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How to Use Social Proof to Drive Conversions in eCommerce

By Laura Taylor • Wednesday Jun 10th, 2020

In all aspects of life, people tend to follow the crowd, and the realm of eCommerce is no different.

From trending items to word-of-mouth recommendations, people feel more comfortable when they are following the behaviour of the majority. This psychological and social phenomenon is called social proof.

In eCommerce, retailers can use social proof to their advantage by highlighting a product’s popularity to increase a shopper’s confidence, drive conversions and influence site revenue.

What is social proof?

The concept of social proof explains why it’s human nature to copy the actions of the majority.

Research suggests this is because people perceive the behaviour of the majority as the ‘accepted’ action to take, therefore, according to social proof theory, individuals will copy what those around them are doing. 

Because of the incredibly influential impact social proof can have on an individual’s actions, it has been widely adopted in both marketing and eCommerce.

How to use social proof in eCommerce

In eCommerce, social proof can be employed to encourage shoppers to make a purchase by showcasing that other customers, preferably in the same demographic, have also bought an item. 

There are a number of ways eCommerce retailers can incorporate social proof in their conversion rate optimisation strategy, here we’ll look at some of the most effective tactics.

Product reviews

Research shows that displaying five reviews of a product can boost conversions by 270%. This means reviews are a key asset to promote throughout the customer journey.

Reviews can be leveraged in a whole host of ways. Consider posting one or two on your social media pages, or incorporate them into the design of your display ads. 

On your site, reviews can be displayed in an Overlay to prevent users leaving your site without making a purchase. Triggered by exit intent technology, Overlays displaying your overall business rating, or reviews for products specific to the page the customer is currently viewing can deter visitors from leaving your site and encourage them to remain in the sales funnel. 

If a customer does not show any intention of leaving your site, reviews can also be displayed on product pages to provide the last push visitors need to convert. Without requiring the full impact of an Overlay, these reviews can be displayed on Prompts to communicate to shoppers in a precise and timely fashion.

Popularity

Social proof can also be leveraged by communicating the popularity of a product or service.

Consider a real life example, if you’re in a shopping mall and see the majority of people with a carrier bag from a certain store, you’ll likely be encouraged to visit that shop. Or if you’re trying to choose a restaurant, chances are you’ll pick the one that looks busy rather than a one with no diners.

The same principle applies to eCommerce. If you can communicate that a product is popular with your customers, you’ll encourage more shoppers to buy it. 

Popularity can be communicated in a number of ways with Prompts. You could perhaps choose to display how many times a page has been viewed, the amount of times a product has been purchased in the past day or that an item is low in stock. This will employ both scarcity marketing and social proofing to persuade a shopper to convert.

Influencer marketing

With 49% of consumers depending on influencer recommendations, influencer marketing is changing the face of online shopping. 

The opinions of trusted influencers are now having the same effect on customers as reviews from a friend or family. 

The key to influencer marketing is ensuring the influencer you choose is recognisable and valued by your target customer. If the two don’t match up, your customers are unlikely to see the influencer promote your product, let alone be persuaded to purchase it. 

If an influencer reviews your products, not only does it give your brand increased exposure, it also boosts customer confidence in your business from the loyalty shoppers feel towards the influencer, which in turn drives traffic to your site and increases conversions. 

Awards 

Recognisable awards provide validation for your online store and increase customer confidence in your brand. 

Acting in a similar fashion to product reviews, awards communicate to customers that reputable bodies outside of your company recognise the value of your brand. This conveys  to customers that your business is trustworthy and reliable.

By showcasing these accolades, perhaps in the footer of your retargeting emails or in an exit intent Overlay, visitors are reassured by the approval of your brand by other professional organisations and so are likely to continue their journey with confidence. 

As conversion rate optimisation experts, our team can offer more advice on how social proof will work for your site. Contact us at [email protected] or call 0204 505 9040 to discuss how we can help you to convert visitors into customers.

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