Social proof is a psychological experience that happens when people assume the actions of others reflect the accurate behavior in that exact situation.
People who are unsure of how to act in a given situation will look to responses from others to guide their response.
Social proof is not a new concept. Testimonials in advertising and marketing have been used for decades.
However, the introduction of the Internet was essential in bringing consumers (and their feedback) together like never before.
And now, with the proliferation of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and others, access to social proof has become part of our daily lives, making it more effective.
Because consumers are heavily influenced by the actions and recommendations of others, social proof is extremely valuable for retailers that want to boost their ecommerce conversion rates.
Social proof can come in many different forms – ranging from customer reviews to industry or media awards, paid influencer endorsements, or a testimonial from a trendsetter on social media.
Why Social Proof Is Important
A company might have the best product in the world, but if no one knows about it it’s not going to sell.
This is why social proof becomes so important for retailers, particularly for those direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands that are online only.
The most trusted example of social proof is the online review.
A glowing review from a celebrity influencer can turn an unknown product or company into a trendsetting sensation overnight.
Before social media, we saw unknown products and tiny shops gain notoriety when Oprah named them on her Favorite Things list.
Today all it takes is an Instagram post from Taylor Swift or a member of the Kardashian clan to boost the presence of a fledgling retailer and place it directly in the spotlight.
The data backs it up. According to our proprietary data at Yotpo, on average 77% of online shoppers incorporate the reviews the read into their purchase decision.
Depending on the product, the influence of reviews may vary.
For example, when it comes to beauty products specifically, a Yotpo survey from earlier this year found that:
- 44.7% of women feel customer reviews are their biggest influence in deciding to make a purchase from a specific brand.
- Referrals from friends come in second at 44.5%.
In this instance, both examples of social proof outpaced:
- TV commercials (17.7%).
- Digital and social media ads (10.2%).
- Offline ads (6.8%).
More recently, Yotpo conducted a survey about fashion purchases and whopping 98% of those surveyed said authentic customer reviews are the most important factor that helps them decide if they are going to make a purchase.
In addition to customer reviews, a variety of user-generated content (UGC) from your customers can be a social proof gold mine.
To attract the customers you want and increase sales, you can use everything from:
- Customer photos and videos.
- Instagram Stories and Highlights.
- Customer communities that are fueled by loyal customers.
Here’s a rundown of the most important social proof elements to consider adding to a website, as well as examples of how some of today’s leading D2C brands are using them successfully.
1. The Customer Reviews Have It
We’ve already addressed how customer reviews may be the most critical social proof a company should use.
If a company can only start with one program, customer reviews should be it. Here’s why.
- 87% of online shoppers conduct online research before ever making a purchase.
- 61% read product reviews to gather information about the product they want to buy.
When potential customers see positive reviews and photos from past customers, they become more confident in their purchasing decision.
2. A Picture Is Worth Thousands of Dollars in Sales
Did you know that 77% of consumers believe photos from customers affect their decision to purchase more than professional photos from brands?
Showing shoppers user-generated content like photos can play a critical role in influencing product purchases.
Customers are the most authentic representation of a brand, so incorporating their photos into a website helps build trust, spark product discovery, and encourage purchase.
However, if you decide to include photos do it strategically to maximize their impact. Two tips to keep in mind as you get started:
- Take the time and care to display the right photos, in the right galleries, at the most critical points during the customer journey. A thoughtful approach about photo placement will resonate more with shoppers than if they are just inundated with photos
- Build an experience that is consistent and visually on-brand across your site. Shoppers can be sensitive to visuals that seem “out of place.” You want to draw them in, in a pleasing way, not have them leave your site wondering about your site design choices.
3. Customizable Layouts Are Cool & Can Inspire a Call-to-Action
Each page on your website serves a distinct purpose. Whether the goal is to inspire, discover, educate or transact, customer photos can boost the page’s effectiveness.
Photo layouts can be a great way to inspire shoppers. To ensure they are truly effective, they need to be designed to complement the page and reinforce its intended call-to-action (CTA).
This is where keeping the previous tips top-of-mind can be very useful because the choices seem endless.
There are a variety of photo layouts to choose from that would be enticing to customers – a clean grid, creative collage, or fanciful carousel layout are all popular.
After that, it’s all about eye appeal and functionality (i.e., size of the images and spacing), giving shoppers a way to interact with a CTA to purchase or simply clicking a heart on a product they love.
