All Posts By

Marjorie Leonidas

COMMENT: Amazon Charts Launches – Social Proof for Our Social Proof

By | Business, E-commerce, Online optimisation, Online optimization, Retail, Retail; E-Commerce, Social proof

Last week, online retail colossus Amazon announced a new feature in its book sales called Amazon Charts. In case you missed it, this chart has been billed as a ‘new’ bestseller list, giving users a top 20 list of the ‘most read’ books on Amazon. The data combines both how much these titles are read on Kindle and listened to via Audible.

Amazon Kindle: Data included in social proof chart

Moreover Amazon will now also publish a ‘most sold’ top 20 list, including books sold, pre-ordered and borrowed each week on Amazon.com, Audible and Amazon Books. As time passes we’ll also see other selective stats and data about their sales.

Avid Amazon shoppers will ask what’s changed? Amazon has long-published lists, but this announcement shows a richer reliance on the data that it’s continually collecting as sales are made, and replaying that to add value to the online sales experience. What’s key is that the data wholly-belongs to Amazon by way of the opinions and behaviors of its millions of customers. From a branding point of view, Amazon is reinforcing its position as the leading online book retailer each time these stats are used – and undoubtedly replayed in the media and other sources.

Amazon sells millions of books each day, so as a game of numbers alone, it’s already viewed as a credible source. But what excites us about this announcement is that these charts are using social data first and foremost. Amazon is promoting information about what others are reading as way to encourage more sales. This works by using the wisdom of crowds to influence the behavior of new or returning customers.

Add to this that most of us have shopped on Amazon in the last few months, and probably know other people that have also used the site, so by mining and replaying the preferences of previous customers back to new visitors, we’re being giving recommendations by ‘people like us,’ making us feel more comfortable about the buying decisions we might then make. Amazon is adding value on-site, and therefore also reducing the likelihood that book buyers will go elsewhere.

According to the TechCrunch report, the data points presented will be selective.  This makes sense. We expect that Amazon will use the latest data to support seasonal or other marketing campaigns, but it will also be interesting to see what site’s algorithms show us according to the behavior of real-time customers.

It’s great to see more retailers show a deeper reliance on socially-sourced factual data.  At Taggstar, we work with the principle that the opinion of the crowd is always stronger than an individual, and are rolling out new ways of applying real-time social proof data to some of the web’s largest brands.

We already have a ‘top sellers’ feature available to Taggstar customers, which collects and presents data in the form of real-time messages sourced from the crowd, without the bias of the retailer.  We know from our testing that this is statistically-proven to improve sales.

You can read a recent example how we’re helping retailers and their customers to make better buying decisions using crowd-sourced trends here, as Finn Christo, online optimisation lead at N Brown explains.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on how Amazon develops its social charts.

Want to try Taggstar’s social proof messages yourself?  Drop us a line here.

Taggstar JD Williams social proof

N Brown Grows Online Sales by £2m with Taggstar’s Social Proof Messaging

By | Business, E-commerce, Fashion, Fit; Online Shopping, Online optimisation, Online optimization, Retail, Retail; E-Commerce, Social proof

Retailer Signs Contract After Trial Shows Significant Sales Uplift

23 May 2017 – Leading digital fashion retailer N Brown Group, has generated additional revenues of c.£2m in just a few months by adding social proof messaging from e-commerce conversion optimisation specialists, Taggstar.  Messaging was added to the group’s Power Brands Simply Be, JD Williams and Jacamo in mid-2016. The test showed impressive revenue uplift across the three sites that was directly linked to the customers who saw the Taggstar messages, leading the retailer to sign an ongoing contract.

Taggstar social proof

Taggstar social proof messaging at SimplyBe

N Brown began using Taggstar across the brands in mid-2016, testing the social proof messaging software over a 90-day period, and showing more than 12 million unique messages. Customers saw information about how many other people were looking at a product at a particular moment, or what other shoppers had bought. The messages increased customer confidence by providing transparent information about product popularity, and encouraged browsers to move down the purchase funnel.

