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Mastering Social Proof in eCommerce: A Comprehensive Guide

When it comes to eCommerce, social proof is a powerful tool to convince your prospects to make a purchasing decision. If you want to truly understand this, reflect on how you decide to buy as a consumer.

Have you ever left a product because it has bad reviews? If you were looking for a place to eat in a new city, would you come to a crowded restaurant or an empty one? When you wanted to buy the TV that your friend just bought, would you ask them where they bought their TV and go there, or would you go to a random store? I think we all have the same answer here.

Bad reviews are a strong signal that tells a product is too risky to try. The emptiness of a restaurant would look really suspicious, especially for things that we put in our mouths, and of course, it feels safer to buy the TV where our friend did because we can see the result in front of us. The customer will be ready to leave a tip in your tip jar if they rely on social proof in choosing you.

This is the impact that social proof has on our purchase behavior. So, what is the definition of social proof? What benefits can it bring to your bottom line? And how can you implement the most common types of social proof for your brand? You will find all of the answers to these questions in this article. Let’s jump right into it!

Table of Contents:

What is social proof?

Social proof is the psychological influence that the attitudes and actions of the people surrounding us (online and offline) have on your own thinking and behavior. The “proof” factor in social proof is the notion that if other people are doing/buying something, then it must be correct.

How strong social proof affects us depends on the numbers of people who are using/promoting something; the more people there are, the stronger the impact will be. Social proof can influence people to make decisions and take actions differently than they would if they had relied merely on their own judgment.

Benefits of social proof in marketing

Social proof is an effective marketing tactic for a variety of benefits that it can bring.

Enhanced Trustworthiness

In a world where trust can be hard to come by, social proof stands out as a marker of authenticity. Showcasing real-life instances of how your products or services have genuinely helped others builds a narrative of credibility. Interestingly, approximately 75% of consumers actively seek reviews and testimonials before making a purchase.

Increased Conversion Rates

At the core of social proof lies a powerful psychological trigger — the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). By highlighting the positive experiences of satisfied customers, you subtly ignite FOMO in others. As they witness a stream of people engaging with your offerings, the thought of missing out prompts a surge in conversion rates, replacing hesitation with a desire to be part of a positive experience.

Time and Cost Efficiency

Consider the resource-intensive nature of traditional advertising, requiring substantial budgets and creative efforts. Social proof offers a more efficient alternative. Integrating social proof into review-based ads leads to a 4X higher click-through rate and a 50% reduction in both cost per acquisition and cost per click. Leveraging existing customer content turns satisfied customers into advocates, sharing authentic stories to engage others.

Heightened Customer Engagement

Social proof fosters a sense of belonging among customers, creating a community that shares common interests and experiences. This camaraderie deepens connections with your brand. When customers see peers enjoying your products or services, they don’t just perceive a brand; they see a community resonating with their aspirations.

SEO Advantages

In the expansive digital landscape dominated by search engine rankings, social proof emerges as a valuable ally. Search engines prioritize fresh, relevant, and genuine content. Customer-shared experiences contribute to this content, elevating your website in search results.

Alleviated Decision-Making Anxiety

Choices, especially budget-related ones, can be overwhelming. Social proof serves as a reassuring factor, easing decision-making anxiety by demonstrating that others have successfully made similar choices. Utilizing social proof is akin to having satisfied customers spread the word on your behalf.

11 types of social proof

As you have learned why social proof is important, let’s move on now to what the most widely-used types of social proof are. These types of social proof are the key when you draw up a plan for your marketing campaign.

#1: Testimonials

Social proof
Customer testimonials

These are quotes from your previous clients and customers who shout out for the benefits of your product. This can be a great way to convince prospects of your products’ benefits. You should use testimonials from people that are similar to your target customer, and use reviews that are not generic, but as specific as possible.

#2: Influencer Endorsements

Social proof
Gigihadid promotes a brand of cosmetics on her Instagram

Have you ever wondered why companies pay celebrities to endorse their products, even when those celebrities have nothing to do with the company? The reason is quite simple; people make an association between the celebrity and the product after the celebrity says something about it. If you are a fan of the celebrity, you may want to give the product a try.

Influencers don’t necessarily have to be singers or pop stars, they can be highly respected doctors, fitness trainers, food experts, etc. (Basically anyone who has the expertise to influence their followers). Find an influencer in your product niche who can endorse your products, and you’re likely to find some (or lots) of their followers becoming your followers.

