People are more likely to buy a product when someone they trust has already done so. This phenomenon is known as social proof. You can provide earnest production descriptions, along with the most vivid photography ever crafted, but the influence of those factors pales in comparison to the power of word of mouth.
And ultimately, this is why peer validation matters in eCommerce.
What Is Peer Validation
As pertains to eCommerce, we are using the terms peer validation and social proof somewhat interchangeably. According to psychologists, the concept is based upon the idea people tend to conform in their effort to be liked or accepted by a society to which they feel an affinity. Thus, when shoppers see a testimonial from a previous buyer or from an expert they admire, that influence sways the reader.
User Reviews Matter
A 2017 Consumer Review Survey conducted by search marketing company BrightLocal found 85 percent of consumers trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations. This is particularly profound when you consider people reading the reviews don’t even know the people posting the reviews. They are, in fact, taking these reviews on faith.
This underscores the true power of peer validation. The readers of the reviews tend to project their own values onto the people posting the reviews and assume they have common traits. If you’re considering how to start a furniture store, or some other big-ticket business online, you’ll do well to bear this in mind and populate your product pages with customer testimonials.
And, for the record, they don’t always have to be positive. In fact, a healthy mix of positive and negative reviews tends to validate the positive ones for users. That is, as long as the negative reviews aren’t too plentiful.
There Are SEO Advantages Too
In addition to the positive effect peer validation has on sales, customer testimonials can benefit your search engine optimization efforts. SEO and online marketing expert Jayson DeMers says, in an article at Forbes.com, “Each new review written about a product on your site increases the amount of unique content it offers on that product. This means you’ll be seen as having higher authority, more relevance, and, as such, a higher chance of getting those pages ranked.”
Thus, in addition to giving your site more credence in the eyes of shoppers, customer reviews can make your site more likely to be viewed as credible by search engines as well.
How to Cultivate Social Proof
The easiest way to populate your site with customer reviews is to simply ask your customers for reviews. Making this practice part of your post-sale activities will accomplish a number of key things. You’ll get the peer validation you need; your customers will become more engaged and you can use the opportunity to present other products in which they might have an interest. It’s also a great time to invite satisfied shoppers to join your loyalty program to take advantage of the special membership offers that entails.
As you can see, peer validation matters a great deal in eCommerce. There are SEO benefits to consider in addition to the potential it holds for increasing your conversion rate.
Every savvy marketer knows word of mouth is the best form of advertising. You can spend many hundreds of thousands of dollars with the best advertising firms in existence and they still couldn’t get you the type of results social proof is capable of garnering for your eCommerce business. Because again, people are simply far more likely to buy a product when someone they trust has also bought it and says it’s cool.