Social Proof: Why it’s important and how to gather it
Think back to the last time you bought something online. Did you buy it without a second thought, or did you check in on the product reviews?
Reviews, feedback, and opinions are a major part of ecommerce and the purchasing process for customers. In fact, 86% of consumers are more likely to buy a product if they see positive reviews on a store’s homepage. Social proof is one of your most important assets when it comes to convincing new customers to hit “Checkout”.
Our last two blogs have looked into what you can do prior to Black Friday/Cyber Monday, however our next two will focus on what you should do afterwards to build on your success even further throughout the rest of the holiday shopping season and beyond.
What is social proof?
Put simply, social proof is the influence that actions and attitudes have on our own behaviour. In ecommerce, this relates to how the opinions of others affect customer behaviours. Social proof might come from experts, influencers, peers, or existing customers. It can come in different forms such as news articles, social media posts, and our topic today - product reviews.
The psychology behind why social proof works is pretty straightforward; good reviews are encouraging, build trust with a brand, and give a consumer confidence in a purchase. Bad reviews do the exact opposite, driving the customer away from a brand that’s seen to be less than desirable based on the experiences of previous customers. In research conducted by Trustpilot, 98% of consumers surveyed could identify at least one type of social proof that influenced their purchasing decisions.
Why is it important?
Product reviews are great for SEO
Good reviews build trust, not just with customers but with search engines also. When you search for “camera bags New York”, Google will of course look at the usual SEO markers but it will also look for directory listings which includes reviews. Good reviews = better results.
Shopify product reviews also count towards your on-page SEO - good reviews build trust with the customer, they in turn stay on the page longer, and this time spent helps towards that product page’s SEO.
Builds a strong relationship with customers
Trust is a huge factor in building your customer network, both in acquiring new customers and fostering loyalty in existing ones. Having positive reviews displayed across your store and social media gives the impression to customers that you’re a trustworthy, good quality brand.
Ideal marketing material
Because social proof can include a range of different media and sources, it makes for an excellent marketing resource. You can utilize User Generated Content (UGC) like product reviews and customer photos to promote your products in a more authentic way. Potential customers can read real experiences, and see photos of your products as they look once delivered. We’ll look into where you can use this UGC shortly.
Utilizing social proof after Black Friday/Cyber Monday
BFCM is a big sales opportunity for many stores, and with all those purchases come potential reviews. You can’t continue making BFCM sales once that period is over, but you can keep the momentum going by requesting reviews and feedback from customers who bought something over that period. These reviews can then come in a steady flow throughout the holiday shopping season capturing those potential customers who haven’t yet bought all their gifts and are still in the process of researching.
How to gather product reviews
Deliver a great customer experience, and engage existing customers frequently
Gathering product reviews requires you to engage with your previous customers - after all, they’re the ones with the complete experience of your store and products. The process of getting a review begins well before a customer submits one; you need to make sure your store delivers an excellent customer experience from start to finish. Engage your customers frequently, checking in so they know what’s happening with their order, and give them details once the order has been delivered to let them know how to contact customer support if there’s an issue. That way when you go to ask them for a review, they’ll be more willing to do so.
Install a product review app
A quick and easy way to re-engage existing customers is to have a good product review app installed into your Shopify store. This takes the legwork out of gathering social proof, and there are plenty of good apps out there like Shopify’s own Product Reviews app, Yotpo, and Judge.me. You can customize the emails to suit your own house style, and then create a workflow that sends emails based on timeframes and actions.
Incentivize social proof
Rewarding reviewers is a great way to encourage customers to want to leave a review in the first place or to share content with you. The incentive doesn’t need to be huge, it could be something as simple as a code for 10% off or free shipping on their next purchase, or entry into a monthly giveaway. Make sure you respond to reviews also, as this shows potential reviewers that your brand genuinely cares about receiving feedback.
Where to place social proof
So you’ve gathered a bunch of reviews, but where should you display them? The obvious answer is on the product page, but you can use these reviews in a range of key locations throughout your store. The key as always is to be strategic; consider your customer journey from research to purchase and place different types of social proof throughout. Here are some places to get you started with examples:
If your main landing page for new customers is your store’s homepage, then you need to get reviews displayed there so they can see your glowing feedback as soon as possible. This gives them a great first impression and encourages customers to explore your store further.
This is the obvious one, but the key here is to make sure the reviews are prominently displayed. The quickest way to do this is to display a star rating near the product description, then have more detailed reviews displayed elsewhere on the page or in a “Reviews” tab.
If you’ve got a lot of different products or variants of a product, for example if your store is selling apparel, then your catalog pages can be a valuable place to display reviews. It shows the customer what variants have the best reviews, and if you’re lucky to have all glowing reviews then it shows that all your products are high quality.
Social Media Ads
When customers are in that research phase of their journey, they aren’t always going to make a decision right away on if they’re going to make a purchase on your store. They’ll go off and look at other sites, maybe hop onto their Instagram account for a bit, etc. So you want to try and target them when they’re still researching but off-site, and the easiest way to do this is to incorporate reviews into retargeting ads.
So the customer has added the product to their cart, great! But until they complete the purchase you’ve still got some convincing to do. According to the Baymard Institute almost 70% of carts are abandoned, so having some kind of social proof displayed on the Cart page can go a long way in helping reduce the risk of an Abandoned Cart.
As fast as Black Friday/Cyber Monday seems to come, it’s over just as quickly. By gathering and displaying social proof gathered from BFCM customers, you can carry that momentum through to the holidays and reap the benefits of product reviews in the months that follow.