Wrapped gifts on pink background

Making gift-buying simpler with social proof messaging

Alison Wiltshire

07 May 2024

Gift-giving is a beautiful experience – when you get the choice right. Get it wrong, and it suggests that you didn’t put much thought into it or that you don’t know the person well enough. It can be mortifying.

Whether such gifts wow or disappoint, both experiences will be remembered. The challenge is that great gifts can be hard to find, especially when the definition of what a good gift is differs so wildly by the person’s interests, needs or passions.

The overwhelming choice of products available online can also make finding the perfect gift a daunting process. Shopping for special days such as Mother’s Day can be easier to target. Shoppers generally want goods to treat and delight their moms, for example. Even then, it’s not easy, and gift-buyers need help.

Walmart, for example, despite being a general mass goods retailer, presents gifts in several different ways online for this year’s Mother’s Day, including by price or hobbies such as gifts for ‘The best baker mom’. This helps shoppers quickly identify gifts within their chosen filter that might work.

But even with filters set, narrowing the choice further can still be difficult. Understanding what items are popular can help by showing shoppers what others are buying. A lot of retailers and brands use “bestseller” or “trending” badges, but they are often so overused on a product listing page that they lose credibility or are simply overlooked.

What can be more effective is for shoppers to understand exactly how popular a product is. Social proof messaging can add that much-needed context, connecting with a retailer’s own real-time data to allow the display of how many of an item has been bought in a specified period or how many people are looking at a product at any given time or time period. That added context can help create a sense of urgency that can also prompt customers to convert, increasing sales and even reducing cart abandonment as a result.

Fashion retailer Revolve sells a number of products that can make the perfect gift, such as jewelry, beauty products, and select home goods.. It uses social proof messaging to illustrate the popularity of its products better, with messages such as ‘Popular! 5 others have looked at this recently’.

For shoppers who might be gift-buying for fitness fanatics or activewear enthusiasts, Fabletics is another retailer using social proof messaging to help customers convert more readily. Messages such as ‘Hot Item! Sold 245 times in the last 48 hours’ help show the hottest colours and styles, which can help gift shoppers who want to ensure that they choose the latest must-have item, style, or color for their gift recipient.

And it’s highly effective in persuading shoppers to buy. Fabletics improved conversion rates by 3.19% in only five days when it first implemented social proof messaging. That delivered an annualized ROI of 3,026%.

Helping customers at specialist gift retailers too

Such tactics can help general retailers and specialist gift retailers alike. Online marketplace Uncommon Goods, for example, brings together online sellers and their unique products, with shoppers looking for unusual gifts.

The company dedicates huge resources to helping shoppers find the right presents. Items are curated by occasion, price range and interest, for example. But even with all this useful assistance, shoppers might still need more help to convert.

Once again it’s social proof messaging that helps, with Uncommon Goods using a range of social proof messaging, such as popularity messaging, to ensure gift-buyers don’t miss out on best-selling gifts. This is especially important for occasions such as Mother’s Day where general demand will be higher.

Popularity messaging isn’t the only way to convince uncertain gift-buyers to purchase, either. Incorporating social proof into review messaging or recommendations can also help gift-buyers with their decision-making. eXtended messaging helps by highlighting additional essential product attributes, such as customizable or sustainable, which might be particularly appealing for gift buyers looking for that extra special touch.

Social proof messaging can’t take all the pain out of gift-buying (we wish it could), but it can help your customers more easily find a gift that will delight rather than disappoint—and that will definitely be appreciated by your customers.

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