Of all the marketing and conversion techniques used by e-commerce retailers, building social proof has to rank as one of the most effective. The simple truth is that leveraging social proof will positively impact most if not all of your key e-commerce metrics, including conversion rate, average order value, and average lifetime value.

In this post, we’re going to look at five of the most effective ways to use social proof. By implementing these tips on your site, you’ll be replicating strategies used by some of the biggest and most successful online retailers in the game.

1. Highlight Social Media Activity on Facebook and Twitter to Build Social Proof for Specific Products

If you do not already include reviews on your products pages, then your conversion rate is almost certainly suffering.

Used in the right way, social media badges and mentions are among the most powerful tools for building social proof. Include a social media badge with your number of followers in your header or sidebar.

2. Show Security Seals, Award Badges, and any Affiliate Brands to Build Trust

Display security seals in close proximity to CTAs (and during checkout) to build trust, especially on checkout pages. Many security badges cite well-known brands – like Norton – and act as a recognizable vote of approval.

Award badges, images of popular brands you stock, and notable mentions in the media also help persuade customers that you’re the real deal. Try including these on site-wide elements, such as in headers and sidebars.

3. Show Expert Views, Influencer Mentions, and Media Recommendations

People trust experts. Their opinions carry a lot of social proof in an e-commerce setting. And many large online retailers have used the strategy of citing expert recommendations to great effect, with some making it a core part of their value proposition.

Amazon, for example, cites reviews from third parties on its product pages, alongside related videos and customer reviews.

4. Showcase Review Stories and Media-Rich Reviews

Encourage reviewers to use rich media like video and images in their reviews. This makes reviews appear authentic while also building engagement.

You might also want to display “case studies” that show how products have positively affected people, especially when it comes to more expensive products. Longer, more involved stories are trustworthy and emotionally powerful.

5. Avoid Negative Social Proof and “Neutralize” Negative Comments and Reviews

Sometimes no proof is the best way to go.

While proof-building elements are very powerful, they can often backfire if used in the wrong way. It’s better not to include social media badges, for example, if you’ve only got a few hundred followers. Equally, a poor-quality case study will usually do more harm than good.

It’s also important to “neutralize” those parts of your online store that might sap your social proof. If some products have a lot of negative reviews, for example, focus resources on building up positive ones and asking customers if there’s anything you can do to solve their problems and retract a review.

So here’s the advice you should always keep in mind: focus on your best assets. Don’t include things just for the sake of it.

Conclusion

If you implement the tips above, you will see a boost in the social proof associated with your brand, website, and products. And your overall e-commerce conversion rate will improve as a result.

But there’s an important caveat.

The only real way to know whether a change has positively impacted conversions is through testing. Always A/B test new ways of using social proof to see how the elements affect conversions. This is the best mechanism for distinguishing between those that boost social proof and those that bring it down or have other unintended negative effects.