When you come across a new product or service, how do you usually determine if it is worth the purchase? Are you convinced by the advertisements that promise you the moon and the sun? Is the price of the product the most important factor?
I could bet that you would rather choose a service based on recommendation than any other thing. If people are happy to give their stamp of approval, it must be good, right?
That is the power of social proof.
In this article you will learn about different forms of social proof, how to use user-generated content in your marketing and see great examples of successful use of social proof implemented by B2B brands.
Start taking advantage of the wisdom of the crowd and read more!
Social proof is a psychological phenomenon that makes people act like their peers. Humans are social animals. We look at our social group for reference about what we should do or think.
If you think about it, social proof is present in every day of your life. Even if you are not aware of it, you probably accommodate your behavior according to how your friends behave. You might talk differently when you are around “the guys” or “the girls” as compared to when you are with family.
If you look up to a celebrity, you probably believe what they say even though neither of you know all the facts.
If you see many people taking part in a conversation on Facebook or Twitter, you are more likely to also say something, but you will not be the first commenter.
Social proof of course affects consumer behavior, too. If a business or product has a bad reputation or our friends say that they were disappointed in a purchase, the chances are that we will not trust that business or product either.
On the other hand, a recommendation can make you want to buy something as well. If you notice that there is a new trending restaurant nearby that all your friends like, you also want to go there.
After discussing how social proof affects you, we can move on to how your business can take advantage of social proof.
In case you don’t believe me, let me introduce you to some facts about social proof:
You can also harness the phenomenon of social proof to increase conversions. I will guide you through some practical advice and real life examples of social proof in this article.
If you want to learn all about social proof and its history, see our previous blog entry about the topic.
As stated earlier, people tend to rely on word-of-mouth and recommendations from trusted individuals rather than advertisements. But who are the trusted people that your customers listen to?
Well, the answer is found in these six types of social proof:
People will be more likely to purchase your product if you showcase some form of social proof in your landing page, social media or other communication channels.
Whereas all of these six types of social proof work on an individual customer, B2B marketing might be a different story. Some forms of social proof need to be modified for B2B marketing, as the purchase motives are different between individual consumers and companies.
In this section I will cover some tactics for using social proof that you can incorporate easily. They are simple but make a great difference.
Social proof can be as simple as using phrases on your website that imply the sense of community. When people see that other people are using your service, they will trust you more.
“Join our ever growing family of happy users!”
“Businesses from all around the world have increased their sales with the help of your software.”
“We are trusted by over 1000 companies.”
While language like this is an important part in attracting potential customers, make sure to back your claims with some solid proof.
What if you don’t yet have a large customer base? Claims like this would be straight-up lying.
One resolution could be to showcase your existing customer’s logos on your website. If the businesses are willing to be associated with you, they must be happy customers, even if there are not too many of them.
If you do have lots of customers, you can still apply this strategy, but only showcase the most well known companies.
Businesses want to know the exact value that you can bring to the table, and they want proof. Collect data about your success and display it online and in social media.
“90% of our customers were able to increase conversions last year.”
“We have now helped 500 companies in 10 countries to reach a 60% increase in sales.”
If you collect reviews and ratings, don’t forget to exhibit proof of your good ratings.
On the other hand, if you don’t have many reviews, you might want to wait until you have enough. Wisdom of the crowd can only be convincing when there is an actual crowd – not just a handful of people.
As you remember, certification is one way to use social proof.
If you have received acknowledgement, remember to show proof of it to the visitors of your pages. Present your badges on the landing page.
People look up to certain personalities. Endorsements from these people have the power to bring more customers to your side. I am talking about celebrity social proof and expert social proof.
The difficult part is to figure out your target audience and which celebrity or influencer they look up to. In B2B marketing you might target several industries, and finding common ground with all of them can be tricky.
But if you succeed, you can contact experts and celebrities to increase social proof.
Utilize expert social proof by asking for a review from an industry expert or high profile business. This will make a good impression on those brands who are still sitting on the fence.
Celebrity endorsements might not be that common in B2B marketing, but using that type of social proof is still possible. If you have a tech company, it might be beneficial to partner up with an influential expert from your field that can promote your product.
Especially a social media endorsement by an influencer can reach a broader audience and cater to the wisdom of the crowd.
And of course, customer reviews are an essential part of your marketing plan, which I will prove to you next.
In B2B business, the most important endorsements probably come from users who have positive experiences about your product or service.
Happy customers can provide social proof through user-generated content (UGC). UGC is any content that the user a.k.a. customer creates regarding your brand. It can be featured on your website and social media, or on separate platforms.
Some examples of social proof that is generated by users are
While reviews and social media posts might be more unpredictable in terms of their content, testimonials and case studies are a great and more controlled way to collaborate with satisfied customers and showcase social proof to new potential customers.
Customer reviews are a great way to leverage the wisdom of the crowd, especially if your product or service is great and customers enjoy it. Reviews can also boost your appearance in search engines.
Reviews are often featured in designated review sites like Google, TripAdvisor or Yelp. They can be as short as a star rating, or include a few sentences. You can also include reviews and ratings on your brand’s Facebook pages and your website.
Reviews are most effective when there are many of them: most customers read several reviews before making a decision about a purchase.