N Brown Group conversion rate optimisation manager, Finn Christo said: “We were interested in what motivates us to buy as shoppers, and specifically the FOMO factor.  We saw how effective the Taggstar social proof messages were, and started using them across our entire product catalogue.”

Results from using the messaging were excellent. Sales attributed to the Taggstar messages added additional revenue of c.£2 million across the three sites, with Simply Be alone increasing its conversion rate by up to 2.7%.

N Brown and Taggstar continue to work together and have now signed a new contract to increase use of the messages and to test different combinations. The Group Optimisation team says that it will begin to deliver its social proof message roadmap immediately.

N Brown Group has adapted to drive improved online sales. Its online power brands Simply Be, JD Williams and Jacamo have an aggregated 1.8m active customers every year. It also uses Taggstar partners BizarreVoice and Monetate and is excited to try the two solutions together.

Taggstar social proof Jacamo

Taggstar social proof at Jacamo

Taggstar’s CEO Marjorie Leonidas said: “Our social proof messages give consumers the confidence to make more informed decisions when shopping online. We turn huge amounts of e-commerce trends into useful, actionable information to improve customer engagement and increase sales.”

With overwhelming online choice, Taggstar captures recommendations, ratings and real sales trends from others to guide customers down the purchase funnel. It’s statistically-proven to increase sales conversions of popular selling items and thousands of long-tail products.

Read the Essential Retail Q&A with Finn Christo, N Brown here.

Can Social Proof Messaging Solve The Problem of Fit in Online Fashion?

By | E-commerce, Fashion, Retail, Retail; E-Commerce, Social proof

We work with a number of fast fashion e-tailers, who all agree that one consumer mega trend is causing their businesses a problem – fit.

This isn’t new news, but as fashion and apparel sales have become the fastest-growing e-commerce category – second only to consumer electronics – it’s become more common and pressing. 2014 figures from Forrester said that the online return rate for a retailer is 20 to 30 per cent, and about twice the rate of goods bought in-person, in-store.

Online fashion sales are huge, and it’s a pain point for retailers as much as consumers when ill-fitting clothes bought online are returned. For consumers, the anticipation, optimism and excitement of their new purchase goes sour; and for online retailers, fit-related returns cost millions in terms of lost revenue and the extra operational expense needed to ship and process. Moreover, according to Gartner, fewer than half of returned online goods sell at full price again, dealing retailers a double blow.

Revenues lost from returns are of course only half of the problem. When customers are unsure whether an item will fit in the first place, they’re less likely to convert.

Technology suppliers have of course not been shy in trying to solve the problem. There’s now a range of tools to try and support consumers – everything from manual measurement input, to digital fitting rooms, to complex algorithmic solutions which meld fit data to recommend which size an online fashion shopper should pick. And yet the black-bagged returns are still coming back.

The retailers that we talk to say that this is partly inevitable. There is always going to be a chunk of the market who will buy multiple sizes and send the ill-fitting one back. It’s an unfortunate behaviour that’s evolved with fashion e-commerce.  The introduction of new technology won’t automatically reverse the trend either.  If you’re a shopper who’s habitually returning unwanted items, you’re not going to trust a new widget straight-away. We know that standard sizes and body shapes are all different.

High return rates are also partly to do with limited technology adoption. Once fit technologies are added, a behavioural change is needed to actually get shoppers to engage. Some tools need shoppers to take an extra step in their online purchase journeys, but for fast fashionistas who want to get online, get it and get out, that’s also possibly a step too far.

Where fashion e-commerce has exploded, online returns have followed suit, and retailers are now having to catch up.  It’s tough, but as customer-centric businesses, retailers have to make it work.

It seems that whether a clever, automated tool or one that needs manual input, sales conversions will only go up, and returns go down when shoppers actually trust the information that they’re getting. Which is where crowd-sourced, behavioural information like quality reviews, fit reviews, ratings and purchase information are powerful.

There’s little that we can do about the habitual returners who are likely to carry on buying and returning.  However, for the mass of shoppers in who aren’t sure about fit, and are dropping out of the purchase journey because of it, the more information that we can give them the better, making them more likely to trust in their product choices and therefore more likely to convert.

