Before the internet, there was word of mouth. Before buying the newfangled color television, as an example, people would go around the neighborhood getting views on the best brand from those that had already bought one. Word-of-mouth still remains a vital tool in every marketer’s toolkit. However, today, much of it has been transformed into online reviews. Studies show that up to 90% of people will first read online reviews before committing to purchasing a particular product or service. Word-of-mouth and online reviews are useful from a marketing standpoint in that they provide social proofing. But what is social proofing and why is it important?
What is social proofing?
Human beings, by their very nature, are pack animals. Contrary to what many believe, we all want to tread where others have trodden before. If you have ever watched videos of wildebeests or zebras running around in the Serengeti, you will understand what we are talking about here.
Social proofing makes use of this primal instinct to effectively market products and services. It refers to the idea that people carry out most of their actions based on the actions of those around them. In other words, people require social verification in order to carry out most of their activities.
In any troop, there are pack leaders (influencers)
Social proofing, as we have already noted, is great from a marketing standpoint. The challenge for any business lies in convincing people that others have already tried out a particular product or service and have found it satisfactory. In any troop of zebra out in the wildness, there are pack leaders. These are the animals that everyone else follows. Out in the Serengeti, there are even times when thousands of wildebeests and zebra perish while following these leaders off dangerous cliffs!
As is the case in the wildness, there are pack leaders among human beings. As a business, one of the tricks that you can use to achieve success is to make sure that you take these people on-board as a way of providing social proof to your customers. In this regard, it is worth noting that not all social proof is equal. Getting an endorsement from an ordinary person is not going to give you as much social proofing as getting an endorsement from a movie star or the CEO of a well-known company.
Celebrities who are paid by companies to endorse their products are referred to as influencers. Influencer marketing is, therefore, one form of social proofing. Indeed, it is one of the most effective. Most of these celebrities have millions of followers on social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. Getting an endorsement from them, therefore, means you will be able to reach out to these people.
Seller Ratings as a form of social proofing
If you do marketing for your business via Google Ads, one way through which you can provide social proofing to get people to click on your ads is through the use of seller and product ratings. Any Google user will have come across those five golden stars at one point or the other.
What are Seller Ratings?
The term Seller Ratings refers to a system used by Google and other search engines to display the overall customer rating for a business using a five star based system. In this regard, a 5 star rating means your customers are highly satisfied with their interaction with your business. A rating of 3 stars, on the other hand, means you need to do a lot of work in terms of satisfying your customers.
What are Seller Ratings based on?
Seller Ratings (and product ratings), are based on the online reviews that a business gets from its customers. They are therefore a form of social proofing. The rating that is displayed on Google is the aggregate rating for a particular business or product.
Why are Seller Ratings important?
Seller ratings are important because, as already noted, they provide social proofing for a business. They show people who are contemplating doing business with you that your business is trustworthy. It doesn’t matter that the people whose feedback is used for seller ratings are complete strangers. What matters is that most people put stock on online feedback before making purchases.
How to get seller ratings?
There are two main ways through which a business can get seller ratings. The first involves signing up with an online reviews management company such as eKomi. Once you have done this, software will be installed on your website that allows you to gather feedback from your customers. This feedback is displayed on your site, thus providing the social proofing that you need to convince people to buy your products. Data from the online reviews that is collected from your customers is also syndicated to Google. eKomi is one of the 30 companies that is licensed by Google to syndicate data for seller ratings. You will then get a Seller rating on your Google CPC text ads based on this data.
Why is Social Proofing Important?
This is something that we have already alluded to in the above discussion. Social proofing is important for brands across the globe because:
- It’s a good way of building trust in a brand.
- You can use social proofing to influence purchasing decisions.
- Social proofing helps convince people to buy from a business.
- It’s a good way through which you can boost sales for your business.
Negative social proofing
It’s worth pointing out that social proofing can also be negative. An example of this would be receiving negative reviews from your customers. Most people panic when this happens. However, there is no need to do so. Negative feedback is a part of life for any business. The trick lies in managing it to make it less destructive. You can, as an example, reach out to the person who has left you adverse feedback. Once their issues have been resolved, they can then be convinced to change their review from negative to positive.
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