Social Proof – How To Get It When You Are Just Starting Out
When it comes to making sales in today's online marketing world, it's vital to have social proof.
But what if you're just starting out and haven't got a single testimonial yet? What do you do then? You most likely already know how social proof helps you increase your sales, but what if your product is new?
How do you get people to buy your brand new product when no one has tried it before?
There are a lot of ways to build up your social proof, and this post is going to outline some of the most effective methods of getting social proof when you don't have testimonials.
How to Build Trust When You Lack Social Proof
The purpose of social proof is to build some level of trust between you and your prospects.
When they are looking at your product, they may not know you well enough yet (and even if they do, everything is different now that you're asking them for money...) so now the question becomes whether or not they can trust you.
That is really what social proof is about. It's for providing third-party evidence of your trustworthiness and reliability. It's a simple way of showing your prospects that what you're saying is actually true.
So, let's address that, shall we?
If TRUST is the whole point of all this, then let's explore some ways that you can use to build it up for your offer when there's no third-party evidence of the trust.
1. Provide Details
Going into detail about your offer and what the customer is going to get is one way of helping to build trust when you don't have social proof.
For example, if you're a consultant and you're selling consulting time, just saying 'Buy one hour of my time' would be too vague and it wouldn't really be enough.
Instead, you could lay out the entire process that you will go through with your clients on the phone.
Tell them exactly what will happen and outline the step-by-step process that they are about to begin once they become your customer.
If you provide a service that has deliverables, then you can show your prospects examples of what the deliverables will look like. It's all about the details and the more of their questions you answer about your product, the more they will trust what you are offering.
2. Show Their Reality
Another great way to build trust is to reflect your prospects' reality.
Sharing their reality is a great way of building bonds with other people. Whether it's their beliefs or their point of view on certain things, if you can agree with them on something, that helps to create a bond between you which leads to trust.
A simple way to do this is to show your prospects that you believe what they believe or that you have experienced what they have experienced.
Lay that out in your offer.
3. Make a Promise to Your Customers
It's important to make specific promises when it comes to your products so that your customers know how their experience will be, and the kind of results they can expect to get from using your product.
But do not exaggerate! You're going to have to stand behind them, so make your promises real. Back those promises up with guarantees so that your customers know that you really mean what you say.
4. Show the real YOU
It's important to show yourself to the people that you do business with.
No one likes to conduct business with anonymous websites. People like to deal with people, so show them that there is a real live person behind your business and your offer. Get a nice, professional photo of your face and use it on your site or product.
Of course, this may not be appropriate when it comes to certain offers like apps or SaaS (Software as a Service).
In that instance, the developer’s face might not fit in, but in most cases, if you're a single provider and have created, say, a course, online training, or if you offer a service then you should show yourself. If you have a team, you can show nice photos of all your staff and let your audience get to know them.
How to Get Social Proof When You Don't Have Testimonials
While testimonials are great for any business, you must have customers in order to get them, which means that when you're just starting out and don't have any customers yet, then you have to rely on other methods of getting social proof.
Here are some options:
1. Make Use of Social Testimonials
These days people routinely use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and lots of other social networks that you can leverage to build up your third-party social proof. One way of using those social media interactions to your benefit is by featuring tweets on your homepage.
Is someone somewhere saying nice things about you? Or maybe someone gave a compliment about how you helped them?
Even if those things aren't related to your offer, and they are about your blog or you in general, include them. It's still third-party proof of how helpful you are and it counts.
Take screenshots of those comments and use them on your site. Or you could use the actual posts on your landing page instead of the screenshots.
You can also show some of your social streams that are based on a hashtag.
If you have a hashtag set up for your product or blog, you can filter what's being said about it and use that on your site. You can embed it right on your homepage using KudoBuzz or any other similar plugin.
2. Use Industry Statistics
Show your prospects that what you didn't make up the things you are telling them.
Find and display industry statistics on your site to prove the problem that you solve. Show numbers that come from third-party authorities and quotes from industry experts that back up what you are telling them. In most cases, you will be able to find such industry statistics by searching on Google and doing a bit of research.
Some fields like internet marketing have sites that put together statistics in beautifully presented reports such as the MarketingCharts site which publishes regular charts of various statistics that are relevant to the business and marketing world.
