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8 Amazing social proof tips to boost online course sales

Coined by Cialdini in his 1984 seminal book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, social proof is a psychological bias in which we tend to adopt the behavior of the majority, especially when faced with uncertainty.

Social proof is a big deal in online marketing. It’s why the best converting landing pages include testimonials and why companies rely on online reviews to drive sales. And ultimately, it’s the main reason why word-of-mouth marketing works so well.

First, we’ll have a look at how people make decisions using the actions of other learners as social proof. Then, we’ll unpack step by step what you can do to successfully convert visitors into learners with eight tried and tested methods.


  1. People follow the lead of many others

    There’s strength in numbers especially when it comes to making a decision to buy. That’s why you should: mention the number of people who have taken your courses, the number of subscribers that you already have and display the total number of learners in a prominent place on your main website.


  2. Learners like what’s popular

    People like to know what’s popular right away. If you want to sell faster, branding a course or subscription plan as the most popular will help you attract more learners. You can figure out which items sell well and then point them out in the course catalog. Keep track of sales to see if this strategy works for you.


  3. People choose based on similarity

    We don't only make our choice based on what the majority of people do. In reality, the choice seems so much more appealing when we see a similarity between us and them. You can use this to your advantage by leveraging the power of influencers that have a similar audience to you.


  4. They trust an outside authority or expert

    An expert that is well known within a particular area can really help you market your courses, especially if you’re at the beginning. Awards are also a great medium to show that you know what you’re talking about. Alternatively, if this isn’t an option right now, you can try to display certificates that you’ve won if they are relevant to what you’re teaching.


  5. They look at the number of followers

    Isn’t social media a form of social proof? We can’t pretend that the number of followers, shares, and likes don’t count because they do. The easiest way to use social proof is to enable share buttons on your website. However, there’s always the risk of having low to no shares, in which case you might want to consider disabling them.


  6. Course reviews matter more than you think

    When undecided, online reviews help website visitors make a decision much faster and with greater confidence. In fact, online reviews can boost conversion rates by as much as 270%. You can display reviews on course landing pages or checkout pages. Remember that having only 5-star ratings looks a bit inauthentic and having at least five reviews per product is recommended.


  7. Make a good impression with testimonials

    Testimonials are great for showing how your courses have helped past learners achieve their goals. Testimonials showcase the best you have to offer and the main benefits of your products. For a more in-depth view, you can interview learners and publish case studies on your blog, social media, or even as a separate section on your main portal.


  8. Low proof is worse than no proof

    Authenticity goes a long way and it’s better to display the real number of learners that have bought your courses. However, your actions can backfire if you make the mistake of confusing low proof with “good enough” when it can actually hurt your sales. Better not to display numbers if they are too low because that might just create the opposite effect.


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