5 Social Proof Strategies That Work For Small Business Retailers

5 Social Proof Strategies That Work For Small Business Retailers


We’re exposed to dozens of ads for products and services every single day. Some of them catch our attention, some of them go unnoticed. But when a friend comes up to us and tells us about a recent purchase that changed their life, it’s almost impossible to ignore that testimonial. 


As social creatures, we’re much more interested in a product if we can see how others have experienced its benefits. That’s the general idea behind the concept of social proof. Word of mouth is a great social proof strategy for small business owners — but it’s far from being the only one. 


Anything from user testimonials to celebrity endorsement to star ratings act similarly. They’re all considered forms of user-generated content that generate social proof. Social proof is a great marketing strategy for ecommerce businesses and retailers because it makes consumers feel seen and heard, ultimately strengthening the relationship between you and your customers.

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5 Effective Social Proof Strategies For Small Business Retailers

1. Gather More Customer Testimonials 

Reviews and testimonials are invaluable to retailers. Unfortunately, users don’t tend to leave them unless they have a good incentive to do so. After all, it takes time and energy to invest in a valuable review.


The first step to getting more customer testimonials is simply to ask for them. It can be as simple as asking customers to leave a review for a product in an automated post-purchase email. Many will do it out of a desire to be useful and help future customers. 


But don’t wait too long, the best timeframe to ask for a review is a few days after customers buy or receive a product. Remember that customers are much more likely to take action if you make it easy for them to do so. Some ways to do that include:

  • Allowing customers to stay on the same page even after an action is completed.
  • Giving customers the option to leave just a simple rated review rather than writing.
  • Making it easy for customers to share images and videos of products purchased.


Finally, offering monetary incentives is a fool-proof way to get more testimonials. Something as simple as offering a 10% discount on a customer’s next purchase in exchange for a review can work wonders. Plus, it encourages customers to engage with your brand and potentially become a returning customer, increasing their lifecycle. 


The Benefits of Gathering Customer Testimonials

User-generated content placed strategically throughout the customer journey has the potential to provide social proof to shoppers as their browsing and drive conversions. It also makes your customers feel appreciated and valued as part of your brand’s community.


Use Case: How Modcloth Leveraged Customer Testimonials to Drive Sales to Their Online Store


U.S. fashion retailer Modcloth has gathered thousands of testimonials for their products which they proudly display across their ecommerce site. Users are encouraged to leave a picture review of the item they ordered, which is then displayed on the site’s “style gallery.”


By creating a culture of feedback with open channels of communication where customers can share, Modcloth made customer feedback an integral part of its marketing and product strategies. The UGC generated by their customer is also a great way for perspectives to get a sense of how an item might match what they’re looking for. 


Top Organic Marketing Tools For Reviews and Testimonials


  1. HubSpot lets you create automated post-purchase emails that incentivize customers to leave reviews
  2. MailGenius helps your emails not get lost in recipients’ spam folders by spotting red flags
  3. Typeform lets you create beautiful survey forms that are easy to fill in
  4. UserReport lets you add a feedback widget to your website


2. Display Product Reviews and User-Generated Content

To get the most out of product reviews, it’s essential to place customer testimonials strategically on your website. For example, displaying product reviews on product pages helps customers make informed decisions about their purchases. 


Displaying product reviews and high-impact UGC on checkout pages is also another opportunity to engage with customers and provide them with the vital information they may need to make a final purchase. 


It’s also good practice to display product reviews outside of your website. For example, include recent positive reviews in your email newsletter and post the most note-worthy ones on your social media feeds. 


It can be tempting to only display the most glowing reviews , this isn't recommended. It’s important to make sure to display all reviews you receive. This will create a greater feeling of trust—especially if you take the concerns of bad reviewers seriously. 


The Benefits of Displaying Product Reviews


One of the top benefits of displaying product reviews on your retail store’s website is to increase the amount of time customers spend browsing. If consumers have all the information they need at their fingertips, they don’t have to look for reviews elsewhere on the web (or potentially a competitor’s site). Doing so helps customers feel confident about their purchasing decision without second-guessing.


Use Case: How Booking.com Used Product Reviews to Empower Customer Purchasing Decisions


Booking.com is one of the largest accommodation and transport online booking agents. And if there’s one thing they understand, it’s the power of customer reviews. Reviews are displayed everywhere on their website. Before checking out a hotel, customers can see its star rating, the number of favorite hearts it received, and an aggregate score in the form of a word (“Good”, or “Excellent”, or “Wonderful”). This empowers users to make smart decisions about the sellers they contact and creates a feeling of trust toward the company.  


Top Marketing Tools For Displaying Product Reviews


  • Feelter — AI-driven UGC displays for targeted social proof on your ecommerce site
  • Smash Balloon — Display Facebook Reviews on your online store’s website


3. Re-share Social Media Content

Your customers are already sharing amazing things online about their experience with your product. Why not leverage it to drive more customer conversions? 


By identifying what your customers are saying about you on social media and resharing the best posts, you’re leveraging one of your brand's most valuable assets: existing customers. 


And the best thing is, this strategy is very easy to put in place. Stalk out social media content that mentions your brand, identify the best posts, and ask the creators for permission to re-share it. Voilà!


