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How to Increase Your Social Proof to Attract More Customers

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How to Increase Your Social Proof to Attract More Customers If you are like a lot of business owners, professionals and entrepreneurs, you may have heard the term social proof thrown around and used like any of the latest trendy business terms.

But I can assure you, social proof is no synergy, paradigm-shift or growth hacking.

Social proof is a more inclusive and comprehensive name for a very old marketing concept. One that has been influencing customers since there were businesses to buy from. At its core, social proof is word of mouth advertising in today’s digital market place.

Why Social Proof Is So Important

Social proof is one of the key influencers that people use when making a decision who to do business with. People look to what others have done when making a decision and that’s why reviews, testimonials and endorsements have been so powerful for businesses.

The Social Proof Theory, which I explored in the psychology behind social media engagement, states that:

“A person who does not know what the proper behavior for a certain situation is, will look to other people to imitate what they are doing and to provide guidance for their actions.”

In simpler terms, social proof helps us make decisions when we are uncertain, based on the experiences and choices others are making or have made in the past.

Basically, people have a tendency to base their decisions from the reactions and decisions of their peers. Nobody wants to be the guinea pig. It’s nice to be able to gain wisdom through the second-hand experiences of those we trust.

For example, imagine you’re a marketing consultant and your prospective client is evaluating a marketing consultant with 4500 Facebook page followers against you with only 127 followers. Or they find you through your LinkedIn profile and see you have 112 connections and no recommendations, versus one of your competitors that has 500+ connections on LinkedIn plus a dozen recommendations.

Who do you think they’ll consider as the marketing consultant? Do you think that will have an impact on their decision?

According to the proven theory of social proof and human nature, this absolutely will.

People can only be expected to make the best decisions with the information that is readily available for them.

Here’s another example, one that everyone can relate to. If you walk into a restaurant with only two customers in the place, the common perception is that maybe the restaurant isn’t that great. Now contrast that to a restaurant where you have an hour wait to get in the door.

What’s your immediate perception of these two restaurants? Which one are you more likely to choose?

This is just human nature and that’s why social proof is so important.

The Six Types of Social Proof

Social proof comes in a number of forms – from the person raving about their favorite restaurant when you ask for a dining suggestion to that new piece of tech that everyone seems to now own. These are examples of social proof that you might encounter that can positively impact your decision to make a potential future purchase.

In each case, the positive outcome of a purchase made by others of something you yourself are considering, helps to remove the fear that you are taking a risk. Essentially it helps to build trust, which is vital in selecting a product or service.

While you might only need the recommendation of one friend you know well to help you decide if you want to eat at a new restaurant, often we require a little more social proof when the risk is higher. For example, this would include instances when the social proof is coming from people we don’t know well (such as online reviews), it is a large value item or it could potentially affect our job security or finances.

In these cases, prospects will often head online and look to find as much social proof – good or bad – that they can find to help them make their decision.

As a business owner, entrepreneur, professional or sales rep, you want to help facilitate your prospects choice. You do this by ensuring that you not only provide as much social proof as possible but that you also make it easy for them to find.

Here are the six most common types of social proof:

The Six Types of Social Proof

Customers – when prospects see positive testimonials, case studies, recommendations and reviews from your existing customers or users.

Friends – when prospects see that their “trusted” friends use or recommend you, your knowledge or product or service.

Crowds – when prospects see a large number of people endorse you, your knowledge or product or service.

Experts – when prospects see you are recommended by one or more experts in your industry.

Celebrities – when prospects see you are recommended by celebrities or other influencers they admire and follow.

Certifications – when prospects see you are certified by a credible 3rd party or authority.

8 Powerful Forms of Online Social Proof

Here are eight examples of social proof that you can build and share online, which will help your prospects to know like and trust you.

8 Powerful Forms of Online Social Proof

Testimonials from Satisfied Customers on Your Website

Perhaps the most important form of social proof is testimonials from your clients. Research done by Nielsen shows that 92% of people will trust a recommendation from a peer, and 70% of people will trust a recommendation from someone they don’t even know.

This includes both written and video testimonials. When sharing written testimonials, including more information about the writer is better and this is further enhanced if you include an image. While a written testimonial will always have value, where possible it has been shown to be increasingly powerful to include video testimonials. There is plenty of science to back up the power of video, which does a better job inspiring trust and capturing and keeping the attention of your prospects.

Case Studies Sharing the Success of Your Clients

A well written case study that succinctly shares the story of your customer’s success using your product or service is a fantastic form of social proof. The key is to ensure that the case study focuses on the story of the journey as well as including the final results.

According to psychologists Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, stories are persuasive and more trustworthy than statistics because individual examples stick in our minds, but statistics and averages do not. Essentially, the story of their journey allows customers with similar challenges to imagine your product or service creating the same kind of results for them.

