5 steps for tapping social proof to boost sales
By Nishan Sothilingam, director of product, ResellerRatings
We're in the age of voice of the customer. Of course, for retailers, this isn't news. But every year yields new evidence that the digital age continues to restructure the buyer-seller dynamic. In today's trust economy, customers are finding tremendous value — and leverage — in social proof. And brands are seeing it become a powerful and persuasive form of digital marketing.
Ninety percent of buying decisions are influenced by reviews. While buyers have always sought opinions, social media is allowing customers to help each other across the entire buying journey — validating decisions, giving warning, and influencing purchases independent of retailer marketing. That's big, and getting bigger. Here's the power of social proof in stats:
- Consumer-driven activities (online reviews, personal recommendations, and in-store experiences) make up two-thirds of the touch points used during the shopper active-evaluation phase.
- 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
- Online orders increase by 10 percent when a single review appears on the product page(for product pages with at least 30 reviews, orders increased by 25 percent).
It's a buyers' world. But sellers that are willing to listen will find significant opportunities in the retail world's shifting power dynamic.
Unlocking social proof for a holiday lift
Holiday shoppers are more tuned in — to each other and to the digital and physical retail worlds — than at any other time of year: four of 10 holiday shoppers plan to research or share their purchase on social media. That's according to holiday benchmark research from CX provider ForeSee.
More customers are doing more research, and sharing more reviews. What's a retailer to do? Harness it. Here's how:
1. Be ready now:Holiday benchmarks alo confirm that 31percent of customers do the majority of their shopping consistently throughout the holiday season. They're researching, buying, and writing reviews right now — from October 1 through Christmas day.
2. Give them an outlet: Shoppers want to and will share their opinions. Providing a way to do that — either as part of your site or through a third party — makes it easier for you and them. It gives customers a simple way to add reviews or star ratings, and gives you the ability to track and resolves issues. Working with a company that provides user-generated content solutions can help get reviews listed on Google, Bing, and other search results (and sometimes social sites) — places where shoppers are doing most of their research.
3. Go beyond text: Images help reviewers tell their stories about your brand and share what they love about your products. They attract attention more than copy alone, and create emotional connections that enhance online reviews: A mobile upload of a happy customer showing off the shoes they just bought from your site is rewarding for them, and helps other shoppers gain confidence in your products and your outlet.
4. Encourage engagement: Adding the ability for reviewers to ask and answer questions deepens social proof in several ways. It increases on-page engagement by bringing customers back to your site. Open discussion also improves credibility, showing that reviewers are free to speak honestly. Plus, Q&A features improve your ability to track customer satisfaction, and even allow you to assign customer queries to internal experts.
5. Get local: With mobile overtaking desktop searches, give your business an advantage by helping customers find you when they're out and about — shopping, running errands, or just out with friends. Talk to a third-party UGC manager about using a localized approach to getting star rating and reviews syndicated into optimized search channels.
Getting customer experience right is always a worthwhile investment. With attention and traffic on the rise for the 2017 holiday shopping season, every retailer should tap into social proof. The fact is the voice of the customer is going to happen where and when it wants to happen. It's far better to be plugged into that conversation, and finding ways to use it to your benefit, then be left out wondering what your customers are thinking — and why they're shopping at your competitor instead.