Social Proof: What Is It, Why You Need It & EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW!


The way we shop has changed dramatically. Customers can research, find, compare, and purchase in minutes thanks to today's technology, saturated online markets, social media channels, and review sites.

In a crowded eCommerce market, how do you use this process to differentiate yourself and increase sales?

By gaining your customers' trust.

How do you gain your customers' trust?

Using social proof.

Social proof is an effective ally for eCommerce businesses because it can raise awareness, build trust, and convert users into loyal customers. 

Including social proof can help increase your eCommerce conversion rate. That is why major corporations such as Amazon, WordPress, MailChimp, and others use social proof on their websites.

So, the simple truth is that using social proof will improve the majority of your key eCommerce metrics, such as conversion rate, average order value, and average lifetime value.

social proof

What Is Social Proof?

Let’s start with the principle that people are influenced by the actions of others.

According to studies, 92% of online shoppers read product reviews before purchasing, proving that social proof is an effective and powerful marketing strategy that has long influenced shoppers' purchasing behaviour.

In eCommerce, retailers can leverage social proof by emphasising a product's popularity to boost shopper confidence, drive conversions, and influence site revenue.

The theory of social proof holds that people imitate the actions of others. Psychologist Robert Cialdini states that when a person does not know what the proper behaviour is for a given situation, they will look to what other people are doing to inform their actions. 

According to Cialdini's book, "we regard a behaviour as more correct in a given situation to the extent that we see others performing it”.

Seeing other people interact with a business and have a positive experience instils immediate trust in those who have yet to become customers.

Customers can see, feel, and hold products in physical stores, making it easier to make the all-important decision to complete a purchase - but this becomes much more difficult with online shopping.

A brand may claim that its products are of high quality, but displaying the reviews of others who have used the product can mean the difference between a browser and a buyer.

Why? Because the social proof theory makes use of the human tendency to modify our opinions, behaviours, and actions in response to what others do.

Whether you realise it or not, you have most likely been influenced by social proof in some way. Consider the following scenario in real life:

This is because consumers are more likely to trust people who share similar interests, which is why social proof is such an effective marketing strategy.

Think of it this way, would you prefer an unreviewed product over a popular product with positive reviews?

Your response should demonstrate the psychological power of social proof and the importance of using it throughout your site, from landing pages to product pages, to help increase conversions.

The greater the credibility of your brand, website, and products, the better. Let’s give you a few points to consider:

  • A product you're thinking about buying has been recommended by a trusted expert or relevant individual - if they say it's worth it, it must be, right?

  • A restaurant has a long line of eager customers waiting outside - this evidence of demand only makes you want to join the queue even more; after all, the food must be delicious.

  • A new skincare item you're considering has received over 50 five-star reviews from like-minded, verified buyers - it must work, sign me up!

The mass appeal of a product immediately increases the desire for that product. In eCommerce, social proof validates a purchase. It reassures your customers that your offering is worth their time, money, or attention by displaying the experiences of others as proof. So, to sum it up - When we see others buying something, we’ll be influenced to get that thing too!

social proof (benefits)

Benefits First!

That’s right, before we get further into the weeds with principles and best practices, let’s first walk you through why it might be a good idea to incorporate social proof as part of your e-commerce plans.

 Customer Loyalty & Trust

Incorporating social proof, whether it's testimonials or positive customer reviews, into the customer journey can help build trust and motivate new customers to buy.

According to research, over 88% of customers trust and read online reviews to help them make purchasing decisions, so it's no joke.

Providing an exceptional customer experience leads directly to positive social proof, which leads to new customers and increased customer loyalty.

A quick tip while we’re talking about customer loyalty and trust, allowing returns or having a money-back guarantee policy are just some other methods of providing reassurance to customers that the product they are buying is not fake!

 Opportunities For Selling CROSS & UP!

Social proof is an excellent way to promote product discovery and assist customers in navigating your eCommerce site.

Amazon, for example, uses targeted messaging and on-site prompts to show shoppers the items that others purchased after the one they are viewing.

This strategy frequently leads to increased conversions and higher average order value by assisting customers in finding products they would not have found otherwise.

