Improve Social Proof By Generating More Reviews
Search Engine Optimisation

Improve Social Proof By Generating More Reviews

6th October 2016

Social Proof should not be underestimated when it comes to persuading a website visitor to buy. For many visitors who are in the research stage of their purchase, knowing that either someone else has bought the product before and rated it, or bought the product from this store and didn’t get scammed is a pretty important point. In short, social proof removes some of the uncertainty of purchase.

Take this example from Amazon. In fact, it proved very hard to get a simple product comparison from Amazon as their listings are so skewed by reviews, prime, best seller or price reductions (basically every factor under the sun to increase conversion), but you will see below how attractive a 5-star rating with lots of reviews looks. Excluding a Flamingo bias, which would you feel more inclined to purchase?



How can we use the power of social proof in our own websites to boost sales?

I used to work with a dental practice. They were excellent at everything they did. After suggesting that they ask satisfied patients to leave Facebook reviews, I was astonished how after a few weeks they had nearly 50 of them. At one point I considered telling them it was important that they were legitimate.

What was their secret? It was quite simple really. The receptionists would take the time to compliment patients as they walked out of the surgery. They would ask the patient how they found out about the practice, and if they were happy with the treatment. If they were, the receptionist would ask if they would mind leaving a Facebook review. If the patient said yes, they would hand over an iPad and ask if they would leave one there and then. And that was it, a simple system to guarantee reviews, all legitimate and right at the time of peak happiness.  And the more reviews, the more people came to the practice stating the amount of reviews as a key driver.

Other people saying how good you are is one of the most believable and subtle way of persuading people to buy.

However, recently there has been a spanner in the works. Google is rumoured to be updating its guidelines when it comes to reviews and in turn Trustpilot and Feefo has now increased the amount of reviews needed from 30 to 150 reviews, a fivefold increase, for stars to show in the search results page.

Why is this important? As well as on site social proof, seeing reviews and star ratings in the search pages will often give a big increase in click through rate. In the example below we can see a massive 11% increase in click through rate with the same advert set.


How do we generate these reviews?

Use The Power Of Your List

Your email list shouldn’t just be a tool for driving more sales. When looking at a segmenting, messaging and automation strategy, I would definitely recommend a segment that groups recent purchasers who have Gmail email addresses. This is because anyone who has a Google account will not have to create a new account to leave a Google Review, therefore making it much easier for them. You could also try using an incentive to boost the number of reviews you receive. Tying this in with a discount on a future purchase would assist in both gathering social proof and future sales. Just keep it simple and keep it classy!

If you are going to ask for a review via email, here are some pointers

  • Test the time delay from purchase to send as this can have a massive effect on how many people will leave a review. Is the product something quick to consume or would someone need some time to use it for a while until they would feel comfortable recommending it?
  • Send the review request from a person, not a generic email address, you are asking for a favour. If appropriate, also use this email as an opportunity to add more value. Is there a product demo or FAQ you can point someone too?
  • Specifically mention in the email the estimated time taken to leave a review. One of the main issues is that people think it is a complicated and time consuming activity. Mentioning that it is a 30 second 2 button click process will overcome that objection.
  • Let the customer know they are making a difference. Simply adding some content around the fact that all reviews are monitored, reviewed and acted upon will go a long way in ensuring people feel like they will be listened to. 

Remarketing For More Than Missed Sales Opportunities

As well as using remarketing to increase potential sales from people who have failed to purchase, there are lots of opportunities to use it to influence people post purchase. Creating an audience list for people who have completed a purchase gives you a great opportunity to ‘advertise’ leaving a review. In fact, if you wanted to increase the sophistication of the targeting, you could target people who have for example, purchased twice within a 30-day period as they are probably more loyal to your brand and will have a higher propensity to leave a review. With Facebook advertising you have some great advert formats such as carousels which give you the ability to really tell a story. One thing to bear in mind here is the product – if it’s likely to be a gift for someone else, or is something personal or sensitive, review-focussed remarketing like any form of remarketing needs to be very cautious not to ruin a surprise, or someone’s privacy. However, the benefit is as you are generating reviews, you could also use those reviews in your standard paid media campaigns, promoting the fact that people trust, respect and like you.

Make it easy for people to leave reviews

The simplest way for people to leave reviews directly on your website is to make it easy. I don’t know about you but massive forms scare me. I don’t really have the time or the attention span, so best to ease me in gently. Having the option to at first simply add a start rating, and then following up with an optional short form for some narrative would help me play ball. Remember that every field you add to a form increases the drop off rate for those users – concentrate on what information you actually need and don’t get greedy. From a data point of view, I would also recommend capturing the review data in my CRM system as a customer who has made a recent purchase and given a five-star review as this would be prime for their next purchase. A group of high frequency shoppers who leave good reviews could be essential for driving sales in a quiet month or becoming your leading brand ambassadors.


Social proof removes some of the uncertainty people have when looking to purchase. You can leverage this both on your website or on a 3rd party website (use a Google approved provider to make sure you benefit from PPC star ratings). In order to grow reviews, have a simple, testable and automated process. Use your email and remarketing lists to drive reviews with engaging content and advert formats. When you have motivated someone to leave a review make it simple and intuitive. Finally, use review data to enrich customer data and highlight opportunities for upsells, cross sells and increase sale frequency.


Written By
Guy Levine is the CEO and Founder of Return On Digital, an Agency based in Manchester and London who focus on helping Brands who operate in competitive and disruptive markets acquire new customers, increase order values and reactivate and retain customers.
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