Get your Social Proof messaging on your webshop right once and for all.
Nikole Wintermeier | Jun 14, 2021
Get your Social Proof messaging on your webshop right once and for all.
It’s 11:30 on a Monday and coffee number three is down the hatch. As an eCommerce pro, it’s time for some online shopping.
For inspiration, of course ;).
The thing is, all these webshops look the same. You can’t find products that stand out.
And the worst part?
eCommerce stores are overusing Social Proof marketing messages. How many products are really that popular? How many people are really buying this same product at the same time?
This kind of Social Proof messaging is unoriginal and rings false. Instead of some much-needed retail therapy, you’ve garnered resistance instead.
Then - bam!
You find an eCommerce store webshop showing happy faces. Bright and honest testimonials power the homepage. Product taxonomies include Bestseller categories. The brand promotes a community feeling.
Social Proof at its best: Original, unintrusive, and informative.
So why does this one catch your eye?
Every marketer loves Social Proof. So much so that we’ve witnessed our favorite psychological principle be abused and exploited time and again.
But with more savvy consumers on the rise, originality can carve out your competitive advantage.
As a merchandiser, CRO specialist, or eCommerce manager, it’s time to learn how to leverage Social Proof in the most psychologically sound way to pave the way for disruption.
This article will take you through the best ways to leverage Social Proof in eCommerce. Then, I’ll show you some of the best examples of Social Proof across the conversion funnel (from homepage to checkout).
But now you’re thinking: Why do I need this?
Still not convinced?
At Crobox, we have our own Social Proof stats. According to our behavioral designer, Patrick Oberstadt,
“We use a variety of Social Proof copy-variants. Yet over the course of working with different clients, we’ve mostly seen positive KPI uplifts. You should, of course, take this with a grain of salt, since it always depends on your shopper’s context and setting: But in my experience, Social Proof is one of the most robust psychological principles to use.”
Here’s a glimpse of our data experimenting with Social Proof messages (their impact on click-through rate (CTR), and add-to-cart (ATC).
In the past five months;
Keeping in mind the granular nature of our data, we can also segment our clients’ audience based on their location to get even more localized stats.
With Crobox, you can also filter, visualize your data with graphs, and get advice from our in-house psychologists on how to make this data actionable.
On a high level, eCommerce Social Proof that works:
The stats show it. The data shows it. And it’s been proven.
Let’s take a look.
“Word of mouth communications have been shown to influence awareness, expectations, perceptions, attitudes, behavioral intentions, and behavior” (Amblee, Bui, 2011)
How many times have you been to a restaurant without first checking the reviews? Personally, I can’t buy a product without seeing how others rate it.
That’s because today, people trust their peers more than organizations (according to Edelman’s Trust Barometer 2020). In eCommerce, reviews shape your shopper’s perception of your brand.
The goal of reviews is to:
Which means there are many ways you can leverage Social Proof in your reviews (we’ll have a look at some examples later on), e.g., star ratings, testimonials, stickers. Whichever you choose, you should always respond to your customer reviews and be transparent and truthful.
And the psychologist’s trick? Show all your reviews - even the bad.
This will help your customers make better-informed decisions. Because even bad reviews can lead to positive conversions, a bias called the Blemishing Effect.
“Trust is usually something that is developed over time, but if you can get the right kind of backing and loyalty (by being transparent and truthful in your messaging), then a product badge is a Social Proof win. It taps into the automatic decision-making parts of our brains to help drive purchase decisions.” - Patrick Oberstadt
You’ll no doubt have seen product badges that leverage Social Proof, e.g., “Bestseller”, “Popular”, “Trending”, “Favorite”, etc.
But which message do you choose?
This will depend on two things: 1) the language of your target audience, and 2) which copy-variant drives click behavior.
Meaning, you should test which Social Proof messages work and which don’t. At Crobox, we use AI to dynamically test product badges. The messages auto-optimize based on the user’s context.
Which is a great way to personalize on-site communication and test multiple Social Proof messages at once. But you can also A/B test your badges, of course.
Get this right and Social Proof badges will:
But DON’T OVERDO IT. Your goal is to reduce choice overload, not trigger it. For more on how to use Social Proof messaging in the most psychologically sound way, learn about nudge marketing.
“Numerous past studies have shown that social recommendations (in the form of “likes” or “shares”) greatly shape consumer’s perception of product quality and their purchase decisions” (Song, Yi, Huang 2016)
We’re all familiar with the power of social media. But how do you harness it for eCommerce?
You can integrate social sharing buttons, social feeds, influencers, and link your social platforms to the webshop for that omnichannel approach.
Social Proof from social media works to:
These three ways of using Social Proof in eCommerce have proved to work time and time again.
