Social Proof

How Social Proof Messaging can Beat ‘Gift Buyers’ Block’ & Boost Holiday Sales


Alison Wiltshire


October 31, 2019

As we head into the busy Holiday gifting season, we look at how retailers can support gift buyers with the challenge and anxiety of finding and purchasing the perfect gift - all while increasing retail conversions.

As we head into Holiday Season 2019 your customers face the annual challenge and anxiety of finding and purchasing the perfect gift for family and friends. The average US holiday shopper purchased 16 gifts during Holiday Season 2018 spending an average of $846 (source: Holiday eCommerce Shopping).

But the gift buying challenge isn’t just confined to the Holiday Season, there is a broader opportunity for gift-giving throughout the year. From Valentine’s Day to Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, year-round birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions. 

At these times, customers are faced with a bewildering and at times overwhelming choice when seeking out that perfect gift – often without specialist product knowledge.  Retailers can improve their customers’ experience by guiding them through these unchartered waters to arrive at the perfect gift and increase their sales.


Shoppers are looking for help — their #1 concern is not knowing what gift to buy (47% of respondents) according to a recent survey by Periscope by Mckinsey. This is where social proof messaging can help. If you’re unfamiliar with social proof, it is based on the principle that we are influenced by the crowd. Applied to shopping, when we know that others have bought or considered a product, we’re more confident about doing the same.

How does Taggstar help?

There are no sales assistants online and customers can be bamboozled by choice. Taggstar’s real-time social proof messaging showing real-time trends like sales, views, trending products, best sellers, what’s hot, stock levels, customer reviews - and even what has happened since the customer has last visited the page - helps customers make faster, more informed decisions.


For retailers this results in increased conversion rates and sales.  In fact, some retailers who have implemented our social proof messaging have seen uplifts in conversion by up to 12%


We know how to engage and inform gift buyers and to optimize their sales journey whether the product is flowers, chocolates, gourmet food hampers, gift baskets, jewelry, travel, ticketing or toys. Take a look at our case studies to read about the conversion rate and revenue uplift that our retail customers have seen. 


In 2019, we added our social proof messaging into more retail marketing channels including social media, dynamic email, in-store digital display and remarketing ads. 


With proven results across different product categories, we believe social proof messaging is a powerful way to convert shoppers. As we hurtle into holiday season 2019, today’s blog talks you through the ways that social proof can be used to sell gifts.


Here’s how you can overcome ‘gift buyers’ block’; improve the gift buying customer experience and increase sales using social proof:


Bring the In-Store Sales Assistant Online

Gift buyers aren’t buying for themselves. Many need a lot of hand-holding. Whether you’re selling through bricks and mortar stores or online-only, supporting these buyers is central to closing the sale.


Retailers know that their buyers are rarely experts in the gift they’re choosing, and we also know that if you’re buying online the sheer volume of choice, coupled with the lack of support can be overwhelming. Especially when faced with a product list page of hundreds of search results. 


Forbes’ 2019 retail roundup ‘How To Rule Retail: 10 Essential Tactics, Trends & Innovations To Back In 2019’ highlighted how online stores will now look to attract and sell through live and interactive eCommerce - and that’s been borne out by the retailers who are adding live chat, explainer videos and more to support customers. 


We know that this is so important to satisfy gift buyers who are desperate to make the right product choice the first time around.  Everyone hates digging around for a receipt to return a gift that’s gone wide of the mark.


When the success of a gift sale depends so heavily on expert advice, social proof messaging is a key tool that retailers can use to replicate the in-store experience online. Messages can be applied throughout the sales funnel to show real-time sales, views, reviews and add-to-basket trend data for individual products, plus the latest product reviews and stock levels.


For the gift giver, who’s shopping alone, this information helps to:

  • Support the gift discovery and selection process by drawing their attention to gift options that are popular with others. 
  • Draw up a shortlist by emphasising why they should buy using purchase volumes, views and add to basket volumes. 
  • Inject urgency into the purchase decision. By using stock volumes shoppers can understand when availability is limited and that they have limited opportunity to make a decision. This type of urgency messaging reduces the time they spend on-site and improving the shopping experience.
  • Engage customers. Reviews are important to gift buyers. By integrating Taggstar with BazaarVoice review data, customers’ choices are affirmed by other trusted peers.

Unlock Buyers’ Block

Who hasn’t tried to buy a gift for a fussy relative or friend and ended up buying a voucher instead?  It’s disappointing for both parties.