That’s the principle that effective social proof messaging should live and die by for fast fashion e-commerce. Fashion is the one retail niche where consumers are more likely to have a friend or family member to back them up when they’re shopping in-store. The benefit is that if they can’t see how tight the dress is around their thighs, then their friend is sure to tell them.  We lose this third party reassurance when we shop online, which is where social proof messaging fills the gap, providing crowd-sourced support for e-commerce fashion choices.

Social proof messaging can be tagged to every item on a retail site, and shoppers shouldn’t need to look for it. Real-time information should be shown with the product page, helping to build trust and add value with third party reviews about fit, quality (or any other issue that retailers need to address).  If the crowd agrees that an item comes up small, they’re arguably more reliable than a prep-programmed app.

It’s a non-disruptive, information injection that is working for the fashion e-tailers that Taggstar works with. For example, they tell us that by letting customers know on the product page that the item fits tight (and therefore to buy a size larger), customers are less likely to buy two of the same item and to return the ill-fitting one. This stops retailers losing margins on the item that is kept.

Additionally, having information about fit on the product page has also shown to increase sales conversions because these social proof messages actually help build customer confidence to buy rather than abandon.

To find out more about Taggstar for your fashion site, get in touch.

Taggstar’s Black Friday Report: The Impact of Social Proof on Black Friday in 2016

By | Business, E-commerce, Fashion, Fit; Online Shopping, Retail; E-Commerce

Taggstar provides real-time, social proof messaging for e-commerce to drive increased sales conversions and revenue along with better customer engagement and a reduction in basket abandonment.

Each year we look at how our messages performed for e-commerce sites using Taggstar on Black Friday. We love to compare the role social proof messaging plays year-on-year. It’s a fascinating case in shopper behaviour to see how the transparent buying patterns of shoppers improve the sales conversions of others.

In 2016, we delivered close to a staggering 120 million real-time social proof messages for customers on some of the UK’s largest online retailers, which contributed to increasing revenue.

When there are so many bargains to be had, we can see that our messages are helping shoppers to make a quicker, more confident decision to buy. In fact, during Black Friday 2016 we saw sales conversion rate uplifts of up to 3.75 per cent based on A/B testing of all e-commerce sites using Taggstar.

For the full results and extra social proof tips to apply to your site as you prepare for Black Friday 2017, read The Taggstar Black Friday Report 2016

Comment: How to Use Social Proof to Optimize Programmatic Ad Spend

By | Business, E-commerce, Fit; Online Shopping, Retail; E-Commerce

Yesterday we announced Taggstar’s new partnership with Jivox, leaders in dynamic personalised digital advertising. The news takes the application of our real-time messaging into a new market.  It’s a market that might not have heard of Taggstar, so we wanted to say hello and to offer a bit more in the way of explaining the concept of social proof.

Social proof is what Taggstar’s messages provide. In simple terms, when people see other people taking an action and benefiting from it, they tend to do the same. It’s the concept behind items that are trending (think last year’s ‘hoverboards’), or why people jump on a hashtag. Behind the scenes, our software aggregates product trends as people browse online.

By harnessing this data, e-tailers can show visitors to their website (or through adverts and social media posts), that other normal people just like them, really enjoy a product or service. That provides social proof that you’re providing a popular service or selling a good product.

Social proof itself is a perfect way to set internet browsers into action. If you can show visitors that there are other people out there, just like them, taking advantage of your offer and really enjoying the results – they’re likely to want to take advantage too.

It doesn’t matter whether they are on or off-site and what your action is, it might be a purchase, a download, or you simply need to get them to your site in the first place.

Think about reviews as an example: Why do you think the products with the highest reviews perform the best? The number of stars that appear on a product page give the shopper social proof that the product they’re looking at is right for them, so they buy it. Taggstar aggregates these reviews so that shoppers don’t have to click through one-by-one.

After you’ve read through this article, take a random search on Shop Direct’s website, Very.co.uk or on Thomas Cook’s website (both Taggstar customers) . You’ll start seeing how it uses trends, reviews, hot selling items and other messages to deliver social proof.

