact? I can guarantee you that was intentional.
People trust people who gets results.
As Seen On
Traditional media is still effective. If you need evidence, look at all the websites that have a bunch of logos plastered all over them. Earned media is a great way to communicate your relevance and credibility. If you’ve been featured, reviewed or mentioned by the media it would be wise to share that front and center.
Example: Gary Vaynerchuk
Gary Vaynerchuk does a great job of displaying all the media he’s earned as a NYT Bestselling author, influencer and CEO. He’s been featured in some of the largest media outlets in the business. Quite frankly, these are the most influence stamps of approval you could have.
Example: Paul Jarvis
Paul Jarvis does something very clever here. (Do you see it?)
He’s using earned media on the sign up page for his newsletter. If someone is debating whether they should entrust him with their inbox, these logos make a compelling case for how amazing Paul is at his craft.
He didn’t stop their though. He also add a testimonial and his audience size on the subscribe button; essentially playing a jedi mind trick on people who are on the fence.
How could you not join over 22,000 people?
Smart move Paul.
Example: Walker & Company
Walker & Company is the parent company of the health and beauty brand Bevel. They’re at the intersection of wellness and technology, which are both very competitive.
As a new startup, it’s important to show potential investors and customers that your product is legit. Walker & Co. has shared three media mentions on the homepage of their website. Again, communicate credibility at hello.
This build credibility and makes visitor stick around the site longer, which increases the likelihood of earning a new customer.
The more influential the endorser, the more social proof you earn. We see commercials and ads with spokespersons everyday. Even though we know this person is being compensated, we still can’t help but think favorably about the product or service being praised.
Pat Flynn is a big deal in the online business space. A cosign from him can dramatically change your business for the better. ConvertKit is one of the newer (and better) email service providers around. While they have some promising features, potential customers may linger on the fence until they are compelled to make the switch. It happens for lot of different reasons.
What’s the quickest way to build credibility for a new business? Find someone with influence to vouch for you.
That’s exactly what ConvertKit did and it worked.
There are entire industries build around certifications and accreditations. Badges are really no different. In fact, they are literal stamps of approval.
There are some professionals and consumers who will immediately go look up a company in the Better Business Bureau to ensure that they’re credible before doing business with them.
Example: Thrive Market
Thrive Market is an online supermarket health-conscious people. With identity theft and security breaches on major websites, shoppers are increasingly cautious about spending online.
Thrive Market get ahead of this objections by adding a “Google Trusted Store” badge to the footer of their website.
Why? Because people on the internet trust Google.
Most online shoppers would think, “If they passed a Google background check they must be reputable.”
And just like that, you build credibility and attract more customers.
What About You?
Are you using the power of social proof? What are some of the different ways you’ve used it or seen it used before?