4. It Isn’t Enough to Be a Brand – Be a Storyteller
There’s no doubt that Instagram is a critical element to consider for any social proof strategy.
One of its most powerful abilities goes beyond mere images. It enables its users to create Stories and Highlights about their lives, as well as the products they purchase and love.
These two popular Instagram features provide businesses with an opportunity to feature Stories, not just photos, on their sites. The possibilities are endless.
You can choose to run Stories alongside customer reviews.
Want to do something more creative?
Showcase them in a regular “X Brand” Instagram Story feature on the site that inspires customers to create and submit their own Stories for a chance to be in the spotlight.
To date, about only 4% of brands have started to leverage Instagram stories as social proof. It’s a lost opportunity for the other 96%.
Because 300 million Instagram users interact with Stories every day. Brands are failing to leverage one of the largest growing UGC channels available.
Quip, a D2C toothbrush startup, made reviews its first category of Stories Highlights, making it nearly impossible for people to miss when browsing through their Instagram accounts.
The Stories inside collect reviews from all across social media, providing social proof that appeals to the needs of a variety of potential customers.
5. Build a Community & Customers May Stay Forever
Today’s most successful D2C brands build shared values, products, and customer experiences to appeal to their ideal customers. They leverage their audience to share thoughts with their community.
The right combination of social proof (reviews, recommendations, images and more) can lay the foundation for something more meaningful and powerful – the creation of a brand community.
Here are some steps to community creation that successful brands have used to create their loyal and engaged brand communities.
- Create a space that provides an informed source of relevant and specific feedback
- Give customers a place or forum to gather online. A sense of belonging will help form a strong emotional bond to your brand, generating loyalty, and repeat purchases.
- New customers get brand exposure from like-minded existing customers in the form of authentic word-of-mouth marketing.
Glossier, one of the fastest-growing brands in ecommerce, is one of the leading examples of how a brand can build an incredibly engaged and loyal community.
There were several building blocks that Glossier used to do this, such as:
- Tailoring their products specifically for their audience.
- Introducing a range of customer experiences that have spanned purchase.
- Sharing an unboxing moment.
- Highlighting pop-up shops.
- Sharing customer reviews and recommendations across social media channels.
By closely nurturing this community, Glossier has developed not only brand awareness but has also established itself as one of the most dominant brands in the beauty industry.
All screenshots taken by author, August 2019
The anatomy of a negative SEO attack
- SEO can just as easily destroy websites’ rankings as it can build them up.
- Newer websites or startups with smaller backlink profiles are the most vulnerable to negative SEO attacks.
- Webmasters need to regularly monitor their backlink profile to make sure their site is not keeping company with any questionable web properties.
- Negative SEO can be remediated through manual outreach or Google’s disavow tool, but high-quality link building campaigns are the best way to minimize the impact of low-quality links.
In the early days of search engine optimization, a variety of black-hat techniques allowed SEOs to dominate the first page of search. Cloaking, keyword stuffing, backlink spam, and other strategies could catapult websites to the first page. But those days are long gone. Google’s algorithms are extremely powerful and can easily result in a negative SEO attack. Not only will black-hat strategies no longer work – they will destroy your site’s rankings and even prevent your domain from ranking permanently.
So for those out there on the internet who are not interested in seeing your domain move up the first page, black hat SEO is an easy way to harm your website. Many new site owners are so eager to get any backlinks that they can, they allow low-quality links to populate their profile without ever thinking about where those links are coming from, or why those other site owners linked to them in the first place.
Negative SEO attacks are real. I’ve helped many clients recover from them. They can come from competitors, hackers, or seemingly out of nowhere, but without a quick response, a website’s reputation with search engines can be permanently harmed.
Although Google algorithm updates or technical issues with your website can impact your keyword rankings, an unexpected drop could be a sign of negative SEO. The good news is, the anatomy of a negative SEO attack is clearly recognizable. If you take quick action, you can protect your website and minimize the damage.
The websites that are most vulnerable to SEO
The reality is, every time your site moves up a spot in the SERPs, you knock another site down. It’s not fun to imagine that other people would use negative SEO to harm your efforts, but if you offer great service or product that could take business or traffic away from someone else, then your site is at risk.
Any website can experience a negative SEO attack, but local businesses and startups with less than 300 referring domains are the most vulnerable. The smaller your backlink profile, the more impactful any low-quality or unnatural links will be. If 50% of your links are spammy and you’re a brand new site, Google crawlers are going to look at your backlink profile and assume your site is trying to cheat your way to the top.
