7 ways to boost emails with social proof

With shoppers’ inboxes overflowing, marketers are under pressure to deliver email content that delights customers and drives sales.

So, what if there were a way to increase email conversions and improve customer experience – all without changing anything about the product or the price? Social proof uses readily available content to boost ecommerce emails, without the need for discounts or elaborate creative.

Why you need social proof

Social proof is the phenomenon where we imitate others in order to make the right decision. When you crave an outfit you just saw on Instagram or choose a busy restaurant over the quieter one next door, you’re experiencing the effects of social proof.

This isn’t just a psychological tactic to influence shoppers. Research shows that consumers see social proof as a key part of the buying process.

Here, we’ll explore two types of social proof you can use to improve the performance of bulk and triggered emails:

Peer social proof

When making a purchase, consumers look for unbiased sources of information such as ratings, reviews, and photos of real people using the product. This is also called user-generated content (UGC).

For shoppers, ratings and reviews are a crucial part of the buying process. 61 percent of customers look for product reviews when making a purchase, while more than half (56 percent) find star ratings helpful, and 29 percent want content from other customers.

Brands and retailers can help customers make better, faster decisions by including user-generated social proof in emails.

Wisdom of the crowd

When faced with a lot of options, we prefer to follow what other people like us are doing.

You can use popularity messaging (e.g. ‘50 people bought this today’) to highlight what fellow customers are viewing and purchasing. This adds urgency, informs shoppers what’s trending, and makes stock more desirable.

Popularity messaging doesn’t require users to generate content for you – you can let the data speak for itself!

Here are some easy ways to enhance ecommerce emails with social proof.

1. Triggered emails: build trust with star ratings

Shoppers often abandon their cart because they aren’t ready to make a final decision. Triggered cart and browse abandonment emails are an opportunity to reduce purchase anxiety by including star ratings from existing customers.

Above is a great example of how social proof can add value to shopping recovery emails without hugely altering the creative. Star ratings fit in naturally alongside other essential information like product imagery and delivery cost. Including the number of ratings adds another layer of trust.

In a small space, Glasses Direct provides customers with a wealth of information to feel confident about completing their order.

2. Triggered emails: reassure shoppers with product reviews

Customer reviews go one step further than star ratings, giving detailed information about a customer’s positive experience of your product. Shoppers can more easily come to a smart decision when they know how your products perform in real life.

This example from Emma Bridgewater shows how reviews can complement vital product information and nudge customers towards completing a purchase.

3. Triggered emails: increase urgency with product popularity

You can harness the effect of social proof in triggered emails even without user generated content. Popularity messaging uses readily available browse and purchase data to show what other customers are doing in real time.

This reassures recipients that your products are proving popular, and increases urgency by indicating that the item may sell out.

Cottages.com uses viewing data in booking abandonment emails to ensure that customers don’t miss out on their desired property:

Bulk marketing emails are the perfect occasion to keep customers informed about your top-rated items. This builds trust and shows shoppers that you care about providing them with the best quality products.

For added impact, suggestions can be filtered by the recipient’s favorite category, as in this great product recommendation email from Bed Bath & Beyond:

5. Bulk emails: drive engagement with customer reviews

Bulk marketing emails can have lower conversion rates than triggered messages, as they are not a direct response to customers’ actions on your website. This means you have to work harder to persuade customers to click through.

Providing brief customer reviews in marketing emails can spark the interest of customers who weren’t actively shopping for your products. Here’s an example from Molton Brown:

6. Bulk emails: encourage urgency with trending products

Highlight trending items with popularity messaging to build trust in your products.

This has a two-pronged effect of tapping into consumers’ fear of missing out (“What if the product sells out?”) and desire to follow a consensus (“Other people are buying it, so it must be good!”)

In this email, VioVet adds urgency with messaging showing how fellow customers are interacting with the products right now:

7. Bulk emails: Inspire shoppers with social media content

Social media feeds let shoppers see your products in real-life situations, so they can make an informed decision.

User-generated images appeal to customers’ emotions: shoppers can imagine how they will feel once they own your products.

Social media feeds can also encourage micro conversions: While recipients might not be ready to make a purchase, they could be persuaded to follow your social channels for more inspiration.

This email from LaRedoute makes shoppers feel part of a tribe by encouraging them to share their style:

Getting started with social proof

To get started, you’ll need to use a trusted ratings and reviews provider to collect customer feedback. Make sure that you have the right tools to incorporate ratings and review content, popularity data, and social media feeds into emails in real time.

For maximum impact, incorporate social proof on your website to inspire shoppers at every stage of the journey. Consider using a dedicated real-time marketing platform to provide a joined-up customer experience without investing too much resource.

Download The Retail Social Proof Barometer to discover five types of social proof shoppers look for when making a purchase decision.

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