How do you use these as a foundation to convert browsers into buyers?
It takes a user ten seconds to decide if they want to stay on a website. That’s a teeny-tiny window to ensure page stickiness and make your visitors continue shopping with you.
Which is why your homepage needs to give people reasons to stay on your website - and fast. As a psychological bias, Social Proof can support that automatic decision-making.
Here are some great examples.
Oh, how we love reviews. Leverage user testimonials on your homepage and you’ll go a long way.
Everlane’s design is clean, the review itself takes up the page, and it feels like a perfect way to get people interested in a specific product straight from the get-go.
The product link also means Everlane can track who’s interested in the product from the testimonial. If people are clicking on the product link, Everlane knows that “From the People” works and they should continue using it on their homepage.
Fostering a sense of community with messages like “Join us” or “Welcome to the family” is also a great way to show Social Proof on the homepage. In this case, Puma uses both.
Social Proof like this especially if you set your overlays to be triggered on exit-intent, which will nudge people to continue browsing the webshop.
Puma also pairs the Social Proof messaging with the psychological principle of Exclusivity Scarcity - offering access to exclusive products and discounts so they are further persuaded to stay and shop.
Once again, cultivating a sense of brand loyalty and family is a good way to spike interest in from the homepage. Carhartt takes this one step further, showing real pictures of people at work who wear their products.
They leverage a hashtag too, which is proven Social Proof in a nutshell. I like this one in particular because, psychologically, Social Proof works twofold:
By the time your shoppers enter the PLP, they are mostly goal-oriented. Your job is to leverage Social Proof on the PLP to:
Most of the time, the use of Social Proof in eCommerce is one-directional. Meaning, retailers will leverage Social Proof messages for CRO.
But what if I were to say you can make data actionable from your eCommerce Social Proof? The PLP is a great place to start learning what your customers love about your products.
For example, having a “Bestseller” filtering option. By implementing tracking on this feature, you can actually see who’s using this filter and make assumptions as to why.
People filtering on Social Proof products want to narrow down their choices. They also choose this Social Proof category because they trust their peers to make informed purchase decisions.
Understanding and analyzing behavioral data like this can help you create profiles based on the psychology of your customers (i.e., psychographic segmentation).
It helps track the why behind the buy and shows you there’s more to Social Proof than just conversions.
On the PLP, shoppers are automatically drawn to Social Proof badges. These will appeal to the automatic decision-making part of the brain to:
Here, you can also analyze which customers click on which badges. Which is valuable behavioral data for segmentation and retargeting.
For example, if Missguided’s badge “#trending” drives click behavior on the product, they should reinforce this on the detail page by leveraging social feeds, other trending products (e.g., recommender engines), or repeating the badge for consistency.
Moreover, it’s important you choose messages within your brand tone-of-voice. Missguided might use hashtags and emojis, while The Sill uses stars.
Both webshops design their product badges in a way that stands out. It’s about:
Get in touch with our behavioral design specialists for more advice and insights on Social Proof badges and how to test them on the PLP.
Hooray! Your shoppers have clicked on one of your products. Now that they’re on the PDP, they are information-driven.
Your PDP is the perfect place to leverage Social Proof in the most informative and non-intrusive way.
Recommendations on the PLP are a great way to take care of your customers’ shopping choices. Arket does this especially well by showing what others have bought in relation to the product above.
Since our good friend Cialdini said, “Social Proof is most powerful for those who feel unfamiliar or unsure in a specific situation”, recommendations that leverage this bias will help ease decision-making.
This tactic will also increase familiarity, and nudge add-to-cart behavior.
From our research on the psychology of luxury consumers, we’ve found that Social Proof isn’t always the best principle to use if you’re selling luxury products.
But I can’t get away with saying Social Proof is so robust without showing a luxury brand, can I?
Take a look at Longchamp’s PDP. They actually leverage Social Proof beneath the product description by having the option to “Share Item”.
Luxury consumers crave uniqueness, but also want to show off to their peers when an item helps them stand out.
That doesn’t stop the fact that if you’re an eCommerce luxury brand, your Social Proof messaging will differ. Read our ebook on luxury psychology to understand your shoppers, and what messages work for them.
This article has shown you why Social Proof in eCommerce is so effective, where to use it in the most psychologically sound way, and great examples so you can do it yourself.
Yet these examples only scratch the surface of what you can do with Social Proof messaging across the eCommerce funnel.
The most important takeaway is this:
You should be leveraging Social Proof methods to ensure the best experience for your end customers.
It’s about being data-driven and customer-centric - but it’s also high time to be original. Disrupt the market and take the Social Proof veterans out of the game.