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How the Psychological Principle of Social Proof Can Boost Product Sales

It is a proven fact that people will seek justification from others when deciding, whether or not, to make a purchase. This is a well known psychological phenomenon known as ‘social proof’ and it is something that is ingrained into the human psyche and that has a huge influence over many purchasing decisions.

The enormous persuasive power of social proof can be utilized to increased sales and convince potential buyers to go ahead and make a purchase they have been stressing over. People need to feel that the decisions they make are the right decisions and on many occasions they do this by looking to see what everyone else is doing.

If they can clearly see that people, just like them, are buying a product – and are overjoyed with their choice – this alone can be the deciding factor that convinces them to get out their credit card and make the purchase.

How to Turn Social Proof to Your Advantage

The best method for any business, hoping to yield the advantage of social proof, is to make it clear to potential customers why those previous customers made the decision to buy and then show that the customers have no regrets about their purchase.

This is best achieved by adopting the two following social proof techniques:

1. Testimonials

Potential customers like nothing better than seeing glowing testimonials from previous customers, stating how great the product they bought is, and how they it has improved their life. A testimonial that relates just how efficient the company is, and how easy and pain-free the purchase was, is even better.

Obviously, not everyone will be willing to spend their time offering a testimonial for free – not everyone is unselfishly public spirited. The way around this is to gently persuade these much-sought testimonials by offering small discounts, free bonus gifts, or money off future purchases to anyone willing to contribute a positive post-sale reply.

The initial cost of these incentives will be more than compensated for, due to the increased future revenue resulting from the social proof they offer.

2. Product/Company Reviews

When looking to purchase a product, many potential customers will first search online for reviews from previous customers. They will type in the product or company name and add ‘review’ after the search query and then look intensively at the results that they find. People need to find justification for purchases and want to see that similar people have made the same choice and have not regretted it.

Having a section for reviews, and ratings, on a business website, or product page, is an amazingly powerful tool that can increase sales dramatically. This method can be easier to adopt than testimonials because people love to offer their opinions, and in most cases, no persuasion will be needed for recent purchasers to make a quick comment about what they have just bought and why.

Of course, not all reviews, or ratings, will be positive – some people are never happy – but in the majority of instances people hate to admit they have made an error and will see the upside in nearly everything they buy.

It helps if the product is of reasonable quality – trying to encourage positive reviews and testimonials for something that is low quality, and not fit for use, is fairly pointless. If the product or service does not work, any respectable business person should not be trying to sell it.

Social Proof Can Outdo Cheap Deals

These two methods of encouraging social proof are widely used by the big brand businesses because they know the power that social proof possesses. If 10 shops sell the same product, most people will buy from the shop that offers the most social proof and therefore allegedly possesses the best reputation.

Yes, some people look for the cheapest deal, but if a business can offer more positive responses, many people are willing to pay a few extra dollars for peace of mind and the feeling that they are following the crowd. A cheap product without any social proof is still a risky buy and people need to eliminate that risk and be seen to buy a product that they feel is risk-free, due to the social proof factor.