“The word of your customer will always be more powerful than your word as an employee because customers have nothing to gain from promoting you.”
What sways you most when shopping online: The product description or the customer reviews under it?
Be honest. It’s reviews, right?
Right, because 94% of people are more likely to purchase from a business that has real customer reviews. And, 79% of those people trust a customer review as much as a recommendation from their own family and friends.
It’s called social proof, but it doesn’t mean good reviews are your only source of it.
Today, I’m sharing 10 ways you can bake social proof into your emails and start swayin’ the masses.
What is Social Proof?
Social proof was first explained in the 1980s by psychologist Robert Cialdini. It means when we are uncertain about a decision or how to behave, we look to those around us for guidance.
It applies to all aspects of human behavior. If you’re visiting a new country for the first time and eating an unfamiliar dish at dinner, you look around to see how others are eating it. You want to fit in.
The same is true of social proof in marketing. We want assurance that buying the item or service is the right decision.
If you can earn your customer’s trust enough that they feel reassured, they’ll buy. Simple.
Here’s how to apply this psychological principle in real life…
10 Ways to Effectively Use Social Proof in Email Marketing
1. Highlight real customer reviews
Remember how 94% of consumers purchase from businesses with positive reviews? So, add them into your emails.
You can include one or two, or create an entire email centred around the results your customers have experienced.
Skincare company Truly did exactly that, complete with before and after customer photos:
Source: My inbox
What if you don’t have many reviews?
AMP for Email to the rescue.
With AMP for Email, you can get up to 257% more reviews from your customers on autopilot. Ask for a review or have users complete a survey right from their inbox.
Dyspatch’s Apps in Email editor has an easy drag-and-drop block that allows you to build interactive forms users can fill out instantly. It’s super simple to up your social proof in no time.
2. Quantify your popularity
Okay, the phrase “quantify your popularity” sounds fancy, but all I mean here is use real numbers.
Don’t say your promotion is selling out fast, or you have limited stock. Be specific! Use real numbers to convey that lots of people have bought your product.
Fabletics does this in two ways:
- Specifying a percentage claimed.
- Saying they only made 200 total kits to purchase.
This is a clever way of being (sort of) specific since they’re only percentages. But, it still implies these items are popular and since so many others are buying them, you’ll probably like them, too.
Plus, they’ve added a sense of urgency by specifying the limited number of kits made.
This is easy to do with AMP for Email, too. Since AMP emails use live data, you can display the specific quantity left in stock when a person opens your email. And if something sells out, an AMP email will swap in another item, so you never lose a sales opportunity.
Yes, even if you’ve already sent out the email. It’s kind of magical that way.
3. Feature user generated content
The theory behind social proof is “show, don’t tell,” after all.
Spend less time whipping up clever email copy and more time interviewing your customers and scouring social media for their posts about you. Ninety percent of people say user-generated content persuades them to purchase — more so than any other type of promotional content.
Here are a few ideas for getting more user generated content:
- Run a contest asking people to submit a testimonial, photo, or other content that makes sense for your product.
- Use social listening tools to find organic social media content and ask customers for permission to share it.
- Just straight up ask! Put the call out on social media or via email and ask your loyal customer base for what you need in exchange for a shoutout or free swag.
West Elm curated themed customer snaps for this email, as well as featuring their hashtag to encourage others to share their photos.
This strategy works for companies in all kinds of industries.
Like printing company Moo, who listed a few creative uses for business cards in this email, featuring real examples from their customers.
4. Showcase expert endorsements
This one is especially powerful for B2B companies. Having an industry expert endorse you is like getting into Oprah’s book club.
It lends credibility to your product and company and can help get your name out there.
This testimonial for OptinMonster holds a lot of weight since it’s from the founder of Yoast, one of the most well-known WordPress plugins. While it isn’t in an email, the company could easily include it in their campaigns.
5. Get in on influencer marketing
Influencer marketing can get a bad rap, but it’s much more than carefully posed, poolside selfies holding a can of iced tea.
Well-chosen influencers for B2B or B2C brands can do a lot for your reputation and sales. The current estimate of influencer marketing ROI is five dollars for every dollar spent.
And, the global market value of influencer marketing doubled from 2019 to 2020 — it’s now worth over $13.8 billion in 2021.
There are multiple ways to use influencer marketing:
- Hire social media influencers to review your product.
- Hire a celebrity influencer.
- Create a PR team of long-term influencers, brand ambassadors, or brand evangelists to promote you.
While the primary platform for influencer marketing is usually social media, you can feature this type of content in your emails, too.
For most B2C brands, Instagram or TikTok are the go-to platforms. For B2B, it’s often YouTube or LinkedIn. Of course, it depends on the industry.
