One of Ronnie Scott’s old jokes, and they were all old, was that the food he supplied at his nightclub must be good as 1000 flies can’t be wrong. I can speak from experience and say that there was a lot of truth in what he said, as well as it having a scientific basis as a publicity meme. It seems that we tend to follow the mob. It’s called social proof.
Before you use it in your next email marketing campaign, it is best to understand what motivates people to trust the wisdom of others. There is no argument against the fact that people like to fit in. In general, there’s an assumption that others around us have a certain degree of knowledge about a subject and without contrary information we will go along with them. In essence, most people trust reviews however they are demonstrated.
Social proof can be classified under half a dozen general classifications.
1/ The expert
We see this almost daily in action with regards to Covid-19 briefings. If the scientific person makes a statement, there is a tendency to believe them rather than the politician. Perhaps a learned action.
2/ Someone famous
If somebody well known to those on your email marketing list, or a celebrity, regardless of any connection to the product, endorses it, a degree of trust is established.
3/ Reviews by users
While a single endorsement of a product is not likely to cut much ice when compared to a celebrity doing so, there is certain authority to numbers. If it looks too slick and professional, it might create some doubt. However, if it is from people they can relate to, supported by the use of colloquial language, it increases the likelihood of the person being influenced.
4/ Lots of people
This is Ronnie Scott’s method. It’s unlikely that those attending his nightclub could relate to all or any of the flies, but if lots of people circle the food then can they be wrong? If your next email marketing campaign points out that a product is your best seller, or that there are just a few left, people will think it must be good.
This is gold dust. A product endorsed by somebody a subscriber knows, or whom they see on social media using the product, and hopefully mentioning how great it is, is social media overload.
6/ Official endorsement
If the item has some form of certification, or maybe has passed a series of tests, especially if those of your competitors have not, this too is a way of increasing trust. A literal stamp of approval.
One difficulty of email marketing is that you are asking someone to part with money for a product they haven’t seen, touched or played with, so how do they know it’s what they want and, probably as importantly, whether it’s worth the money. If you can demonstrate that other people thought it was great, by way of overwhelming numbers or by endorsement by those they trust or admire, then their reluctance is likely to be overcome.