The Simple Psychology Hack that Tripled Our Funnel Sales
By Austin Distel - CMO of Proof & The Entrepreneur Alliance
It’s Saturday at 11:00pm in Atlanta, GA and we are walking around Buckhead to find our next bar to have a drink. The ‘hot’ bar changes nearly every hour in downtown, and somehow everyone knows where to go. A couple of bars are packed, while the bars next door don’t even have crickets. We don’t have a group text. There’s no guy with a megaphone. Yet, somehow everyone knows which bar to go to for the best time.
But the real question is…“How?”
This is no coincidence... it’s actually a phenomenon deeply rooted in human psychology. Sociologists have termed this ‘Social Proof’ and it literally controls every purchase decision whether you’re aware of it or not. As a marketer, wouldn’t it be powerful to understand how to create Social Proof for your products? At Proof, we’re mastering Social Proof Marketing and in this article, I’m going to show you 6 strategies you should implement to instantly boost your conversion rates on your ads and funnels using Social Proof Marketing.
As an owner of Proof and The Entrepreneur Alliance, I get a special look inside the data of some of the top marketer’s funnels and the split tests that win. With over 14 million page views using our software, I’ve seen exactly what works and what doesn’t when it comes to conversion. Let me pull back the curtain and show you what I’ve discovered…
Secret #1. Why We Stopped Split Testing Our Facebook Ad Creative (And Have Seen Huge Rewards Because of It)
My marketing career started at 5 years old on a hot summer day when I made 2 signs for my lemonade stand. The first one was a pretty simple black and yellow sign saying “Lemonade $1.00” while my other sign was painted with bright colors & drawings of lemons. While I didn’t know it at the time, this was my first “split test”. 20 years later and I’m still obsessed with design & conversion. Here’s the thing… I no longer split test my Facebook Ad Creative and our conversions are higher than ever.
There was once a time where I’d test headlines, ad copy, images, even CTAs against each other. I’d use Adespresso to create up to 12 different versions of my ad, let it run for a week or two, and then see which one performed the best. Then I’d shut off all the losers, choose a winner and scale from there. This was time consuming, stressful, and expensive. Worst of all, it separated the likes, comments, and shares across 12 different ads. Essentially, each ad had 1/12th the Social Proof it could have gotten. That’s when I decided to do something crazy...NO MORE CREATIVE SPLIT TESTS.
I gave my best shot at the headline, copy, and image and only split test audiences. With only one creative, the Social Proof racked up exponentially faster and made more sales with that one ad than we would have with all 12 split test combined! If Pareto did an 80/20 analysis of Facebook Advertising CTR, he would say 80% of your boost in conversion will come from the “reactions bar” on your ad. Build up a strong Social Proof on your ads and you will see your highest click through rates and lowest cost per click.
We’ve spent over $500,000 on Facebook Ads testing these strategies to find what works. Even with all that spending, you’d be surprised that we’ve made most of our money from the same 2 ads running for over 7 months each!
The Punchline: An ad with hundreds of likes, comments, and shares will outperform any amazing ad copy or beautiful image.
Proof Pro Tip: Launch your Facebook Ad making the objective “Engagement” first, and once you build up a good amount of social proof, switch the objective to “Clicks” or “Conversions”.
Secret #2. Have Your Customers Sell For You, Rather Than You Sell to Your Customers.
There’s not a better sales letter, more convincing VSL, or inspiring banner ad than a customer’s self-written success story using your product. Let’s say you have a split test between 2 landing pages.
‘Page A’ has a paragraph written by your best copywriter convincing the reader how hiring you as a coach will give them confidence, knowledge, and skills to be wildly successful in business.
‘Page B’ has a screenshot of a well written Facebook post from one of your past coaching clients saying she now has more confidence than ever before and the knowledge she’s applied from your course tripled her business within 6 months.
Which test will win? If this was Vegas, I’d slide all my chips on ‘Page B’ and you should too.
There are 3 main ways you can highlight your customer’s stories, and I’ve ordered them from least authentic to most authentic (and most effective).