However, browsers don’t need to be on your website to see social proof. That’s what’s exciting about today’s announcement with Jivox.  The behaviour of your shoppers and trends around your products can be pulled into ongoing digital advertising optimisation and solid marketing strategies.  Think: “Oh it must be good if they’re featuring it!”

That simple thought process makes the user more likely to convert. Even more so if the product is relevant to them. For example, if a product is trending, something a visitor has looked at before or similar to another item, the trend data can be pulled into an ad to persuade them to look again, or visit the site for the first time.

By posting positive (or even embedding) positive product trends and reviews into your adverts you’re showing new visitors that other people, just like them, have enjoyed your product or service.

Not only will this help browsers to become more familiar with your brand and begin to trust your products even more, but you can also give that same impression to users on your website.

Taggstar’s 2015 Scorecard

By | Business, E-commerce, Fit; Online Shopping, Retail; E-Commerce

We’ve reviewed our performance over 2015. From the January and summer sales, through the busiest shopping period of the year, known as the ‘Golden Quarter’ and including the retail phenomena of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas.

The top line is that we processed a massive 1.3 billion real-time message requests over the course of the year, providing social proof for shoppers on some of the largest online retailers like Shop Direct and Argos.

We’ve also added a roll-call of great new brand names to our client list and, although we can’t share these right now, we look forward to announcing some fantastic e-tailers in 2016.

Here’s our summary our full 2015 results:

Key performance data when websites showed Taggstar messages:

  • Taggstar processed 1.3 billion real-time message requests in 2015.
  • Annual average conversion rate uplift: 2.8 per cent
  • Busiest quarter: Q4 2015 with a total of 690 million messages requests
  • Volume of Taggstar message requests:

Black Friday: 38.7 million

Cyber Monday: 17.3 million

Saturday prior to Xmas: 10.1 million

Boxing Day: 14.3 million

New Year’s Day: 8.9 million

  • (Est) 12 million completed eCommerce orders, resulting from a online shopping session where Taggstar showed a social proof message.
  • Average order value on sites showing Taggstar messaging:

Black Friday: £110

Cyber Monday: £83

Saturday prior to Xmas: £54

Boxing Day: £73

New Year’s Day: £70

No one likes spending hours looking online. We think our messages help make it simple, easy and quick, building trust and confidence with online shoppers.

Here’s to a successful 2016!

Comment: Rise In Consumer Spending Adds to Fierce eCommerce Competition

By | Business, E-commerce, Fit; Online Shopping, Retail; E-Commerce

New data this week from Visa shows that eCommerce sales grew 7.4 per cent in December as customers chose to purchase Christmas gifts and essentials online, while in-store sales fell 0.1%.

Growth in eCommerce sales has long been on the cards and December was the last month of a very strong year for consumer spending. But despite a clear warning from the Government that interest rates are due to rise sooner rather than later, the trickle of online spend has turned into a healthy stream that’s set to continue during 2016.

While this is good news, the potential prize should be a challenge for retailers to focus on their onsite experience and customer service. They should fulfil on the areas where consumers generally gripe – shorter checkout routes, better payment engines and more accurate product information.

The latter is something social proof can help with on- and off-site through a three-step process to delivering a quality product detail that is relevant to the shopper and in tune with their browsing habits:

