3 Ways to Use Social Proof to Boost Holiday Sales

social-proof

Take one quick scroll through social media and you’ll realize what it’s like to be a customer during the holidays—utter information inundation and, oftentimes, analysis paralysis. 

Shoppers have more options than ever, so how do you cut through the noise and help them make a decision to choose your brand? Word-of-mouth marketing can be hugely helpful as a part of your holiday marketing strategy. 

Think about it. When you’re looking for a great restaurant or a movie recommendation, where do you turn? To your friends and family, of course. 

Word-of-mouth marketing isn’t new, but in today’s digital age, it’s more powerful than ever when used in combination with expertly placed advertising and marketing communications. It’s powerful because it’s a form of social proof, a term coined by famous psychologist, Dr. Robert Cialdini, in 1984. 

Social proof is the influence that the actions and attitudes of people around us—either in real life or online—have on our own behavior. It’s seen as a seal of authenticity and creates more trust than traditional brand advertising, which has a direct influence on purchase intent. Almost all consumers (98 percent) could identify at least one type of social proof that increased their likelihood to make a purchase, according to research by Trustpilot. 

So how can you use social proof—or trust signals—as part of your holiday marketing strategy in preparation for the Black Friday / Cyber Monday weekend (BFCM)? I’ll share a few tips, but let’s first break down the common types of trust signals you can use in ecommerce marketing. 

The research by Trustpilot I mentioned earlier sought to find out exactly how social proof influences a shopper’s purchasing process and which trust signals are most important within that process.

Here’s a look at what trust signals emerged as most important based on a global survey of 1,700 people across all living generations.

social-proof

Now that we have a sense of the trust signals that help to influence purchasing behavior, let’s dig into three ways to start using social proof in your BFCM campaigns now (plus, I’ll throw in a few tactical and pro tips as well!).  

 

1 | Know your audience and tailor your messages accordingly 

Are you marketing to people in multiple generations? Did you know the Gen Z audience is 10 percent more likely to be influenced by social proof than Baby Boomers? 

Here’s a look at which types of social proof are most impactful to each generation.   

 

social-proof

Understanding your audience and how they respond to different types of social proof will help improve your conversion rates over the holidays—and all year round. 

Tactical tip:

Automatically segment your audience based on profile data like their birth year. Then, use segmentation to create campaigns or automated flows that include the types of social proof that are most influential to each particular demographic. 

For Gen Z shoppers, for example, make the reviews you have from other Gen Z customers prominent in your marketing communications. For Baby Boomer shoppers, make your safety badges more prominent. 

Pro tip: 

Use predictive analytics for audience segmentation and include relevant social proof for each audience based on factors like gender, expected date of next order, or high lifetime value customers. 

For example, ahead of BFCM, create an audience segment based on predictive gender. Filter your audience based on specific products they’ve viewed, so if you have a predicted male customer who’s shopping the gifts-for-her section of your holiday guide, follow-up with testimonials from women who’ve either purchased or received the specific product they’re viewing as a gift. Nothing instills confidence like the words of another happy customer! 

 

2 | Strategically place your social proof 

The rules of real estate apply to social proof, too: location, location, location. Are you using the right type of social proof across each of your marketing channels? 

Here’s a look at what type of social proof is most impactful by marketing channel. Contrary to what you might think, an approved seller badge is 20 percent more impactful in Facebook advertising than an influencer endorsement on the same channel.

social-proof

 

Tactical tip: 

Map out the different marketing channels you’re using now. Along with on-brand creative content, like a product image, consider including one or two of the most impactful social proof signals at each stage of your customer’s journey with your brand. Here are a few examples: 

Marketing Channel Types of Social Proof
Email Positive star ratings and reviews
Facebook ads Approved or authorized seller badges
Display ads Positive customer testimonials
Homepage Positive star ratings, reviews, and customer testimonials
Product page Positive star ratings and reviews
Checkout page Approved or authorized seller badges

Pro tip: 

Once you update the types of social proof you use across each of your marketing channels, measure the impact. 

Before BFCM, consider testing different messages using A/B testing optimization

Say you have an abandoned cart email that’s working well. Don’t delete it outright. Instead, create a duplicate version, add the product’s star rating to the email, and let Klaviyo’s A/B testing optimization automatically send different versions to shoppers. That way, you don’t risk trying a brand new message that you aren’t sure will resonate with your audience. 

After you collect a large enough sample, see which version performs better and then replace your previously well-performing email with this even better version. 

 

3 | Create trust along the customer journey 

It seems like you can never go wrong with positive customer testimonials, but how can you use other trust signals—like glowing media mentions or the massive social media community you’ve grown—to influence holiday purchases? 

Turns out, it’s not just about using the right social proof on the right channel. You’ve got to think about your customer’s experience and plan to use your social proof where it’s most impactful in the customer’s holiday shopping journey. 

One of the best ways to influence a shopper who’s early in their discovery process is with the positive press you’ve received, according to Trustpilot’s research. 

Here’s a look at what types of social proof are most effective at specific points in a buyer’s purchase process. 

social-proof

Tactical tip: 

Map out your entire customer purchasing journey before BFCM, and plan how you’ll use different forms of social proof across your marketing channels. 

Using the data from Trustpilot’s research, consider using press mentions where you attract customers (the top of your funnel), such as in display advertising. And if you have a large Instagram following, for example, run a sponsored post with a quote from a media publication for a double whammy. 

Holiday shoppers in the consideration phase respond most to customer testimonials and positive ratings. In your retargeting content, include your best 5-star customer reviews

Pro tip: 

Keep it creative. We know that using social proof in your marketing is critical in influencing your customer’s purchasing journey. But don’t let that inhibit the creativity you’d normally use in your marketing content. Instead, combine them. 

Positive star ratings saw slightly higher influence when paired with a product offering, according to Trustpilot’s research. So let your product take the stage but keep your customer reviews the star—pun intended. 

Black Friday will be here before you know it, so take these tips on how to use your customers’ words and other forms of social proof to help flesh out your holiday marketing strategy and influence sales this holiday season and the year ahead. 

Want more tips to help you prepare for BFCM and beyond? We’ve got a live webinar coming up on November 5th featuring experts from Trustpilot, Klarna, BounceX, and Klaviyo who’ll share 12 ways to extend your holiday rush into January. Save your spot! 

 

Explore the ecommerce holiday marketing hub
 

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