For new webmasters, in particular, it’s critical to pay close attention to every backlink you acquire. This is also true when you pay for the services of a link building company. Some site owners are hesitant to pursue link building because they have had negative experiences with SEOs in the past who engaged in these spammy techniques that ended up tearing their site down rather than building it up.
As your backlink profile grows, spammy links will not have as much of an impact on your domain authority or rankings. Still, it’s good to keep an eye on the referring domains and anchor text diversity of your backlink profile.
How to identify a negative SEO attack
There are a variety of common negative SEO techniques that people may use to harm your website. After handling negative SEO attacks with my own clients, these are the most common types I’ve come across and that I encourage webmasters to be on the lookout for.
1. Toxic backlinks
Backlinks from low-quality sites that have low domain authority, little relevance to your industry, or very little site traffic should always be suspect. If you receive a large influx of these low-quality links, they may be coming from a link farm that has the infrastructure to build a massive amount of links quickly. If you’re a new site with a large percentage of toxic links, Google will likely assume you’ve been participating in black hat manipulation.
2. Comment spam links
One way SEOs used to manipulate their site authority was by leaving backlinks in the comment section of blogs or forum sites. If you suddenly receive backlinks in the comment section of older blogs with no relevance or traffic, someone might have placed them there maliciously. If it’s an SEO agency that placed the link and you paid for it, fire them immediately. Google indexes those links in the comment section, and it will not look favorably upon your site if you have a lot of these unnatural backlinks.
3. Exact match or unnatural anchor text
Natural anchor text will most often include your brand name, the services or products your business offers, or more generic wording like, “Click Here.” If all of your anchor text has the exact keyword you’re trying to rank for, that will come across as manipulation to Google. If the anchor text is irrelevant, it will confuse Google bots about the content of your site. It’s important to pay attention to the most common ways that other sites link to yours so if new links don’t share at least some similarity, you can investigate them accordingly.
4. Fake negative reviews
Although negative reviews don’t have as drastic of an impact on your site authority as your backlink profile, Google does crawl and render those sites when considering whether to rank web pages. Local and small businesses with bad reviews, in particular, will not rank, so in addition to reviewing your backlink profile on a regular basis, site owners should also be monitoring the important review sites in their industry. Most major review sites allow you to report reviews if you have reason to believe they are fake.
There are other types of negative SEO that I haven’t listed here such as content scraping, links hidden in images, and more, but the above are very easily identified using Google Search Console or any type of backlink analyzer. Familiarizing yourself with the many ways that others may try to link to your site in a harmful way will help you be able to identify those problematic links right after they show up in your backlink profile.
How to perform negative SEO remediation
Digging yourself out of a negative SEO attack is never fun, but it can be done. If you’re being a responsible webmaster and monitoring your backlink profile regularly, you should have a solid understanding of what a healthy backlink profile for your website looks like, and will therefore be able to recognize the moment that something appears off.
If you believe that the influx of links is indeed the result of nefarious intentions, you have a few options to repair the damage, and hopefully, before Google penalizes your site. Some of these options are more expensive than others, but if you’re not an experienced webmaster, it is probably best to get the guidance of an SEO expert. If you remove the wrong links, you can end up performing negative SEO on your own website by mistake.
1. Request removal
The first step with any link is to reach out to the webmaster to ask for the link to be removed. Admittedly, this is not always successful. However, before you move on to option two, you want to make sure you have exhausted every effort to have the link removed before requesting Google to get involved. If the link was the result of comment spam, the owner of the blog may be willing to moderate or delete the comment. There have been webmasters who have charged my clients a fee to have links removed. Depending on the price you’re willing to pay, you can choose to do so or move on to other options.
2. Disavow file
In 2012, Google added the disavow tool in Google Search Console to give webmasters more agency in their off-site SEO. The reality is, no one can fully control the websites that choose to link to theirs in a harmful way, so it’s not really fair for search engines to penalize your site as a result. Google recognized this and created the disavow tool, however, they still advise site owners to use it sparingly.
A disavow file is essentially a list of links that you want invalidated on your domain, or that you don’t want Google to consider when evaluating the quality of your website. There are detailed instructions on how to submit a disavow file in the Google Search Console help center. Take note though that these links aren’t actually removed, Google just no longer takes them into consideration the next time they are crawled and indexed. If you’re using an SEO software that measures the quality of your backlink profile, you will likely have to submit the disavow file there as well if you want their metrics to accurately reflect how Google understands your site.
