Social proof is important to making sales, but what do you do if you’re just starting up and don’t have any testimonials yet? Here are multiple ways to build in social proof.
Most likely, you already know that having social proof on your offer will help increase sales. Case studies and testimonials. But…
How do you get started when you don’t really have any testimonials?
What if the product is brand new?
In this post, I want to show you some options. Lack of testimonials doesn’t have to be a party pooper. 🙂
Building Trust Without Social Proof
The whole point of social proof is to build a level of trust. See, the person looking at your offer may not know you yet. Or, if they do, things are different now because you’re asking for money.
Can they trust you?
That’s what social proof is really all about. Giving third-party evidence that what you’re saying is actually true.
So, we’ll address that. However, if we realize that the whole point is about TRUST, let’s look at some ways that you can build trust for your offer without having any third-party evidence of it.
#1 – Give Details
You can provide trust by going into more detail about what they’re going to get.
For instance, if you are selling consulting time, it wouldn’t be enough to say “Buy an hour of my time”. It is too vague. Instead, lay out the process you’ll go through with them on the phone. Tell them exactly what’s going to happen.
What’s the step-by-step process they’re about to embark on once they become a customer? See how Novo(a web design firm) spells out the process they take clients through:
If you’re doing a service with deliverables, can you show them examples of what those deliverables will look like?
It’s about the details. It helps build trust in what you’re offering.
#2 – Reflect Their Reality
A way to build a bond with another human being is to share their reality. That includes their beliefs and thoughts on things. In other words, you AGREE with them.
So, a way to do that is to show them that what you believe and have experienced is what they believe and have experienced.
What do you believe? Lay out your beliefs on your offer.
#3 – Make Them A Promise
Make specific promises about what their experience will be like and, if you can, results they will experience.
Don’t exaggerate. Make it real because you’re going to need to stand behind it. In fact, back it up with a guarantee so that they know you mean it.
#4 – Show Yourself
People like to do business with people, not anonymous websites. So, show there is a real person behind your offer and your business.
Show your face. Make it a nice photo. Be human.
Of course, this might not be appropriate for all offers. For instance, if you are selling an app or some kind of SAAS product, inserting the developer’s face on there might not fit in. But, many in my audience (including myself) are single providers. If you have created a course, created training, or offer service, then show yourself.
If you’re a team, then show nice, smiling photos of your staff. Let people get to know your team.
Finding Social Proof Without Testimonials
Testimonials are great, but you need to have customers from which to get them. What if you don’t have customers yet?
Well, you have some options.
#1 – Use Social Testimonials
Nowdays, people are out there using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social networks. They’re used to it. So, you can use your social media interactions to build up third-party social proof.
See how Campaign Monitor does it by featuring tweets right on their homepage:
Do people say nice things about you? Do they give compliments about how you have helped them?
Even if their comment isn’t related to your offer and is just about you or your blog in general, it is still third-party proof that you are helping them.
So, take a screenshot of the comment. Use it on your website. Instead of a screenshot, you could also embed the actual post onto your landing page.
If you want to dive a little deeper with them, private message them and start a conversation.
Some people also show social streams based on a hashtag. So, if you’ve set up a hashtag for your blog or your product, you can filter what people are saying about it and embed right on your site.
A plugin like KudoBuzz can help you implement this on your site
#2 – Industry Statistics
Show them that the things you’re telling them weren’t made up by you. You can find industry statistics to show to them and prove the issue you solve.
For instance, if I were trying to prove to people how effective email marketing is, I could use a chart like this:
Show numbers which prove what you are saying that come from third parties. Feature quotes from industry experts that back up what you’re telling people.
Most of the time, you can find these industry stats with Google searching and some surfing around. In some fields there are sites which combine stats into beautiful reports. For instance, in the world of marketing, there are sites like MarketingCharts which regular publish charts showing various stats relevant to the world of business and marketing.
You’re essentially “borrowing” social proof.
#3 – Use Trust Seals
Show people that you’re legit and your business is legit by using trust seals. These things are popular on checkout pages to show the checkout process is secure.
I think the conversion bump from these kinds of things are less than they used to be. Today, they are seen most everywhere. I even used to maintain a BBB membership and found that it was pretty useless.
But, certainly, it is a form of social proof.
#4 – Show Where You’ve Appeared (Media Mentions)
Surely, if you’ve appeared in notable podcasts or blogs in your niche, displaying those logos with an “as seen on” on your site can show credibility.
Same with any mentions in major media. You see this kind of thing all the time.
