Articles on: Social Proof

The Research Behind Social Proof

The Research Behind Social Proof

Social Proof is one of the major influencers of human behavior. Humans, as social creatures, acknowledge and allow the decisions of others to impact us. It’s a scientifically studied area of human psychology, and it’s the reason that, when you walk by a busy restaurant that you’ve never been to, you automatically assume the food is good.

Psychological research shows that in general, when we are unsure of ourselves, when the situation is unclear or ambiguous, when uncertainty reigns, we are most likely to look to and accept the actions of others as correct. There have been a number of prominent psychological studies confirming this hypothesis. (Sechrist & Stangor, 2007; Wooten & Reed , 1998; Zitek & Hebl, 2007).

What that means is that when a user comes to your store, and they’re unsure if you’re trustworthy, or if they should buy, or maybe if this gift they’re buying for a friend from your website is right, social proof helps them get over the hesitation.

That means increased conversions for you, just by having the Proof Factor social proof plug-in on your website!

How Proof Factor Does Even More

Proof Factor takes the concept of social proof, and digitizes it, so that your website is now “the busy restaurant” everyone is interested in trying. But there is more than that.

Additional research shows that there are additional factors that can turbo charge social proof, and Proof Factor adds additional factors that Proof Factor incorporates in our plug-in to get the best possible outcomes.

For example, the research shows that we use the actions of others to decide on our own behavior, but it’s especially powerful when we view those others that are similar to us. (Festinger, 1954; Platow et al., 2005).

Additionally, the amount of influence the is imparted onto the undecided user is proportional to how similar they see other buyers. The more similar the person is, the more likely we are going to follow their lead - (Schultz, 1999)

So how does Proof Factor help encourage buying behaviors? We try to show potential buyers those that have already converted in as much detail as is possible and is ethical, so that they find similarities between themselves and the previous buyers.


NAME: Research shows, even just showing a female a female name, or a male a male name, has significant influence on likelihood to make a decision. Proof Factor by default shows the purchaser’s first name (You can turn if off for privacy purposes in your settings). We cycle through the notifications so that there is a high likelihood that the potential purchasers sees a name that is similar to theirs, and is influenced to follow the lead of the original purchaser:

LOCATION: Location is a similar, if a potential buyer sees that people that live in their city, region, state etc. made the purchase, they’re more likely to feel like those previous purchasers are similar to them and also make a purchase.

**PRODUCT**: Lastly, Proof Factor shows the product that was purchased. We do this for the same reason a restaurant shows their “favorites” or “popular dishes”. If other people are buying it, it must be good!

How Do I Track Proof Factor’s Effectiveness?

Social Proof works - it’s been validated in the research over and over. But it’s important to track it for your business to see how it’s working for you. There are two primary methods - first, understanding the lift that you’re seeing due to the social proof plug-in being installed. Because the influence happens in the mind of the potential buyer, it’s difficult to track directly. However, by using historical baselines, you can see the lift. Assuming you’ve never done this before:

Establish a baseline:
Baselines have two key parts - a historical part (this is what you’ll be pulling) and the projections if you stay on your current course (i.e. are you not making changes, are you doing A/B testing, etc).

Using your Web Analytics tool (Like Google Analytics, Kissmetrics, etc) pull your historical data for your e-commerce store.

Review the historical data for your conversions and determine what a baseline conversion looks like.

`This may sound vague... because it is. Depending on your specific business, conversion may be impacted by a number of factors, including but not limited to:
Seasonality, product mix, marketing/sales, other website changes, etc.

Once a baseline is established and you have a strong understanding of the historical factors that have impacted your conversions, you can then look at the impact that Proof Factor has on visitors that are seeing the notifications!

Compare this lift with your baseline to establish the value of Proof Factor to your business.

The Proof Factor Dashboard

While Proof Factor doesn’t have access to your historical conversions, we still like to track engagement with the notifications themselves. We do this because we want the you to know the direct engagement that users have with the notifications. This is NOT the whole story -  you have to establish a baseline to see and understand the positive impact, but we still believe that there is value in tracking user engagement.

On your Dashboard you’ll see something like this:

There are 4 important figure here:

Impressions: Total number of notifications shown to users.

Hovers: When a unique user hovers their mouse over a notification. It’s a measure of engagement with the notification.

Clicks: When a unique user actually clicks on a notification and it takes them directly to the product being shown in the notification (by default - you can turn this off if you’d like).

CTR: Click through rate - the ratio of impressions to clicks.

Users that click on the notifications are most engaged and most likely to convert, but all users who have been shown the notification have been moved closer to the buying decision. You can use your baseline along with the clicks to establish an economic justification for Proof Factor - how many additional sales are you getting monthly? How much is each additional sale worth to you? Based on these numbers, and the cost of Proof Factor, you can do a simple cost/benefit analysis!


Proof Factor uses the science of social proof to help convert website and store visitors into buyers. By using the actions of other similar buyers, Proof Factor helps new potential buyers get over their hesitations in making a purchase. This additional lift is best seen by establishing conversion baselines to track historical numbers before and after Proof Factor.

Proof Factor also tracks some of the direct engagement on your store/site. The users that are most directly engaged are likely to make purchases. Those engagements can be viewed on your dashboard.

We hope this helps you better measure the impact Proof Factor has on your site!

Happy Selling!


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Updated on: 19/07/2023

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