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5 Ways Social Proof Can Increase SaaS Conversion Rates

By Ryan Law on Wed, Nov 11, 2015

In the fight against low conversion rates, there's an incredibly powerful (and often overlooked) tool at the disposal of your SaaS business: social proof

Today, I'm looking at 5 types of social proof you can use to foster trust, improve conversion rates, and generate more leads. 

The Problem of Conversion

Any website conversion, be it a free trial offer, a demo request or a whitepaper download, relies on a single principle: trust. 

Before a visitor will part with their contact details and personal information, they need to trust your business. They need to know that their data is safe and secure, and won't be sold on, or added to a spam-ridden mailing list; and they need to trust that your offer is relevant to their problems, and capable of solving them.

But there's a catch. Your website visitors aren't familiar with your business. They've never interacted with you before, and they can't vouch for the relevance or legitimacy of your offer. Chances are, when they reach your landing page, they're more likely to hit the Back button instead of Submit.

So how can we foster that trust?

The Power of Social Proof

Social proof refers to our innate psychological tendency to use the knowledge of others to inform our own decisions. It's a shortcut we take to deal with the world around us:

"In a world full of millions of competing choices, our subconscious is trained to take shortcuts in the decision-making process. Instead of wasting hours researching each and every minute decision, we trust the decisions of our peers and social networks."

5 Essential Types of Social Proof (and the Psychology Behind Them)

In other words, we're more inclined to trust something (be it a person, business or landing page offer) if other people trust it.

This reliance on social proof affords us some powerful tools in the struggle to earn trust; and by incorporating testimonials, reviews, endorsements and more into our website and landing pages, we can dramatically improve our SaaS conversion rates

1) Testimonials and Reviews

Testimonials and reviews are designed to offer a direct and reassuring answer to your visitor's most pressing question: "Will I be happy with this offer?"

They offer an objective, third-party perspective on the quality of your offer, and by choosing testimonials from customers and users that are reflective of your target audience, you can also emphasise the relevance of your offer.

This helps visitors to think: 'Hey, that guy/gal has the same role/interests as me. If this free trial/eBook was helpful for them, it should be helpful for me.'

To improve the efficacy of testimonials and reviews:

  • Ditch stock photos, and opt for real photos of real customers.
  • Boost testimonial credibility by referencing the customer's role and company. 
  • Convey relevance by choosing testimonials from people that match your buyer persona.

2) Social Share Statistics

Social share statistics offer a quick and effective way of aggregating a ton of social proof into one place.

With an active and engaged social media following, it's relatively easy to promote a free resource or download, and accumulate a ton of Likes, Tweets and shares. Each share is a small vote of confidence for your offer, and together, they can help impart a sense of urgency - encouraging visitors to get the offer, just to avoid missing out. 

3) Embedded Social Media Shares

Sometimes your landing page offers and free downloads will get a great write-up from a Twitter user, or a LinkedIn connection. 

By embedding these positive comments directly in your landing pages, you can create a piece of honest social proof; all the more authentic because it's quoted verbatim, and taken directly from social media.

4) Endorsements

Endorsements from an industry's thought leaders and influential figures are worth their weight in gold.

The more popular the endorser, the greater the likelihood of your visitors recognising them, and the greater the chances of lending crucial credence and authority to your offer through the virtue of association.

5) Referrals

Social proof from strangers is powerful, but social proof from friends is even better.

Referrals from existing users are invaluable for driving the growth of your SaaS company; and visitors that end up on a landing page from am existing user's referral will stand a great chance of conversion.

Social Proof to Avoid

1) Low Social Share Statistics

Social proof can work both ways, and promoting a landing page offer with 0 shares and 0 tweets can actually reduce conversion rates. In this instance, it's better to promote no social proof instead of low social proof.

2) Irrelevant Testimonials

Testimonials are most effective when a visitor can empathise with the featured author, thanks to a psychological phenomenon known as implicit egotism. 

Unfortunately, testimonials from people dissimilar to the visitor can have a negative effect, as they send the message that the offer is only relevant to the type of person featured in the testimonial - and not the visitor.

3) Security Seals

Some businesses choose to promote security seals across their website and landing pages, in the hope of reassuring visitors that their personal information is safe and secure.

However, the effects of security seals aren't always positive. In some instances, security seals can create anxiety and skepticism in visitors that weren't previously concerned about security, worsening conversion rates in the process. 

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