Be careful, though…
As with many things in the world of marketing, it can be abused. And… it has. Some people likely just make up media mentions counting on the fact that nobody will look it up. Or they will use some press release service that puts a bit of PR onto a major press site. They’ll then use that site logo as if they were featured there, not telling you that it was just a press release placement that nobody ever even read.
There is major abuse of press logos out there. That said, if it’s legit, you should use it.
#5 – Use Social Proof Notifications
I’m starting to see more sites using notifications on their site that show what people have done on that site in near real-time. Those notifications pop up in the lower left corner of the site and then fade away… very similar to Facebook.com.
You can integrate these notifications into various activities on your site, even down to opting into your list. And it gives real-time social proof that people are actually doing things on your site!
There are severals services you can use to pull this off:
- Proof. They’ve got a 14-day trial and integrate with a bunch of options.
- Barilliance Live. For ecommerce sites.
- BigCommerce FOMO.
- Beeketing Sales Pop
With this type of setup, you don’t need previously collected testimonials.
#6 – Showing Customer/Subscriber Counts
Show them they’re not alone. You can show numbers of how many customers or subscribers you have.
Here’s another option for you if you don’t have any social proof…
Don’t worry about it! While your conversion rate may be higher with social proof, it isn’t as if it is a total sales killer if you don’t have any yet.
In one case, Shannelle wrote on ConversionXL that she saw a 20% increase in sales in a split test by removing social proof!
Of course, that’s just one case. Point is… this stuff isn’t totally black and white.
At the very least, it is worth testing. It could just be that social proof on your sales page isn’t going to be that big a deal.
How To Get Real Testimonials From Scratch
Of course, another way to get social proof without having testimonials…. is to actually get some testimonials. 🙂
But, how can you do this? Especially if you have no customers yet.
#1 – Give Free Access To A Select Few
Run a kind of “beta test” on your product by providing free access to a few people. They help you test it and, of course, get feedback.
Make this even more effective by providing free access to influencers in your market.
You want to be careful to be selective and limited in how you go about doing this. Don’t hand out free access like candy to your audience because it will only devalue your product and harm any ability to sell it in the future.
#2 – Line Up Some Blogger Reviews
There are a ton of bloggers out there who don’t monetize effectively and are thus looking for any way to make their blog pay off for them. And there’s 3 things you need to know about them:
- They love free stuff.
- They love to give their opinions.
- They need stuff to write about.
Now, other than the fact that they probably need to come here to the Academy to learn how to monetize in an effective way (just sayin’ :)…. YOU can contact them about lining up a review of your product on their blog.
You’re not paying them for it, but you are providing them free access. For legal reasons, you need to ensure that they disclose that fact. But, if all goes well, you’re going to have an entire blog post featuring and reviewing your product. If the review is good, you can get several quotes from it to use as social proof and/or a review on your landing page.
Plus, the blogger will like being featured on your landing page. 🙂
#3 – Take on A Few Clients For Case Studies
You can offer to work with a select few people (for free or reduced rate) in order to compile a case study.
For these few people, you will work closer with them personally than you likely would with most of your customers. You will find out what difficulties they are dealing with and help them through it. You can even use those issues that come up as impetus to enhance your future product with ways to solve those issues.
In the end, you compile a full case study to profile them and their before/after state.
Even if this isn’t directly about the same offer that you may be selling later, it is powerful social proof that what you do works and you have credibility.
#4 – Set Up A Viral Loop
If you give people a reason to share, they often will. What this does is sets up a magnifying effect where your customers are actually helping to spread the word. And when people see endorsements from people they know, this is powerful social proof.
This has been called a viral loop.
Image credit: The Viral Loop: Get Your Users Advertising for You
The easiest way to do this is by using some kind of referral program. For instance, the Blog Marketing Academy has an affiliate program, but it is only available to Lab members. I really only want people with actual experience with The Lab talking about The Lab… otherwise I fear affiliate marketers will water down things solely to make commissions. This helps set up a viral loop.
But, this kind of thing is used in all kinds of businesses. Even the storage facility where I keep my motorhome offers a free month of storage if I refer another customer.
Look at Dropbox. In the earlier days of Dropbox, they attributed about 60% of their signups to referrals. If you referred somebody else to Dropbox, you got more free storage capacity. Worked quite well.
One thing never to forget about social proof is that it isn’t a total magic pill. At the core, it is the offer itself which matters. The offer is what convinces people to buy. The social proof just shows them the value of it and backs it up.
Do you have any other ways that you have seen (or done) to show social proof without testimonials? Do share below!