eCommerce

Social Proof: The Psychology Behind The Science (And 4 Reasons You Should Use it in eCommerce Marketing)

By 

Kate Cleevely

 on 

July 26, 2018

Empty shop. Busy shop. Which do you think is more popular? Read about what makes social proof influence sales, and how eCommerce sites can use it to improve their conversion rate.

A busy shop, restaurant, hotel or theatre, reassures customers that they’re looking at a trusted quality brand, that delivers on its promises. Instinctively we’re more likely to want to shop there. There’s less risk that we’ll be making a bad choice if other shoppers have already demonstrated their loyalty. Their behaviour has sent a clear message, that allows us to enter into that retail engagement with a degree of trust in the brand.

What’s important it that, via this unspoken communication, we’ve formed an opinion that the brand is an authority, or a retail influencer, before we even enter the store.

This is important, but also unsurprising. Studies have repeatedly shown that it’s human nature to want to copy what others do. So, a busy store gives us a degree of security, and we’re likely to want to check it out ourselves.  This is known as social proof.   An empty store, in contrast, is negative social proof.

Translate this to online shopping, and knowing how other shoppers have behaved makes us feel secure in our own decisions. If we know that people like us have added to basket, bought an item, or given it 5 stars, we are more likely to trust that the product or service we’ve bought is right for us, and, less likely to change our mind.  

Research from the US shows that reviews are a key part of the path to purchase:

  • 95% of consumers now look at reviews before they buy [source]
  • 86% consider reviews an essential resource when making a purchase decision [source]
  • 63% of consumers are more likely to buy from a site with ratings and reviews

Taggstar is a social proof messaging software for the largest eCommerce stores. It works by making your online shop look busy and popular. To coin a phrase, to encourage other shoppers to follow the crowd.

Why Use Social Proof in eCommerce Marketing?

  1. Social proof can close a sale: Most of our customers use social proof messaging on their product description pages (PDP), and sometimes on the product list page (PLP), but we’ve measured the potential for even better results when social proof is used throughout the shopping funnel.  This is because customers have the potential to churn at any point in the buy journey, and positive social proof provides reassurance at every stage, which is obviously important when your customer has reached the checkout page.
  2. People ‘like us’ can influence our behaviour:  Make the social proof that you display specific to your audience, and you’re more likely to have success. We put the most amount of trust and confidence in their people that resemble us. Taggstar’s software aggregates anonymous buyer behaviour and reviews, so we wouldn’t display a personal review, but we do we a trend towards tailoring social proof messaging to make them more relatable. Customise the language that you use so that it sounds like your buyers. And there’s a trend, especially from younger fashion brands, to add emojis.  It’s a way to give you more authority in the eyes of your target personas.
  3. Social proof gives you authority: Likes, thumbs-up, hearts, 5-star reviews, trending alerts…. They’re all ways that show that your site is popular. If people have taken the time to endorse you, there’s now a halo over your brand, establishing your reputation in the market.  However, even if no one has taken the time to write a review, you can still display social proof using Taggstar. Because we collect aggregated data as your customers shop, displaying these trends to other customers as social proof messages, is  a way to add immediate authority.
  4. Always aim for high proof:  When we start talking to a new customer, one of the first questions that we ask is how much monthly traffic your website gets.  This serves a numbers of purposes, but it also serves an important marketing purpose. If you’re going to use social proof at all, the numbers your display have got to be convincing. Low social proof can be worse for your sales than no social proof.   If a product is too new to have built up a track record of sales, the numbers are going to be small. This isn’t worth displaying. Low numbers aren’t going to convince anyone to have trust in that product. Your customers could read a low number in a different way, and consider that product to be unpopular.    

We’ve worked with some of our customers to aggregate trend data across all of their international sites, so that they’re able to show product volumes and popular items according to all their global customers. This establishes a new local site, and helps kick off sales from day one. Read how Missguided did it here.

If you aren’t showing social proof on your website, think back to that empty shop analogy. Your customers are likely to be following the crowd to the shop that looks busy instead.

To add Taggstar to your website, get in touch today.

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