Although social proof is essential for all fashion and lifestyle niches, it’s especially important for lingerie. Never is fit, comfort or quality more important than when buying lingerie, but you’re limited with what you can try on and return. So it’s no surprise that customers tend to stick to the brand they know and love when buying lingerie online.
The main barrier to conversion for online lingerie brands is the lack of confidence customers have that the products will fit their unique shape. Every woman out there will have bought dozens of bras and pairs of underwear over the years, only to find the fit completely wrong. When a customer finds something that fits, they’re often reluctant to move away from that brand.
The most effective way to disrupt this mindset and sway customers to your website is to offer them proof. Specifically, social proof.
Over recent years, social platforms, review sites and online publications have helped smaller and growing lingerie brands move into the spotlight. By changing perceptions, reducing the taboo and increasing brand awareness, platforms like Instagram have helped make room for lesser-known underwear brands. This is a kind of social proof that businesses can utilise to reduce that initial buyer hesitation and attract new customers.
What is social proof?
Social proof is an industry buzzword that’s gained popularity following the rise of ‘influencer marketing’. Originally coined by Dr Robert Cialdini back in the 80s, the term social proof describes the influence that other people, both online and in person, have on our own actions. If someone you know or admire is doing something or buying something, then it must be a good idea.
According to HubSpot, there are five different types of social proof, each with the power to increase brand awareness, reduce buyer hesitation and improve your conversions.
1. Expert social proof
Expert social proof describes the influence that a credible expert or authority has in your industry. For example, if a prominent fashion blogger, magazine editor or designer recommends a certain brand of lingerie, it’s likely that the brand will see an increase in their sales.
How you can use it
First off, it’s important to identify what kind of lingerie brand you are. Are you high-fashion or budget? Plus-size or all sizes? Sleek and sexy or subtle and refined? Think about your target audience, and then think of what kind of publications and experts they’ll be following. If you’re high-fashion, you’ll want to shoot for places like Vogue, Marie Claire and GQ. If you’re more high-street, aim for publications like Who What Wear, Look and Refinery29.
Next, reach out to these experts. Contact as many people as you possibly can within your industry niche. Whether it’s a prominent fashion blogger, an editor or a model, get in touch and tell them about your brand. Explain who you are, what you sell and what makes your lingerie unique. Send free samples and follow up. Eventually, someone will give you a mention.
Once your brand has been mentioned by an expert, you can start including “as seen in” media logos on your site and social channels. These logos help reassure potential customers of your brand’s quality.
2. Celebrity social proof
Often used synonymously with influencer marketing, celebrity social proof capitalises on the huge audience that celebrities have. Celebrity endorsements are essential for building a successful brand, especially in fashion niches like lingerie. Consumers are constantly looking for inspiration and guidance from their favourite style icons, whether they’re a fashion model, A-list celeb or a well-known YouTuber.
How you can use it
Celebrity social proof doesn’t just mean reaching out to the most popular stars on the planet – it’s about getting an endorsement from an influencer in your target market. And with the rise of Instagram and YouTube personalities, getting an endorsement has never been easier.
Start following celebs and influencers who fit with your target audience and see what kind of deals you can make. If you’re a small, fairly new lingerie brand, target someone with a few thousand followers. The bigger your budget, the more popular an influencer you can reach out to.
Celebrity social proof is important, but it’s also important to find the right celebrities. Think about your target audience. What celebrities would they most identify with? For example, someone who identifies with high-fashion models like Adwoa Aboah will probably be less receptive to sponsored ads featuring someone like Kim Kardashian.
3. User social proof
When trying out a new brand, especially one with a small reputation, consumers want to hear from your previous customers. They want to know if the products arrived on time, what the quality was like and how well they fit. These reviews and ratings can be the difference between a new customer and an abandoned browser.
How you can use it
To utilise user social proof, share positive reviews, videos and pictures about your product from around the web. You can encourage these reviews by including a note with their order or on a follow-up email, asking customers to share pictures on Instagram and tag your brand in them. Offering incentives like 10% off their next order is a great way to build up these reviews.
Another way to open your brand up to reviews is by signing up to user-generated review sites like Trustpilot and Quora. By allowing customers to rate your brand and share any positive or negative experiences they’ve had, these sites can help reduce first-time buyer hesitation. In fact, Trustpilot reported that showing your brand’s ratings on results pages can increase click-through rates by up to 94%.
The hardest part about building up user social proof is guaranteeing those 5-star reviews. That’s why you need to deliver a great customer experience. Before even thinking about encouraging reviews, make sure your order fulfilment, customer service and product quality are all world class.
4. Wisdom of the crowd
We’ve all heard the saying “follow the crowd”. It’s human nature. If you see dozens of people queuing outside a restaurant, you assume that restaurant must be nice. If you see that thousands of people have signed a petition, you assume it’s for a good cause. After all, thousands of people can’t be wrong, right?
Describing this social phenomenon, psychologist Robert Cialdini writes, “Whether the question is what to do with an empty popcorn box in a movie theatre, how fast to drive on a certain stretch of highway, or how to eat the chicken at a dinner party, the actions of those around us will be important in defining the answer.”
How you can use it
There are several different ways you can encourage potential customers to “follow the crowd” and buy your products. One of the easiest ways is to have a ‘most popular’ or ‘trending’ section on your site, showcasing the products that other customers are loving right now. This avenue is great for selling to potential customers that aren’t sure what they’re looking for or need some inspiration.
Another way to show off your brand’s popularity is to build up a strong online presence and showcase your socials on your site. If your brand has hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers, YouTube subscribers and social shares, consumers will assume you’re an industry leader and are more likely to take you seriously. You can increase your follower count by holding giveaways, following your competitor’s followers and using geotags to boost local discovery.
5. Wisdom of your friends
We tend to surround ourselves with like-minded people. That’s why recommendations that come from a friend are much more likely to have an impact than other forms of advertising. In a global consumer survey, 77% of people said word-of-mouth from family and friends is the most persuasive source of new product information.
How you can use it
Similarly to crowd social proof, one of the best ways to reach your consumers through their friends is by building up a strong online presence. Social platforms like Instagram and Facebook suggest users pages to like based on who their friends are following, so boosting your follower count is the best way to gather this social proof. Encourage followers to tag their friends in relatable posts and giveaways, and share news and videos that are relevant to your target market.
The key to getting social proof
The only guaranteed way of building up an arsenal of social proof is to deliver an exceptional shopping experience. You can have a Fortune 500 marketing budget and a host of celebrity sponsorship deals, but if you can’t fulfil orders on time, it won’t matter. Order fulfilment and customer satisfaction are the make-or-break of brands, and a stream of negative customer reviews can result in a loss of up to 70% of potential customers.
Getting order fulfilment right can be especially tricky for lingerie brands. With more product variables than any other fashion niche, brands have to order each variation in low quantities to keep their stock levels manageable. Which means products are more likely to sell out, and manually updating website stock levels becomes an impossible task.
That’s why big lingerie brands are choosing to automate their data.
By connecting your warehouse, logistics, returns and ecommerce software through an integration platform, you have complete control over your essential business data. You can schedule data syncs in time with peak sales periods, eliminating the need for manual input tasks.
With automatic updates and live inventory figures, your website will always have up-to-date stock levels – meaning no more overselling, and no more unhappy customers. More importantly, you’ll be able to provide the kind shopping experience that gets you those 5-star reviews.
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