How social proof can help retailers over Black Friday Weekend 2019

How social proof can help retailers over Black Friday Weekend 2019 Headshot

By Mike Austin, CEO & Co-founder

It’s nearly that time of year again. Summer is drawing to a close, and retailers are getting ready for the holiday season.

While some retailers have lost confidence in Black Friday, last year's data shows that the occasion still has potential to drive sales, if handled correctly. In 2018, Fresh Relevance clients saw a steady increase in pageviews starting early in November and peaking over Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

Let’s look at a typical online customer journey during Black Friday week. Savvy shoppers might have done some pre-planning on the items they’re after. Others will be scanning emails and browsing online for the best deals, potentially feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of deals to consider. All the while knowing that thousands of fellow customers are doing the same thing and might be snagging the best bargains from right under their noses.

Receiving some guidance from online retailers on which items best fit their requirements can help shoppers make the right purchase decision. By efficiently directing customers through their purchase journey, brands can increase conversion rates and help free up site traffic, preventing the cardinal sin of a site crash during the shopping event.

Applying social proof tactics in marketing offers a little method to the madness of the ‘Black Fiveday’ long weekend while helping guide and convert browsers into customers. Here’s how.

Wisdom of the crowd

Social proof describes the psychological phenomenon that people assume the collective actions of others (even if they’ve never met them before) dictate correct behavior towards a given situation. One aspect of social proof is FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) which can be a powerful tactic for Black Friday marketing. The shopping event is all about discovering and bagging deals that are available for a limited time only. If you’re late to the party, you’ll miss out on the best offers.

When you highlight on product pages the number of customers that have purchased or viewed an item recently, or how much stock is remaining, customers feel a sense of urgency to purchase before they lose out on the product. Displaying the hottest trending items prominently on the homepage is another way to help shoppers identify customer favorites that they might like. Retailers usually see a minimum three percent increase in conversions from including a ‘trending products’ feed on the homepage.

Let your customers do the talking

Cyber Week can bring a large number of first-time customers to your website who haven’t bought from you before. They may have come across your offers when browsing online for special deals, or your products might exceed their budget when at full price. These shoppers might be looking for some trust signals on your website to be willing to part with their money.

Incorporating user ratings and reviews helps you leverage honest and impartial customer feedback in your marketing. Customers now expect to be able to read through customer opinions when comparing products and making purchase decisions, often sifting through to the positive as well as negative pieces to be aware of product strengths and any potential weaknesses. One in three consumers (34 percent) even state they won’t purchase if an online store doesn’t show product ratings.

Prominently displaying service and store reviews on your homepage will help build trust and a sense of security for new customers. While showing ratings on the product pages is a given, they are also a proven tactic to help increase the conversion rate of your emails. Adding them to your promotional Black Friday emails as well as the shopping recovery emails, which you’ll be sending to bring lapsed purchasers back to your website, gives those messages some extra oomph. For example, including ratings and reviews in your cart abandonment emails delivers an average conversion uplift of 38 percent.

The social network

User-generated content, such as photos and videos of customers with the product, provides an additional layer of authentic information. Adding a social media feed to your website or emails in real-time can amplify the effect of corporate content, and helps develop a sense of community and brand culture. New customers can get a feel for the sorts of other people that have bought the item they’re interested in. And in contrast to professional, potentially photoshopped product imagery, UGC shows how products look in the flesh, used or worn by real people.

Some retailers have gone one step further to help customers engage with their brand. Fashion retailer In The Style mixes studio shots with selfies taken and posted on social media by its customers on its product detail pages. This is a great example of a retailer making customers the focus of the brand and enhancing the sense of community using UGC generated on social media.

Keep in touch

Just because customers might be rapidly heading elsewhere for their next Black Friday purchase, it shouldn’t mean you’ll never cross paths again. Given that acquisition costs are high and margins low during Cyber Week, it's vital to turn first-time shoppers into loyal customers who will purchase from you again and again. One of the best ways to do this is by offering a personalized Customer Experience.

Capturing the email address for new shoppers and browsers is of critical importance. Also make sure to put the behavioral and transactional information that you collect for the customer to good use. Smart retailers will use all insights gathered from the website and emails to personalize the shopping experience seamlessly across all devices, based on the shopper’s stage in the customer life cycle, purchase funnel or individual preferences.

By making the shopping experience simpler and more convenient, you significantly increase the odds that a first purchase on Black Friday will turn into repeat business throughout the year.

For more ways to build customer confidence and boost engagement with social proof, check out the dedicated ebook:

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Adapted from an article we originally published on Customer Experience Magazine

How social proof can help retailers over Black Friday Weekend 2019 Headshot

By Mike Austin

CEO & Co-founder

Mike Austin is co-founder and CEO at Fresh Relevance. Recognizing the challenge of data aggregation in the ecommerce space, Mike launched Fresh Relevance in 2013 with co-founders Eddy Swindell and Pete Austin to solve this need and optimize the customer journey.