What Is Social Proof? How to Harness Its Power for Marketing Success

May 16, 2023
Contributor: Shubham Gupta

How social proof can boost brand awareness and win new business.

Earning the trust of potential customers is a make-or-break factor for software providers looking to grow their business. Social proof - the idea that people follow others' actions - is key to building credibility and establishing trust with prospects. 

Online reviews are a powerful form of social proof, with 86% of businesses considering verified reviews critical in their purchase decisions, according to 2023 Software Buying Trends.

Using social proof in your marketing campaigns can demonstrate the value of your products or services through the authentic experiences of your customers. This article will explore the impact of social proof and offer actionable tips so you can resonate with potential customers.

What is social proof?

Social proof is the idea that people make decisions based on the actions and opinions of others. In other words, if someone sees a group of people doing something, they are more likely to follow.

The psychological foundation of social proof lies in three key aspects:

  • Conformity: People usually want to fit in and follow the crowd to gain acceptance.
  • Belonging: People are more likely to take action if it aligns with their values and beliefs.
  • Trust: People trust the opinions of others while making decisions, especially in uncertain situations.

A quick tip: Use these three aspects to connect better with your target audience and drive more conversions. Make sure that the social proof you use is genuine (like actual customer reviews), relevant (to your product or service), and timely (it should be up-to-date). 

Why social proof matters: The influence on prospects and decision-making

Let’s say a customer is looking for new customer relationship management (CRM) software and is considering two options. One product has an average of 4.8 stars, while the other has lower. Which one would they choose? Chances are, they’ll pick the former because other buyers say it’s the better option.

This is a prime example of why social proof matters in marketing—it can influence prospects’ decisions and ensure they choose your product over your competitors. But that’s not all. As a persuasive tool, social proof can help you:

  • Build trust and credibility: Social proof shows potential customers that your product is reliable and trustworthy, thus increasing their confidence in you.
  • Increase conversions and sales: You can use social proof to encourage people to take action, such as making a purchase. If they see that others have made the purchase and are happy with it, they will be more likely to do the same.
  • Overcome skepticism and doubt: People tend to be skeptical of new products and services, so social proof can help alleviate their doubts. It shows them that others have taken the plunge and are satisfied with the results.

6 types of social proof that make a difference

Once you understand what social proof is and why it matters, you need to identify the right types of social proof for your business to maximize its effectiveness. Here are six impactful types of social proof to consider:

1. Customer reviews

Customer reviews are ratings and feedback left by customers about their experience with your product or service. When potential customers see positive reviews, it helps build trust and credibility, thus increasing the likelihood of conversions. Besides, reviews can provide valuable feedback that can help you improve your product or service.

Reviews empowering buyers to make the right purchase decision graph

User reviews and comparison sites are consulted at each stage of the buying process

Where to use customer reviews to amplify your marketing impact:

  • Embed reviews and ratings on your product page.
  • Share reviews on social channels where your target audience is active.
  • Highlight the most positive reviews on your homepage and landing page(s).
  • Include customer reviews in your email campaigns and outbound sales process.

As per Gartner Digital Markets’ 2023 SMB Software Buying Trends Survey[*], 41% of buyers consider customer reviews and ratings the most used content type while making a software purchase. Make sure to prioritize customer reviews for maximum impact.

2. Awards and recognitions

Awards and recognitions serve as an external validation of your product or service's quality and performance. When your company or product receives accolades from industry experts, associations, or media outlets, it boosts your brand's credibility and authority. Showcasing these achievements can help you gain the trust of potential customers and increase conversion rates.

GetApp Category Leaders - Capterra Shortlist - Software Advice Frontrunners - Badges

Where to use awards and recognitions to amplify your marketing impact:

  • Share your achievements on social media channels
  • Display them prominently on your website and product pages
  • Highlight awards in your email campaigns and marketing materials
  • Include them in press releases and other public relations activities

When prospects notice that your brand has been recognized for its excellence, their confidence in your products or services is likely to increase. This heightened trust can ultimately lead to more purchases. 

Here's how to do it:

  • Apply for relevant awards and recognitions in your industry.
  • Create a dedicated section on your website to showcase your accolades.
  • Promote your awards and recognitions consistently across various channels.
  • Plan for submissions to upcoming awards and recognitions in your industry.
3. Case studies

Customer success stories are in-depth accounts of how customers used your product or service and the results they achieved. They provide valuable details that help prospects understand how your product works and the positive impact it can make. They can help you build credibility, increase conversions and foster customer relationships.