3. Link building campaigns
High-quality, contextual link building is different from black-hat SEO in that it uses original content to earn links on relevant, industry-specific publications. The best SEO agencies will increase site authority the right way, through techniques that are Google compliant and don’t harm your rankings in the long-term. If you are not actively trying to earn high-quality links for your website, not only are you missing out on the opportunity to improve your overall keyword rankings, you place your site in a more vulnerable position. If you pursue consistent link acquisition and build up a healthy backlink profile before a negative SEO attack occurs, you are more well-positioned to avoid a Google penalty.
It is certainly frustrating and unfair when negative SEO occurs, but there is really nothing that a webmaster can do to prevent it. So in the case of negative SEO, preparation is the best medicine. Knowing what to look for will help you be more prepared to take immediate action and minimize the damage.
Manick Bhan is the founder and CTO of LinkGraph, an award-winning digital marketing and SEO agency that provides SEO, paid media, and content marketing services. He is also the founder and CEO of SearchAtlas, a software suite of free SEO tools. You can find Manick on Twitter @madmanick.
7 changes make a big difference with your Digital Marketing Strategy
We know that the face of marketing has changed from past few years as people are more informed while making purchases, thanks to the information available online. These people become potential customers, and so companies prefer digital marketing over all other forms of marketing.
We know that the face of marketing has changed from past few years as people are more informed while making purchases, thanks to the information available online. These people become potential customers, and so companies prefer digital marketing over all other forms of marketing. Businesses need a robust digital marketing strategy since they are not harnessing the full power of this online trend. For companies to be successful in 2020, digital marketing needs to be more than just posting on Facebook. They will need to improve their existing digital marketing continually.
2020-State of Digital Marketing
Online and digital media has changed – it is no longer a world of random things and what is hot now may change later. However, there are a few simple facts that we need to consider your general digital marketing efforts:
Newcomers will enter, but there will not be new social networks every other day.
Digital marketing strategy should rely on current and upcoming new data.
Why you need a robust digital marketing strategy
It will help you focus and come up with a plan to determine how many followers you want and by how much you need to increase the conversion rate
A strategy will inspire you to get your digital marketing game healthy and be in competition.
A well-written plan will regularly check in on your current methods and see if they are working as per plan. You can optimise and adapt accordingly.
A digital marketing strategy will limit the duplication of content or resources.
It will help you experiment with new approaches to gain and keep customers.
By creating a strategy, you will be able to understand what your customers want and provide services accordingly.
Let us discuss in detail some changes that can make a big difference to your Digital Marketing strategy in 2020
1) Plan new SEO friendly content
One of the best ways of improving SEO is to create new content regularly. The content should be mapped to relevant keywords . Include an SEO friendly title that will directly impact the quality score and ranking. You need to ensure that the material consists of researched keywords in the first 100 words of an article to follow best practices and get credit for your business.
2) Revamp your social media presence
One way to engage your audience and refresh your social media presence is to leverage the trends and bring your brand’s personality to life. We can do it in the following ways
Evaluate your content and ask yourself these questions: How is it different? What engaging content can I create?
Moreover, start conversations with influencers, research for relevant topics and provide insight on articles concerning your brand.
With social media, you can keep on trying to get the best content mix, and with platformance analytics, you can understand the what is working and what is not.
3) AdWords and Content Shock
AdWords is one of the most effective methods of online advertising since the business of all sizes can use it to increase leads and customers. With AdWords, you can spend less and still understand how your audience is searching. AdWords is similar to SEO which takes time to evolve your keyword research and strategy to yield results. Google will reward you with an increase in leads to your site if you stick to it. When the creation and distribution of content are costly than the ROI it generates, it is known as Content Shock. It becomes a great asset for small players since they don’t reach the big numbers from the start. Hence, it becomes the tremendous start for small players as they do not need to scale up their digital marketing strategy.
4) Use Analytics to inform A/B testing
Analytics drives digital strategy, and one of the most important things to do with analytics is to engage in A/B testing. You can use the incoming data to apply A/B testing strategy. Finally, A/B testing is the best way to understand your customers. Resources like Google Analytics, Social Media and AdWords, are the best way to improve your digital efforts.
