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Social proof in foreign markets, in other words, how to build trust?

  • Published: 21.10.2022
  • Updated: 03.01.2023

Strategies for foreign market penetration or conquest vary from exporting, to opening subsidiaries, to corporate mergers. Expansion is often accompanied by financial, legal and… social matters. That’s why, no matter which strategy you chose to adopt, you need to pay attention to building trust in foreign markets. There is something that can help us out with this. This is social proof, aka proof of validity. How to use it? You will find out in the following article.

 

social-proof

What is social proof?

Social proof is an English term. From a psychological and social perspective, it refers to the behaviour of a person who does not what to do, so they decide to copy another individual or group.

This phenomenon is very often seen abroad: in culture, traffic, and even in restaurants or various daily activities. When we don’t know how to behave, we look at others and take suggestions from their actions.

And while Poland belongs to the Slavic countries, not every Pole will find themselves perfectly at home in the Czech Republic or Slovakia. Which is why, for almost all of us, it’s the opinion of people who know the local market inside out, is so important. Who do you turn to for recommendations on Czech beer, the best Croatian beach, Hungarian wine or a mountain tour in Slovakia? You will find out the most from the locals, but without proper language skills you can take advantage of a faster, simpler and more accessible option, the Internet.

The same applies to conducting business abroad. Any potential customer for your business will tend to rely on the opinion of other experienced and trusted people – that is, users similar to them. And they will be looking for reviews about your company especially on the Internet.

Foreign e-commerce

We have a hidden potential to reach users in our near vicinity who are increasingly eager to shop online.

For example, the Hungarian e-commerce market is the fastest growing online segment in the European Union. The same is true in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, which have seen a significant increase in Internet users between 2020 and 2021 (source: interaktywnie.com). While such rapid growth is an opportunity to conquer a foreign market, it also poses the risk of getting lost in the thick of increasing competition – whether you operate locally in any of these countries or export your goods there.

Building trust and improving the experience in the e-commerce segment is what sets you apart from others in the foreign market.

Does user feedback matter?

For a long time, the most popular online stores in the Slavic countries have been taking advantage of price comparison engines and tools that monitor prices, products and reviews. Due to cultural similarities (e.g., Slovakia and the Czech Republic), Internet users from both countries use Slovak and Czech stores interchangeably.

These foreign correlations show how important it is to gather feedback from all users, even those abroad.

How do you build trust with consumers?

Nearly 70% of all Internet users rely on third-party reviews before making an online purchase (source: Consumerist)

The aforementioned social proof is highly relevant in e-commerce. Social proof has been classified as one of the 6 rules of persuasion (source: Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence: Science and Practice)). When we don’t know which product to choose, we will opt for the one chosen by the majority. By doing so, we drive the mechanism of uncertainty and similarity:

1) Uncertainty causes that the more we feel dilemmas about how to behave, the more we search for the right role model.
2. Similarity influences us in such a way that we are more inclined to believe someone with whom we share the same experience – in this case, the shared experience is shopping for the same product at an online store.

Authentic user reviews are effective in building trust among Internet users, who later convert into customers.

3 simple ways to build trust and confidence through social proof

1. Customer references

A customer or business partner endorsement, also known as a customer testimonial, is just an example of one of the social proofs of legitimacy that increases trust in a brand and builds the company’s credibility. In addition to sharing references on your brand page or online store, it’s additionally worthwhile to use this content in other ways, such as:

● share them on social media,
● send in a newsletter to your contact database,
● convert the case study,
● refer back to them when asking other clients for references.

2. Influencer marketing

Working with influencers not only gives you the chance to increase your online store’s conversions, but most importantly, it increases brand awareness among consumers and builds trust. Indeed it is influencers, who are said to be opinion leaders, that help create the image of your business in the eyes of potential customers. Users perceive influencers as someone they know personally, so they tend to place more trust in their opinions.

3. User feedback automation

One-on-one requests to customers in service outlets or online stores are not always possible – especially when there are dozens or even hundreds of these users per day. That’s why automation plays a significant role in building trust and leveraging social proof of legitimacy through other users’ feedback.

➔ Recommendation systems automatically generate personalised requests for reviews.
➔ With feedback acquisition tools, you can design functional widgets or pop-ups that show up to the user after they make a purchase.
➔ Automated recommendation acquisition systems can even change the way a website is displayed on Google’s search engine, for example, by adding stars in the form of structured data.

But above all, these solutions will convince other users to make a purchase!

According to information from Bright Local, up to 98% of Internet users read the reviews regarding local businesses. These statistics show that it’s worthwhile to acquire reviews on a wide scale – regardless of the nature or size of the business.

Credibility + trust = higher sales

Opinions, reviews and recommendations in various forms provide social proof of legitimacy, build brand credibility and influence the company’s image in a positive way. Even if you find one negative opinion among them, you can translate it into success. It provides even more credibility to the company and at the same time gives a “free” lesson and important customer feedback (especially abroad, when cultural aspects are also included in the user experience).

Comments in different languages can also contribute to building trust and confidence in the brand, both among people who speak the language and those who don’t understand a word – they can always use an online translator and recognise that the company they use also appeals to people outside the country.

Trust is difficult to measure, but it’s easy to see when customers place their trust in us – when they willingly purchase from our online store or use our services, and frequently return to us. This is something to fight for, because according to Reevo, positive reviews increase sales by an average of 18%. Here, at Zaufane.pl, we are well aware of this, and now it’ s time for you!

Monika Kosmowska Partnership Manager w Zaufane.pl zaprzyjaźniona od ponad 10 lat ze sprzedażą B2B. Swoje doświadczenie budowała na współpracy z korporacjami, jak i firmami z sektora MŚP. Pasjonatka branży e-commerce i świata SEO