By doing it this way you are essentially 'borrowing' the social proof that you need.
3. Leverage Trust Seals
Trust seals are a great way of showing people that you and your business are legit.
You see these a lot on checkout pages. They are there to prove to customers that the checkout process is totally secure.
While the conversion bump that you get from these things is much less than it used to be since they are seen almost everywhere these days, it's still a form of social proof, and when you're just starting out without any customers, you need all the help you can get, right?
4. Show Media Mentions
Showing your prospective customers where you've appeared is yet another great way of providing social proof when you have no testimonials.
Have you contributed or been mentioned in any notable blogs or podcasts in your niche? If so, then display those logos on the 'As Seen On' section of your site to show credibility.
The same goes for any mentions of you or your business in major media.
But you have to be careful though, as there are some people who abuse this in the online marketing world. They just use made up media mentions in the hopes that no one will notice or look it up.
Or, they use press release services to put some PR on major press sites and then they use those site logos as if they were actually featured there (when really they just placed a press release there that no one even read).
So while there is some serious abuse of press logos on the marketing scene, if you have it and it's legitimate, then use it.
5. Social Proof Notifications
More and more sites are starting to use social proof notifications to show what people are doing on that site in real time. These notifications are very similar to Facebook's ones, and they pop up in the site's bottom left corner and fade away after a second or two.
If possible, integrate these notifications on your site to provide real-time social proof of what people are actually doing on your site.
The notifications can be for various activities that people are taking part in on your site, even right down to when they opt into your list.
Some of the social proof marketing platforms that you can use to achieve this include:
When you have this type of set up, you no longer have a need for any previously collected testimonials.
6. Show Customer or Subscriber Counts
Show your prospects that you are not alone by displaying the numbers of customers or subscribers that you have on your site.
How To Get Those Real Testimonials When Starting From Scratch
Being able to build trust without social proof or testimonials is all well and good, but how do you actually go about getting those testimonials from scratch when you don't have any customers yet?
1. Give A Few Select Customers Free Access To Your Product
Provide free access to just a few people by running some sort of 'beta test' on the product you're offering. Get those people to help you test it and give you feedback.
To make this even more effective, provide free access to the influencers in your particular market.
Be selective and limited as to how you go about this. Don't hand out the free access to your product like candy because this will devalue your product and make it harder for you to sell it in the future.
2. Get Some Blogger Reviews of Your Product
There are a lot of bloggers who are looking for ways of making money from their blogs (because they don't know how to monetize effectively, but that's a discussion for another post...)
These types of bloggers not only love free stuff, but they also love to give their opinions and they always need stuff that they can write about.
Contact some of them about writing reviews of your product on their blog. You won't be paying them, but you will be providing them with free access and you may need to disclose that for legal reasons depending on where you are.
If all goes well, you will have a whole blog post that features and reviews your product, and if the review is great you can even take some quotes from it and use them as social proof on your landing page.
That blogger will also love being mentioned on your landing page, so wins all around.
3. Take On Some Clients For Case Studies
Make an offer to work with some people for a reduced rate or even for free so that you can compile case studies. These select few people will get to work with you personally closer than any other customer probably would.
Find out the difficulties they are facing and help them with those issues.
You could even use the problems that come up to further enhance your product with ways to solve those new issues. When you're done, you can compile a complete case study profiling them in their before and after states.
While this may not directly be about the offer that you will be selling in the future, it's still powerful social proof of the effectiveness of what you do and gives you credibility.
4. Create a Viral Loop
Give your audience a good reason to share, and they usually will.
Setting up a viral loop creates a magnifying effect that leads to your customers actually spreading the word for you. This is extremely powerful social proof because people trust endorsements from others that they know.
This is an easy and free way of getting your users to advertise your product for you. You can do this through the use of referral programs or affiliate programs. You can use this in all types of businesses.
Offer discounts or bonuses when a customer refers someone else.
Social proof is not a magic solution that will instantly increase your sales and leads the minute you put it up on your blog.
It's important to remember that your offer is what actually matters. Your product is what's going to convince people to part with their hard-earned cash, so make sure that it's packed full of value.
The social proof is just a way to show your prospects the value of your products and to back it up.
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Updated: Originally published July 11th 2018