Where to use case studies to amplify your marketing impact:

  • Share these on social media, your blog, and other channels
  • Create a specific section on your website for case studies
  • Include case studies in sales and marketing emails
  • Add a link to the case study on product pages
  • Use them in presentations

According to Gartner research[1], over 90% of case studies do not contain the necessary components to pique the interest of prospects and customers. It’s critical to make your case studies engaging with a client-focused narrative.

Here's how to do it:

  • Focus on real customer stories
  • Include quantitative data to back up the claims
  • Include customer feedback and quotes in each case study
  • Highlight the key outcomes achieved
4. User-generated content (UGC)

UGC refers to any form of content, such as pictures, videos, comments, or stories created by your customers. UGC showcases real-life experiences and opinions of actual users, which can be considered more trustworthy than your own content. Also, UGC can be leveraged in various ways, including your website, blog, and social media posts.

Where to use UGC to amplify your marketing impact:

  • Feature customer stories in your blog posts
  • Share UGC on social media channels with hashtags or mentions
  • Include customer images in email campaigns and product pages
  • Host contests or campaigns to engage customers and collect UGC

When surveying customers about the type of content they prefer to see from brands on social media, 43% expressed interest in content generated by individuals who use the brand[2]. This includes reviews, demos, unboxing, tutorials, and Q&As.

Here's how to do it:

  • Encourage customers to create UGC by offering incentives or rewards.
  • Make sure you have permission from customers before using any UGC.
  • Analyze UGC regularly and draw insights on what resonates with customers.
  • Ensure the content is relevant and appropriate to your brand.
5. Influencer and celebrity endorsements

When well-known personalities promote your products or services through social media, TV, print media, or other channels, it can boost your sales and increase brand visibility. Influencers and celebrities have large followings and the potential to change people’s perceptions of your product.

Influencers’ Impact on Technology Buying Processes

Where to use influencer and celebrity endorsement to amplify your marketing impact:

  • Highlight it on your website or blog
  • Feature their posts in social media campaigns
  • Include them in your email campaigns and product pages
  • Share their endorsement on different platforms, including traditional media

According to our survey[*], 25% of buyers drop a software provider after negative (or no) opinions from influencers. This shows the power of influencer marketing. Including it in your marketing strategy can make all the difference.

Here's how to do it:

  • Identify relevant influencers and celebrities in your industry.
  • Create a shortlist of the ones that you’d like to work with.
  • Reach out to them and explain the benefits of working with you.
  • Design an appealing endorsement campaign to get maximum reach.
  • Monitor the performance of your influencer campaigns and identify areas of improvement.
6. Product integrations

Product integrations involve collaborating with other brands or products to create a seamless user experience. These partnerships show that other reputable companies trust and value your product or service enough to integrate it into their own offering. Examples of product integrations include software integrations, co-branded products, and joint promotions.

Where to use product integrations to amplify your marketing impact:

  • Promote it on social media
  • Feature the integrations on your website or in your blogs
  • Include product integrations in email campaigns
  • Share it through traditional media, such as TV or print

By actively promoting your product integrations, you seize a fantastic opportunity to attract more customers and increase brand loyalty. That's why you need to have a clear strategy in place to ensure that promoting product integrations are included in your marketing mix.

Here's how to do it:

  • Reach out to companies with which you have built a product integration.
  • Develop a plan for how you will promote the integration together.
  • Make sure you have permission to use the other company's branding and content.
  • Create engaging content to market the integration, such as joined webinars or case studies.

Start gathering social proof

There you have it. Now that you know what social proof is, why it’s important, and six impactful types of social proof you can use to amplify your marketing impact, it’s time to start promoting your own testimonials, reviews, UGC, influencer endorsements, and product integrations. 

To start, leverage our review collection service, which makes it easy to build a trusted reputation by collecting verified user reviews and increasing visibility on search engines. Begin today and watch your business grow through social proof!

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Building a review-centric marketing engine on Capterra and beyond.

Shubham Gupta

Shubham Gupta is a Content Writer at Gartner Digital Markets who ideates and creates purpose-driven content to help modern technology businesses achieve their goals. Outside of work, he enjoys reading thriller novels and Urdu poetry, as well as spending time with his dog. Connect with Shubham on LinkedIn.



  1. 4 Mistakes That Ruin Case Studies for Tech CEOs, Gartner
  2. Digital IQ Index: Auto 2022, Gartner
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