Forget Referrals. In 2022, Focus on Social Proof

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When we don’t know how to act or behave in a given situation, we look to others and copy their actions to emulate their behavior, assuming a “herd mentality.” This psychological phenomenon is known as social proof. We assume, “If everyone else is doing it, we should be too.”

First coined as a term in 1984 by Robert Cialdini in his book Influence, social proof is the reason we assume restaurants with long lines must be great, and why we spend hours reading reviews before making a big purchase.

In financial services, social proof is integral – no one wants to hand over their life savings to an unknown entity or someone they can’t be sure whether to trust. For years, social proof in financial services came in one way – referrals from existing clients. But thanks to the updated SEC Ad Rule that went into effect May 4, 2021, incorporating social proof is one of the Biggest Marketing Opportunities for Advisors in 2022.

How can advisors use social proof in their marketing?

In marketing, social proof is used to persuade your audience to perform an action. For example, if your goal is to have your clients sign up to receive your newsletter, then you want to include elements of social proof on your site to show the benefits of signing up (and why others did it in the first place). Below are a few examples of social proof and ways you can use them on your website to improve the trust of clients and visitors.

1. Testimonials and reviews

Testimonials and reviews are of the best forms of social proof. And with the new SEC Ad Rule and approval from compliance, advisors can use them in their marketing. Testimonials and reviews are effective because they come directly from your clients. This shows potential clients what it’s like to work with you while avoiding the skepticism that comes with traditional marketing methods. To get the most out of your reviews and testimonials, position them before calls-to-action, on their own page, or a combination of both.

For example, Global Wealth Advisors uses a standalone testimonial page, which is linked to a button on their homepage, above their services:

No matter where testimonials appear on your site, they should include a button or CTA guiding readers to your reviews and to write their own.

Pro tip: The more authentic reviews and testimonials appear, the better. Including a photo of the person who left the review or even a screenshot of their Google Review will be perceived as more trustworthy (like this image below).