How to Use Social Proof to Boost WordPress Plugin and Theme Sales

Social proof leverages positive feedback to boost your sales. Just think about it—when you’re making any (big) purchases, you’re likely to go online and read reviews before making a final decision. And that’s how most people behave in the final stages of the buying journey.

By displaying user testimonials, expert endorsements, and the popularity of your products, you can influence potential customers’ purchasing decisions and increase the sales of your WordPress plugins and themes.

In this article, we’ll walk you through five types of social proof and show you how to leverage them to give your sales an instant boost.

What is Social Proof?

Social proof is a psychological and social phenomenon where people look to the actions and behaviors of others to determine their own. 

It relies on the idea that if people see that many others — particularly those they trust or admire — are doing something, they are more inclined to do it.

This concept is leveraged in marketing to influence potential customers’ decisions, showcasing that a product or service is widespread and trusted by many. 

Why Is Social Proof Important? 

Social proof helps establish confidence and credibility with potential customers. When buyers see that others have had positive experiences with a WordPress plugin or theme, they are more likely to believe in its value and effectiveness. 

Social proof takes advantage of the human instinct to follow the crowd. In situations where people are uncertain about what to do, they look to the behavior of others for guidance. 

Consequently, leveraging social proof can boost conversion rates, sales, and customer loyalty. 

5 Types of Social Proof

Five different types of social proof offer validation for purchasing decisions.

We’ll explain each:

1. User Social Proof

User social proofs are reviews and testimonials from your plugin or theme users. Publicly displaying positive feedback helps reinforce a potential customer’s decision to buy your product. Reviews or testimonials placed near your Call-to-Action (CTA) button can significantly boost conversion rates.

Implementing user social proof on your website is easy and cost-free. You only need to request it from your current customers.

Tips for user social proof:

  • Actively ask for testimonials from your users after they have had a positive experience with your product.
  • Use a plugin to display testimonials prominently on your website, especially near CTAs.
  • Make it easy for users to leave reviews on your website or third-party platforms. Follow up via email and provide direct links to your review page.

2. Wisdom of the Crowds Social Proof

The wisdom of the crowd assumes that people often follow the buying behaviors of others. This tendency can escalate into a phenomenon known as the “Fear of Missing Out” (FOMO), where others are eager to buy popular products to avoid feeling left out.

Since WordPress plugins and themes are widely available and not limited in supply, the anxiety typically associated with FOMO is less of a concern.

Implementing FOMO strategies is simple; plugins allow you to add these notifications to your site for free. If you’re looking for more advanced features, like integration with Google Analytics, there may be a fee, but the overall investment required for FOMO marketing tools is minimal.

This approach is an accessible option for improving the appeal of your WordPress product (details on costs and an upcoming surprise announcement to follow).

Tips for the wisdom of the crowd social proof:

  • Display the number of downloads, active installs, or user ratings on your product pages to highlight its popularity.
  • Implement pop-up notifications on your site that show recent activities like purchases or sign-ups to create a sense of ongoing demand.

3. Wisdom of Friends Social Proof

Wisdom of friends includes recommendations from trusted contacts, like friends or colleagues. This type of social proof might seem less direct than others, but its impact is profound, particularly when you see options like “refer a friend” on various websites.

This strategy is a personal and credible affiliate program, but it goes beyond typical advertising-based affiliate strategies. It encourages genuine recommendations.

For example, Dropbox made the “refer a friend” option famous by giving away free storage space for life for every invited contact who joined.

Tips for the wisdom of friends social proof:

  • Offer incentives for users to refer friends, such as discounts or free features for both the referrer and the referred. Promote this program through your website and email.
  • Make it easy for users to share your products on social media with social sharing buttons, amplifying the reach of personal recommendations.

4. Expert Social Proof

Expert social proof happens when respected figures in your industry endorse your product. They can do it through blogs, social media, or direct quotes.

It’s a strategy well-suited for WordPress businesses with a solid customer base looking to boost their visibility and credibility with high-profile endorsements.

Tips for expert social proof:

  • Reach out to well-known figures in the WordPress community for endorsements. Offer them a free trial of your product and ask for feedback or a testimonial.
  • Secure reviews or quotes from industry experts and feature these prominently on your website and marketing materials.

5. Celebrity Social Proof

Celebrity social proof involves a famous person endorsing a product, which usually doesn’t apply to WordPress plugins. Yet, the WordPress community has its own “celebrities” or well-known figures highly respected for their expertise.

While these people can be considered celebrities within the WordPress ecosystem, they are more accurately described as experts. Therefore, their endorsements fall more into the category of expert social proof, demonstrating their deep knowledge and influence in WordPress.

Tips for celebrity social proof:

  • Look for well-respected individuals (celebrities) within the WordPress community – popular bloggers and YouTube or social media influencers.
  • Treat endorsements from WordPress experts as celebrity social proof by highlighting their status in the community. Feature their endorsements in a dedicated section on your site or marketing campaigns.

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Key Factors Impacting the Buying Process

The social proof relies on basic human psychology. Our fundamental desire to fit in or be a part of a group drives its efficacy in marketing. It clarifies your sales process, making buyers feel more comfortable and confident in purchasing decisions.

Social proof can help you develop trust, foster identification with your target audience, and clearly and effectively demonstrate consumer happiness.

Here’s how to apply different types of social proof to help people buy WordPress plugins and themes:

Example #1:

Show logos of famous brands that use your product and the total number of users to give your product instant credibility. 

Potential customers feel more confident when they see that many others have had positive experiences with your product. That makes them more likely to choose it too.
200k Websites Can't Be Wrong

Trusted by Other Customers

Example #2:

Showing high-quality reviews or testimonials with a photo and star rating on your website can encourage other buyers.

Reviews, often more thorough than testimonials, also appear on external sites like, enhancing credibility. Star ratings visually help to reinforce the quality of your product. Here are some other creative examples from WPMU.

WPfomify Social Proof Event Notification
WPfomify Review, Source: WPfomify

Example #3:

Upsell higher membership plans or additional products by highlighting “Most Popular” options on your pricing page. This strategy uses social proof to show buyers they’re making a popular choice.

Encourage a sense of community by offering exclusives with premium memberships, such as access to a special club, Slack channel, or members-only support. Mentioning how other customers find value in bundles or add-ons can influence buying decisions.

A good example is the Freemius DEV Slack, which is open to users integrating our SDK. It’s a place for plugin and theme sellers to exchange tips and experiences.

Most Popular Pricing Option

Check out Our Integration with WPfomify

As promised, and since we embrace social proof in the buying process, we are happy to announce our new integration with WPfomify! They’re one of the leading providers of social proof and FOMO marketing solutions for WordPress. Their new integration with Freemius means you can display a wide variety of Freemius events directly on your website in real-time!

They’re one of the leading providers of social proof and FOMO marketing solutions for WordPress. Their new integration with Freemius allows you to display various Freemius events directly on your website in real-time!

Check out WPfomify features regardless of the social proof marketing solution you want to implement. Many tools use similar practices, but they don’t all have awesome integrations with Freemius!

Next step? Dive deep into how to collect testimonials and make the most out of them.

Brandon Ernst

Published by Brandon Ernst

Founder of Brand on Fire LLC, specializing in premium web development and digital marketing; former Head of Marketing at Freemius, leading content development and outreach, providing valuable advice for WordPress plugin and theme developers' growth.

Bruno Carreço

“No more need for users to visit an external site to purchase the plugin, be redirected to PayPal, return back to site, then install premium plugin, then activate license! All the provided analytics are also very welcome.”

Bruno Carreço - Self employed plugin developer at Go Fetch Jobs Try Freemius Today

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