Growth. It’s the consistent, all-encompassing goal of any ambitious brand. Whether you focus on acquisition, retention, repeat sales, upsells, or referrals there’s only ever one goal. To make more money. The problem we all face when growing our brands is how difficult it is to attract and hold onto consumers. You’re competing with dozens (if not hundreds) of competitors, all of whom pour their entire being into explaining how they’re the best. Consumers are fed outlandish claims and promised the world by every brand who wants their business. But rather than build trust and make sales, the constant barrage of marketing messaging has had the opposite effect. Rather than trust these claims, consumers look at them with skepticism. They believe it’s all hyperbole and often view them as empty sales claims which could never be backed up. Smart brands out there know this. They know that simply saying you’re the best at X, Y, or Z isn’t enough. They know you need to back up your claims with something a little more substantive.

Ecommerce’s Two Most Powerful Elements

Ask ten different ecommerce brands for their top tip on driving more revenue and you’ll get 10 different answers. Some focus on product, others on PPC, a few prefer social, and some outliers prefer influencer marketing. There are 101 different methods to grow your ecommerce store. But only a handful of them are considered absolute must-haves by the majority of brands. Two of the most powerful actions you can take on your store work because they’re both rooted in sales psychology.

1 - Social Proof

One of the biggest problems you’ll find in convincing users to take a chance on your brand or product is their own uncertainty. As mentioned earlier, consumers are bombarded with overly salesy emails, messages, phone calls, and ads. Most have, at some point, been burned by those claims. Discovering an offer that once seemed too good to be true actually is would put anyone off online claims of greatness. This is where social proof comes in. In the incredible book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, author Robert Cialdini explains social proof as below: “the principle of social proof. It states that one means we use to determine what is correct is to find out what other people think is correct.” Basically, when a person is unsure of the best course of action, they’ll look to those around them for pointers. If everyone else is doing X, then so too will the individual. We are all hardwired to take a lead from the actions of those nearby, and it’s transferred over into the world of online marketing. Rather than following exactly what everyone else is doing, we will look to our peers to help us form our opinions. Most often, we’ll all consult customer reviews of products or services we’re thinking of purchasing.

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What your customers are saying about your brand is key to landing even more customers and increasing revenue.

It’s why it’s so important for ecommerce brands to prominently feature customer reviews on their site. Not only are people going to actively look for those reviews, but they’re going to have a far bigger impact on other users.

Reviewers have nothing to gain from promoting your company, they’re unbiased and so seen as more trustworthy. Check any successful ecommerce sites and you’ll see that, often right next to the product, there’s some form of review.

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In the above example, there’s a 4-star rating from over 400 reviews. I can also click on that or scroll down to see in-depth reviews.

If I hadn’t already read the book, I’d be far more likely to after seeing such a positive response. We all like to think that we are individuals. That we forge our own path and make our own decisions. However, no one person can know every single thing. There’s always going to be an area in which your knowledge is lacking and there’s the risk of making a bad decision. Deep down we know this. We know there’s always a risk we could mess things up and so we look to others in a similar situation for advice. Online, this comes in the form of social proof. It is the trust building element every brand needs to have to grow their business. Without it, you’re left with nothing more than claims your audience will view as hollow.

2 - Messenger Marketing

We’ve all heard it before. Email marketing is the most high return marketing channel. It is the single greatest thing for marketers since sliced bread and something every brand out there needs to invest in. It’s great advice. Email marketing has, for a long time, been the only direct channel with your customers. The only way to connect with them on an individual level and foster more personal relationships. Add to it the awesome automated and transactional sends and you’ve got a recipe for a conversion powerhouse. However, it’s no longer the only, nor the most effective, channel for direct communication. That title now rests with Messenger Marketing and Conversational Commerce. In testing hundreds of thousands of email vs Messenger sends we’ve seen that Messenger wins every single time. It has more opens, more clicks, and drives more revenue for brands. Here’s a quick look at an experiment we ran on email vs Messenger.

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Pretty amazing, right?

There’s nothing out there right now that can compete with the huge engagement and conversion statistics of Messenger Marketing. The question is, why? Well, it comes down to two elements that are quite closely linked. The first is device usage. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that with each passing year your consumers are increasingly favoring mobile devices.

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Email, whilst great at fostering individual relationships, wasn’t built for the smaller screens of mobile devices.

Even short emails of 100 words can be a bother to read on the smaller screens, and most people won’t put in the time necessary to full absorb the message. Which brings me on to point 2. Attention span and first impressions. Your users will make a snap judgement on your correspondence and site. They’ll decide, within about 50 milliseconds, whether they’re going to expend their energy on what you’re saying or move off to the next email or webpage. Now, if in that 50 seconds all they see is a gigantic wall of text on their mobile device, what are they going to do? They’re going to leave. If, however, they’re greeted with a 1-2 sentence message in the Messenger inbox, they don’t need to expend any energy as they can understand the content and message with a glance. This is why Messenger excels with engagement. It’s not only a channel built specifically for mobile devices, but it delivers a message that can be assimilated with zero effort and in no time at all. Messenger Marketing is already becoming a huge player in the marketing world, and it’s only going to become more prominent. The question is, how can you marry these two conversion driving tactics into a single strategy.

