Ever walked down the street and seen one restaurant (let’s call it McA) packed to the brim and the next one completely empty? Ever wonder if it is a result of McA being utterly and completely superior to its neighbour? The chances are, it’s not! More likely, it is a trait of humans in general that I call “Empty Restaurant Syndrome” or ERS that is at the heart of the matter.
Basically, given two choices of restaurant that are exactly equal in every way, with the exception that one already has a few people in it and the other is empty, you and I are most likely going to choose the one that has a few customers already. When the next person comes along, you and I are in there too, so it’s looking a bit more lively than the still empty restaurant, so they join us. So it goes until the first restaurant is completely full.
Faced with one completely full restaurant and one that is completely empty, the next diner is probably going to go find somewhere else to eat entirely, rather than eat alone while everyone stares at him. So two restaurants that are exactly the same end up having completely divergent success rates based solely on slightly varying initial conditions – which is a perfect point in case for chaotic systems for the maths junkies among us.
The reason for this huge divergence is based on a cursory calculation that we all (consumers in general) make when assessing new products and services That calculation compares the perceived popularity of the two restaurants and deduces which one is “better“. This deduction, of course, has nothing to do with actual, real life quality… how could it, you haven’t tried both restaurants out. But, it is a powerful effect nevertheless.
The bad news is that ERS applies to business blogs and sites too
In the same way, visitors to your website will make snap decisions about the quality of your products, blog, services and anything else you offer. Often, based on nothing more than what they perceive your popularity to be.
Look at any highly popular, purely online businesses (i.e. ones that don’t rely on a strong traditional brand to drive traffic). You’ll notice that a significant proportion of their pages are devoted to telling people how wonderful they are, and how much success they are enjoying. They also devote a lot of real estate to testimonials and positive reviews to back up these claims.
It’s good practice because it establishes confidence in what you do. Consumers want to know they’re using what everyone else is using and that everyone else thinks it’s great.
It’s really important that you highlight your own successes and popularity wherever you can. It may seem a bit ego-centric to you, but remember that people don’t spend a lot of time reading web pages. They look at something, make a snap decision and move on. You have to convince them of your quality before that snap decision comes.
A website or blog that makes it abundantly clear that other people regularly use and love its offering is far more likely to generate trust and confidence. This trust and confidence results in a much higher conversion rate because people feel they are in the McA restaurant, and not eating by themselves… quietly, alone.