What is the difference between social proof messaging vs badging

Alison Wiltshire

23 Jun 2023

A question we often get asked at Taggstar is, what is the difference between social proof messaging and badging?

Some may think that the two tactics are one and the same, but in reality, social proof messaging is much more effective at optimizing conversion rates due to the fact that it’s dynamic. By adding social proof to the concept of badging, it provides a wider context than just a label such as ‘bestseller’. This sets the scene for how many have been sold and in what time period, for example,  making it an even more powerful conversion rate optimization tool.  As a result, by leveraging social proof messaging, retailers and brands can increase eCommerce sales quickly and effectively. 

Understanding the differences between badging and social proof messaging

So how do the two tactics differ? Badging is popular among retailers because it allows merchandisers to quickly and easily highlight whatever promotional messages they want to convey – such as ‘new’, ‘bestseller’ or ‘sale’ – to move inventory. But the fact that badging doesn’t provide the context of the message – the parameters of why it’s a bestseller, for example – can lead to customers questioning its validity. That can start to breed mistrust.

According to the Omnichannel Retail Index, The State of Social Proof Messaging, almost nine out of ten retailers use badging. 

Since the badge only changes when the retailer updates it, the experience is very static and can lead to message blindness. This also becomes a problem when the tactic is overused. It is not uncommon to see the same static badge numerous times on a single category page. Customer trust is then eroded further – how many products are really “bestsellers and why”? 

By contrast, social proof messaging provides the much-needed context of customer behaviour. It explains and showcases the browsing and buying patterns of customers in real-time to help move other shoppers along the purchase journey. And that is a very powerful benefit over badging, which retailers and brands across various sectors, from fashion to beauty, have embraced. It even works for luxury brands. 

Using social proof messaging to highlight trends

Rather than a generic badge with no substance behind it, with social proof messaging, prospective customers can gauge more easily what shoppers like them are doing. It is the influence of the ‘power of the people’ that makes social proof messaging work so well. Social proof is the ultimate trendsetter – Shoppers gain confidence from knowing that other customers have bought or browsed the same items. That helps to convince them to add to cart, increasing your conversion rates and eCommerce sales in the process. 

By highlighting trending products, it fuels customer demand even further. Retailers can then combine the desire for a product with up-to-the-minute inventory data.

Getting closer to the customer through personalization and additional data 

Customers may want to follow the crowd, but they also appreciate a personalized and relevant shopping experience.  Social proof messaging can help to personalize the online experience by highlighting messages that are relevant to the individual shopper, such as how many of a particular item has been sold or added to cart since the shopper last viewed that page. As a result, the shopper feels seen and engages in an experience that is more relevant to them.

It’s not just sales and popularity data that can be shown to customers either. Social proof messaging can also help with conversion rate optimisation by bringing in other sources of data, such as aggregated customer reviews. Once again, this is done in real-time, allowing retailers to surface key information such as the number of customers who say an item runs large for fit or rate a particular item for quality. 

Proof of the success of social proof messaging

The evidence of the success of social proof messaging is clear from the calibre of brands and retailers that leverage social proof messaging and the results that they are seeing from the investment.  Taggstar customers include the likes of Eddie Bauer, GoPro, Marks & Spencer and Revolve, and our customers consistently see strong ROI and conversion rate uplifts when social proof messaging is incorporated into their digital shopping experience.

Is there room for both? 

We aren’t saying that badging doesn’t have a place in a retailer’s marketing armoury.  Indeed, there are instances where badging works very well to highlight particular features to shoppers. And badging can work alongside social proof messaging, too. But there’s little doubt that social proof messaging offers extra clout – and when your primary goal is driving conversion rate optimisation to increase eCommerce sales, then that little extra clout goes a long way

Find out more

If you want to know more, then download our ‘Social Proof Messaging Versus Badging’ ebook. Answers to some of our other frequently asked questions can be found on our website. You can even play around with your numbers and use our free, no-obligation conversion rate calculator to see the impact social proof could have on your conversion rate and revenue. Or get in touch to find out more.

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