 Brand Reputation UP!

Whether you run a global online store or a small village corner shop, your brand's reputation is critical.

Social proof in the form of likes and shares on your social media pages allows potential customers to form an opinion about your company.

If you highlight your positive reviews on your website or social media, it may entice customers to purchase so they can experience it for themselves.

Customers who have had positive interactions with your brand are likely to spread the word, improving your reputation and gaining new customers.


The theory of social proof is based on three fundamental concepts: similarity, uncertainty, and expertise.


When making novel decisions in a group setting, people are more likely to follow the actions of those who they perceive to be similar to themselves. They believe that if people with similar backgrounds, needs, beliefs, or circumstances are taking these actions, then I should as well.


People are prone to feeling apprehensive in new or unfamiliar situations. When people are unsure of how to act or which actions to take, they frequently seek advice from others.


When confronted with an unfamiliar situation, people frequently seek advice from people and organisations they regard as experts in the field. People with more knowledge, by definition, make more informed — and thus better — decisions.

Social Proof…Proof!

We've all heard horror stories about how an outfit you ordered online and waited for arrived and looked nothing like you expected. With high-street shopping trips once again stalled, the shift to online purchasing has only accelerated. However, the experience is not the same.

We need assurance before purchasing because we can't see, feel, or try it before we buy. How do you go about doing this online? By providing genuine reviews, photos, and feedback from other customers.

There is no better brand advocate than a satisfied customer. There is no better way to improve your brand's offering than to listen to and address the concerns of a dissatisfied customer.

The social proof principle remains one of the most effective and persuasive methods of persuading a user to purchase a product. Supporting products and services with taglines like '90% of expert dermatologists recommend...' or 'the most popular...' alongside real customer testimonials can significantly increase the likelihood of a purchase.

So, how effective is social proof? To put it simply, yes! Building trust between you and your audience through user-generated content (UGC) provides the validation needed to inform purchasing decisions. Fortunately, there are numerous ways to implement it for eCommerce businesses.

The social proof principle remains one of the most effective and persuasive methods of persuading a user to purchase a product. Supporting products and services with taglines like '90% of expert dermatologists recommend...' or 'the most popular...' alongside real customer testimonials can significantly increase the likelihood of a purchase.

So, how effective is social proof? To put it simply, yes! Building trust between you and your audience through user-generated content (UGC) provides the validation needed to inform purchasing decisions. Fortunately, there are numerous ways to implement it for eCommerce businesses.

social proof (reviews and ratings)

 Reviews & Ratings

Did you know that 88% of customers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations? But one is insufficient. Before making a purchase, the average customer reads 10 online reviews. Your primary goal should be to collect as many genuine, positive reviews as possible.

Positive feedback and ratings can be used as social proof in your marketing. For example, if you have a product with multiple five-star ratings, why not display them on a relevant landing page for others to see?

Another way to use social proof on your eCommerce website is to use a well-known review platform, such as Trustpilot, as Highgrove has done on their homepage below. Given that 57% of customers will only buy from a company with at least four stars, this is an important metric to grow and promote.

 Fake Reviews

False customer reviews and ratings are an important topic to consider when it comes to customer reviews and ratings. Amazon has come under fire in recent months as a result of false reviews. According to the BBC, in some cases, independent sellers are using one-star reviews to harm their competitors in online marketplaces. Others, such as consumer groups claimed that the website had been "flooded with fake five-star product reviews."

These fake reviews can harm your brand's authenticity, as well as the trust you have with your customers. Many customers will be looking for false reviews, so it's critical to filter and remove any unverified reviews while openly displaying a balance of positive and negative ones.

 Content Generated By Users

Memorable, dependable, and, best of all, free! User Generated Content (UGC) has evolved into an effective method of meeting your users' online expectations and has become a powerful form of social proof for eCommerce businesses.

UGC is defined as any piece of online content created and published by a user other than the brand. Its organic and authentic nature allows it to cover a wide range of formats, from reviews and hashtags to photos and videos.

Customers frequently share posts on their accounts that detail their experience with your brand, tagging you in the post. If you find this content and obtain permission from the person who posted it, be sure to share it on your channels to increase engagement.

