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Internet Businesses Tips

Using Reviews & UGC to Grow


What influences you to make purchase decisions?

A few things probably come to mind: your needs or pain points; the quality of the product or service; convenience; price…

But if you’re like most people, social proof trumps all of the above.

A report from Mintel shows 70% of Americans seek the opinions from others before making purchases.

What is Social Proof?

Social proof is just that: trusting the actions and behaviors of others. Robert Cialdini first coined the term in his book, Influence. It’s a psychological and social phenomenon and a type of conformity. 

In his book, Robert Cialdini says, “People are especially likely to perform certain actions if they can relate to the people who performed the same actions before them.”

Here are a few examples:

  • You are followed on Instagram or Twitter by someone you’re not sure you know. What’s one of the first things you do? Check out how many followers they have and if anyone you know also follows them, right? 
  • You’re picking out a place to make dinner reservations. You’ve narrowed your choices down to 3 when you remember one of your finalists was recently recommended to you by a good friend. 
  • You need a new jacket, so you head to Amazon. A few products show on the first two rows. Most have around 30 reviews while one has 740 with 4.2 stars. If you don’t have additional information on the other brands shown, it’s likely this jacket catches your eye first.

It is human nature to be drawn to what others are drawn to. It’s human nature to follow the crowd.

The marketing implications are clear. In short, if a business can effectively build and showcase social proof, they will succeed. 

Types of Social Proof in Marketing

When it comes to making purchase decisions, different people are drawn to different forms of persuasion. For some, a recommendation from a trusted friend goes a long way. Others may be really moved by a celebrity endorsement. Still others trust the crowd.

Because of this, there are four key types of social proof in marketing:

  • Expert: recognition or recommendation from a well-known authority in the field
  • Celebrity: endorsement from a celebrity or influencer
  • Customer / User: review or recommendation from a customer or user 
  • Crowd: endorsement from a large group of people

Leveraging these four types of social proof is key to big time growth. 

5 Ways Use Social Proof in Marketing

So how does a business get started utilizing social proof in their marketing?

For starters, you must be selling a stellar product or providing world class services. This can not be emphasized enough: you will not be able to generate social proof if your offering is sub-par.

Perhaps you could scrap together a few testimonials or pay an influencer to endorse your product, but at some point the gig will run out. The last thing you want to do with a less-than-stellar offering is amplify it.

1. Acquire Positive Reviews and Testimonials

The first step to using social proof is generating and acquiring reviews and testimonials. These can come in many forms: high praise submitted via email, a Tweet about how awesome your product is, or a review on an industry-specific comparison site. 

How can you acquire social proof?

  1. Produce a High Quality Offering: we can’t harp on this enough. Put out an incredible product and you won’t have to do much to gain reviews or testimonials.
  2. Actively Ask: don’t be afraid to ask for it. Give instructions for what you’re looking for, but don’t put words in anyone’s mouth. This can be automated via emails and texts. Or if you have a small number of clients, a manual ask should work wonders.
  3. Provide Passive Opportunities: in addition to asking, provide passive options for people to review. For example, include a link to review on your website, in your email signature, or on marketing material.

Where should you acquire reviews?

You need a good mix of social proof sources. Direct quotes, social media mentions, and online reviews are all important. This depends on what you do – every industry has different review sites and platforms. Here are the top 3 reputable review sites for different types of business:

  • SaaS: G2, Capterra, Trust Radius
  • B2C Products: Amazon, Which, Influenster
  • Local Businesses: Google Reviews, Yelp, Industry-Specific Sites:
    • Law Firms: Nolo, Justia, Avvo
    • Restaurants: Yelp, Open Table, Zomato, TripAdvisor
    • Home Services: HomeAdvisor, Yelp, Angie’s List

2. Showcase Social Proof

Once social proof has been acquired, your next step is to showcase and feature it. Social proof floating out in the universe can help your reputation, but why not corral it in order to get the most out of it?

Here are a few ways to showcase social proof:

Highlight social proof on your website

  • Feature testimonials from your top (or most well known) clients on your homepage
  • Show imagery of happy customers
  • Embed product reviews

Share milestones and achievements

  • Feature certifications on your site 
  • Share awards on social media platforms

Mention the size of your customer base (if applicable)

  • Place notable metrics in social bios (ex: Serving over 100,000 small businesses in…)
  • Highlight it on your homepage 
  • Use it on email signups (ex: Join 5,000 others…)

3. Share User Generated Content Organically

User generated content is some of the most powerful content on the internet. Unprompted positive reviews from users and customers on their social accounts says a lot about the quality of your offering in a way other types of reviews don’t. 

Here are some ways to share user generated content:

  • Retweet / Repost social mentions
  • Respond and show appreciation
  • Share customer’s love of your service / product

4. Connect with Experts

Experts’ opinions carry a lot of weight. If your business is in a specific niche, this kind of social proof can be a game changer.

There are a couple of ways to do this.

You can send your product to an expert and request feedback, which can turn into a review or testimonial. Authors and publishers do this all the time, as do businesses. Depending on your industry, this can be a great way to get expert reviews.

If you don’t sell a product, you can offer your services, or attempt to show off some results or case studies that they could peruse and comment on. 

5. Partner with Influencers

Influencers are taking over the marketing world as more and more brands realize the importance of social proof. Look at the Fyre Fest phenomena of 2018. People were so enamored and convinced by influencer marketing that they paid thousands to fly to an island in the middle of nowhere only to be jipped. 

