For those who don’t know, besides owning several publications (including this one), I’ve owned several advertising networks, created one of the first affiliate networks and was also a very, very successful affiliate. (I’m also considered the inventor of the pop-up, but I don’t talk about that usually anymore). I’ve learned a lot about how to get people to engage at different levels: from selling products through landing pages to selling advertisements to potential CPA networks. During the last 15 years, one technique has worked all the time and it’s a technique that if you learn to master, will always help you improve conversion rates, make more money and become an expert marketer: it’s social proof or social verification.
Social Proof is a phenomenon often categorized also as a type of “Herd Effect.” Simply, when multiple people state an idea, it is more likely for others to agree with that idea than if a single person states the same idea.
This is extremely important to remember in marketing, because if you are going to influence people’s decisions on what to buy or a choice to make, it’s more important to have multiple sources to prove your point than one point. This type of situation in landing pages is often done through testimonials of other consumers basically saying the same thing, over and over again in their own words about the product. When faced with these testimonials, consumers are more likely to buy a product than when faced with a single testimonial, even from a well-known person.
This is plays a significant role also in the words that you use. For example, if you’ve ever watched QVC or late-night commercials, you will often see the presenter announce that “this product is going fast” or “many people are buying this now.” The purpose of this is to lead consumers into believing that other people are buying this product, and if that is the case, they need to get on the bandwagon and buy the product. If these people are buying the product, it must be the right thing to do to buy this product.
Again, it’s a very simple technique: present that other people are buying a product by providing “proof” of their purchase and then satisfaction of the product.
Here are some possible methods of using this technique while building a landing page:
1) Create an exit-pop with information about current purchases. Exit pops are a proven technique for selling a product, but I’ve never seen one that then shows that other people are buying the product. When a consumer leaves, instead of just giving him a better offer, present recent purchase examples in their area and the cities they were purchased. If they see that ten other people in the area just bought the product in the last day, perhaps they too should be buying the product.
2) Integrate with Facebook sharing. This is an obvious technique that works really well – if someone buys the product, allow them to “share” it for a free gift. However, instead of just allowing them to put that they bought the product, present that they and several other people on Facebook also bought the product. Remember that the group testimonials are better than just the one.
3) Email Consumers about an Upsell and that other consumers also did the upsell. For example, after they buy the product and go through possible upsells, email them a day later with an email that states “I’m glad you bought the product, but you didn’t get the such and such add-on. We were curious perhaps what you’d like additionally, so we looked at similar purchases from other people and what they bought.” Present 5 different people with their purchasing choices, but make sure at least 4 of them are the same choice for the upsell. Sign up for iContact and get an autoresponder for free.
Before I let you go, there is one key technique in Social Proof that is very, very important. Consumers must view the testimonials and evidence as being from similar consumers. Make sure you know your target audience and present them with “proof” from those in the same socioeconomic situation as themselves. It should be noted that most consumers see themselves as richer and more affluent than they really are (hopeful thinking?) so always upgrade the message, don’t downgrade it.
Something to think about: Why did Facebook grow so fast, and then Myspace shrink? Honestly, there isn’t “that” much difference. I think a lot of it has to do with Social Proof. Facebook was very, very smart and created like buttons and similar sharing techniques from the start — so people saw consistently that their friends were using Facebook. Similarly, so many news organizations provided additional proof that Facebook was growing, and that Myspace was on it’s way out, even a year before Facebook overtook Myspace. People got on the bandwagon because they thought it was the right thing to do.