The Benefits Of Using User-Generated Social Media Content 


UGC gives marketers a wealth of high-impact and high-quality content to share in marketing campaigns. Don’t underestimate the power of an image! Leveraging UGC as part of your brand’s content marketing strategy also incentivizes customers to post about it on social media for a chance of getting a shout-out. Beyond engagement, sharing the content of positive experiences from your community helps build a stronger sense of trust and belonging.

Use Case: How GoPro Incentivizes Customers to Share User-Generated Content Online

Camera brand GoPro is in a unique position to re-share social media content: their users create some of the most stunning photos using their products. The brand has used this to its advantage, re-sharing user-generated photos on their social media feed consistently. 


GoPro even created the GoPro Awards and unique challenges, such as the Photo Of The Day Challenge, to encourage users to share more of their GoPro pictures on social media while using GoPro’s hashtags and captions that mention the company.


Top Social Media Tools For Re-Sharing User-Generated Content


  • Buffer — Auto-post and schedule for multi-channel marketing
  • ContentCal — Plan content collaboratively with your entire team
  • MailChimp — Email marketing platform for updates and promotions


4. Leverage Expert or Influencer Endorsements


If you think that celebrity or influencer marketing is just for multi-million dollar corporations, think again! The basic principle of endorsement is choosing a reputable person to vouch for your product. For some brands it will be Beyoncé, for others, it will be a very prolific Instagram user within a particular niche.


Using influencers or “power users” to endorse your products can drastically increase your reach on social media. It also allows you to target specific audiences. For example, a kitchen supply retailer might reach out to a popular Instagram food page for endorsement, thus reaching an audience that’s already passionate about the topic. 


For getting endorsements from power users, you can generally reach out to them directly by sliding boldly right into their DMs. To get endorsed by a more popular figure, try to find their agent’s contact or go through an influencer marketing platform. 


The Benefits of Endorsements For Your Brand

Publishing endorsements given to your brand by high-status influencers and celebrities has the potential to increase your business’s credibility and authority. Not only do your brand’s power users increase your content’s reach and visibility on social media, but it also speaks directly to your chosen audience and community.

Use Case: How Puma Uses Celebrity Endorsements to Promote Their Brand’s Popularity


Sportswear brand Puma has an impressive list of celebrity endorsers, including Rihanna, Usain Bolt, and Jamaal Charles. These celebrities are displayed on their website’s homepage to boost brand image and credibility. Meanwhile, these celebrities also post about Puma on social media and are photographed wearing Puma clothing, which increases the reach of the brand. 


Top Influencer Marketing Tools for Your Small Business


  • Neoreach — A database of over 3 million influencers for nearly any niche
  • Julius — Find vetted influencers that match your target audience
  • Mavrck — Discover existing influential customers with strong social reach

5. Create Case Studies

Copywriters are often told that customers care more about ‘benefits’ than they do about ‘features.’ One of the best ways to communicate the benefits of your product is with use cases. This works especially well if the product may be difficult to understand or has a really specific audience.


With case studies, you can show specific ways in which your product has helped other customers solve a pressing issue or challenge. For example, a beauty brand could create a case study on how a specific cream improved the skin texture of a user over time. Complete with before and after pictures, this case study would demonstrate the benefits of the cream in a tangible and relatable way.


To create a case study, start by identifying the key benefits of your product. Reach out to customers who have used your product and had positive experiences. 


Lastly, work with a writer to ensure the case study clearly demonstrates the benefits of your product and how it was used to solve a particular problem. 


The Benefits of Case Studies for Organic Marketing


While there are many benefits behind producing case studies, the biggest one is that it offers your customer research-based proof of your product’s use and benefits. Case studies have the potential to speak directly to your target audience and their pain points. Over time, this kind of content also works to increase your brand authority and credibility, as well as SEO.

Use Case: How Frosts Landscapes Produced Case Studies for Increassed Customer Engagement


Frosts Landscapes is a landscaping company based in the U.K. They regularly publish case studies of work they have done on gardens, homes, and commercial projects. For example, their case study of Vauxhall Sky Gardens details the work that went into the project, the benefits they delivered to the client, and statistics on the materials used. The case study is complete with pictures of the gardens, both during the landscaping project and after. 


Top Case Studies Creation Tools for Organic Marketing


  • Adobe InDesign — A full-suite layout tool for creating professional case studies
  • Grammarly — A powerful editing tool for your entire editorial team to use
  • Rev — A service that transcribes audio you can turn into interviews for case studies

Final Words

Social proof can be a powerful tool for ecommerce marketers and small business owners. It’s a low-cost, organic marketing strategy for generating brand engagement, trust, and loyalty. Regardless of how it’s used, social proof when leveraged correctly is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to drastically increase conversions for your online business. 


By using user-generated content strategically, you also improve your brand’s online reach, authority, and credibility. If it’s not part of your marketing strategy yet, then it’s time to start considering it. The long-term benefits are too good to miss out on.


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We would love to let you get a better feel for feelter. Contact us and we’ll customize a perfect social wisdom meter for your online store.

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We believe in bringing the truth to customers
Today, when it comes to shopping, searching, booking and opinions, consumers have changed the rules of the game. They are relying more and more on social media. They are searching for the truth. And we believe the truth can serve brands (and people) far better than made-up reviews. That’s when we decided to listen to consumers and bring the truth to them, by creating feelter.
feelter is a game-changing tool that opens up to reveal the most relevant, un-manipulated wisdom of the crowd and brings it straight to your customers fingertips. So they never have to leave your page, your app or your store.
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