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Ecommerce Guidelines: Social Proof

Guidelines 51-53

Ecommerce Best Practices » Homepage & Sitewide » Credibility » Social Proof

Joel Klettke, Business Casual Copywriting:

Social proof is immensely important for landing pages, to the point that it’s one of very few elements I’ve never seen reduce conversion rates in my own tests. Third party proof does so much at the same time — sets expectations, gives leads a comparison party to weigh themselves against, reinforces your messaging and substantiates your claims.

Cialdini defined social proof as people doing what they observe other people doing. It’s a principle that’s based upon the idea of safety in numbers.

Bottom line: Show impressive numbers. Share what other people are doing. Show off testimonials and social media followers.

We conducted a study to find out which forms of social proof are the most powerful: Social Proof Study.

Have reviews from professionals. Not just spokespeople but everyday people talking about how they like the product.

3 guidelines for ecommerce social proof:

  1. If your product has been featured or endorsed, or if you have popular clients or associations, show it off.
  2. Emphasize user-generated content like reviews and ratings.
  3. Add trust marks/badges to the header and footer. Don’t overdo it.

Guideline #51. If your product has been featured or endorsed, or if you have popular clients or associations, show it off.

There’s nothing more reassuring than being validated by others.

Cialdini defined social proof as people doing what they observe other people doing. It’s a principle that’s based upon the idea of safety in numbers. Social proof examples would include testimonials, client logos, press mentions, your ‘partners’, and ‘expert’ endorsements.

From our original research “Which Social Proof Works Best”, we found that high-profile client logos, testimonials with photos, and press mentions left the strongest impression on participants. High profile client logos were the “winner” of this study, in that they require low cognitive load while yielding high recall rates.

There are several ways to harness the power of social proof, but one of the most powerful is through so-called “wisdom-of-the-crowds” social proof: Following the same lines of the FOMO phenomenon, we want what others have.

For more, see:

  • The CXL Institute course “Social Proof” by Social Proof experienced copywriter and content strategist Joel Klettke.
  • “Social Proof Power Plays” Talk by Angie Schottmuller at CXL Live 2016

How to do it RIGHT


On a UX benchmark analysisBodybuilding.com ranked at the top with a 86% score on the UX dimension “Credibility”.

With the rating on the site everyone seems to be pretty happy with the products they are receiving which makes it less stressful for me.

User quote on Bodybuilding.com

Guideline #52. Emphasize the community with user-generated content like images, reviews and ratings.

A sense of community helps people feel welcome. “If everyone else is doing it…”. It especially helps with `design’-type products like art, crafts, and apparel.

A study by Toby Hopp & Valerie Barker in April of 2016 titled “Investigating the influence of age, social capital affinity, and flow on positive outcomes reported by e-commerce site users” found that young shoppers (think Millennials) are the age group most likely to feel a strong sense of community on ecommerce sites and are more likely to engage with these sorts of sites.

Display some sort of community on your homepage, especially if your target group is a younger crowd.

I would eventually add some more user comments and reviews as they really add value to the site.

Add user ratings to the items or some sort of review. Ifs really important. I still buy shoes in person at the store cause I need to know how they feel on my foot.

it would add some value to see user comments and ratings, it’s always good to read feedback from users.

I would compare Bass Pro to another outdoor store, like Cabelas. Cabelas is similar, but their items have more reviews on them and even a section for questions about the products that get answered fairly quickly. Kizowing others’ experiences with the products I’m thinking about buying is key. If it is a bad product, I won’t buy it.

How to do it RIGHT

Vitamin Shoppe

This page’s huge section of social interactions create a community right on the homepage. Users are sharing recipe ideas and showing each other how they use The Vitamin Shoppe’s products.

On a UX benchmark analysis, Vitamin Shoppe ranked at the top with a 73% score on the UX dimension “Credibility” .

Guideline #53. Add trust marks/badges to the header and footer.

Internet users want to feel safe sharing their private information. One of the most popular and predominant ways to convey a secure website is through the implementation of trust badges (also referred to as “trust logos” and “site seals”).

The top-trafficked sites we benchmarked are highly known and trusted, yet many still indicate that they’re a toogle trusted store’ or ‘Norton Secure’. What we typically see is that known brands don’t bother with trust seals, and unknown brands use them in some form or another.

If your audience tips towards the ‘neurotic’ side of the online shopping sliding scale, trust symbols are of extra importance.

In general, whatever you can do to increase the feeling of trust and safety on your site, you should do. Nobody wants to feel like they’re going to be ripped off, or that their personal and financial information will be unsafe.

We conducted a 2 part study on trust seals:

  • Part One: Security vs. Familiarity
  • Part Two: Online Security Perceptions

The “PayPal Verified” seal was the most trusted logo/badge tested, followed by the “Norton Secured” badge.

Below are examples of trust seal use from the unknown and less credible sites surveyed.

I can not think of anything that would improve it. It had many things that made the user experience better like paypal. Very well done site.

How to do it RIGHT


Note the footer includes four trust seals.

On a UX benchmark analysis,Hayneedle ranked with a 68% score on the UX dimension “Credibility”.

Continue to the next section:

Ecommerce Best Practices » Homepage & Sitewide » Credibility » Pop-ups & Advertising