5) Understand the changing environment
Your biggest enemy when it comes to digital marketing is complacency. Due to changing consumer views, marketers need to identify obsolete strategies and adjust accordingly. The brand now focuses on providing content when the user needs it instead of creating content hoping users will need it. This approach requires a strategy. For a full proof strategy in 2020, marketers need to focus on three main elements: Artificial Intelligence, Social Media and Customer. If you look closely at these elements, they influence all the trends like augmented reality, influencer analytics, video marketing, personalisation, native advertising and content marketing.
6) Encourage personalised interactions
Based on a report, 73% of customers will do business with your company if you provide a customised experience. Personalising your communication helps to engage with your customers. Sending personalised emails, modifying templates, using recipient’s name, personally responding on social media and segmenting the email list based on persona are a few ways that can work very well.
7) Build your network
Try to gain information and experience of others in your field. By building your network, you can predict and work as per changing times. The network will help you prepare for challenges in future.
Your 2020 Digital Marketing strategy needs to be like the playbook which is tailored to the team and team’s competition. A simple principle in the digital world is if you don’t establish a baseline of where your company stands concerning the competitors, you will have no idea of the areas you would need to focus on beating them. Your company will really benefit if you make little changes in your digital marketing strategy by keeping track of upcoming trends and changes in the environment. If this seems like a lot, give VajraGlobal a call.
Why SEO is important for your online success?
A famous saying about SEO is, ‘Google only loves you when everyone else loves you first’. There are some SEO importance statistics which resonates the same.
A famous saying about SEO is, ‘Google only loves you when everyone else loves you first’. There are some SEO importance statistics which resonates the same. According to a popular report, about 93% of online experiences commence with the search engine. But even then, for a lot of people, SEO is an afterthought, which should not be the case. Instead, SEO is the base, unlike a mere topping on the pizza. Whether you are looking at the importance of SEO for small businesses or a bigger business, the rule of the thumb is to have an SEO strategy right at the beginning. The reason is SEO is all about improving user experience. While you design your SEO strategy, do not forget that search engines measure the overall user experience and decide whether a particular site can go up the search results.
What is SEO?
Before you understand the importance of SEO for small businesses and all the hype that is created around SEO, you would like to understand more about SEO, right. Let us see if we can develop a fair idea about SEO and the important SEO factors.
Search Engine Optimization or SEO is the method of optimizing your content so that a search engine likely shows it up as a top rank after users search for a specific keyword. As per Neil Patel, SEO is that magic that you must perform on your content so that Google includes it as one of the top results when someone performs a keyword search. The SEO importance statistics are enough to highlight the essence of SEO to survive in an online venture.
Why SEO is Important for Online Success?
Now that we have a fair idea about SEO let us understand why SEO is important for online success? In simple words, amateurs might say that it offers greater searchability and visibility, but the truth is it provides a lot more value than that.
SEO helps to get targeted visitors: Among important SEO factors, bringing in targeted prospects plays a critical role. With SEO, you can attract the exact audience you are looking at. Along with apt keywords, quality content, and good backlinks, SEO helps bring in the target audience to your website. The chances of conversion are higher.
Good SEO also ensures a better user experience: Most often, it is seen that businesses want more visibility and higher rankings, but they forget about optimal user experience. Google, which holds a 75% market share in the search engine market, can differentiate between a good and bad user experience. When you invest in quality SEO, you are investing in good user experience.
SEO impacts the buying cycle: The importance of SEO for small businesses is that it affects the buying cycle. With good SEO, you can convey your messages about the great deals that you are offering to your customers or the uniqueness of the products or services that you are selling to your customers. If done right, it can have a positive impact on the entire buying cycle, thereby contributing to the online success of a business.
SEO is cost-effective: Running a business in itself is a costly affair. To add salt to the wound, marketing costs add to the daily expenses. However, if you are thinking to stretch your marketing costs a bit, then SEO is the economic way to go about it. SEO is a long-term strategy wherein you will get the results after investing the time and effort.
SEO builds brand awareness: If you are looking at brand building, then SEO has a crucial role to play. One SEO importance statistics : 33% of the average visitors share the first organic search result that Google brings. Few go to the second and from then the numbers dwindle. Ranking high on the search engine helps you build a brand amongst your customers as well as competitors.
Are you still wondering if SEO is essential for online success? If you are, then the answer is, yes it is, Period! People need to find you first to buy your product or services, right?
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