How To Use Social Influence To Drive Up Sales And Conversions

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Are you looking for fresh new ideas on how to increase sales and conversions online? If you answered yes, then this is the article for you.

In this article, we will be talking about social influence. More precisely, what is social influence, different types of social influence, and how to strategically use social influence to your advantage when looking to sell more online.

What is informational social influence aka social proof?

Ever had a friend or a family member recommend a certain product? Did you happen to notice that after they recommended the product to you, you were much more inclined to purchase it?

That’s called informational social influence or social proof. Social proof is certainly not a household term, but unbeknownst to you, you are influenced by social proof on a daily basis.

Informational social influence is used by absolutely every successful company ever.

As an example. You have probably watched Netflix. Have you ever started watching a show or a movie because it was on the “Trending Now” section?

Netflix popular now section view

If you answered yes to the previous question, then you have experienced indirect informational social influence.

There are different types of social influence. Most probably you fall victim to social influence all the time. Let's look at some of the more popular informational social influence examples:

Compliance

Let's imagine, that your friend says that Bud Light, your favorite beer, is an awful beer. Instead, he recommends you to try out his favorite hipster handcrafted beer.

Wanting to fit into the crowd, you will most probably try out the beer he recommended. At least once. Even though it probably tastes like garbage.

That’s what we call social compliance. You comply, and change the brand of beer you are drinking, because of your internal need for social validation.

You can replace beer in the example with anything else. It’s a situation that most people have experienced at least once in their lifetime.

Conformity

Have you ever done something just because other people did it? For example:

  • Skip class with your friends
  • Break the rules because somebody else did it
  • Start going to the gym because your friend group started going

This is called conformity. People often conform to actions taken by others because of peer pressure. Conformity can be both negative and positive.

Good to know: Conformity does not work with people who are not easily influenced by others. When trying to advertise products to very self-confident people, conformity won’t be as effective. It works best on people who are not extremely self-confident.

Identification

Have you ever wondered why brands use celebrities to promote products? Well, it’s really simple. Almost everyone has an idol who they look up to.

Quite frequently people look up to celebrities. Hence brands use celebrities as an integral part of their marketing activities.

If done right, a single celebrity endorsement can turn an average product launch into a raging success.

David Beckham endorsing new underwear line for H&M

A very successful endorsement by David Beckham took place in 2013 where he promoted the H&M 'Bodywear Collection’.

The end results were queues of people in H&M stores when the collection launched.

With the rise of social media, identification has become a more traditional advertising strategy.

Today, every semi-serious brand has its own band of influencers promoting their products. Since many people want to look, live, and act like Instagram influencers, companies often leverage that and use micro-influencers to promote their products.

That way they can reach an even wider audience.

Keep in mind: you can have an influencer promote your business, but that is not a long term sustainable source of revenue for most online businesses. Endorsement deals should always be carefully considered and analyzed. The social proof, influencer endorsements can generate, should be leveraged and used to create a more sustainable source of revenue.

How can you use social proof to sell more online?

As said before. Today, any online business can, and should, leverage social proof to boost sales and conversions.

Depending on the industry, social proof can increase conversion rates by up to 20%. Social proof plays a major part in advertising online businesses.

It allows you to create a sort of digital proof of business. With social influence, online businesses can show new visitors that they already have customers who trust them. New visitors are much more likely to make a purchase and conform to social norms!

In reality, the businesses not leveraging social influence are losing out big time. When shopping online, people just can’t see how busy a store is, resulting in a lack of trust.

Live visitor count on an e-commerce store used as a source of social proof. Small notification displaying that 350 visitors are currently looking for new shoes.

Here you can see a live visitor counter showing off how busy the store really is.

This is a great way to make ecommerce stores feel more like real stores in regular shopping malls.

Visitors often don’t make a purchase, because they do not trust a website that is not Amazon or eBay.

That is why smaller ecommerce websites need a source of social proof more than anyone else - To build trust with visitors and show that their stores have tons of happy customers.

What social proof strategies should you use?

It really depends on your end-goal. There are many different ways to leverage social proof. We have listed the more effective social proof examples and use-cases.

Bandwagon advertising

If you want your products to be seen as high in demand and that other people already trust you, then this is the social proof strategy for you!

One popular method to implement bandwagon style social proof in an ecommerce store is by using recent sales notifications.

You have probably seen sales notifications before. They are small notifications that can frequently be seen at the bottom or top of an ecommerce website.

Sales notifications by themselves act as a kind of a social testimonial. They prove that your website is alive and active.

Sales notification showing that a person named "Markus" recently bought coffee at an online store that sells coffee

By adding sales notifications to your ecommerce store, you can get visitors to conform to the norm and give them a reason to trust you.

Good old testimonials

Testimonials should be #2 on your list of social proof strategies, if you are looking to boost ecommerce sales.

Testimonials cost you absolutely nothing to set up, but they can massively increase your return on advertising spend or ROAS.

Just ask your previous customers for feedback. Collect the more positive reviews and place them on your landing page.

Ecommerce store with testimonials on their landing page

Casper is a large brand that shows off their testimonials right on their landing page. A very powerful strategy that has certainly helped them grow into a massive brand.

Testimonials help you instantly build trust with potential customers and ensure visitors that the products you are selling, are of high quality.

Sense of scarcity

Have you ever wondered why gold costs so much? It’s just a metal that looks nice.

The answer is simple: there is a limited amount of gold making it a scarce resource.

That’s why inducing a sense of scarcity in potential customers is such an effective strategy when trying to sell more products online.

It’s human nature to want items that have a limited supply and are in high demand.

Some clothing brands sell their products for regular prices, while the price triples or even quadruples on the secondary market.

A popular example is the Supreme BOGO hoodie. The hoodie retails for $150, but is sold anywhere between $400 - $1,000 on the secondary market.

How can you create a sense of scarcity for your products? Show potential customers that you only have a few items in stock.

Implement that strategy only for your best selling items. Manually update the “products in stock” number on a daily basis.

Pro-tip: combine a sense of scarcity with bandwagon advertising via sales notifications. That way you can show visitors that your products are on the verge of being sold out.

E-Commerce product page with a limited number of items in stock of a certain type of product.

Here you can see the small number of items in stock. The number is brought out in bold.

Don’t try to make all of your products feel scarce. Only make 1 or 2 of your best selling products feel scarce.

Make sure visitors can instantly see how little stock is left and how high in demand the product is.

But remember, never overdo it. That can make visitors doubt the authenticity of demand and make them not want to purchase the product at all.

Conclusion

Social influence is a very powerful tool that can be leveraged in multiple ways. Before trying to implement social proof for your online business, make sure you know the different types of social influence and have a clear goal in mind.

Social proof works best for online businesses that already have existing customers and a source of traffic.

Make use of existing sales with bandwagon advertising. Use sales notifications to get people to make a purchase.

Sales notifications can help you make new potential customers feel a sense of urgency while also ensuring that your site is trusted by others.

Gather feedback from your existing customers and use that to build trust with new customers. Let your previous sales help you sell even more!

Make your products feel scarce. People want what they cannot have, so give them what they want.

By making your products feel scarce you can drive up sales. Remember, you should never overdo it.

Make only a couple of your products feel scarce. Otherwise, the sense of scarcity can disappear.

Do you want to add live sales notifications to your website? Try out Social Oracle. We offer a free unlimited trial available for everyone!

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