How Social Confirmation Improves CRO

Social confirmation has been around for a while, but it's still pretty effective.

It’s a simple formula; an expert or influential figure endorses a product and, consequently, more people buy it.

You see it all the time in modern advertising, and often the link between expert and product is more than a little tenuous. One example we’re particularly dubious about is the Ronaldo ab-belt ad … We think the intense football training and gym sessions might have more to do with that six-pack of his than a vibrating sticker!

Still, it’s a valid method that frequently works. So, how can marketers use social confirmation to their advantage and improve CRO along the way? We have a few ideas – take a look!

What is social confirmation?         

Basically, it’s when someone in a position of authority gives a product their seal of approval. This person might be a doctor, scientist, celebrity or some other kind of influential figure.

Social confirmation can have a huge effect on the decision-making process. It encourages people to become interested in a product and eventually buy it.

The technique plays on a sense of familiarity, trust in the person promoting the product and several other emotions. Social confirmation leads a consumer to think:

[suggest pulling-out the below quote]

‘If that educated/trustworthy/professional/famous person says it works for them, it will probably work for me too!’

People trust what experts say. That’s why Oral B’s selling point for its toothpaste is that it’s used by ‘the majority of dentists in the UK’. What it hides in the small-print is that the majority only amounts to 34% of 403 surveyed dentists so, probably not the most representative study.

However, it’s not just social leaders and industry experts getting in on the social confirmation action. Your customers are in on it too!

Whenever they leave reviews, post on social media or leave comments on forums these can all contribute to your social confirmation. Though remember, it’s not always positive!

You need to pay attention to your customer reviews as they carry a lot of weight. BrightLocal’s recent customer survey report claimed:

  • 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation
  • 90% of consumers read less than 10 reviews before forming an opinion about a business
  • 74% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more
  • 58% of consumers say that the star-rating of a business is most important

This shows the power that social confirmation can have for your business. You need to act now to make the most of it, especially when it comes to CRO!

What has social confirmation got to do with CRO?

The aim of CRO is to get as many people as possible down that conversion funnel and to the point of conversion/purchase.

A great way to do this is show proof of how good your product or service is, through social confirmation from experts, influencers and existing customers.

This acts as evidence and will nudge visitors down the conversion funnel, squashing any qualms they had along the way.

Positive social confirmation makes your brand seem more trustworthy, authentic and reliable, so it can give your overall brand image a real boost! It can also help build long-lasting relationships with customers, and encourage them to return to your site and eventually convert!

Put simply, by including social confirmation elements on your site and social media channels, you’re likely to increase your conversion rate. However, you need to test placement, format, frequency and several other elements to make sure they’re as effective as possible.

Should I worry about confirmation bias?

Yes, as a marketer, confirmation bias should always be in the back of your mind.

Confirmation bias occurs when people only look for information that supports their pre-existing beliefs or hypotheses.

A great real-life example of confirmation bias is the sale of tobacco in the early 20th century. Pretty much everyone had worked out that smoking wasn’t great for their lungs, but the tobacco giants didn’t like that.

That’s why they often paid people to endorse their products and contradict popular opinion. Doctors, dentists and nurses became some of their most prominent sales people. Sadly, people actually believed them when they made absurd claims like this:

  • “[Cigarettes are] your throat protection against irritation against cough”
  • “Hurry and worry slow up the flow of digestive fluids. Smoking Camels restores and increases this necessary flow”
  • “Dentists vote Old Gold first for throat-ease”
  • “Cigares de Joy give immediate relief in cases of asthma, cough, bronchitis, hay-fever, influenza and shortness of breath”
  • “The nicotine and tars trapped* by the Viceroy filter can never stain your teeth”

Do you want to know what that asterisk in the last one led to? Here it is:

“*No filter can remove all nicotine and tars, nor does Viceroy make this claim”

They lied, explained their lie on the same page and people still bought their product because doctors and dentists said it was OK! That's the immense power of social confirmation.

All of these examples supported the idea that smoking was good for you. This type of advertising only stopped in the 1950s when the Royal College of Physicians in the UK and the US Surgeon General produced concrete reports speaking out against smoking.

This form of confirmation bias duped thousands of people and had dire consequences. We’re not saying that you’ll find yourself in this situation, but we think it proves confirmation bias should be avoided!

Confirmation bias has gone up a gear in the information age

In today’s world of Facebook feeds, tailored news and hashtags, all our news is pre-selected.

This is usually through our own choice (filters), or carried out automatically by providers based on our friends, contacts and the content similar profiles to our own are reading. We’re looking at you Facebook!

This places people in a kind of “information bubble” promoting their own beliefs – no matter how flawed – and restricting access to other opinions.

This is probably why the Brexit result was such a shock to everyone. Remainers only saw remain posts, leavers only saw leave and both sides were left equally sure they were going to win!

This makes it seem almost impossible to get both sides of the story. However, as a marketer it’s your job to present both sides, as you may seem ignorant or narrow-minded otherwise. The opposing side must be addressed to ensure a balanced and engaging argument.

To improve CRO rates, you need to address any contradicting values and prove that your stance is correct. This is where social confirmation comes in. To back up your argument, you should use:

  • Quotes from experts
  • Reviews from your social media feed (if relevant)
  • Statistics and graphs from reputable sources
  • Online reviews from third-party sites – if reviews are just from your own site, your audience may think you’re cherry-picking!

This will also help with overcoming deeply-entrenched ideas that your visitors may hold about a topic. Engaging, well-supported and effective content will bring them round to your way of thinking and create loyal customers of the future.

Social confirmation can really improve conversion rates if you’re clever about it, and keep testing different elements. However, you should also be aware of the potential mishaps that might occur, so you can face them head on. We’ve covered the basics, why not try it out for yourself today?