  1. Show relevant, real-time information as shoppers shop: I keep coming back to the example of the toaster that follows me around the internet, but it’s a great example of everything that’s wrong with digital advertising.  I’ve bought the toaster. The toaster’s been delivered.  We’re eaten several hundred rounds of toast from it over the past few months, but a cookie I dropped somewhere is still telling an ad engine that I want a toaster.  A better experience for both shopper and eCommerce retailer is to deliver product information or recommended products based on actual online habits.  Watch what your browsers are interested in, and if they leave your page, show them in-ad messages using social proof. Think “41 people are looking at this [toaster] right now.” The proven impact, is that the shopper will consider the product a better deal and is more likely to return to the product page.
  2. Use behavioural information to recommend and upsell: Every retailer knows the power of the upsell. Whether it’s to a more expensive holiday or pair of trousers, or by adding incremental items such as rental cars or even a pair of goggles (going back to my days on the shop floor in a ski shop, it was all about the goggles).  Real-time messaging can be added to any part of the sales journey to suggest associated items or recommended (more expensive products).  These can be subtle (showing that an item is trending, and therefore popular), or more directional (“Shoppers who bought x also bought Y”).  What’s important is that messages or suggestions are relevant.  Used successfully they can unlock upsell revenues
  3. Reduce basket abandonment rates: Checkout is where it can all go wrong – and for a variety of reasons.  If we assume that your payment engine is working perfectly, and your interface is simple, what’s left between you the e-tailer and a successful sale is the customer’s mindset.  You may have heard of a phrase called ‘basket shock’.  It’s what happens when the shopper gets to the end of their session, checks their basket total and realises that they can’t afford the big scary total, feels guilty or doesn’t want what they’ve chosen.  At this point you’re at risk of losing the sale altogether as your customers don’t want the hassle of sorting through and refreshing.  At this point, social proof can reinforce the decisions that have been made and make customers more confident to press ‘buy,’  letting people know stock is low or the item is becoming a hot-selling trend.

According to the Visa figures, 2015 was the strongest year since 2008 for online spending.  With continued spend in 2016, consider how social proof could help your site pull in those increments.

To get a free trial of Taggstar on your site, contact us today.

How’s Your Golden Quarter Going?

By | E-commerce, Fit; Online Shopping, Retail; E-Commerce

Last  week Taggstar was exhibiting in the Ogilvy Retail Innovation Zone at UnBound Digital in London. Hot on the heels of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the air was thick with talk about website traffic, sales and 2014 performance vs. 2015.  

The boom is far from over yet. We’ve moved into what Information Age called this week the ‘Golden Quarter,’ so-named because of the glittering potential for sales and profits open to retailers.

Of course, the new norm of Black Friday means that the Christmas shopping window starts earlier in the UK now.  With more and more e-tailers launching their promotions and gearing their sites from late November onwards, here’s a simple reason why adding social proof to your web site could stop the Golden Quarter from becoming tarnished.

It Makes Buying Easy

Here’s what I mean.

When we analysed the performance of the web sites we work with over Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we found the conversion rate uplift was higher than usual.  We like to think that our social proof software was the only factor, but shopper attitude and behaviour is also an important determinant. At this time of the year, people are more likely than usual to be coming to your site with an appetite to spend.

But at this time of the year they’re not buying for themselves and they could do with your help.  Last night for example, I got a text from my 22 year old brother asking what to buy my kids. I went to bed last night with visions of him panicking over whether Frozen was still the ‘in’ thing for a five year old.  It’s a scenario played out a million times over. Whether they’re buying a Secret Santa for their boss or for their 90 year grandmother, many will have a specific person in mind – and no clue what to buy.

Adding social proof to your website pages helps give the products you sell kudos. Whether in the form of good reviews; displaying the number of people who are watching or who’ve bought an item before; telling the browser whether stock is running low or that it’s flying out of the warehouse because it’s popular, these messages build a picture for the prospective buyer about whether it’s the right decision for them. If others have given it their seal of approval then they’ll be more confident to buy.

We’ve seen this scenario work time and time again through our A/B tests.  Buyers are happier to click ‘buy’. And at this time of year, less panic-buying now by givers means less post-Christmas returns by receivers, fixing a major revenue challenge for retailers.

Taggstar Real-Time Social Proof Messages Bring In Black Friday Millions

By | E-commerce, Fit; Online Shopping, Retail; E-Commerce, Uncategorised
  • Average order values on sites showing Taggstar real-time messages £25 higher than estimated Black Friday average*
  • Plus conversion rate uplift higher than usual over Black Friday/Cyber Monday four-days

Black Friday 2015 was a watershed event for online shopping with an estimated £1.1 billion being spent online (Experian IMRG) in the UK alone.

Even before Black Friday and Cyber Monday hit, November was Taggstar’s busiest month. We delivered close to half a billion real-time eCommerce messages, providing social proof for shoppers on some of the largest online retailers.  