The additional benefit of case studies is that while they are usually written in a longer, more formal style, they are based on the idea that customers view long, in-depth reviews as being more reputable than brief excerpts. They are considered to provide high authority, social proof.

LinkedIn Recommendations

As a business platform, LinkedIn is home to professionals, business owners, entrepreneurs, managers and CEOs. Recommendations (testimonials) given by clients, colleagues and coworkers on this platform often can have great weight with potential prospects, particularly when those recommendations include details of your expertise and how you were able to help your clients.

LinkedIn Publisher Likes, Comments, Shares

The very act of publishing quality content on LinkedIn Publisher can go a long way to establish trust and your authority on your topic, but when that content also gets likes, shares and comments, that is further social proof that you are knowledgeable and provide valuable content. You gain extra credibility by replying to all the engagement on your posts in a timely and helpful way.

Facebook Reviews, Likes, Comments, Shares

With over two billion Facebook users and counting, there is a very good chance your potential prospects are using Facebook – often to research products or services they are interested in. Needless to say, having a Facebook page is vital, but just as important, is to consistently use it and build its size and engagement.

Instagram Followers, Comments, Shares

Growing to over 800 million monthly and 500 million daily active users, Instagram is a powerful platform to build social proof on, particularly if you serve Millennials or a visually inspired audience. Share great content to grow your followers and get more comments and shares on your posts.

Twitter Followers, @Mentions & ReTweets

While Twitter does not have the same growth as Facebook and Instagram, it still has a very large and loyal following of over 300 million active users with over 500 million tweets shared in a day. If your prospects are on Twitter, then you need to be growing your following and working to get as many quality @Mentions and retweets as you can.

Comments & Shares of Your Blog Posts

Your website is the virtual home (and in some cases also the store) for your business. When people see engagement such as shares and comments on your blog posts, they can see the opinions of other’s regarding your knowledge and content.

These are just some of the forms of social proof that you can work to build online.

A word of caution, whatever forms of social proof that you choose to focus on, ensure that you are doing so in an honest and ethical way, essentially that you are using ethical marketing practices. There are ways to fake or falsely build most forms of social proof. While doing so may seem like a good idea in the moment, it completely undermines your social proof in the long run.

How to Increase Your Social Proof

Now that you understand why social proof is so important and what that looks like online, you need to begin to build your own social proof in the places that your prospects will expect to find it.

Ask Your Customers & Community

The first and most important way to build your social proof is by ASKING your satisfied customers, users and community for testimonials, LinkedIn recommendations, reviews and shares. Asking is often the most effective method to building your social proof arsenal.

Examples of places where you might want to ask your customers or community include asking for a testimonial or review after you have completed or delivered your product or service to a customer or after a speaking event or training session. You might also ask your community to comment on or share your latest blog or social media post.

Share Your Testimonials

Once you have started to collect video and written testimonials, you want to create a page dedicated for them on your website. This makes it easy for potential prospects to quickly review what others are saying about their experience using your products or services.

You also want to include testimonials on the services or product pages on your website. By adding testimonials, you help to add that little bit more trust right at the moment a prospect is considering purchasing or contacting you.

Another great place to include testimonials is in your proposals. Again, this is a great way to boost trust in your favor at a crucial moment when a potential prospect is considering purchasing your product or service. The key to success with this is to use testimonials that are the most relevant or similar to the client you are proposing your services to.

Turn Customer Successes into Powerful Stories

As I mentioned earlier, stories are a far more powerful persuader than statistics and numbers. These “stories” can take the form of short anecdotes in a wide variety of formats (graphic, text, video, etc.) that can be posted on social media or longer case studies that can be added or shared anywhere that you want to increase your authority including your website or LinkedIn profile.

Transform Testimonials into Graphics, Videos, or SlideShare Presentations

Make your testimonials more visually appealing and easily shared by turning multiple reviews or testimonials into a graphic, video or SlideShare presentation. You can then share this on your social media or embed it as rich media into your LinkedIn profile.

Embed Customer & Community Generated Social Posts

When someone posts about you, your knowledge or products or services on a social media platform, you can actually share this live post in places such as your website or LinkedIn Publisher posts.

The benefit of embedding a live post rather than sharing a screen shot is that as this post gets future engagement, the new engagement will be visible in the embedded post. This can be magnified because the more people see others engaging with the post, the more likely they are to engage with it themselves. Just further evidence of the power of crowd social proof.

Today, the internet and digital devices have increased both the reach and the power of social proof by making it easier for businesses to build and showcase their social proof to potential prospects.

With the larger trust gap that exists online between businesses and customers, social proof is the fastest and most effective means to bridge that gap and help your potential prospects to know, like and trust you – helping you get more customers and make more sales.

The post How to Increase Your Social Proof to Attract More Customers appeared first on Top Dog Social Media.

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This week’s episode of “Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch” shows it’s all about timing.

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Google Releases Life Events Targeting to Everyone!

http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2017/11/29/adwords-life-events-targeting

Keywords don’t buy your product – people do!

