Social Proof: The Holy Grail of E-commerce

Lots of Traffic, But No Sales?

So you have finally launched your e-commerce store with WooCommerce, that’s great!  Buuuut…. you have no sales, no reviews and are staring out your office window wondering “What next?”. What you need is a way to build customer trust in your store, beyond just offering great pricing, fast shipping and high quality product lifestyle shots.  You need social proof. 

High Cart Abandonment?

On average, 70% to 95% of shopping carts are abandoned before purchase.  The main reasons for this are higher than expected shipping costs and lead times, and lack of trust in your store.  You need to be able to convince buyers that your store is legitimate, has a loyal following of buyers and delivers high quality valuable products to its customers. You need social proof. Sure you can add some fake reviews reviews to your site with 4 and 5 star ratings… You can add long-winded fictional testimonials about the quality of your products and how fast the shipping was.  But is that ethical, or even believable?  You need REAL social proof.  

Amazon’s 3 Review Minimum

Did you know that Amazon has now surpassed Google for the most searches for online shopping? And that 55% of shoppers check Amazon first before buying products elsewhere? On Amazon, you really can’t get any sales traction until you have at least 3 reviews over 4 stars.  Here’s a shot of a new product I launched on in a very crowded dry bag niche.  Notice how I added value by bundling the 2 dry bags with 2 phone cases and a pouch? Clever eh?  Well, still not clever enough without some reviews.  Luckily, once I was able to get them, I saw a few sales a day.

How Can Social Proof Help?

Well then, what is “social proof” exactly and how does it help you make more e-commerce sales?  Well, social proof is really just a demonstration that other people have made a choice to buy a product or service. Social proofs make online customers feel more comfortable purchasing from an e-commerce store. Online shoppers feel much more comfortable buying from a store if they know others have done it — and had pleasant experiences. Social proofs for an online business include its social media followers, product reviews, and blog posts or news articles that mention the company. These are all forms of validation that legitimize a business in the eyes of consumers. Any Amazon seller knows that you really don’t start to get any sales velocity until you have at least 3 to 5 reviews of 4 or 5 stars.  It just makes sense.

Why Social Proof Works

Studies show that people are more likely to do something when presented with evidence that others have done it. Social proof makes it more likely that people will buy at your e-commerce store. Seeing other individuals from the same geographic area, same gender buying the same  products reinforces buying decisions. Knowing others have engaged with a business creates immediate trust and indicates your company provides quality service

  • 27 percent of online customers regularly use reviews
  • only 21 percent never use them at all
  • 72% trust reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • 65% of consumers read between 2 and 10 reviews

Letting your clients know that your online store is busy is key. Using a WordPress plugin like Live Social Proof is a great way to show real customers buying behaviour. You can also display products that you want to push to encourage behaviour!

Gayle Tremblay
Marketing, Tremble Apparel

Using live sales notifications using the Social Proof WordPress plugin on our e-commerce store significantly. It not only increased our sales conversions, but also help to reduce our cart abandonment rate by over 30%.

Jake Hanson
Founder, Dragon Taekwondo

How To Flip Your Online Business In 10 Easy Steps


OK, well not always so easy, but not so technically difficult either.  And selling my business did not got exactly as I expected…. at all. But the good news was that the sale went pretty fast.  It did only take me three weeks to flip my five year old WordPress plugin business. And the funny thing is, I had sold another software business 5 years earlier, so should have known better.  But in the process, I learned lots of good lessons which I want to share with others to help you avoid the same mistakes I made. So here we go…

1) Why Are You Selling Anyway?

In my opinion, how you answer this very common question can make or break the sale of your business.  Think it through beforehand, and be honest.  If there is increasing competition in your niche, and you’ve run out of marketing ideas, just say that to new potential buyers. Maybe you just have lost passion to keep going, or you are looking to start a new business in another niche. Misleading potential buyers will only have them lose trust and also could give you a poor review online somewhere for future. If you just want a change and are moving onto a new business, then great, that is a valid and good reason to sell.  Just disclose your intentions so the new buyer also knows that you will not compete with them in the future.  You may need to add that to your sale agreement too.

2) What Exactly Are You Really Selling?

So I thought I was just selling my software business.. WordPress plugins. Pretty straightforward to me.  But as it turned out, what I was really selling was not just software, but WordPress support.  And further to that, it turns out that once potential buyers learned that I had over 2,000 clients, many of whom were Fortune 1000 companies over the past 5 years, they were most interested in my client list. You know, as every self-proclaimed marketing “guru” will tell you, “the money is in the list”.  Well, it’s kinda true and my prospective buyers wanted my list.  My point here is that what you perceive to be of value in your business may not be what the buyer values.  Again, don’t sell the product, sell the “sizzle”… cheesy, but true.

3) Google Analytics Is Key

OK, so if you are going to sell your business in the future, the first thing you must do, if not done already, is to enable Google Analytics.  This is the most trusted and reliable way to verify your traffic claims for a prospective buyer. The key metric a buyer wants is unique user visits per month.  And they want to see that having an upward trend.  Not only that, they want to see a good mix of organic (free) traffic and paid traffic.  Being over 50% organic is where you want to be.  After 5 years in business and some smart SEO (Search Engine Optimization), if I do say so myself (Yoast WP Plugin, lots of YouTube demos etc), I was established in my targeted long-tail (niche multiple word phrases) keyword phrases… Actually #1 in the most relevant one. Bonus points for me! 🙂 But it took awhile… So, the other great thing about Google Analytics is that you can share your account safely with buyers via a user permissions setting.

4) Net Earnings Do The Talking

OK, time to get down to brass tacks… Net earnings per month is the next key buyer trigger point.  Traffic is great, but how it is being monetized is the real nuts and bolts of a business.  Most software businesses have some revenue, then expenses that include paid ads, contract labour (coders) and then hosting in that order (biggest to smallest).  If you have over 50% organic traffic and can turn off the paid ads, your net earnings can continue at a fairly stable rate… at least until Google scrambles their algorithm again.  If you are using Google Adwords or Facebook Ads (which I’m hoping you are to some extent), then you should also be willing to sell your keywords/ad group information and learnings with the sale.  This will let the buyer hit the ground running and know what ads worked best.  Google Adwords let’s you export all this data easily into a CSV for example.

5) Suggest Other Revenue Streams

New buyers are looking for other ways to monetize your software or website.  It’s always a good idea to have other ideas on how they could create these revenue streams, and what kind of offers or affiliate programs already work well with your business.  My business was WordPress plugins, and often clients were looking for advice on where to host their sites, and also what recommend themes to use, such as Divi Builder, which is super easy to use and the world’s most popular theme right now.  I suggested affiliate programs for both of those, as well as WordPress backup plugins that I know my clients asked me about also.  Your unique users per month data from Google Analytics can mean an affiliate stream of income for extra revenue for your buyers, so it’s a good idea to help them out with suggestions.  Share A Sale is the Granddaddy of affiliate programs that has been around for 17 years and has over 4,000 merchant offers available. You can search their site for ideas.