Social Proof Alternatives

Word of mouth is, without question, one of the most powerful marketing tools known to humankind. In fact, it can be argued it is the absolute most powerful. This is a particularly useful device in ecommerce, as shoppers are considering products they may have yet to see in person. On the other hand, if your ecommerce business is a startup and you have yet to generate a customer base, you’re at something of a disadvantage in this regard. 

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However, leveraging the following social proof alternatives can infuse your business with an air of respectability, which will serve a similar function until true social proof can be obtained.

Third Party Certification

One of the biggest concerns most shoppers have about ecommerce is security. They want to know their personally identifiable information will be kept safe if it is shared with an online retailer.

Patrons want to feel confident their credit card numbers can be transferred from their devices to your hosting service without being intercepted by unscrupulous people who would hijack their good names. Certifications from respected organizations like McAfee Secure, PayPal, VeriSign and the Better Business Bureau go a long way toward assuring shoppers you’ve done the groundwork needed to keep their finances safe—and that you won’t rip them off.

To this end, you should also make every effort to radiate credibility in the look and feel of your site. Companies like Shopify offer premium web templates with a professional look for a minimum cash outlay.

Borrow Another Company’s Proof

Whatever your product line, there is likely to be a more established company offering complementary products.

In other words, they don’t have the exact same products you carry, but they’re a natural fit for your business. For example, if you’re specializing in toys, find someone offering children’s clothing that’s well known for their reputability.

The glow of their aura will enhance your appearance if you’re partnering with them in your advertising and marketing efforts. Shoppers will assume they can count on you when you appear to have the trust of a store in which they already have confidence.

Establish Your Authority
One of the fastest ways to become recognized as an authority is to publish content surrounding issues (both positive and negative) in your business. Contributing regularly to forums and social media pages dedicated to your area of expertise will get you known as well.

Another way to earn recognition is to interview people who are already acknowledged authorities. Run those interviews on your blog site and link to them in social media. Do this regularly, people will notice your consistency and look to you as someone to rely upon too.

Third Party Endorsements

Another way to borrow a trusted company’s proof is to get them to give you a shout-out on their site. Going back to our toy store example, you can approach child-oriented sites respected for other aspects of caring for children and ask to be their recommended toy seller.

Offer them the same courtesy in exchange. When they agree, run their logos on your site, linking back to theirs, in exchange for them doing the same for you. This will get your name in front of people who may be hearing of you for the first time, giving the impression a site they already trust is endorsing yours.

These social proof alternatives will help you build your reputation while you work to reach critical mass. As your customer base grows, you can then solicit actual proof from people who have bought products from you and had a good experience. This, in turn, burnish your reputation even more.

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