Thomas Frank’s video for Notion, which has over one million views, is a good example of a typical SaaS YouTube sponsorship. Notion has no doubt leveraged this video or partnership in their email campaigns. (And if they haven’t yet, they should!)
6. Partner with other brands
Partnering with other brands is a win-win for both parties. You each get exposure to the other’s audience, and likely, this won’t cost anything except time.
You could partner with companies who offer complementary products or services to you. For example, a photography studio partnering with a print company or an email production platform partnering with an email service provider.
Partnering up with companies you already work with is the easiest and most logical approach. This often applies to software companies — especially if your product integrates with others.
A common B2C example is a credit card you can use to earn rewards at a particular retailer, such as Amazon’s partnership with American Express.
For B2B brands, you might host a webinar with one of your technology partners. This is a great way to cross-market to an audience that will likely be interested in your product, too.
Here’s an example of a co-branded webinar from Asana and Stance.
This email example links out to a sign-up page, but with Dyspatch’s Apps in Email you could handle booking right inside the email. Using dynamic content, recipients can choose a time slot (if applicable), register, and even pay for a ticket without leaving their inbox.
Using fast, frictionless AMP emails for your webinar or event invitations can increase bookings by up to 87%.
7. Share case studies
Did that last sentence leave an impression? If so, I’m guessing it’s the number that stood out to you. The statistic. The cold, hard fact.
You can’t argue with facts, and that’s exactly why case studies work so well. They showcase the measurable results your product or service achieved for a client.
For B2C brands, these are often “before and after” photos. For B2B brands, you’ll want to go in depth about the problem solved, the solution, and the results.
This example from MetaLab is a perfect B2B case study email because it:
- Name drops the client right away (Headspace).
- Explains the project.
- Lists a compelling statistic as a teaser.
8. Highlight media mentions
Got some good press? Tell the world! Media features build trust with your audience, because again, it’s not you talking about yourself.
Remember Dave’s quote from the beginning of this article? People expect you to say you’re the best since your paycheck depends on it. But the media or real customers talking about how you’re the best?
Much more convincing.
When a new article or interview goes live, share it. This isn’t a time to be humble.
This email from Starbucks is a pre-planned partnership, but it’s a great format if you’re devoting an entire email to a big media story.
Source: My inbox
With Apps in Email, you can add a product carousel block to any template. Use it to show an auto-scrolling list of your most powerful media features.
Then, when you have a new one, you only have to update the block once and all your emails will automatically sync the changes.
9. Brag about your company
Okay, so you know how I just said not to brag, yourself?
Seriously though, there’s a time and place for tooting your own horn. If you don’t sometimes, who will, right?
Celebrate your important milestones with your customers. Don’t forget to thank them for helping you get there, too.
For example, you can share exciting corporate news in a way that shows you’re growing and all-around hot stuff, like Sketch’s funding announcement.
10. The easiest option? Add social proof to your email signature
What’s the most effective marketing email your company sends every single day?
…every email from every employee!
Everyone from customer service to accounting email leads and customers daily. All those interactions are part of your brand identity, as much as your marketing is.
That’s right, I’m saying add social proof to every company email via signatures.
Here are a few ideas:
- Add logos for any certifications that stand out in your industry.
- Add recent awards.
- Include a CTA for an upcoming event or webinar your company is hosting.
- Include a short, powerful testimonial.
Maybe not all at once…
It doesn’t need to be much, but having even one or two partner or award logos in an email signature will instantly add credibility to a sender (and a brand!).
Bonus: How to Add Social Proof Into Your Email Subject Lines
Forty-seven percent — almost half — of your recipients decide whether or not to open an email based solely on the subject line.
No pressure or anything!
Want to swing the odds in your favor? Sprinkle on a little social proof.
The subject line for this Glossier email is, “People are talking.” It’s short, eye-catching, and instantly implies their products are popular or that something new is going on. You just have to know, right?
Well, I did, so I opened it. Inside they list customer reviews for some of their top products. A simple but very effective campaign chock-full of social proof.
Source: My inbox
This email’s subject line was, “Who ranked us #1? See the lists.” It basically says everyone thinks they’re the best so you should, too.
Inside is a compilation of media mentions and reviews. Nice!
Craft High-Converting Emails With Social Proof
As Dave said, the single most impactful thing you can do in 2022 is build social proof into your emails.
Some of these social proof email examples are as simple as pasting in an image. For the more complicated stuff, like scrolling carousels or auto-generated reviews, Dyspatch can help with pre-coded modules that make implementation quick and easy.
To recap, here are 10 ideas for adding social proof to your email campaigns:
- Highlight real customer reviews
- Quantify your popularity
- Feature user generated content
- Showcase expert endorsements
- Get in on influencer marketing
- Partner with other brands
- Share case studies
- Highlight media mentions
- Brag about your company
- Add social proof to your email signature
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