Are you using any methods of social proof on your therapy or natural health website? If you’re like a lot of therapists and natural health business, you are likely not using any…and if you’re not, you’re missing out on attracting more clients and customers.
Before I go any further…
Let’s define social proof:
Social proof is a social psychology principle that is used in marketing. It is based on research showing that people are influenced by the behavior of others, assuming that the behaviors are perceived to be beneficial to the person being influenced.
In simple terms, this translates to:
People will follow the crowd if they think there is something in it for them.
You should be using some form of social proof on your website to increase trust and credibility. Research shows it can improve your results dramatically.
Some methods of social proof in marketing can be tricky for therapists because of ethical concerns. Therefore, some of the methods below are not applicable to all therapists. However, most of them can often be used by other health professionals and businesses.
1. Testimonials and Reviews
Including testimonials on your website and having user reviews (on sites like Yelp, Google Places, etc.) are some of the best types of social proof that exist. People love to read direct quotes of how others have achieved the results that they want. They imagine themselves in the shoes of the person whose testimonial or review they read, and are then more likely to be convinced that they may be able to benefit from your services and products.
The best format for testimonials is describing the predicament before the client or customer benefited from your service or product and then the results they achieved. Using full names and photographs also enhance the credibility of testimonials. I’ve suggested some guidelines for gathering and using testimonials here.
If you’re a therapist living in most parts of the USA, your licensing board likely prohibits the use of client testimonials. If you live in Canada, the United Kingdom or Australia, guidelines for the use of testimonials are often looser or non-existent. Check with your licensing board or professional association for their policy on using client testimonials before you consider using them.
Even if you are not restricted in using client testimonials to market your practice, you should always use caution in using them and be aware of any ethical considerations. For example, even though using names makes testimonials more credible, for ethical reasons, you may choose to use only the client’s initials or pseudonyms.
2. Case Studies
Case studies tell a story of past clients or customers where they had a specific problem or desire and achieved a specific outcome due to your services or products.
The difference between a case study and a testimonial is that a testimonial uses the exact quotes from a client, whereas a case study is typically a longer story from the therapist’s or business owner’s perspective.
If you’re a therapist and your regulating body does not permit you to use testimonials, they may allow you to use case studies. Or, perhaps composite case studies that are comprised of several different clients, without using client names. It is also possible to use hypothetical case studies, or made up client scenarios that illustrate how potential clients may benefit.
If you use any of these latter suggestions, be sure to identify them as such so as not to mislead people into thinking that the stories came from actual clients.
An endorsement is a statement from a third party who knows, likes and trusts you, your counseling or healing services, or your natural health products. The people who provide the endorsement are not actual clients or customers, but they can still vouch for you based on their knowledge of you, your services or products.
Endorsements from influential people or experts obviously will hold more credibility. You could ask for endorsements from colleagues, supervisors, university professors, people who you’ve trained with, done business with, or anyone who knows you and your work.
4. Number of Social Media Followers, Likes, Shares, and Tweets
Adding social sharing buttons on your website can be an effective method of social proof–but only, if you have enough traffic to your website.
You can also put social media widgets on your site showing your follower count. A good example is the ‘Facebook Like box’ that shows your number of followers. You can see an example of the Like box on the right sidebar of my blog.
A note of caution:
If you have social media share buttons or widgets on your site, but you don’t have enough people visiting your site to Tweet, Like, Share your posts, it can backfire. It is better to have no social proof if your numbers are not high enough to be convincing.
5. Number of Email Subscribers
Signing up for an email list or newsletter takes a lot of trust, especially now with the plethora of email newsletters available. If you have a lot of subscribers, you can show the number of people who have signed up to your email list already to help build trust that signing up is worth it. If you don’t have a lot of subscribers yet, then include some quotes from subscribers that describe the value of being a subscriber.
I’m using this type of social proof on my new website that is currently being designed. Instead of saying, “subscribe” on the sign-up button that users click on to get on my email list, my button will say, “Click here to join 10,000+ of your peers.”
I’m expecting to get more subscribers this way as the social proof is right on the button. Having more than 10,000 subscribers shows that I have a substantial following and the use of the word, “peers” also helps people identify with a group. This should also increase subscribers. I’ll know for sure once my website is up, and I’ve started tracking my conversion rate (number of visitors to my website versus the number who sign up for my email list).
Social proof works.
It reinforces the marketing message you have on your site by building trust and credibility. It inspires people to want what your other clients, customers, followers and subscribers have.
Are you using any methods of social proof on your website? If not, which of these methods could you add to your website?