It’s no wonder that Google is investing more into allowing advertisers to target audiences instead of keywords – whether that’s with remarketing, RLSA, similar audiences, demographic details, or even their newly improved customer match.

Earlier this year, Google perked heads when they first announced that they would allow us to target based on users going through a major life event, such as getting married. Well, as of today, all advertisers (and agencies) can take advantage of this exciting new life event targeting feature within their AdWords accounts!

How to Set Up Life Event Targeting in AdWords

Life event targeting must be set up at the ad group level in either a video campaign or a Gmail-only campaign. Under the audiences tab within an ad group, select the middle option for “Intent and life events”:

adwords life events targeting

From there, you can choose to add any number of in-market audiences or life events. Life events can be drilled down to between users preparing for a life event (about to graduate college, get married, moving soon) and immediately after the event (recently graduated college, got married, moved).

Life events can be layered with in-market audiences, affinity audiences remarketing lists, or similar audiences to further refine your target audience.

how to target life events in adwords

Within Gmail, an audience can either be added as a target (restricting the reach of your ads) or as an observation (allowing you to adjust your bid for this audience experiencing a life event). Similarly, Life event targets can be added as exclusions. Exclusions can be added at either the campaign or ad group level.

Targeting Important Life Events

Today, Google has three main life events for users to target: College Graduation, Marriage, and Moving.

College Graduation

Targeting students entering the “real world” has obvious potential for businesses advertising job-hunting services or companies that are looking to attract new talent (by the way, all the kids are applying to work at WordStream), or potentially settle or refinance their student debts.

targeting recently graduated audience

However, as people graduate college, there’s also a lot subtle needs that advertisers can capitalize on. Apparel advertisers may find this young “newly professional” demographic has an increased demand for clothes that are appropriate for interviewing or the workplace.

Most education advertisers may want to exclude those graduating college from their campaigns, however – unless they offer a graduate school program, in which case they may find this a particularly important audience to get in front of.

Marriage

I got married in September and the experience taught me two things – first, that I’m so happy that I found my sweet, lovable husband (who I know doesn’t read my blog posts). And secondly, getting married is a LOT of work, a lot of planning, and a lot of shopping!

mark irvine wedding

It’s my blog post, so yes, I do get to put my wedding pictures in it. Photo credit Josh London Photography

Obviously, users about to get married are in market for a number of different products and services – and wedding planners, event organizers, venues, DJs, caterers, florists, jewelers, rental suppliers, photographers, videographers, and so many card providers have a stake in the $54 billion industry in the US.

Not only that, but while many are planning their wedding they’re also planning their honeymoon – so travel advertisers have an interest in this audience as well!

And of course, while I was planning my wedding I certainly looked more at kitchen appliances and home goods for my wedding registry than I ever have in my life, so even retail advertisers were smart to get in front of me at the right time! Bryant Garvin at Purple had success driving attention to their mattress ads among those planning their wedding.

life events targeting case study

As I begin my life in the “Recently married” audience, there’s still no shortage of things that I suddenly need. Now, we get to go through a period of heavy nesting and home improvement – buying new furniture to match all those new gifts, clean up and renovate our apartment, and plan for our lives together.

That also means that we have all the fun of setting up a joint health care plan, retirement, and new taxes, and every step of the way, Google’s serving potential for those advertisers to influence us. Hypothetically, we would also be talking about buying a home together or planning to become parents, but luckily, we have avocado toast to keep that far off our minds.

Moving

Moving is one of the most stressful times in someone’s life and people planning their move are certainly a target audience for advertisers who provide moving or storage services. But likewise, there’s unique opportunity for real estate clients to capitalize on this audience too! By layering Google’s In-Market audiences, they could potentially serve their ads exclusively to people who planning a move and looking to either rent or buy a new home!

targeting life events in google adwords

Of course, after the big move, many users will also be searching for services in their new home city – and this has promise for countless local advertisers on Google! New residents will have an increased demand to find local places to eat, shop, and go to the gym, as well as the need to find a local doctor, dentist, school, and tons of other services!

By targeting these audiences, you can acquire new customers much easier and keep them loyal much longer.

About the author:

Mark is a Senior Data Scientist at WordStream, focused on research and training for the everchanging world of PPC. He was named the 5th Most Influential PPC Expert of 2017 by PPC Hero. You can follow him on TwitterLinkedIn, Google +, and SkillShare.

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Google is now letting searchers donate to nonprofit organizations directly from search results.

The post Google’s New “Donate” Button Could be a Boon for Nonprofits by @MattGSouthern appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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5 Ways to Improve the Parcel Delivery Experience

https://www.practicalecommerce.com/5-ways-improve-parcel-delivery-experience

“The last mile” is now the Holy Grail of ecommerce shipping. A merchant can do an amazing job of selling and provide an outstanding shopping experience, yet if the package …

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