Mixing Social Proof and Messenger Marketing Together

So these two tactics are key to growing your store. However, whilst they’re powerful individually, they’ll make your growth almost unstoppable when paired together. Generally speaking, there’s two methods you’ll want to employ to kick your social proof campaigns into overdrive. One to ensure you collect more awesome reviews, one to properly leverage them for more sales. Let’s first look at using Messenger Marketing to gain more reviews for your products. If you’ve ever bought anything online you’ll know that you always get a few follow up emails from the supplier. You’ll often get a receipt and then multiple updates on delivery. However, 99% of the time, these updates end with the final delivery notification like the below.

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This has always been a half measure in my opinion. You can replicate the same process of order updates through Messenger, but it’s not going to help grow your brand.

You see, the smart brands out there send another message 3-5 days after the product has been delivered. They wait until the user has had the product a few days but is still excited about their new purchase to ask for a review. It’s not hard to do. I built out the below message for a new test in Recart in about 3 minutes.

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Thanks to the massive engagement stats of Messenger, more people are going to see that message which increases the chances they leave a review.

Notice how I also ask a quick question first to ensure that they’re going to give a positive review. If they reply with there’s a problem they’ll get a second follow up which will ask some questions so I can help solve it. It’s simple, but effective. However, it’s not the only way you can leverage both Messenger Marketing and social proof for increased conversions. You can also use the social proof you collect to supercharge your cart abandonment messages. As mentioned earlier, consumers are difficult to persuade. They want to be certain they’re not going to be taken advantage off and want to hear their peer’s opinions on your product. You could simply use your Messages to lead them to the review page for your product/business, but why not incorporate social proof directly into the messages? Again, it’s a short and easy fix.

Supercharging your Messenger Campaigns with Social Proof

Your cart abandonment Messenger campaigns are there to bring users back to your site and convince them to purchase the product they expressed an interest in.
  1. There’s two major hurdles in securing those sales though.
  2. Getting the users to click on your abandonment message and redirect them back to the site
Getting them to complete the purchase whilst on the site. I’m going to quickly cover how you can increase the chances users take both these actions with a little social proof. The first action is to leverage key social proof elements in your cart abandonment messages. If you’ve been collecting reviews you’ll have a plethora of customer thoughts and perhaps even a star rating for each product. Consider leading with that if you can. Now, with automated campaigns you can’t really use product specific review copy as there’s often one general copy template used across all products. You could, however, utilise store specific feedback to open your messages. Take a look here at this review from a Gearbunch user below.

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It’s pretty general review that only really speaks of the quality and quirkiness of the leggings as a whole. You could repurpose part of the copy as the opening cart abandonment message.

Rather than just saying “you left items in your cart”, you could lead with something simple like “Love all my gear bunch leggings - Peg B. Don’t miss out on joining the thousands of users loving their Gearbunch items!”, or repurpose something more specific from a comment. Use your happy customers to make the messages stand out a little more and have more of an impact. Once you’ve got them to click, then you’ve got to convert them on the product page. Of course star ratings and the like will help here, but you also need some form of dynamic social proof. Something that shows the user this item is in demand, your store is well trafficked, and place that subtle hint that if they don’t complete their checkout quickly they might miss out. Here’s a couple of ways to really hammer home the importance of the user completing their checkout right now. 1 - Show them that this is a popular product by combining how many people are looking at the product right now, how many have recently purchase, and how many are left in stock.

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If I am on the fence about a product but see there’s 4 left, 12 people looking, and 20 have been sold in the last 24 hours, I’m going to take that impulsive action to buy. 2 - Don’t just rely on fear to drive sales, also look at the benefit for the user. We all hate waiting for products we’ve purchased online to arrive, so highlight when they’ll get the product IF they order in the next hour or two.

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By framing this as a “order now or wait till next week” type deal, people are more likely to pull the trigger now and complete the purchase.

Combination is Key to Success

Social proof is nothing new in the world of retail or sales. We all know that customers will look first to their friends and peers for direction on how to spend their money. We also know that the most effective brands leverage high engagement channels to deliver their message. However, whilst this is common knowledge so few brands are combining the two into a comprehensive strategy. And that’s the key to an effective ecommerce growth strategy. It’s not about doing what everyone else is doing but taking what you have access to and combining it in new, effective ways. This is one combination that can help increase sales. If you want to grow your store, implement these combos and see what other changes you can make.

About the Author

Pete Boyle is the founder of Have-a-word and content manager / chief copywriter at Recart, an all in one ecommerce marketing solution that helps merchants recapture lost revenue and increase their profits. So far, Recart has helped their merchants recapture almost $100,000,000 in lost revenue

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