Social proof is a psychological construct in which we look to others to guide our behavior in a situation. We react based on the assumption that the actions of others reflect the correct behavior in a situation and that we will make fewer mistakes if we follow the leaders.
The idea of social proof has great currency right now because some aspects of social proof are used as metrics in the evaluation of marketing and social media programs. For example:
- How many friends or fans does your company have on Facebook?
- How many Twitter followers do you have?
- How many times have your Tweets been retweeted?
- How many eNewsletter subscribers do you have?
- How many website visitors have you influenced with your ideas?
- How many comments do you get on your company blog?
- How many views on your YouTube videos?
These are all important and respected social proof metrics. While these metrics are relatively new to marketing, the concept of social proof has been embedded in successful direct marketing for years.
Testimonials – The Ultimate Social Proof
More than ever before, consumers look to their personal networks for product recommendations and validation of their choices of brands. In the education marketplace, recommendations from other educators have long been the #1 influencer for product and service purchases. And product endorsements from other educators who have successfully achieved the promised results can drive response to new offers.
Whether we are speaking to educators, students or parents, testimonials from other group members reassure prospective buyers that they are making the right decision. If you back up your offer with a 100% satisfaction guarantee in conjunction with strong testimonials, you can significantly increase your response.
The following are time-tested types of testimonials:
- User recommendations – the more specific about the benefits, the better.
- Celebrity endorsements – leading educators or education advocates.
- Case studies – short reports that tell one or more user stories to illuminate the product in action.
- Survey results.
- Industry awards and certificates.
- Installed base – the numbers of schools/districts/students using your product.
Increase Your Response
Testimonials sell. It’s been proven repeatedly over multiple campaigns and multiple offers. To maximize your own results, experiment with testimonial types and location in your emails. One of the wonderful aspects of email is that you can create multiple tests for little additional cost.
Where are the most effective testimonial placements for your product or offer? Header? Text body? Closing? Monitor and track open and click-through rates to learn where you get the largest response. If you incorporate strong, meaningful testimonials into your email campaigns, you will increase response.
Once prospects click through to your landing page or website, immediately reassure them that they’ve come to the right place with additional testimonials. Above all, your testimonials must be authentic and sincere. They should truthfully reflect specific ways your product benefits real people. Consumers are now very savvy and will not easily forgive you if you break their trust.
You can accept that testimonials drive sales as a true principle. The only question is how will you best utilize the ultimate social proof to drive your results?