- Graphically designed quotes: This is where you ask your customer their feedback, you write that down, and then send it over to your graphic design to put it on the website. This option is better than not having a testimonial but is the easiest to question the authenticity by the reader because it was written by your company.
- Screenshots of Public Reviews: A middle ground between easy to capture and highly authentic, this option is based on you asking your customers to write a review on Amazon, Google, or Facebook and then taking a screenshot on your computer of their post. Upload several of these to your landing page to see a good boost in conversion.
- Video Submission: Do you have a raving fan who can’t stop talking about how much they love you? Ask them to record their story on video! This could be done as an “unboxing” video letting them show off their new purchase, or an inspiring autobiographical story of how using your product improved their life.
With our company the Entrepreneur Alliance, we dedicate an entire day of our sales funnel to just sharing success stories from our membership. Click here (https://jointhealliance.co/6k-success-testimonials) to see how we use Facebook Screenshots in our funnel. By the way, this page converts visitors into sales at 25%, which is pretty dang high.
The Punchline: Your customer stories are the most effective pieces of content on your landing page, Checkouts, and One Time Offers. Use them like crazy.
Proof Pro Tip: Capture testimonials that are emotional, actual metrics, and tackle your potential customers’ top objections. Each testimonial will have its own purpose, so choose wisely.
Secret #3. What the Fitness Industry Has Mastered That You Are Completely Ignoring
It’s Wednesday night... you have a bag of Light Popcorn between your legs and a Diet Coke in your hand. The family is excited because tonight is the Season Finale of The Biggest Loser. The show starts with a look back to day one of the show when they were at their heaviest, a couple wins and then some setback, and then the camera pans back to the big reveal. You are inspired by their transformation and want that for yourself!
Imagine how powerful it would be to use a before & after picture of your customer's journey. This could be in the form of a transformation journey video, before and after photos/screenshots, a client case study, a free white paper - doesn’t matter what you call it but it’s important to use this as a tool that sets expectations and inspires action.
The Punchline: Does your offer have a high level of activation to get a purchase? Whether it’s internal (like the motivation to hiring a health/business coach) or external (like high price or having to give up something valuable like time), highlight previous customer stories who have won by documenting their before, during, and after moments.
Proof Pro Tip: Don’t over complicate this. A before and after photo with description will do. Turn a Keynote presentation into a PDF and have them download that on your website. The key is to keep it simple and lightweight to consume.
Secret #4. The Self Made King
There’s an ancient story of a kingdom whose emperor suddenly died of a sickness. He was unmarried and without children, so the question of next king was heavily debated. During a council meeting, a foreign man wearing colorful robes walked in and declared he was the rightful King. Taken off guard, the council asked “And why do you believe you deserve the throne?” With confidence, the unfamiliar man said he shares distant relatives with the old king and would unite this kingdom with the one he rules back home. The council stands amused but skeptical...until his knight speaks up and attests to the foreign man’s claims to the throne. After long deliberation, the council throws a ceremony and crowns the new King.
The first order of business: travel back to the Queen he protected back home who promised to marry any Knight who conquered her a Kingdom.
The Moral Of The Story: Winning your first few clients will spawn more clients to want to work with you. But in the beginning, all you have is your word that you’ll fulfill on what you’ll say so it’s good to have a 3rd party give you credibility.
Do you see how clever the Knight was? While the Knight lied about currently ruling a kingdom abroad, he knew that if he became King then the Queen back home would marry him making this claim true!
I share this story because it’s one of the oldest fables of “Fake it till you make it”. While I don’t advocate lying to any degree within your marketing, in fact one of our core values at Proof is “Honesty, Even When It Hurts”, you need to dress the part for the job you want. “Credibility” is only an illusion in your mind that you use as an excuse not to sell.
There are 3 main “Credibility” builders you can use to create Social Proof.
- Accreditations - Every industry has their own institutions that you can get certified as a professional. Some cost money. Some are as simple as passing a test. This is a quick way to put authority behind your offer. This could be becoming a Google Partner, having your social media verified, or even getting accredited by the BBB.