The social proof celebrities carry is that powerful – whether you believe they should be seen as credible or not (a conversation for another time). 

If you’re a big brand, there are plenty of options for partnering with influencers.

For smaller brands, micro-influencer relationships are a much more affordable option. Many brands will partner with individuals who have large social media followings, but no real celebrity status. 

Smaller brands have been known to provide micro-influencers with affiliate codes and give them a percentage of revenue they bring in – opposed to making a big deal or creating an elaborate contract for them.

How? Don’t make it complicated. Find some highly followed local instagram accounts and DM them to gauge their interests. 

Give Customers Something to Rave About

At the end of the day, the most effective way to build social proof for your marketing and brand is by providing an offering that’s worth raving about. 

Without this foundational piece of the marketing mix, you won’t make it far on a quest for social proof. 



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Internet Businesses Tips

Engenius COO named 2022 Best and Brightest Under 35 honoree



Engenius COO named 2022 Best and Brightest Under 35 honoree



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Internet Businesses Tips

What Does it Mean for Your Business?


In an era of the internet where it feels like everyone offers a “plug-and-play” website creation tool, it can be easy to overlook the importance of a web design strategy and the critical impact your website can have on the growth and health of your organization. Where once websites were one-page billboards that advertised a company’s existence, now users and consumers expect a website to be a functional, multi-layered tool that answers their questions and gets them where they need to go. But how, with everything else you’re juggling in your role, do you prioritize website strategy, understanding your user, and analyzing data to make informed suggestions? That’s where a website discovery comes in. 

What is a Website Discovery? 

Let’s get one thing out of the way: a Website Discovery is a “branded” Engenius term. When we use it, we’re referring to the process by which we help companies review their online presence, outline potential opportunities, and suggest web design strategies that help them see success with their users and achieve their business goals. It’s a deep dive, if you will, into your organization’s online health and well-being by a party that has expertise in that area. 

Why is a Website Discovery worth it?

One statement: creating a strategy to maximize your ROI. Your website is a 24/7 sales rep that showcases who you are to the audiences you’re hoping to reach. More than that, it can be an incredibly helpful tool that connects to an online employee portal, or your customer service chat, or a donation or payment processing platform, or any number of other resources. A Website Discovery accomplishes three main goals. 

First, a Website Discovery makes you ask the big questions about your organization’s past, present, and future.

In a thorough discovery, you’ll want to consider:

  • What is important to your business now? Growth? Maintaining current revenue? Adding a product or service? 
  • Do you want to appeal to new clients or grow the current spend and referral potential of current clients? 
  • Do you want to hire more staff or do you simply want to retain your existing personnel?
  • What matters most to your audience?
  • What’s your competitive advantage?

All of these questions, and more, inform the strategy behind your website. Your answers feed into the overarching question your agency or freelance partner should be asking: how your website can support and further your organizational goals. 

The second goal of a Website Discovery is to connect you with an outside person or group trained to help you see the big picture more clearly.

Let’s look at an example. If you’re planning an expensive trip to Europe, Asia, or some other exotic destination, you can do it yourself OR you can go work with a travel agency. While DIY has merit, a travel agent relies on connections, experience, and in-depth knowledge of where you’re going to formulate a plan that fits your unique goals. You might have a lovely trip to Italy that you planned…but are you sure you’ll know about the cutest bed & breakfast, best tour group, or local-legend restaurant? Probably not, but an expert might be able to point you in the right direction and tailor a trip specifically for your interests. Whether working with a travel agent or working with a web design freelancer or agency, having an outside group take a fresh look at your situation is a win. 

Third, a Website Discovery provides you with data-backed insights into your current website and your desired users.

The internet is FULL of data, but too much data can be overwhelming. A formal Website Discovery allows trained experts to do the hard work for you. Instead of sifting through mountains of numbers, insights, and projections to come up with a potentially murky conclusion, a discovery process lets trained experts pull the stats relevant to their field and present them back to you in a helpful, digestible way. Numbers tell a story, but not everyone has the time to write or read the book. Letting someone else do the digging may be one of the most rewarding things you could do for your information. 

What should I bring to the table for the Website Discovery process? 

You! Your organization is unique. Your goals and dreams, clients, and ideal users are unique. You should enter the Website Discovery process with a general idea of your goals and what’s important to you personally and your organization professionally. A good Website Discovery partner, like a good consultant, should ask the right questions to help you unpack your business and get to the heart of what’s important.  

What should I look for with a Website Discovery partner?

Honesty, good communication, and the desire to help your organization succeed. The point of a Website Discovery is to help you understand the potential of your website to be an irreplaceable tool for your business. In order to achieve that, however, you may need the support of a web design partner that has your best interests at heart. Read through reviews and case studies of anyone you’re considering, but beyond that, ask them a few hard questions and see how they respond. A good partner should be able to tell you when they are a good fit…and when they aren’t. 

Pro-tip: ask them the last time they turned away a lead that wasn’t a good fit. How they handled that situation might give you a good idea as to what they value in a client relationship!

A Website Discovery is a fantastic way to gain a deeper understanding of the web design world, your business objectives online, and the best, most strategic way to achieve those objectives. It’s also a great opportunity to gain industry insight from people who know their stuff and want to help your organization succeed. In the end, we all want a better internet experience, and good websites and smart digital marketing are a part of that bigger picture. 



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