A better way to use social proof notifications on your website

October 21, 2019

Many websites these days add social proof notifications with the intent to boost their overall conversion. The surge in demand has sparked a rise in many social proof notifications vendors starting to appear in this space. Unfortunately, many of them are blatant clones and doesn't really bring anything new to the table (except perhaps for a lower price point).

What's lacking in social proof notifications that we see today?

Skipping the point of being an annoyance to consumers (since it heavily depends on one's implementation), social proof notifications today aren't exactly trustworthy.

Measured and verified by the social proof vendor

Here's an example I've crafted showing how most social proof notifications look like today. While it looks good in my eyes (Can't possibly trash my own design work :p), I'm not entirely convinced with how reliable the claim stats are. Which brings me to my next point.

Are there social proof vendors that allow you to "fake" stats?

The answer is Yes. Unfortunately, if you allow users to input their own stats, a small number of dishonest users will abuse the system and use it to create fake scarcity. Given the resemblance in designs for social proof widgets these days, I wouldn't be surprised if the effectiveness of social proof notifications starts to plummet when consumers start to doubt the trustworthiness of these notifications.

One example of a social proof vendor that allows you to add custom notifications is Beeketing. If you don't know, Beeketing is one of the most popular apps on Shopify's App Store before being ban from Shopify. Essentially, Beeketing provides store owners with an interface to easily add custom notifications with any customer information they fill in. There are no measurements or verification involved to ensure the authenticity data.

While I don't think Beeketing has any ill intent when they build this feature, it only takes a few dishonest users to make Shopify realize that they need to step in to protect the end consumers from misleading advertisements. Here's a more detailed account of the whole Beeketing X Shopify incident.

Here's an interesting thing. After their not-so-amiable departure from Shopify, the folks from Beeketing came up with Shopbase, an e-commerce platform that unsurprisingly, competes against Shopify.

Verifying facts is hard

In reality, verifying facts is hard. The way most Fintech companies and Facebook does to verify a person or business is to require them to upload a unique identification document. And this process may require tons of manual work for the whole approval process. For claimed social proofs like "Bob just bought Batman T-Shirt 5 mins ago", it may be better to prevent businesses from adding their own custom notification.

When it comes to persuasion marketing, trust and credibility are the fundamentals. If your user doesn't trust your business practices, you can forget about everything else.

How can we make social proof notifications more trustworthy?

1) Display evidence of social proofs whenever you can.

View Reviews goes to the actual Facebook listing

This is the best way to verify any social proof notifications. When you make a statement that you are rated 4 from 72 reviews on Facebook, the best way to build trust upon this social proof is to provide a direct link to the actual Facebook listing.

2) Use authority platforms for measurements

What does Verified by OnVoard means? How is it being verified?

One problem with "Verified" data from many existing social proof notifications is that they're generally measured and verified by the social proof vendor themselves. The problem here is that the social proof vendor being paid by businesses isn't the most reliable source when it comes to measurements or verification of facts.

Instead of having the social proof vendor to measure and verify the facts, a better approach would be to tap into existing platforms that businesses are already using.

Powered by OnVoard with Data from Google Analytics

What do I mean? Businesses, in general, are already using authority platforms like Google Analytics, Stripe, and Shopify that provide some sort of social proof stats. For example:

  • Page views from Google Analytics
  • Number of sign-ups (conversions) from Google Analytics
  • Number of sales and customers from Stripe
  • Number of sales and customers from Shopify

This approach means that the social proof vendor's responsibility would be to serve the notifications and fetch data directly from authority platforms. Since there's a clarity that social proof stats derive from an authority platform, social proof notifications would be more trustworthy to the consumer. It's not a foolproof solution, but it's much better than having the social proof vendor act as the arbiter of truth.

Free Social Proof Tool

At OnVoard, we know that social proof notifications can be much better than what we're seeing today. I think we can help small businesses to improve their conversion rates with more credible social proof notifications. This is why we're making our flagship social proof tool, Notifiers, available for free with no limits or charges.

If you like our approach for social proof notification, then check out OnVoard Notifiers.

Persuasion Marketing used in this article

Reciprocity Principle
By giving away our social proof tool for free and help users to grow their business, they may be happy to recommend OnVoard to their friends or write up about us.
Commitment & Consistency
Getting users to make an initial small commitment to use OnVoard paves the way for them to try OnVoard's other products.

Search Pivot