Whether it’s choosing a bustling high-street store over a quieter competitor or scrolling through Instagram to get the latest fashion inspiration, consumers prefer to be guided by the wisdom of the crowd when making a purchase. This phenomenon is known as social proof.
Our research shows that social proof isn’t just a psychological tactic to influence consumers: shoppers view social proof content as a key part of the decision process.
Surprisingly, we found that many apparel and footwear brands in particular aren’t taking advantage of easy-to-implement social proof tactics.
Here, we’ll look at three ways fashion brands can boost customer engagement using social proof:
The beauty of these tactics is that they increase conversions using content and data you already have at your fingertips.
1. Inspire shoppers with social media content
User-generated content (UGC) is an ideal marketing tactic for a sector driven by fast-changing trends. On Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, your loyal customers can become your best marketers. But many retailers are not capitalizing on the power of UGC to increase engagement on brand websites and email channels.
Younger shoppers are especially receptive to UGC, with two in five Millennials (41 percent) saying they find photos from other customers useful when making a decision. Yet, only one in five fashion brands we surveyed supplements website and email content with user-generated photos.
Real time social media feeds can increase click throughs from marketing emails and the website by making shoppers feel part of a tribe. You can encourage customers to share their photos using discounts and rewards.
Sunglasses Shop makes marketing emails more engaging with Instagram feeds.
On product detail pages, photos of other customers with the product help shoppers imagine how they will look and feel when they wear the item. Showing how the clothing fits on real people increases trust and lets consumers know what they’re getting. Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) also kicks in, as customers see that other shoppers are wearing the latest trend.
2. Build trust with ratings and reviews
User social proof has been around much longer than social media, in the form of ratings and reviews.
For shoppers, customer ratings and reviews are an indispensable part of the purchase process. 61 percent of customers look for product reviews when making a purchase, while more than half find star ratings helpful. Only product details and shipping information were ranked as more useful.
Yet, only one in five of the fashion merchants we surveyed offers ratings and reviews to guide customers through the purchase journey.
Since online shoppers can’t touch or try on clothing as they can in store, feedback from other customers could reduce purchase anxiety and increase conversions on product detail pages. For the retailer, customer reviews can also deliver valuable insights to inform the design of future collections.
FatFace combines ratings, reviews and product information to enhance the customer experience.
In email marketing specifically, retailers could be leaving potential buyers behind by omitting ratings and reviews. In bulk messages, star ratings spark interest and encourage click throughs. In shopping recovery emails, detailed customer reviews reassure shoppers about the item they were browsing.
What’s more, the source of ratings and reviews is right at hand. You already have a relationship with your loyal customers – so why not use post-purchase emails to ask them for genuine feedback. You can then adopt a real-time marketing platform to automatically display the latest ratings and reviews on site and in emails.
3. Increase urgency with real-time product popularity
We desire items more when they are popular or scarce. This is good news for retailers as FOMO messaging is a quick-win to help fashion brands increase conversions. Marketers can encourage a sense of urgency by using real time stock levels to demonstrate scarcity (“there aren’t many left!) and popularity (“lots of people are buying this!”). This makes clothing more desirable without changing anything about the product or the price, so marketers can drive more sales without excessive discounts and promotions.
And shoppers value this information too. In fact, almost half (43 percent) of consumers prefer to know how many products are left when making a purchase decision. But of the ecommerce retailers we surveyed, fewer than one in ten (8 percent) indicate current stock levels on their website. More surprisingly, not one retailer provides this information in marketing emails.
Nelly.com uses scarcity messaging to make product detail pages more compelling.
A similar popularity effect can be achieved by showing how often an item has been purchased or viewed recently. This indicates that stock may run out soon, and shows that the product is creating a buzz – an especially powerful tactic to reach trend-conscious fashion shoppers.
Popularity messaging can also enhance the performance of triggered email programs. When a customer receives a cart or browse abandonment email, they have already shown interest in an item. Demonstrating that the viewed product is low in stock or very popular could be the final push that persuades them to click through.
Popularity messaging uses real-time data to make products more appealing, without relying on discounts. This makes it a cost-effective tactic to boost marketing performance in a scalable way across email and website campaigns.
Scalable marketing that improves customer experience
Online fashion marketers don’t have to rely on expensive influencer marketing campaigns to harness the power of social proof. Tactics like customer reviews, user-generated content and popularity messaging provide scalable, cost-effective ways to improve the customer experience and drive sales.
Implementing a multi-channel social proof strategy is easier than you might think. Today’s marketing platforms offer a comprehensive set of tools to automatically pull real-time social proof content into emails and web pages.
Download The Retail Social Proof Barometer to discover four straightforward tactics that shoppers told us they’re looking for when making a purchase decision: