Getting people to do something is getting harder and harder.

In today’s hyper-competitive environment, there needs to be an excellent reason for people to take action. Whether it’s an email sign up, a contact form, or a purchase page — people need an incentive and a reason to take action.

No one is visiting a website and giving away their email address for a “newsletter update” anymore. So if that’s how you’re collecting leads, you’re leaving a lot of opportunities on the table.

To really understand what makes people take action, let’s take a look at some studies.

The main one that stands out is from Nielson, which found that 92% of people trust recommendations from their peers, and 70% of the consumers trust a recommendation from someone they don’t even know.

That’s a pretty horrifying fact if you don’t have any reviews or social proof on your website.

To take this research even further, we looked up the “power of free.”

"Free is one of the most powerful words in the English language. Everyone wants free stuff even if they don't need it!"

Our desire for the free item is somehow underlined in our brain — and marketers keenly know it. That is why marketers make use of methods that range from giving away free products in order to get people to take quick action.

The Next Web described the rationale for human reaction to free quite well:

“With free samples, shoppers get to experience something new, and brands get their shot at a positive first impression. In The Atlantic, Joe Pinsker wrote, ‘Retailers, too, have their own reasons to love sampling, from the financial (samples have boosted sales in some cases by as much as 2,000 percent) to the behavioral (they can sway people to habitually buy things that they never used to purchase).”

How exactly do we see free offers positioned in the real world? Here are a few examples of how marketers often use the power of free in their offers:

  • Buy 1, get 1 free
  • Sign up to get a free “x”
  • Free product (just pay for shipping) — the classic ClickFunnels example
  • Free to play
  • 1 Winner gets a free “x”
  • Collect 500 points and get a free “x”
  • Enter your email and win
  • First 10 purchases get a free “x”

The list of free offerings could go on forever.

Now, let’s think about this a little concept a bit differently.

What if all the phrases mentioned above were asking people for $1 instead of free? What do you think the rate of adoption would be?

Let’s look at a test that was conducted in the MIT cafeteria (more on this study at The Decision Lab.)

In one case, a Hershey’s was 1 cent, and a Lindt was 14 cents.

In the other case, Hershey’s was free and Lindt was 13 cents.

What happened to the number of Hershey’s and Lindt sold when the prices dropped by 1 cent?

Source: Shampanier, Mazar, and Ariely (2007)

Hershey’s sales went through the roof!

As you can see the amount in savings was still only $0.01, but the adoption rate for FREE was 3x higher as people changed their preference on what they actually wanted. Brand loyalty went out the window as soon as the concept of free was introduced.

So what does that mean for you?

Well, we’re going to show you exactly how to use two of the most powerful marketing tactics available: a free offer + social proof!

Social proof 101

Remember how we talked about how people trust the opinions and recommendations of their friends when making a purchasing decision?

Social proof is that in action. It’s the psychological and social phenomenon that our own behavior is impacted by the influence of the actions, attitudes, and beliefs of other people (online or in-person).

You can see social proof in action all around you — from the long line at a popular movie to testimonials on a software site — but the shared quality around social proof is that validation comes from a 3rd party, rather than a brand itself.

People trust other people (even people they don’t know) more than they trust brands.

Types of social proof

There are many types of social proof you’ll see in everyday life. Here a few of the big ones:

Not only can you use social proof to help make a more convincing case, but you can also use the “fear of missing out” to incentivize action. This is another powerful persuasion factor when it comes to getting people to take action.

It’s also a tactic that is quite easy to implement.

Here are a few of the common forms of FOMO, you’ll see both online and offline:

  • Limited stock left
  • Limited time left
  • A limited number of seats, sports, tickets, etc.

This idea can get a little repetitive. But by applying scarcity and creating copy around the idea that something is short lived, you can get your visitors moving through your funnel.

Bringing it all together

The easiest way to introduce social proof and the fear of missing out on your site is to use giveaways, contests, waiting lists, or rewards programs. These type of marketing campaign allows you to experiment and scale without having to go crazy on development efforts, changing your offer details, or iterating on your product fulfillment process.

A giveaway is a pretty basic concept that has been working for top brands for years. The basic steps of a giveaway are:

  1. The brand offers a prize that their target market wants.
  2. People enter the giveaway to win that prize.
  3. Contestants collect points by referring other people to enter the giveaway, and by completing specific actions.
  4. A winner or winners receive their prize.

Here are some great examples of how brands are using giveaway bonus actions to build social proof for their brand.

Using a points system during a giveaway allows you to incentivize actions that help build social proof, brand activity, and engagement. Some examples of bonus actions could be:

  • +100 points for liking a page
  • +200 points for leaving a review
  • +300 points for sharing a post
  • +100 points for answering a question
  • +200 points for leaving a comment

So you can incentivize the actions that go into building up your brand’s social proof. The real growth hack is partnering with a tool like Proof to help you get there.

Using a tool like Proof, alongside a giveaway, is a potent combination to get people to take action.

In the next section, we will take a look at an example of how giveaways and social proof can be combined to maximize conversion rates.

Using social proof and giveaways

None of the steps mentioned above can happen if people are not entering your giveaway in the first place. To do that, we set up an experiment using Proof.

We added the tool to our giveaway signup page and compared the conversion rate difference.

(VYPER giveaway – see live example)

The results were pretty insane, take a look.

Giveaway sign up conversion rate = 14%
Giveaway sign up conversion rate with Proof = 23%

Adding Proof to your giveaways is a super easy task. All we had to do was add the Proof pixel to our site, set up a Campaign, and voila! The conversion rate impact was well worth the 10min setup.

For the split test, both audiences saw the exact same experience (except that Proof was included for one audience). Due to our initial success with Proof, we continued the giveaway using Proof to scale. That’s why that campaign has more page views and leads at the time of writing this post.


There are many motivators in this world, but there are few as powerful as social proof and the concept of free. We have shown you in this post a few things that should help you improve your conversion rate and grow your brand.

By combining social proof and giveaways you can efficiently scale your email list, social engagement, and revenue.

Let us know if you have any questions about how to use social proof with giveaways in the comments below.

Jack Paxton is the founder of & the co-founder of Jack helps companies scale using paid ads, giveaways and reward programs. Check out the latest case study on how to grow your email list, social followers and revenue using viral giveaways and reward programs.