#3: Ratings

Social proof
Ratings on Amazon

On Amazon, I only buy products that have a rating of 4.5 stars and higher. Products with ratings under this number look too suspicious for me, so I’ll just stay away from them. New buyers rely on ratings from old buyers to make their decision, so if your ratings are good, sales will come in drove.

#4: User Reviews

Social proof
User reviews on Google

A user review is, to some extent, similar to a testimonial, and it usually comes alongside with ratings. The difference is instead of cherry-picking customer quotes to strategically place on your website or use in your marketing materials, customer reviews are often seen in the review section or review sites, and they tend to be a mixed bag of good and bad reviews.

#5: Number of Product Users

Social proof
Showcasing product users

People are less likely to buy products that few people buy. That’s why there’s the best-selling items section on almost every eCommerce store. So, how many people have bought your product? 1,000? 100,000? Larger numbers of product users indicate that the product delivers its promise very well, and vice versa. So, just simply showing the number of people who have bought your product is a powerful form of social proof.

#6: Previous Successes / Client Case Studies

Social proof
Case studies of customers

This form of social proof is used to showcase your past work that can’t be in a single testimonial. This usually comes in the form of a blog post that describes the details of a past project that you have carried out.

#7: Credentials

“PhD in medical science at Harvard Medical School”. That title makes it more likely for us to trust what the person who holds it states, doesn’t it? Havard is a prestigious and reputable university in many people’s views, and that is a credential.

Showing your credentials (your degree, your expertise, etc.) conveys that you are a real deal, and that helps you earn trust from your potential clients. So, what education, training program or other credentials do you have or could you earn to leverage it as a form of social proof.

#8: Email Subscribers

Do you have a large email list? Tell other potential subscribers about it by adding a quote under your subscription box showing how many people are already on your email list.

“Join 100,000 experienced marketers by signing up today!”

#9: Media Coverage

As seen on these magazines
As seen on these magazines

The media, especially reputable news channels or magazines (like Forbes) is considered a trustworthy source of information. Products and people can manage to get themselves on media coverage can gain trust and credibility more easily than those who can’t.

#10: User-Generated Content

Social proof
User-generated content on Instagram

If you have built a community around your product, how can you leverage your community to show your product to potential customers? One good way is by offering incentives (discounts, etc) for the customers to create content with your brand and submit their content for your display ($5 off the next deal per review, for example). On both Facebook and Instagram, you can leverage hashtags to receive content generated by your customers.

#11: Social Media Followers

Social proof
Instagram followers as social proof

The number of followers you have on your social accounts is a form of social proof as well. People automatically make an assumption that an account with 5 followers is not very active or has no good content to share when compared with one with a million followers.

How to use social proof in marketing

Incorporating social proof into your marketing strategy is an effective way to highlight the satisfaction of your customers for potential clients. Knowing that others have been pleased with your business and its offerings is a powerful marketing tactic.

Case Studies

A compelling method to showcase satisfied customers is through case studies detailing their experiences with your business. Select clients with significant success stories and seek their willingness to participate in a detailed exploration of your collaboration. Enthusiastic participation is crucial for these in-depth examinations.

Testimonials and Reviews

While your business may receive testimonials and reviews online, consider sharing them on social media. Reviews epitomize social proof, and displaying ratings and testimonials on your website and social platforms informs your audience about others’ opinions, drawing potential customers in. Learning how to solicit reviews ensures a steady stream of content.

Existing Customers and Clients

Publicly sharing your association with well-known brands is another effective way to generate interest in your products or services. Being endorsed by major brands like Google enhances your credibility.

Existing customers and clients

Awards and Accolades

If your business has received awards or been recognized in industry rankings, proudly showcase these achievements. Utilize badge images provided by awarding bodies on your website or homepage to underscore your brand’s excellence.

User-Generated Content (UGC)

Sharing user-generated content on your social pages, especially on platforms like Instagram, signals to others that you have satisfied customers. Create a branded hashtag, encourage users to contribute, and feature their content.

Influencer Marketing

Similar to UGC, influencer marketing involves compensating influencers to showcase your brand in their content, leveraging their reach and credibility.


For SaaS tools, especially in the marketing industry, showcasing integrations is a form of social proof. This demonstrates that your tools seamlessly work with others, enhancing their utility.

