“Social proof, also known as social influence, is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation.”

Social proof is one of the most powerful drivers of our everyday behavior. Psychologists estimate that over 90% of our decisions are subconscious.

When our brain makes decisions, it looks for cues. The strongest of those cues is to see what everyone else is doing. For example, according to a study done on airplanes, passengers were 70% more likely to order a meal if their neighbor ordered one.

These social cues are what makes platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter so powerful.  You can see what products and services your friends like and advocate for.  So, if a customer likes your business page on Facebook, their social media friends will be more likely to follow suit and give you their stamp of approval as well.

Our digital landscape has made social proof the ultimate form of peer pressure, and providing social proof is one of, if not THE, most efficient ways to market your product.

If you haven’t leveraged social proof in your email marketing campaigns yet, you should start doing it right now. Here are 7 ways to use social proof in your email marketing campaigns.

1. Let Your Customers Do The Talking

Potentially the easiest way to leverage social proof is to highlight ratings and testimonials from unbiased websites and vendors.

Research shows that over 70% of Americans say they look at product reviews before making a purchase – so make it simple for your audience to see what others are saying by including reviews right in your email.

social proof
Source: Ramit Sethi, Newsletter

According to Local Consumer Review, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations. At the same time, you can be certain that your audience can detect an inauthentic review.  So make an effort to add credibility to your testimonials by including full names, pictures, job titles, badges, and the website the testimonial appeared on whenever possible.

2. Share Your Numbers

Crowd mentality is stronger than ever. No one wants to miss out on the next big thing – whether it’s funding a hot new gadget, or helping to crowdsource a new idea for their favorite brand.

People are much more likely to jump on the bandwagon than to blaze the trail. If you have numbers to show, show them. These numbers can be anything from customers to subscribers to social media followers.

social proof

Putting your numbers on display sends a powerful message and inadvertently builds trust. Be smart about it. If your customer numbers aren’t going to knock their socks off, show off the number of completed projects, transactions, or other creative achievements.

social proof

Source: marketinvoice.com

3. Highlight What Others Are Purchasing

Using the same psychology as in the previous two points, you can boost your revenues by showing off your “top sellers” or by upselling existing customers with more relevant products.

social proof
Source: Newsletter by Udemy.com

Amazon absolutely kills it in this department. While browsing or after a purchase, you’ll see suggestions on products “frequently bought together” or popular products purchased by people with the same interests as you.

social proof

Help guide your audience to their next purchase with you by showing what others have bought from your business.  

4. Who Endorsed You

In sales, getting an endorsement from a celebrity or social media influencer is a fantastic way to build brand credibility and convert more prospects. Consumers trust celebrities and influencers. If someone they recognize is willing to put their neck out to endorse your product, they’re likely very confident it’s a worthwhile purchase.

social proof
Source: FreshBooks

A great example of this is Beats by Dr. Dre. The wildly popular headphone brand gained incredible traction by paying celebrities and popular athletes to wear them. Although their product isn’t superior to other brands in terms of quality, they dominated the marketing in just a few years using social proof alone.

Now, if you run a small business, chances are you don’t have the budget to pay for an endorsement from an athlete like Lebron James or a celebrity like Mark Cuban.  But, you do have well-known influencers in your industry.  They may not be celebrities on a global or national scale – but they hold celebrity among the people you’re trying to attract.

Build partnerships with these influencers to earn their stamp of approval.  For instance, you can offer a free trial of your product in exchange for a an endorsement on social media – and then use that endorsement in your email campaigns to add instant credibility to your brand.

5. Name Dropping

Mentioning important people or institutions in the context of a conversation or a marketing copy is another highly efficient tactic. Studies show that giving a shout-out to a well-known customer in the subject line of your email can boost your open rates by as much as 468%!

social proof
The recipient is 111% to 468% more likely to open the email.

There are other smart ways to use name dropping to boost your conversion rates. Here’s a great example from Product Hunt.

social proof

6. Got Awards?

Don’t be shy. If you’ve been lucky enough to win awards, you should be letting your customers know. Awards hold a lot of credibility when potential customers are comparing your product and doing their due diligence.

social proof

Trust and credibility are critical in the sales process. No wants to hand over money to a business that could disappear overnight.

Eventually you’ll be asking customers to invest in your product or service.  They’ll be much more willing to take the leap with you if they feel like you are an established business with a solid reputation.

7. Press and Media

Media mentions are another credible form of endorsement. If your company has been mentioned in the media, a great way to keep that content alive is to feature links and logos to the publications in your marketing channels.

social proof
Source: marketinvoice.com

This works particularly well for small businesses. A giant like Uber is talked about in media all the time. They have no need to feature their mentions when they’re plastered across publications. However, when you’re a new and growing small business, traditional PR mentions are a big part of building the brand awareness and credibility. It’s another way you can show your audience that you’re an expert in your industry – making the decision to do business with you easy for potential customers.

Social proof is one of the easiest (and most under-utilized) strategies for building more successful email marketing campaigns. By incorporating social proof in your email campaigns, you’re making the decision to invest in your business easy for your prospects. Take the interest you’ve earned in your brand and convert it into paying customers.