The Bandwagon Effect Bias – People Follow the Crowd
Why do positive reviews and testimonials boost sales? Can you use social media efforts to improve your conversion rates? It has been known for centuries that people respond to and follow the lead of others. Sticking with our fellow humans has deep roots in the most primitive parts of the brain. Early in human history, survival depended on the power of groups acting together. Today, neuormarketing can take advantage of this ingrained tendency.
Follow the Circus Tradition
Historically, when the circus came to town, a parade was held. After the tents were erected and before the first performance, colorful horse-drawn wagons went down small-town Main Streets. Animals, clowns and performers rode on horseback and in wagons. The last wagon in the parade carried the circus band. When the bandwagon went by, the crowd followed the music and parade to the big tent. That’s the origin of the name of this universal human bias.
Why We Copy What Others Do
Social scientists and psychologists have been studying the bandwagon effect for decades. It explains fads, crazes and even the behavior of soldiers who rush into battle, despite the extreme risks. When we observe others taking some action, we often put aside our logical minds and let our fast-thinking emotional brain take over. We follow the crowd. That’s why social proof techniques work. In online marketing, this phenomenon can be used in many ways:
- The Larger the Crowd, the Greater the Effect – Conversion rates increase when website visitors see information about how many people have acted on offers. Use actual, specific numbers, not words, to maximize the impact. For example: “25,600 satisfied customers have trusted us.” In calls to action, saying “473 people purchased this product in July” can trigger the bandwagon effect. Numbers matter to the fast-thinking brain.
- Testimonials Provide Social Proof – Real testimonials from genuine people are very effective sales enhancements. Text testimonials and testimonial videos build confidence. They stimulate potential customers to take that last step in conversion. Celebrity testimonials can be effective, but we tend to trust people like themselves more. Solicit testimonials from customers but keep them short for maximum impact.
- Online Reviews Trigger Bandwagon Responses – Featuring customer 5-star reviews in calls to action and order forms is a proven technique. The more outstanding reviews the better. Google, Facebook and Yelp reviews are trusted by most online visitors. Solicit reviews from current customers and track review performance carefully. Be proactive in responding to less than perfect reviews. Feature stellar individual reviews along with the statistics.
- Use the Bandwagon Effect to Sell Add-Ons – Amazon, the internet’s largest retailer, always features add-on products. It does this on its shopping cart pages and elsewhere constantly. We all have seen statements like, “People who bought this item also bought these other items.” It’s an extremely effective technique that stimulates customers to follow others and do the same.
- Graphic Images Can Suggest Popularity – The visual impact of images that feature a group of people can increase sales. For example, photos showing your large staff can demonstrate success and excellent performance for a service business. An image of a crowd waiting for your business to open for an event can act as a bandwagon trigger.
- Social Media Numbers Add Up – If your company has a Facebook, Twitter, or other social media presence, strive for high numbers of people who “like” or “follow” your venue. Potential customers often check social media, which always feature these numbers prominently. Stay active and update your pages frequently to keep those statistics rising. Build a crowd of fans and you’ll boost your overall performance.
Jump on the Bandwagon to Draw a Crowd
In old-time circus parades, the lively music and colorful images on the bandwagon were important in attracting an eager audience for the performance. Online, people will follow the crowd to your business, too, but you must create a virtual crowd they can envision. Through crowd-sourced content and references to your popularity, you can stimulate the bandwagon effect in your internet marketing. Need help? Our neuromarketing firm can show you a wide range of proven strategies.