Shoppers now see gift options and recommendations from more sources than ever before, but this hasn’t cut decision-making time, in fact, it’s added to it. Social proof messaging is a way to cut through the noise, to give gift buyers a different purchase experience.


Imagine your search results for jewelry or flowers have thrown up 150 gift options. However, the list page highlights a few products as ‘Popular’ or ‘Trending.’  This immediately narrows your shortlist.  


Clicking through to the product details page gives you richer detail about each bouquet or bracelet such as ‘50 others have bought this today’ or, ‘39 others have rated this 5 stars for quality.’  


By making you aware which products are the most popular and highly-rated, you’ve been able to shortlist and add gifts to your bag.  


This is important to help retailers reduce gift returns too. As Liam Price, digital director at retailer Oasis said, “The Taggstar messages instigate a purchase, but we don’t want to drive up unnecessary purchases – there’s a fine line between quality and demand."


Add Digital Interaction to In-Store Digital Displays

Taggstar can also inject social proof messaging into the in-store gift buying experience, meeting demand from retailers to add interactive digital engagement into bricks and mortar retail.


We use the same real-time data to show rich product detail, like popularity, stock volumes, reviews and more on in-store digital displays. This gives in-store customers reasons why they should choose a product at the point of consideration or purchase.


This is important for gift retailers. Consumers spend significantly more per visit in-store than online (source: Forbes). A First Insight Report says that 71 per cent of all shoppers spent $50 or more when shopping in-store compared to only 54 per cent spending more than $50 online.  


Imagine being able to display social proof about the real-time top five trending items as they happen e.g. “24 others have bought these earrings in the last hour” or “Trending: 18 sold in the last hour.”


Interject Social Proof Messaging into Shoppable Social Media and Email

Brands can now display Taggstar messaging on social media, direct and retargeted emails, display and retargeting ads, shopping vouchers, dynamic out-of-home advertising as well as in-store. 


This is important given the significant - and growing - influence of digital channels on an eventual sale. 


Although online shopping via a website is still important, in many cases, the consumer never touches the retailer’s website to research or buy. Today’s shopper may click through from a dynamic email, an advert, or from a social media story, photo or brand video as part of an offsite digital customer journey. These new retail channels are especially important because customers can view third-party reviews and product shopping trends during the discovery and research phase. 

"23% of US shoppers say they plan to use social media to help with their holiday shopping process this year."


We’ve partnered with dynamic content provider Movable Ink to let brands inject our real-time messages into their email campaigns for better engagement and customer interaction.


This gives gift retailers more options to activate the live product and customer data and to generate compelling calls-to-action at the moment the email is opened, boosting engagement and conversions.


We can also add social proof to shoppable social channels like Instagram. This reaches gift buyers during their research and discovery phase, and is a new way that retailers can help their customers to navigate to suitable products while reinforcing why they should buy. 


"73% more US shoppers used Instagram to track deals during the 2018 Holiday Season vs. 2017."


Personal Proof 

We’ve talked before about the importance of hyper-personalization where you’re adapting the offers that you provide to the individual shopper, and the overall customer experience in real-time, according to the information that you know about them.


We’ve responded to retailers to adapt our social proof messages and can now show aggregated real-time product views, add-to-bag volumes and sales volumes since the individual gift shopper last visited a product page. E.g. “Since your last visit 2 days ago, 22 others bought this” or, “Since your last visit 1 day ago, 12 others added to their bag.”


We’re the only social proof message provider to offer personalized social proof and it’s a powerful way to nudge gift-givers down the shopping funnel, towards the basket and to increase online conversions and revenue.


Find out how Taggstar can overcome your customers’ ‘gift buyers block’ and increase your sales, contact us here.

you may also like...

Social ProofNew Forrester report: how Matalan taps social proof messaging to improve the customer journey


Alison Wiltshire


Mar 2020

This report analyses how this retailer uses social proof messaging to better support customer needs and decision making online.

Social ProofCrowd Power Alive and Well in Shopping Today


Marjorie Leonidas


Oct 2015

James Surowiecki explores the accumulation of information within groups. The results, he argues, are that better decisions are made by groups than could have been made by any single person.

Social ProofEconsultancy Rates Taggstar's Social Proof on Argos


Marjorie Leonidas


Nov 2015

Social proof is recognised as a number one example of best practice

Want Free Social Proof Insights...

The latest optimisation news & tips, straight to your inbox. And unsubscribe in a click.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

proven for Your Industry

How Taggstar is driving conversions in your market.