Social Proof in eCommerce: Leveraging Influencer Marketing Successfully
Do you know what social proof is? Picture this – you’re on your way to purchase a certain type of product, you’ve done your research and you are aware of the options you have to choose from. You browse through the catalogue to find the corresponding store listings to your options, but while doing so something specific tends to stand out and grabs your attention. You can’t help, but notice that Option A has accumulated a significant number of reviews with predominantly positive ratings. On the other hand, Option B not so much, while Option C has no reviews at all. Given this information what will your final choice be?
Unsurprisingly, you will be naturally inclined to go for the one with the most reviews and best overall rating, thus adding Option A to your cart, as you proceed to checkout. And more often than not, we are completely oblivious to the psychological phenomenon taking place in the corners of our minds called Social Proof. But while the nomenclature is rather modern and awareness of its existence is at an all-time high, this phenomenon has been our companion throughout the ages.
The more connected we became, the more it evolved and adapted to the dynamics of our hectic lifestyles and interpersonal relationships. That is why, it should come as no surprise to find some of its latest iterations in the world of social media, especially when it comes to Influencer Marketing. And fortunately for us, there is more data available to confirm this than ever before.
Influencer Marketing and its Future
We can find the first set of proof in a Tomoson study on Influencer Marketing, whose findings identify a positive trend in the development of such marketing initiatives. Typically, to get a basic understanding of the direction an industry is heading to, one should look no further than budget allocation. And looking at the corresponding data, the news is indeed quite encouraging. The large majority of surveyed companies – a whopping 59% plan to increase their Influencer Marketing budget over the next 12 months. This comes at a sharp contrast of being roughly 5 times as much as the share of each answer in the contrary.
But it doesn’t stop there. While some are still on the ropes, many more identify it as the fastest-growing online customer-acquisition method, as further data from the same study suggests. Surpassing the tried and tested strategies of the not-so-distant past by roughly a quarter, Influencer Marketing justifiable earns the top spot, as the trending means of securing paying customers for your e-Commerce brand. One question remains however — what does it do differently to garner such attention from industry professionals around the world?
Building Social Proof with Content
What sets Influencer Marketing apart from traditional marketing approaches is trust, above anything else. While company content is often seen as promotional, people tend to see influencers as authority figures – a neutral and trustworthy source of information. To earn these stripes, they provide valuable insights and solutions to their audience, oftentimes free-of-charge. By doing so they are able to foster a unique dynamic in their relationship with the viewers. Because of this dynamic, influencers are able to position themselves in a manner that can create commercial interest and generate leads. And social proof is the engine behind it all.
Influencers tend to be the go-to solution for many e-Commerce brands as building trust with social proof is a major challenge for most. Typically, even a small endorsement from an influencer can become a deciding factor early on, especially when it comes to recent market entrants. The same applies to rich social proof formats like product comparisons and reviews, who became popular for the very same reasons. That is why, Influencer Marketing can have a tremendous impact on e-Commerce sales, with findings from BazaarVoice giving an estimate of 10% to as much as 44%. It is an incredible opportunity to leverage exclusive and highly relevant content in building social proof as part of your marketing strategy that is ripe for the taking.
Despite the impressive results Influencer Marketing tends to deliver, there are still some factors that need to be considered before jumping into the action. Knowing how important trust is for influencers, it is essential to look into their credibility first, before committing to a decision. Then following in close second is the authenticity of their reviews. This aspect highlights the need for a balanced overview of pros and cons, instead of a disingenuous one-sided rating. Last, but certainly not least is relevance which reminds us that a fashionista’s review of the latest computer processor will hardly be of interest to her fashion-minded audience. Taking care of these three factors will essentially maximize the amount of social proof the outreach delivers, thus ensuring the results you are looking for.
Streamlining Influencer Interactions
Keeping in mind all the factors involved in decision making, Influencer Marketing can prove to be a cumbersome task even for seasoned veterans. Given how dynamic the environment tends to be throughout the process, it is understandable that some companies experience difficulties. Shedding more light on this in numbers are Brandnew’s findings, pointing out that as much as 75% of marketers face challenges when it comes to finding the right influencers. On the other hand, measuring performance is what lies heavy on the minds of a bit more than half of respondents.
And while these challenges are quite common, Influencer Marketing is far from being mission impossible. Taking a closer look at the reasons behind them reveals two very important lessons when it comes to engaging in such activities. On one hand is relevant selection and on the other – having a result-oriented approach. The former is a direct outcry from the ever-present social media noise that faces every company on a regular basis. The overwhelming volume of content that is freely available online should send you a clear message – as an e-Commerce brand you simply cannot afford to be frivolous in your influencer picks. Not everyone posting relevant content to your product’s vertical will deliver positive results.
Considering this, it is important to understand that influencers act more as a marketing agency than they do as a content factory. This brings us to the latter lesson about measurement. Nowadays marketers have access to performance data of all shapes and sizes, but when it comes to Influencer Marketing that is often not the case. Instead of having a clean and easy-to-digest analytics data dashboard, many businesses are faced with vague promises, poor attribution, and a large grey mass of questionable results that few want to deal with.
Not everything is doom and gloom however as with the help of the appropriate technology, e-Commerce businesses can navigate through these uncharted waters with ease. The solution comes in the form of Influencer Marketing automation, the need for which grows exponentially with scale and complexity. The purpose of such technology is to save countless hours spent scrolling through chaotic newsfeeds by doing all the heavy lifting for you. As a result, you gain access to a powerful content engine that aggregates the data for you in one neatly curated location. It also comes with priceless features like sentiment analysis that will certainly be of use when it comes to measuring performance.
As a whole, taking advantage of such technology allows e-commerce brands to lose the burden of dealing with every technicality of Influencer Marketing the old fashion way. And considering how demanding building social proof can be, this often translates directly into revenue. Why waste time fighting algorithms and looking at a crystal ball for your performance metrics?
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Originally created for LiveReach.
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