Visual content seems to now be the most popular trend - and arguably the most influential - format of UGC. Visual UGC includes images, videos, reels, and live streams that people share on social media. This content has become one of the most trusted and effective resources for brands to leverage.

Integrating an eCommerce marketing platform with your online store can help you leverage UGC, increasing engagement and conversions. 

To begin using UGC, make it as simple as possible for customers to share their content with you. When requesting a review, make the process as quick as possible and encourage them to submit a photo as well. Another great way to collect UGC is to hold competitions that encourage users to share their content. To encourage this, a promotion, loyalty programme, or discount code could be used.


Testimonials provide more detailed stories about the entire customer experience and make excellent marketing material that can be used across social media channels, product pages, landing pages, and anywhere else your audience may require persuasion.

With two out of three people saying they're more likely to buy after watching a testimonial video that shows how a product has helped someone similar to them, this is a type of social proof worth investing in.


Celebrity endorsements are probably the most well-known form of social proof, but they have evolved. 

While celebrities still do TV, print, and billboard endorsements, it's become more common in recent years for their official support to come in the form of paid social media sponsorships, in which a celebrity will share a post encouraging their social audiences to purchase your brand's products or services (for the right price). 

Whatever form these endorsements take, it is critical to select a celebrity who is relevant to your brand and well-liked by your target audience for them to be effective.

Of course, we can’t forget influencers too when talking about celebrities.

Influencer marketing has emerged as the internet's new celebrity endorsement. They come with a built-in audience of enthusiastic fans to help grow awareness for your brand because they have built their reputations and followings on social media platforms. 

Influencers have specific niches — travel, fitness, beauty, mommy bloggers, and so on — so make sure you're finding relevant, trustworthy creatives who reflect your brand's ethos and are respected by your customers.


Yes, even numbers can influence your clientele. If your brand allows people to subscribe to your blog or newsletters, make sure to highlight the number of subscribers you already have. People like to join in with the crowd, as we've established, so let them know how many people they're joining by signing up.

social proof (how to get)

Now, How To Get Social Proof?

You don't get what you don't ask for, as the saying goes. When you know what types of content your audiences like, you can often just ask your community to create it, and they will gladly oblige.

Remember that the more specific your request, the more relevant the content your customers create.

• Simply Ask Your Customers After Purchasing

Because timing is everything, make sure to send product rating and review requests to customers within a few days of their products being delivered. It will remain on their minds, and hopefully, the excitement of their new possession will motivate them to provide feedback. You can also include an incentive, such as a 10% discount on their next purchase, to boost motivation.

• Email Customers

As we've seen, visual social proof is just as persuasive to prospective buyers as written social proof. Don't be afraid to ask your customers and social media followers to create a visual UGC for your brand. Concerned about low engagement? Make it more enjoyable by launching a social competition or giveaway to help gamify the experience.

• Make Your Website Conducive For Reviews

The lower the barriers to entry, the more likely people are to take the desired actions. Make it as simple, accessible, and straightforward as possible for people to submit positive reviews, ratings, and testimonials to your site. Reduce the number of submission steps, include calls-to-action on every relevant webpage, and send follow-up emails so they can see and share their review with their social networks.

• Use Case Studies

If your brand is fortunate enough to have ardent fans who enthusiastically share their positive experiences with you, engage with those customers directly. Make an offer to make them a featured customer success story on your website and social media posts. They'll be overjoyed that your brand has recognised and acknowledged them, and you'll have all the information you need to share that authentic social proof with new potential customers, whether it's in the form of a written story, photo series, or video testimonial.

social proof (audience)

Closing Words

Consumers now have seemingly limitless options and paths to purchase, making social proof more important than ever.

Start incorporating social proof into your brand's ads, web pages, and emails now that you know it can help move the needle at every stage of the buyer's journey. Experiment with various forms of social proof across various touchpoints and run A/B tests to determine which combinations of social proof resonate best with your audiences.

You can quickly convert browsers into buyers by leveraging authentic written and visual social proof, as well as the right calls to action.

Posted on 10 November 2022