​​How to use social proof to make the back-to-school shopping experience easier for customers

Alison Wiltshire

12 Jul 2023

Recently a friend of mine was complaining about how hard it was to buy new school kit for her son. A simple pair of grey trousers shouldn’t be too hard to find, right?

An inevitable growth spurt – he’s a teenager, after all – had meant her doing the school uniform shop early, and even though that meant that she had her pick of sizes and styles, she was feeling overwhelmed.

There was too much choice, and finding the perfect fit would mean buying a selection of styles and sizes which would mean a returns impact that she’d rather avoid.

She couldn’t make a decision so frustrated and with her mind on the rest of her to-do list, she abandoned the webpage and put it off to another day.

And she’s not the only one frazzled by the back-to-school shop. Many parents can relate to the stress it can induce. The rapidly changing sizes of their offspring can make buying difficult – especially when purchasing online – while the need for quality, value and changing fashions to account for their tastes must also be considered in everything from backpacks to lunchboxes and computer equipment to revision guides.

So where to start? It can be as difficult as helping them with their math homework.

For retailers, using social proof messaging as part of your back-to-school online marketing campaign can help parents to deal with this overwhelming choice and improve the customer experience.

The role of customer experience is vital to winning sales in today’s ultra-competitive environment providing an important route for revenue growth, and social proof is the secret sauce that can enable that. While monetary value is top of mind, time-poor customers are also looking at the value of their wider interaction with retailers and choosing those that make it easiest for them to shop. That means they will gravitate to retailers who are engaging and provide all the information they need to make their purchase and return and recommend if they are happy with the experience.

And, of course, it has a positive impact on your conversion rate as well as many other important metrics. Our experiments with social proof show that we consistently deliver significant conversion rate uplifts for our customers. We can ensure better progression through the customer journey too. The dithering parent becomes a decisive shopper on a mission to get the back-to-school shop done, and your brand gets top marks with them as a result. The bonus for you? More on your bottom line.

Educating your customers with answers to the tricky questions they need to know

Our social proof messaging displays real-time on-page messages that can help to deliver the answers parents are looking for and can be integrated at any point in the marketing funnel – from the product list page to the product details page or even the basket page to prompt the final purchase. It can also be integrated into your social media marketing for discovery and inspiration or into emails and display ads for retargeting.

Questions social proof can help answer includes:

1) Is it popular?

Your child will most likely be wanting to follow the latest trends as their classmates – whether that’s the shape of the leg of a trouser or the style of backpack. Social proof messaging can help to highlight popular bought and browsed products, showing trending and bestselling items, for example.

2) How does it rate for quality, value and suitability?

Cost-conscious families are more conscious than ever of the quality and value equation. They want back-to-school items that do the job – a computer that stands up to the demands of a college student, for example, or scuff-resistant shoes that will withstand the efforts of a junior Neymar-to-be honing his skills in the playground. Social messaging incorporating aggregated reviews to share views on product quality or that indicates others’ view of fit can let your customers know how others have rated items for different attributes that you choose to set – from sustainability to durability, as well as fit.

3) Can I still get hold of it?

Depending on when a parent gets around to the back-to-school shop or if a sudden summer growth spurt demands, this can be one of the most crucial questions of all. Letting customers know what’s selling quickly can help to prompt them to shop earlier, ensuring they can get hold of what they need and avoiding the last-minute rush a day or two before the new school year begins. By linking Taggstar with your real-time data, we present an accurate picture of product popularity or availability to your customers, which can give them the additional information they might need to decide when to buy. Nudges on the PDP and Basket page can also encourage customers to buy early rather than struggling in the last-minute rush.

The benefits of social proof messaging for the back-to-school customer

As well as answering key questions, social proof messaging helps to better engage customers by helping them in what can be a stressful shop. 

That can generate improved brand perception, translating into longer-term trust and loyalty. And that perception is vital regarding how consumers feel about a brand. A recent survey in the US suggests that almost half (46%) of US consumers say the biggest driver of brand perception is the brand’s website.

Delivering a range of metrics

And our social proof messaging scores in other ways, helping retailers increase important metrics ranging from basket size to products viewed and added to basket, meaning that you are likely to win more of that customer’s back-to-school shop.

Importantly get the experience right, and you stand the chance of winning not only 2023’s back-to-school shop but each year as their child progresses through their education. And that’s got to put you top of the class.

Want to know how much revenue we will
deliver for you?

Calculate the impact social proof will have on
your conversion rate and revenue.