No one likes spending hours looking online and with the shopping frenzy of Black Friday, shoppers want simple, easy and quick customer journeys.  We like to think our technology is making online shopping simpler with social proof giving browsers the digital thumbs-up, saying that if it’s good enough for others then it’s good enough for them.

Without a doubt, the majority of our messages were delivered over the four day Black Friday / Cyber Monday weekend.  Here’s a summary of the trends Taggstar saw over the period and the results we’ve seen.

Summary

Over 21% of all Taggstar messaging for November was delivered over the four day window from Black Friday to midnight on Cyber Monday, with 10am Black Friday morning (GMT) seeing peak requests. Black Friday alone saw a massive 251% week-on-week growth in messages served as shoppers searched online.

Web traffic over the large online retailers we work with started to climb from Thursday lunchtime, as retailers launched promotions early and shoppers went online to research. Number of messages served, orders completed and messages peaked on the morning of Black Friday. By 10am Taggstar was serving 750 real-time eCommerce messages per second, up from 400 messages per second in 2014, showing how demand for cloud-hosted social proof software from major retailers has grown over the year.

Over 30% of these messages highlighted trending items, as Taggstar’s Trend Algorithm® spotted popular items and helped drive interest among other shoppers.

Cyber Monday was more subdued with 66% less messages requested than Black Friday, possibly as shoppers took advantage of the longer promotional window.  Throughout the busiest shopping period of the year, Taggstar’s technology was 100% available with no downtime, an illustration that the platform was operating at an enterprise level.

Most significantly, where shoppers completed the sale, we saw average order values on Black Friday alone of £110 – some £25 higher than the estimated average quoted by IBM Watson.

Key performance data when websites showed Taggstar messages:

  • Average conversion rate uplift

Four day average: 3% (Taggstar takes 2% as a strong average across the rest of the year)

  • Volume of Taggstar message requests (week-on-week growth):  The four days saw almost 21%  of all November messages requests. A year-on-year growth of 150%.

Black Friday: 38.7 million (251% w-on-w)

Cyber Monday: 17.3 million (14% w-on-w)

Four-day total: 87.4 million (162% w-on-w)

  • Completed orders on sites showing Taggstar messages:

Black Friday: 420,000

Four day period: An average of 43% less than Black Friday

  • Average order value (AOV) on sites showing Taggstar messaging (vs. 2015 average*)

Black Friday: £110 (estimated AOV of $127.84 / £85, IBM Watson)

Cyber Monday: £83

Four day average: £98

*IBM Watson Black Friday 2015 research

Conclusion

Taggstar made a marked difference to retailers over the Black Friday / Cyber Monday four day weekend.  We delivered more messages, for more online retailers and for more of their customers to see than 2014.  When these shoppers saw one of our product trending message and clicked ‘buy’, they added to the ‘message cloud’, further promoting products and contributing to a conversion rate uplift of a massive 1% over the period.

Taggstar makes a difference to online retailer’s top line revenue over the busiest holiday shopping period of the year.    That’s why the largest retailers in the UK continue to innovate with Taggstar to optimise the uplift in sales conversions throughout the year.  

E-consultancy Rates our Social Proof Work with Argos

By | E-commerce, Fit; Online Shopping, Retail; E-Commerce

Last week, UK digital consultants EConsultancy wrote a great article all about Argos’ product pages.  And what did we see on the top spot?  Yep.  Number one of their eight examples of best practice was ‘Creating urgency with social proof.’

Drum roll and trumpets over at Taggstar Towers. These messages are delivered by us.

Seeing that a key principle of social proof is that the wisdom of crowds is always stronger than an individual opinion, let’s use EConsultancy’s words and not ours to say why social proof works for retailers:

When the product page loads, I get these two messages appearing one after the other, then fading out after a few seconds.

‘X+ people are looking at this right now’ and ‘purchased 100+ times in the last 48 hrs’ are messages intended to create urgency and provide social proof (i.e. this item might not last forever, and if other people are buying it, it must be kosher).

These messages are only fleeting, and disappear quickly, which has the effect of increasing urgency further and decluttering the page somewhat.”

Want to try it for yourself?  We’d be only too happy to give you a free one month trial of Taggstar on your pages. Drop us a line here.