- Press Logos - There is power in being published...even if it’s self published. “As Seen on TV” instantly makes a product more sellable despite the fact that it’s a commercial made by the company itself! Get on a podcast, write a guest blog post, even put your product on Amazon and put “As seen on Amazon”.
- High End Client - This tip won’t apply to everyone; but if you have customers who are well known and have influence, then feature them on your website. Testimonials and Case Studies are great, but if you can’t get quotes at least feature them saying “Trusted by …”
The Punchline: Gain credibility through earning Accreditations, getting published in the press, and highlighting high end clients that use your product/service.
Proof Pro Tip: We ran a split test against these two Press Logo lines below. The first one is from when we started 3 years ago, the second is an updated with more recent publications. When we swapped out the logos guess how much our conversion rates increased? ZERO. Don’t worry if you don’t have the most prestigious press for your brand, it makes no difference when it comes to conversion. In the first example below, the logos aren’t nearly as impressive as the second logo bar. Yet, when testing, they converted the same. I highly recommend everyone create one of these logo bars to use on their website.
Secret #5. Comments Convert
More now than ever, we look towards the opinions of others to orient ourselves and make decisions. When you’re shopping on Amazon what is the first thing you scroll to? The ‘Reviews’ section. If others had a good experience, we feel safe buying it as well.
While you might not have a product on Amazon, that doesn’t mean you should ignore this pillar of Social Proof. Embed a Facebook Comment Block on your pages for your customers to post reviews. Prospective customers will love this and will shorten the buying cycle dramatically.
The Punchline: Install comment widgets throughout your sales funnel that shows reviews on your product page and even lead magnet.
Proof Pro Tip: Create a “Review Page” that is simply a headline that says “Comment Your
Experience With (Your Product)” and beneath that put your Facebook Comment Block. Copy & paste the Facebook Comment Block URL to other pages across your funnel. Now you’ll have customer reviews show up throughout the buying process!
Secret #6. Create a Buying Frenzy with Live Streaming Social Proof (This Is New!)
It’s 10pm and my business partner Dave Rogenmoser has 8 tabs open with all the top travel sites shopping for hotels and flights for a 2 week African Safari. He’s intently reading reviews, looking at the 5 Star ratings, even scrolling the Instagram geotags to see photos. Just when he’s about to call it a night, a popup on one of the sites that says “3 people just booked this hotel room”. Already leaning towards reserving this particular room, he decides to pull the trigger and book it. He felt secure booking because he had seen other people were booking live while he was on the website.
Live streaming customer activity throughout your funnel is hands down the most effective form of Social Proof you can use to increase conversions. All the travel sites are doing it, so why weren’t marketers using this strategy?
We knew we needed this on our marketing funnels ASAP. It was too powerful.
We did our research on all the top travel sites looking for the company who created the notification so we could use it too. What we came to find is that the notifications were natively built by each company just for their own sites! Dave asks our other business partner JP (who’s an incredible developer) if he could figure out how to make a notification that pops up on our site. 2 weeks later, the MVP was built and we connected it to our order form for the Entrepreneur Alliance. We waited 3 days to see if it would increase conversions.
We were shocked to see by adding popups that showed recent sales, our conversion rate went from 8% all the way to 16%...literally doubled! Then we tested it on lead magnets, webinar registration pages and order forms and found the similar boosts. By seeing live social proof, visitors were more likely to take action.
Just from having this notification on our site, we tripled our revenue and reduced our cost to one third of what it was to acquire a customer. That first notification was tweaked to perfection and then became a full software we call Proof, a tool that live streams customer activity (opt-ins, downloads, purchases, etc) to instantly boost conversion.
The Punchline: Humans naturally look at what others are doing to orient their behavior. The most effective form of Social Proof is to show website visitors who are buying in real time.
Proof Pro Tip: Add the Proof notification throughout your funnel on your leadpages, checkouts, upsells and wherever else a decision must be made. Run a split test to record the boost in conversion.
Thanks for reading, now implement these secrets and let your customers sell for you :)
Austin Distel is a leading expert on digital marketing. He is the CMO of Proof (a software that increases website conversions) and The Entrepreneur Alliance (a global club for online entrepreneurs).