Customer Love

Highlighting your customers’ praises and positive comments, whether in reviews, testimonials, or social media mentions, is an authentic way to showcase social proof.

Customer Base

Displaying metrics like the number of customers served, products sold, or users indicates the seasoned experience of your business, reinforcing the notion that you know what you’re doing due to your extensive track record.

Best social proof examples

Showcase top-selling items on category pages

The second method to harness social proof on your site involves presenting “bestselling” or popular products prominently on your category pages. Displaying items as favorites instills confidence in customers, assuring them that their purchase decisions align with popular choices.

Let’s take a look at the “Best Seller” page of Laneige below.

Best-selling items Source

Incorporate customer reviews on product pages

The initial and frequently favored method is to display customer reviews. Endeavor to gather and exhibit reviews on specific product pages, landing pages, or upcoming product pages, particularly if you can obtain reviews accompanied by images.

Customer reviews Source

Feature customer testimonials in paid advertisements

You can also utilize reviews as the focal point in pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. This application of social proof is especially impactful in platforms like Facebook ads, Instagram ads, YouTube ads, and TikTok ads, where there’s ample space for descriptions. Incorporate the text into the description and complement it with images or videos showcasing the products mentioned in the testimonials.

An exemplary practice of this strategy is observed in Glossier, which consistently employs customer reviews as the foundation for its Instagram ads, fostering trust and swiftly boosting sales.

Customer testimonials Source

The cumulative impact of likes, comments, and shares over time enhances the visible social proof, capturing the attention of new users. This sets off a snowball effect, gaining more momentum each time you run a specific ad.

Run an influencer marketing campaign

Influencer marketing campaign Source

Social proof serves as a crucial avenue for social selling, prompting brands to frequently engage in influencer marketing campaigns as the landscape evolves toward social commerce.

Influencer marketing operates much like a friend recommending a vacation destination – the trustworthiness of the influencer adds value to their advice, a sentiment shared by their followers.

Anne-Sophie Bourjac, influencer relationship manager at Pierre Fabre Group, reports to Glossy and emphasizes the growing reliance on influencers, stating, “Considering 63% of consumers have more faith in the brand content shared by influencers than direct advertising, we now need to develop targeted, long-term, and recurring influencer marketing strategies.”

Partnering with social media influencers not only grants exposure to a receptive audience but also yields better business outcomes compared to traditional banner ads.

Highlight rewards and accolades

Looking to inform others about your business’s accomplishments? Display them proudly on your website. Have a look at Toyota’s page of their awards and ratings displayed on their website.

Rewards and accolades Source

Attain social media verification

A verified badge, symbolized by the renowned blue checkmark beside your profile name, signals to users that your business is authentic. This indicates that social media platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, or Facebook have validated the legitimacy of your account.

Social media verification Source

Verification enhances the credibility of your brand, establishing greater trust compared to unverified counterparts. On average, verified accounts also experience a 30% higher engagement rate, as per one study.

Put into practice

Now as you are familiar with the different types of social proof there are and know why this form of marketing is essential to your business, let’s grab some quick ways to implement it immediately in your next marketing campaign.

  • Feature customer testimonials on your website or newsletters
  • Emphasize the number of customers, followers or subscribers you have
  • Automate the follow-up with the customers who have bought from you and ask for referrals
  • Look for experts who are interested in what you’re doing, build relationships and work together to discover ways that they can help promote you (and what you can give them in return too; that’s important).

Final words

Social proof is a simple but powerful way to build up an eCommerce brand, and ultimately, bring conversions. When you want to tell your prospects how great your product and service are, using evidence that comes from your happy customers can make the message hit home more powerfully. And when you want to boast about your achievements, you are allowed because you have got testimonials from dozens of people to back up what you say.

When it comes to eCommerce business, social proof is not just something that is useful; it’s necessary. Your prospects want to see this social evidence as they want to get the feeling of confidence before handing their money over to you.

Now you have got eleven ways to implement social proof for your business. Both service-based and product-based eCommerce businesses can use these elements. So can starters or veteran entrepreneurs alike.

It’s time now for you to tut these elements of social proof to work. You will see that engagement on your content will shoot through the roof, and conversion rates will skyrocket.

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Marketing Manager of Mageplaza. Summer is attracted by new things. She loves writing, travelling and photography. Perceives herself as a part-time gymmer and a full-time dream chaser.
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