As your life becomes more connected you also tend to become more jaded – especially as an online consumer. It’s not hard to see why:
You wake up in the morning, and reach for your smartphone. But whether you’re scrolling through your Facebook feed, checking out a YouTube video, opening one of your favorite news apps, or simply checking the weather, the first thing you usually see is an ad competing for your attention, hoping to win your business.
Being bombarded by all of these advertisements has quite likely turned you into a cynic. By you, I mean we. And by we, I mean basically all of us.
For eCommerce businesses, this makes it that much harder to break through the ever-hardening shell of skeptical online consumers. You need an ‘in’ – a way to break the ice with your target customers that raises their trust and confidence in your brand and what you’re offering them.
The Social Proof is in the Pudding
You’ve probably heard social proof being referred to as a “psychological phenomenon”. But it isn’t a new idea at all – word-of-mouth referral and endorsement has traditionally been extremely powerful in the offline world, well before the rise of eCommerce. What is (relatively) new are the myriad of ways online retailers implement social proof eCommerce marketing strategies.
Social proof is even more important for eCommerce sites since shoppers can’t examine the online product in-person. You can design the most beautiful ads and brand story – but these still won’t be as convincing to shoppers as hearing the experiences and opinions of other buyers before they take the plunge and make a purchase.
That’s why social proof is an incredibly powerful growth hacking force for eCommerce: It lets you bring the tried, tested, and true power of traditional word-of-mouth advertising online.
Here are 4 proven social proof eCommerce strategies your business can leverage today to boost your online engagement, conversions, and retention.
#1 Dispel Doubts With Customer Reviews on Key Areas of Your eCommerce Site
Recent survey findings from WooCommerce confirm most online shoppers today are devoting significant time to reading reviews before making a purchase. Beyond this, consumers today expect online retailers to make reviews readily available on their website: In our soon-to-be-released Consumer Behavior Study of 1,300 online shoppers, 78 percent selected product reviews amongst the factors they feel make for a great shopping experience.
Adding on-site customer reviews not only boosts buyer confidence on your product pages – you can also use customer endorsements on your home, About, brand story and other key pages.
An effective way to generate reviews is incentivizing your existing customers. Email them a promo code, discount offer, or referral code they can share with friends while asking them for feedback and many of them will be more than happy to share their experiences.
The more reviews the merrier – featuring a variety of customer reviews describing their experience with your products and the service they received, both before and after purchase, helps visitors check off questions they still have. This drip effect of positive customer reinforcement will help remove the last remaining barriers for your site visitors, and help them move forward to checkout.
#2 Let Your Customers Go Deeper with Testimonials & Case Studies
Testimonials may sound like reviews, but actually should provide a more open format for your customers to get into greater and more personal detail of how they feel about their experience. They also let your company feature highlights of the very best experiences. Make sure to include testimonials in your engagement channels, including ad campaigns and email newsletters.
Case studies or customer success stories enable existing happy customers to walk prospective new customers through how your company’s product or service helped them solve a specific problem or goal. Getting these longer form pieces of social proof right means setting the stage for your customers to tell their story and share the value they’ve gained from your brand in their own words. This will make the case study both credible and relatable to your target audience.
#3 Capitalize on user-generated content on third-party sites and social platforms
Whether as part of your online marketing campaign or not, chances are your customers talking about your brand and its products on third-party review sites and marketplaces as well as their favorite social media platforms — not taking advantage of these tremendous social proof opportunities is quite simply eCommerce marketing malpractice!
Third-party platform integrations are one important way to let your site visitors view positive reviews and testimonials from external sites on your online store without driving them away from your website. Leveraging reviews posted on free channels such as Facebook and Google are a no-brainer and go a long way in gaining user confidence.
Consumers today are constantly showing off their favorite products social platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Curating user-generated content (UGC) from these popular social platforms and integrating them on your product pages is a great way to boost your social proof and leverage the power of the crowd from the places they most like to share and interact with their friends.
User-generated content platforms such as Yotpo have seen how effective this tactic can be for eCommerce businesses in helping move visitors from their product pages to checkout. Just how influential is UGC? In a 2017 study of over 1,000 online shoppers in the U.S, over 90 percent reported it to be the most influential part of their purchase decisions.
#4 Highlight High Demand and Fear of Missing Out to Fuel Customer Urgency
It’s probably happened to all of us at least once: You’re interested in a product but not sure you’re quite ready to buy so you stall just a little too long… and then suddenly that item you want is sold out or that sale you wanted to take advantage just expired. Stings doesn’t it?
Social proof goes beyond leveraging positive endorsements. Fear of missing out (FOMO) is very much a real part of consumer psychology. The travel industry has perhaps used this to greater effect than any other – hotel and flight booking sites routinely display how many tickets or rooms are left to instill urgency in the minds of site visitors. Many eCommerce businesses display the number of real-time views for a specific product and visual countdowns at checkout to reinforce FOMO and motivate customers to complete a purchase.
There are numerous ways eCommerce businesses can combine high demand with other product or customer-related data in key areas of your online store.
For example, you can stress time sensitivity and urgency within product pages. Inform visitors that a specific product is selling fast by displaying how many units have been sold in the past 24 hours.
Another way to is to relate to a user’s identity. You can insert a badge on product pages that lets users know that many other people in their city or local region are currently viewing this item.
Use urgency and FOMO in your email engagement as well. Send them a special discount offer with a time-limited offer code to increase engagement and conversions.
Using these social proof tactics are key to a successful eCommerce marketing strategy. Stay tuned for future additions in this growth hacking series where we’ll cover other top best practices that can help your company succeed.