How the Inventor of the Shopping Cart Built a $400 Million Dollar Empire with Social Proof and How You Can Too

5 min read · 7 years ago



you ever shopped around looking at products and just weren’t sure if you should
buy it or not.  Buyers remorse is real
and people are leery as to whether or not they should spend their hard earned
dollars on something they just aren’t sure will make them happy.

aren’t going to tell you that their products are garbage.  It’s other
who have bought a product or service that can give an unbiased
opinion on it’s worth.

want assurance from other people before they take a blind leap of faith.

Sylvan Goldman employed social proof as
far back as 1938 when he paid people to push around his shopping cart invention
around in grocery stores for 2 years to get hesitant shoppers onboard with
using one.  And it worked.  When he died in 1984, he was worth over $400

proof comes in a variety of forms and you should be implementing it at every

Open Up the Opportunity for Word Of Mouth
Advertising with a Referral Program

of mouth is one of the most powerful forms of advertising.  Yet, unbelievably, it is one of the most neglected
by businesses.

Quarterly has stated “As consumers overwhelmed by
product choices tune out the ever-growing barrage of traditional marketing,
word of mouth cuts through the noise quickly and effectively.”

is why referral programs are also highly effective.

Plastc card consolidates debit, credit, loyalty and similar cards in a single
payment device.  Plastc was confident
that the pre-holiday announcement of their Plastc card would go viral.  In preparation of their pre-order campaign,
they invested in a referral strategy to increase sales

the offer of just one product in a pre-order campaign, store credit wouldn’t
work as an effective advocate reward.
Due to it’s flexibility in reward fulfillment, Plastc implemented the Talkable referral program platform into their campaign.

platform was able to fulfill cash equivalent gift cards to advocates.  Each friend that was referred received $20
credit towards a Plastc card.  The
advocate that made the referral received a $20 cash equivalent pre-paid gift

results were impressive.  47% of Plastc’s customers shared the offer
with friends.  28% of referred customers
made a purchase.  Each advocate, on
average, referred 2.7 friends that became actual customers.

just a week of the launch, pre-orders brought in $5.2 million in sales. The
campaign that was managed on the platform was ultimately responsible for 36.8%
of that total revenue.

optimal results, the solution shares an interesting ebook on how to deploy an
effective referral marketing program.

Showcase the Praises You’ve Received

are those glowing snippets of praise told by pleased customers.  

study by TechValidate revealed that when
comparing 3rd party analyst content to content provided by customers
such as testimonials, 94% of B2B marketing and sales professionals rated
content from real customers as “extremely” or “very” effective.  While only 54% felt the same about 3rd
party content.

Adding faces increases

it’s hard to know if a testimonial is actually real.  Adding a photo of the person making the
testimonial has been shown to increase conversions because the testimonial
becomes more believable.

Basecamp conducted this split test
on the Highrise site that revealed that the version with the face of the person
making the testimonial increased conversions by 102.5%.


Videos increase credibility
even further

testimonials may have an even greater impact at increasing credibility.

conducted a split test to measure the impact of
video testimonials.  In it, they compared
this page with testimonials accompanied by photos…

this page that provided visitors with a video testimonial.


increased by 25% on the page that showcased a video testimonial.

so many people already creating photos and video with their mobile devices,
it’s not an outrageous request to ask them for a photo or video testimonial.  In fact, they are probably more willing to
submit their creation than you think.

like Boast make it really easy for businesses to request and
gather text, photo and video testimonials with an app and then integrate and
display them on their website with a snippet of code.

Display Real Time Social Proof Notifications
So Visitors Can See Who Else Is Buying

a personalization platform, it’s been interesting to see Barilliance jump on
board with increasing social proof for businesses.

company recently launched Live! in 2015.  The solution presents real time notifications
of shopper activity on ecommerce sites.

they are a personalization platform, it makes sense that the social proof
notifications would be powered by algorithms that would present the most
effective messages based on each visitor’s buying intent and conversion

largest online motorcross parts and accessories store, MXStore has seen a 10%
increase in conversions since adding the personalized real time social proof
notifications to their website.

Satisfy the Audience That Is Seeking Out Customer
Reviews to Make a Decision

important to give detailed information about your products so that visitors can
make an informed decision.  But a survey
conducted by EXPO revealed that consumer reviews are nearly 12 times more
trusted than those product descriptions.

you’re having a hard time getting customers to leave a customer review,
incentivize them to do so.  

you’re still having a hard time, there are other alternatives to provide
customer reviews.

Trustpilot is an open review driven community that
connects online consumers with companies.
Here, consumers make reviews on thousands of products.  With their 3rd party widget in
place, you can share those reviews with visitors so they can see what other
consumers think about the latest Nike running shoes or Dell computer.

Watches was able to increase conversions by
implementing the 3rd party customer review widget.


have proven the power behind social proof.
If you want your visitors to know that your products or services are
good, they’re likely to have more faith in what other people have to say than
they are in your own sales pitch.

customer reviews, referral programs and real time social proof notifications
are all effective ways to increase your brands credibility.  When you are able to increase that
credibility, you’ll see an increase in sales and revenue.

Marie Dean is the Innovation Director at ConversionLifters.  She has helped businesses increase their conversions, sales and revenue with website audits, heat mapping, split tests and user testing for over 10 years.

Relevant Tags