This is the fourth post in our series of the five most important elements that every landing page should have in order to make conversions. I highly recommend you to check the whole series so you have the full picture (links at the end of the post). In the meantime let's focus on our new topic: the "Social Proof."

So what is this social proof thing? If you go back to that first post you will see we defined it as:

"Positive reinforcement from the masses. Or just from authoritative voices, or even regular people you can relate to. Social proof is a nice way to add credibility to your offer because somebody else has benefited from it before and is willing to share his or her opinion on it."

As usual (but not always), the Wikipedia has a more formal definition, straight from the psychology textbook:

"Social proof, also known as informational social influence, is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation. This effect is prominent in ambiguous social situations where people are unable to determine the appropriate mode of behavior, and is driven by the assumption that surrounding people possess more knowledge about the situation."

In a nutshell, others can influence your decisions. You might look for hints from other people in order to tell right from wrong.

But now, how does this all fit into your landing page? Read that first definition above again. The key is in the "adding credibility to your offer" bit. No matter what you're offering on your landing page, if you add social proof elements to it there's a good chance your conversions will increase.

And then, what are these social proof elements and how can we add them to our landing page designs? You're in the right place to find out.

The Types Of Social Proof

Depending on who you ask, you might get different categories or classifications when it comes to the types of social proofs you can find and/or use on the web. Most experts talk about five. But from our experience here at Landings.io we can say for sure there are actually seven types of social proof:

  1. Testimonials
  2. Numbers: Sales / Users / Downloads
  3. User Reviews
  4. Social Media Stats
  5. Case Studies
  6. Media Mentions
  7. Embedded Social Media Posts

Let's go one for one and see what each of these types of proof hold for us inbound marketers.

Testimonials

This is perhaps the single most widely used element of social proof in landing pages. Testimonials let you add first-hand opinions about your product from people who have used it and have something nice to say about their experience.

Testimonials are a very direct way of social proof. Ideally, they should feature not only the testimonial itself, but also the name and picture of the client or user. Sometimes, pictures are skipped, but it is always a good idea to give a face to the words, for added credibility.

Check out this excellent example of social proof in action from the page of design collaboration and utility app Avocode:

What's in play here? The "expert social proof", as explained over at Tech Crunch:

"Approval from a credible expert, like a magazine or blogger, can have incredible digital influence."

Avocode includes six short testimonials from people working in important companies like Google, Codepen and Toptal, complete with their names, head shots and links to their Twitter pages. Brilliant, if you ask us.

Another page with great testimonials as social proof is Shopify:

Here we have testimonials from users, not necessarily industry experts, but with enough credentials to lend a level of trustworthiness to Shopify's offer: if they have managed to run successful online stores, you can do the same. That's "informational social influence" for you!

Testimonials are so widely used in landing pages all over the web because they're easy to relate to, they're quick to read and—ideally—get the point across in a format that can be easily implemented in any landing page design.

Numbers of Sales, Users & Downloads

Numbers tell a lot of stories and, in the case of social proof, we can harness their magic and make it work for us.

And it's really simple and logical: the more sales or users or downloads a product has, the better it must be, right? Right? Well, every now and then something shoddy might slip by, but even then, social proof itself steps in, as we'll see in the next item on our list.

See how Basecamp does it below:

The number is impressive: 15 million users! And as you can see, it's not only the number, they also use two additional elements of social proof: a mention and link to a case study and the inclusion of quite a few company logos, meaning they have really high-profile users such as NASA, National Geographic and Nike, among others.

Mentioning your important clients, if you have them, is another way to boost credibility for your product or service. That's exactly what Jobvite does in their homepage:

Let's go back to Shopify for a third and final example. The first thing you see upon reaching their homepage is nice hero shot of a shop owner, Corrine Anestopoulos, from BIKO Jewellery. And just below their lead-gen, email-capturing form with CTA, you can see the number of users: over 165,000. Give it a look:

If you have numbers, don't be shy. Add them to your landing or home pages and enjoy the extra layer of social proof. One word of caution, though: if you're just starting out and your numbers are nothing to write home about yet, wait till you have better traction. No numbers can be better than low ones in this case.