The numbers show that reviews have a great impact which can affect the purchase decision in a positive or negative way.
Fear not! Even if you receive bad reviews, you can turn them to your advantage.
Rewiev Trackers’ 2022 report shows that industry leaders have higher response rate and shorter response time to reviews. The most successful brands in each industry answer significantly faster than the industry average.
The report also suggests that people will not trust brands that sensor reviews. Having a few not-so-great reviews make your company appear more honest and transparent.
After all, anyone could just buy reviews, so having only overbearingly positive experiences looks suspicious.
Testimonial is a type of social proof that is pleasant for you and your customers, and impactful for visitors.
Unlike review, testimonial is usually rather positive than negative. That makes sense, since companies request testimonials from happy customers and showcase them on their own website, where visitors can see them.
A testimonial can be written or even in a video form. In a testimonial, the customer can show their face, name, title and workplace. This creates a more trustworthy effect than an anonymous review.
Ask for a testimonial from a well known expert to harness expert social proof for driving your sales and swooning your visitors. A celebrity testimonial can have the power to reach a larger audience.
Would you like to start collecting customer testimonials right now?
With Trustmary customer testimonial software you can ask your satisfied customers for written or video testimonials, and incorporate them in your website.
You can ask your customers to post about their experiences on their own social media accounts, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and others.
Ask your customers to tag you in their posts, to use a specific hashtag and to let you share the content in your own social channels.
In case your customer happens to have lots of followers who also belong to your target audience, their Instagram posts might work as well as influencer marketing. The difference is that their endorsements come from the heart.
In a best case scenario you gain new traffic, more followers and a public stamp of approval for your products and services.
If you get extra lucky, your hashtag might even trend and majorly boost your recognizability. If you manage to stir up conversation, you might even get coverage in the traditional media.
But how to make sure that customers will post about you? For example, you could organize a contest. Stay tuned for an example later in this article!
Another way is to simply make so good content that users want to interact with it and continue the conversation. Also, make sure that the content is easy to share on various platforms.
Additional idea: if you have a celebrity in mind that could be of interest in your industry, why not ask them to make a guest post on your social media?
Case studies are almost like next level testimonials. You collaborate with your customer to create their story and showcase how your product or service helped their business.
The case study can be featured online on your page, your social media, or in printed form like brochures.
Your website visitors will be dazzled by a case study about your most well known customer, but they are also interested in how you have helped companies that are similar to theirs. When possible, feature brands of different sizes and from different industries.
Most businesses would not turn down a case study, as it is an advantage for them personally, too. After all, it is almost like a dual advertisement for both parties, as the client gets to highlight their product or service as well.
Don’t be shy – incorporate both video and text in your case studies like we did with the example case below.
Let’s look at some real live examples of social proof that B2B companies have used.
While influencer marketing is more common in B2C markets, it can also be applied to B2B marketing.
Instead of an individual celebrity, the “influencer” in B2B marketing can be a well known company that also happens to be your existing customer, as the following example shows.
One of the videos was News Corp’s customer journey which has received almost 200,000 views on Youtube.
Business as an influencer works well, since brands are interested in the value that you bring to the table rather than the lifestyle of a celebrity.
In 2014, a company called Intuit, which provides TurboTax tax preparation software, organized a contest for its clients, who were small businesses in Canada. It is a great example about how to reach a larger audience on social media.
The small businesses entered the contest by sending user generated stories in video form. A voting was organized, and the customer who won the voting received a SuperBowl advertisement as a prize.
The same company has continued with the contest tradition, and this year the main prize was 10 000 dollars. The participants were asked to make an Instagram post with a specific hashtag and tag the company in it.
By organizing this contest, the company was able to
Trustmary features customer reviews and testimonials on their website.
As discussed earlier, this type of social proof really makes a good impression on new customers. It is proof from existing clients that the service actually works.
Especially the positive reviews that include real faces and names of users appeal to customers.
Statistics show that use of social proof is an effective way to swoon new customers.
We have covered many tactics to how you can start implementing social proof on your website and other communication to your advantage.
User-generated content such as review, testimonial, referral, case study and social media posts are a good way to boost the visibility of your brand and offer authentic experiences about your business.
In B2B marketing the proof from existing users and customers is the most valuable form of social proof.
If you want to start collecting user social proof, you could as well get to it right now. Carpe diem!
Why should I implement social proof in my marketing mix?
You should implement social proof if you want to accelerate your sales.
Statistics show that people are more likely to trust a brand that other people have reviewed, especially if they deem the reviews honest and authentic.
Social proof works like magic. If you want to affect the opinion of a group of people, one of the most effective ways is to show that other people trust your brand as well.
This is why we talk about “the wisdom of the crowd”.
What types of social proof are there?
The six types of social proof are:
How do you show social proof?
Some examples of how one can showcase social proof are social media posts, reviews on review sites, celebrity endorsements, influencer marketing, referral from high profile industry leaders, case studies, showcasing awards and badges, and user testimonials.
How can I start gathering user social proof?
Reviews and testimonials are two great ways to easily exhibit positive feedback from users on your website. Trustmary offers software that allows you to gather them easily.
The advantage of Turstmary software is that the testimonials will be featured on your own website instead of review sites. Using social proof has never been so easy!
Trustmary is the most effective way to convert more sales by improving digital trust.