Social proof is a psychological phenomenon where people conform to the actions of others based on an assumption that it is the correct behaviour. Marketers use social proof to increase conversion rates by easing the minds of customers who may be worried about their purchase, reinforcing subliminally that they are making a socially acceptable, desirable action.
Social proof is all around us and occurs every day, you have probably just not noticed it in the offline world.
Restaurants: Have you ever noticed they do not have much waiting space in the front reception for customers? Ever notice how often you have to wait outside for your table? Anyone passing by will think “wow, that restaurant must be good. I will go there later on”.
Exclusive clubs: Ever notice how the high-end golf clubs and country clubs have memberships that are always waitlisted? The truth is, most often they do have space for more members but a waitlist makes them appear more in demand, increasing the subconscious desire of customers to be involved and allows them to demand higher prices.
Using Social Proof Online to Increase Online Bookings:
So, how do we use it to increase your bookings? Below are 8 key ways to implement social proof into your business online, some of which involve building on your already established social assets and others may be new tools for your marketing toolkit.
1. Online Reviews on widely recognised review sites e.g. TripAdvisor, Facebook, Google
Online reviews on sites such as TripAdvisor, Facebook and Google are absolutely vital to improve your social proof. The average person will Google the various places they want to see to find out who will do tours there. Then they will go to the Tour company’s sites and look at sites like Tour Radar and Facebook to determine whether the Tour Company has good reviews. The use of external sites such as Trip Advisor and Tour Radar gives the review much more legitimacy than a five-star rating on a company’s own website and customers are much more inclined to take a tour if a company has active positive reviews on multiple external sites for this reason.
According to research by Nielsen, 92% of people will trust recommendations from their peers and 72% will trust recommendations from people they do not know. Think about the big brands like Amazon and co, they always have testimonials for their products and their services. A testimonial about a trip taken or even just about the payment process and advice offered all help to increase the social proof by demonstrating the reliability and authenticity to potential customers.
More importantly is the use of video testimonials to give that “real” feel and enable prospective customers to see what they will experience. Video is a very important medium as it connects the emotion to the customer, but make sure you use high-quality equipment to ensure the experience is captured in the best possible light. It is worth the investment to pay a professional the first time around so you can get a feel for how they ensure social proof via video testimonials.
3. Celebrity & Influencer Endorsements
Have you ever had someone well-known use your tour company? Turn them into an endorsement for your company by getting their permission to use their image and a short blurb about why holidaymakers should come to you. These days social media plays a huge role in creating and enforcing social proof. Social media influencers with large followings from your target market on Instagram or Facebook have the ability to promote your tour, company and team just through their own experience on the tour.
So next time you see someone on your tour taking yet another selfie, remember, they could well be providing you with your next customers!! You might even consider hunting out social influencers and cooperating with them to get some exciting content out there about your tours.
4. Media Mentions
This one is very straightforward and quite a common way to build social proof online. Utilise those contacts that you do have to generate some air time, this can be a magazine feature, blog post, TV interview, review or similar. Then place this media mention prominently on your website as a stand-alone section, alternatively a less aggressive way of utilizing this is by using the logo of the media service that your company has been mentioned on, place it at the bottom of your page ensuring that subliminally customers feel they can trust your tour company by association.
5. Ratings and Reviews on Individual Tour Pages
Did you know that 63% of consumers are more willing to purchase if there is a rating or a review on the website? A simple star rating can make a world of difference to the conversion rates and add extra credibility to the rating
Getting detailed reviews for specific individual tour packages which enable customers to get a sense for exactly what they can expect when they take that tour. Having reviews for all of the specific tours allows customers to pick and choose what might suit them best and ensures increased social proof for each tour that is run.
6. Social Media and Online Review Widgets
As social media is becoming more mainstream, brands are increasingly using social media statuses as prime examples of social media proof. As a customer, it cannot be more authentic and realistic than a real person providing a comment on the tour company and their experience with them. For instance, a Facebook or Trip Advisor widget can be placed on your page to display real-time conversations about your company and how exciting it is to travel with you.
7. Real-time Stats
If you have a large number of people booking at once or have real-time stats of how many people have booked your tours and where they’re from, or if you have consistent bookings, adding a widget that displays when the last tour was booked and where the customer was from is a great way to demonstrate social proof and encourage visitors to purchase. Additionally, this will increase the legitimacy of your business as people like to know that their peers are using this company.
As a tour company finding ways to increase your social proof online can help you achieve huge results. These different methods of social proof can be used as a stand-alone or can be integrated all together in an online marketing plan to ensure that you have lots of compounding social proof. I recommend that all are fused together as each reinforces and builds upon the other. When people see social proof from a number of sources it builds up huge credibility, as they believe that hundreds of people on different channels can’t be wrong. That’s what helps them make that decision to book. I assure you if you can effectively grow social proof in all of these areas your direct bookings will increase.