User Reviews

The social proof item favored by online shopping sites, user reviews can make or break a product sale by the sheer power of consumer opinions.

Amazon might have, quite possibly, the most-read user reviews of any online retailer. There's a whole ecosystem surrounding their user reviews with some really successful products featuring thousands of them.

For landing page purposes, you can pretty much turn user reviews into testimonials if you want, but, for the most part, if you're selling your products through online retailers with user review features, you don't really have control over what the users might post. Anyway, these types of reviews from buyers are a perfect satisfaction meter and can lead you in the way to product improvement.

Social Media Stats

Here is where social proof meets social media and the result is: more numbers!

The amount of followers on your social media outlets (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, etc.) is a metric that could help you prove just how popular your product and/or service is.

Also, the number of social shares of your product, page or content can add an extra layer of recognition. After all, if it's being shared it's because people deem it worthy enough of being talked about. It must be good.

Share counts are an integral part of sites like Mashable. Counters and social buttons like the one below are on top of every single article on their site:

Shares can also be broken down by social network, as the buttons on Wordstream attest:

In the case of landing pages you might want to test whether or not to add social buttons: ideally, the only clickable item of your landing page should be the call-to-action button; any other links on your landing page might lead your visitors away on a non-return trip to Bouncelandia. You don't want that.

Case Studies

You can think of case studies as "turbo-charged testimonials", providing in-depth stories about how your product or service actually solved a problem, added value or created an opportunity for your client.

Case studies might be fashioned in a number of ways, including data-heavy reports, interviews, or storytelling, blog-like, posts.

Check out what the e-learning site Codecademy has done with their "Codecademy Stories":

From there you can click on any of the stories to read the full case studies, each containing valuable experiences and insights that prove just how useful Codecademy can be for its users. These are actual success stories that might serve as an inspiration for budding coders out there. Again, if the people in these stories did it, you can do it too.

Media Mentions

Getting media attention can be a powerful booster for conversions and sales. A carefully placed media mention on your site provides a higher level of credibility, which, once again, is what you're after by using social proof elements.

These mentions can be used as excerpts from media reviews, such as the one featured on the Highrise website, straight from The Washington Post:

Previously mentioned social recruting platform Jobvite features as much as twelve important media outlets where their website has been mentioned, including names such as Reuters, CNN Money and The Wall Street Journal:

This kind of media endorsement is extremely valuable and should not be overlooked. Logo badges like the ones above can be safely added to a landing page for extra social proof, giving your prospective leads a much needed assurance when clicking on that big, shiny CTA of yours.

Embedded Social Media Posts

This last social proof element in our list also touches on the social media world. But this time, instead of showing stats, you show the real deal, the action.

If you have a healthy Twitter timeline or Facebook wall you can embed them on your homepage to gain new followers and/or likes, or to feature positive mentions of your product.

Check out how cloud-based application hosting service Openshift implements not only testimonials, but also embedded tweets on its homepage, for a double-barrelled social proof:

You can pick whether to embed full timelines or just hashtags, mentions, or specifically curated tweets—just be careful nothing nasty slips by. There are just too many trolls and spammers on Twitter, so filter your posts accordingly.

How To Add Your Social Proof

Since our main focus here is with landing pages, not all types of social proof necessarily apply here. As a rule of thumb, landing pages should not include any clickable elements other than CTA buttons. Items like social buttons, embedded social posts or links to case studies can take your visitors away from your landing page, killing the conversion potential.

Therefore, the recommended elements of social proofs for landing pages are testimonials and media mentions, when available. Numbers of clients, users, and/or downloads can also be used, as long as they're not links to anywhere else.

Closing Thoughts

We included the whole gamut of social proof types because, hey, knowledge is power! But remember to keep things simple, engaging, and to the point on your landing pages.

As we mentioned above, testimonials are the preferred type of social proof for landing pages, anything that won't send your prospects away. But as with everything else, don't forget to test, test, and then test some more before coming to your own conclusions.

What about you? What kind of social proof item have you used? Which one has yielded the best results? Let us know in the comments! And please, don't forget to check the rest of the series of posts: