The Importance of Social Proof Marketing in Today’s Shopping Environment
In today’s digital-first environment, people use different forms of social proof to inform almost every decision they make, and shopping is no exception. In fact, 66 percent of shoppers look for social proof before making online purchases. By definition, “social proof is the influence that the actions and attitudes of the people around us (either in real life or online) have on our own behavior.”
To help influence consumers to buy, retailers need to incorporate the “wisdom of the crowd” into their marketing strategy along key customer touchpoints. Social proof elements can be customized to fit nearly any customer journey, all of which can increase performance and trust.
Highlight Popular Products
Some customers will choose a product solely based on its online rating – both what the rating is, and how many people rated it. This decision metric helps the shopper feel more confident in their purchase if they see that the item is both highly rated and popular. The influence of ratings on product purchase is important for seasonal goods, niche market products, and sites with a broad selection of products. To capitalize on the value of ratings on sales, e-commerce platforms can be designed to showcase the most popular items at nearly any level, from a homepage image to a shopping cart add-on recommendation.
For example, Helly Hansen, the popular skiing, sailing, and outdoor apparel company, highlights popular items to specific visitor segments, based on recent searches. The back-end technology then automatically shows the top sellers with an intriguing tagline like “don’t miss out!” or “selling fast!” to draw customers in and make them feel confident in their purchase.
Showcase Trending Searches
Major search engines use fill-in-the-blank suggestions, based on what other users have frequently explored, and the same approach can be used on any e-commerce site to direct shoppers to desired products. For example, if a visitor is searching for a rake on a popular home improvement store’s website, the retailer can choose to show the most popular products, products based on that specific customers’ past preferences, or even based on business goals to move product. Highlighting elements such as ratings scores or discounts on search results can help the user feel more comfortable as they navigate the site.
Create Insider Deals
To encourage shoppers to sign up for newsletters or loyalty programs, many retailers turn to deals or marketing campaigns that imply exclusivity. These strategies, however, don’t have to be restricted to select returning customers. With A/B testing and data analysis, retailers can continuously personalize landing pages, emails, and app pages to show top-selling items with special “insider” deals and enticing language about limited-time offers.
To further drive excitement, retailers can use a personalized countdown timer in emails or other promotional materials. This can be done through a seasonal sale with a distinct end date or a website deal that only lasts a few hours. A popular and alternative fashion retailer for young adults has used this strategy recently when it created individualized, scratch-off style games as a promotional tool. Shoppers were encouraged to scratch off a card to determine what deal they would get – but only if they made a purchase within a limited window of time.
Retailers today are eager to get customers back in-store. One way to show customers that it’s both safe and worthwhile to return to a brick-and-mortar location is by hinting at deals happening in specific in-store locations. Salt Swim, a popular swimwear brand, did this on Instagram by sharing which products were in stock and which were selling quickly in certain areas. This created omnichannel “FOMO,” or fear of missing out, that drove customers to the store to see what items they might not be finding online that fellow shoppers recommended.
Offering Social Proof Across the Customer Journey
Shoppers today are yearning for connectivity, and successful retailers can tap into that by utilizing social proof to showcase the why and how of their products. To do so successfully, marketers can test, personalize, recommend, and deliver social proof marketing designed for individuals or groups that has the power to validate customer decisions and encourage more purchases through “wisdom of the crowd.”
Lisa Kalscheur is chief marketing officer at Kibo, a cloud commerce solutions provider.