Posted on Sep 27, 2018

Social Proof: Why Testimonials and Case Studies Are Important for Every Business Website

A new visitor opens up your website. They quickly scroll through your services and products. They eye your pricing. What’s the determining factor that moves your new visitor from considering your products to buying? Trust.

According to PowerReviews, more than 70 percent of American shoppers check out some kind of review before they make a purchase. Our tendency to trust and become influenced by other people’s judgment is called social proof.

The most common forms of social proof include product reviews, testimonials, and case studies. To obtain them, businesses ask former clients to provide first-person accounts of their experience with the company. Those glowing comments end up on a dedicated web page that acts as a kind of portfolio on the business website.

But, does this technique effectively demonstrate social proof and consequently drive sales? In the following post, we’ll examine when social proof works and how to leverage it on your business website. Read on to learn more.

How Social Proof Works

In the early 1950s, psychologist Solomon Asch conducted an experiment with the goal of measuring the extent that social pressure influenced decision-making. Specifically, Asch was interested in learning how much the appearance of a majority opinion would influence decision-making on an individual level.

In his study, Asch placed an individual participant in a room with seven people. Everyone in the group was asked to take a vision test. The group of seven were paid by the study to share only predetermined responses. Then, the individual participant was prompted to share their results of the vision test.

Asch measured the number of times the individual would come to their own conclusions about the vision test and compared it to the number of times the individual would conform to group decisions.

The results were staggering. Approximately 75 percent of individuals conformed to the opinions of the group even if the individuals believed the group to be wrong. During the experiment’s control phase, when no group members were present, individuals conformed to the same decisions later made by the group less than one percent of the time.

What happened?

In his study, Asch determined that there were two factors that directly influenced the individual’s decision-making: the desire to appear normal in front of the group and the belief that the group was more well-informed than the individual.

How to Leverage Social Proof in Your Testimonials and Case Studies

Strong testimonials and case studies demonstrate both social proof factors — if you pose the right questions, approach the appropriate customers, and present customer experiences effectively. Here are a few ways to do it. 

Reach Out to Customers Personally and Remember to Follow Up

Customers don’t want to get a boilerplate email blast requesting a testimonial for your business website. A personal touch goes a long way.

Your site will only need between six to eight testimonials and case studies. Start by personally approaching repeat, loyal customers. Ask them to schedule a 15-minute phone interview and take detailed notes about the customer’s experience during the interview.

If you haven’t collected enough repeat customers, start approaching recent customers through an email drip campaign. Just like with the phone conversation, remember to keep the correspondence personal. Include information about their recent transaction and guest service experience in your email.

With both loyal and recent customers, don’t forget to cordially follow up and reiterate your appreciation for their participation. It’s very important to remember that your customers are volunteering their time to help with your business’s testimonials and case studies.

Ask Guiding Questions That Focus on Metrics

Kind words aren’t enough. You need testimonials and case studies that clearly demonstrate a consumer benefit. For example, an effective case study will describe how much a new IT product saves a small business every month. By comparison, a less effective case study might describe how much a new IT product costs compared to similar products. 

How can you get the information you need for an effective case study or testimonial? Start by developing a 50/50 list of specific, metric-driven questions and more emotionally driven qualitative questions.

For example, ask your customers to describe three features of the IT product that they absolutely love and why they feel those features have improved their productivity. Then, present a more fact-based, follow-up question that asks the customer to estimate how much time these features save them in labor costs every month. 

Never Use Negative Social Proof. It Doesn’t Work

Negative social proof doesn’t convert. Don’t ask them not to do something, or indicate what other aren’t doing. For example, “75% of users haven’t tried latest features,” or “Many of our user are upgrading without contacting support .”

Instead of convincing your audience not to perform an action, it has the opposite effect. Your audience believes that many people are already doing what you’re asking them not to; and therefore, you cannot leverage their desire to appear normal or their belief that others are more well-informed.

Put Your Customer’s Name, Photograph, and Date

Social proof is only credible if it includes tangible information about a business transaction. With every sale or customer service experience you highlight, cite the date and location.

Provide details about what transpired, namely how your business solved the problem being outlined in the case study or testimonial. For long-term customers, include information about how long they’ve been working with your company.

It’s important to note that your customers should be credible as well. Ask them to contribute a professional photo that will accompany their case study or testimonial. Always use your customer’s full name and the location of their service.


Bolster Your Online Presence With a New Business Website

You’re getting ready to build your testimonial page on your new business website. You’ve collected helpful comments from former clients and eye-catching photographs of your work. Now, you’re crafting the content that will demonstrate your business’s social proof.

Instead of restricting former clients’ comments to the testimonials page, use text boxes with block quotations to highlight the best comments on your site’s services and product pages.

To learn how to leverage more design elements with your testimonials, reach out to the design and marketing experts at iPage.


Feature Image: Pexels