This article talks about what we understand by social proof, the types of social proof in B2B marketing, three innovative types of social proof, and when and where to use social proof on your site.
What Do We Understand by Social Proof?
Social proof can be explained as a social and psychological phenomenon where people copy the actions of others to undertake a particular behavior in a given situation. In other words, it means relying on the wisdom or knowledge of others when making a decision. It’s why you read product reviews before making a purchase or why you ask locals for recommendations when visiting a new city.
Our decisions are consciously or subconsciously driven by the opinions, choices, and actions of the people around us. Social proof is basically a shortcut to decide how to act and what to do in certain situations.
Social Proof in B2B vs B2C
When a potential customer comes in contact with your business, usually via the website, you have to provide them with content to solidify their decision to buy or subscribe. Social proof in marketing can work amazingly for your business in this sense, if done right. It’s essential for B2B and B2C companies alike. However, this doesn’t mean that social proof for both of them is similar.
For B2B companies, the company with social proof wins the customer over the company without social proof. That’s because compared to B2C companies, B2B companies need to prove that their business is of value, and using social proof in marketing can help you do that. One of the more important things B2B companies need to do is find people who your B2B audience will want to hear from. They include:
- General thought leaders in the industry
- Other business professionals in your field
- Business professionals from other fields, but with similar challenges
- Happy customers.
However, without a formal plan, it can be difficult to find people from these categories to provide social proof. Below are a few ways you can go about it:
- Reach out to long-term customers or clients and ask them directly
- Include a request for testimonials on post-conversion materials
- Add a request for testimonials to your existing testimonials.
Depending on the size of your campaign, a combination of all three usually does the trick. In some cases, you may need to provide incentives (like a discount on products if they’re willing to provide a review) for people to participate in your B2B social proof program.
For B2C companies, social proof can be as easy as someone recommending or mentioning your product on social media channels.
Types of Social Proof in B2B Marketing
Unless potential customers already have a favorite place to go to or use for a product or service, social proof means most will ask their personal network of friends or family for a recommendation, or they’ll search for a solution on their own. This happens millions of times a day.
The type(s) of social proof you choose can help customers make a decision, feel confident about their choice, and make them feel like they’re a part of something bigger. Talia Wolf of Get Uplift says about social proof that “planned carefully, you can spark specific emotional triggers that influence customers’ feelings towards their purchase and your business.” See below how to make that customer experience unforgettable, so they ultimately choose your business for their needs.
1. Case studies
Customer success stories are an essential part of any B2B company, and many B2B buyers cite them as the most influential content they consume. Case studies can increase sales by 185%. They’re a fantastic ROI tactic. And just like any good story, a good case study will have a beginning, a middle, and an end, with a protagonist (your customer).
We recall stories more than we do facts, so get creative when searching for someone to be the protagonist of your next case study. It’s important to remember that case studies are about the customer’s journey (about how they overcame a problem or achieved an objective), not about your company. They need to be relatable so your potential customers can put themselves in their shoes and understand what they could get out of it. For help on getting your customer success stories told in a way from start to finish, there’s Case Study Buddy available.
Testimonials act as personalized social proof that a purchase went well or that a customer is happy with a service. Usually best positioned near a call to action, they’re meant for customers or visitors to visualize their improved life post-purchase. It’s crucial that testimonials counter actual objections instead of just praising your product. They should include full names, professions, and clear examples of what you’ve done for them. A marketing copy with quotes won’t cut it. Include powerful customer quotes on your landing pages, and give them credibility (pictures help).
Source: Referral Candy
Video testimonials are also a surefire way to captivate your B2B audience. An interview accompanied by an expert question set will be the perfect piece of video content that will provide a visual element and credibility due to the added effort and investment you have put into your business. These testimonials can be used as ads on social media like Facebook and LinkedIn. Testimonial Hero can help create authentic video content from customers and employees and also has examples of video testimonials that worked.
Reviews are what define a company’s brand reputation within the local market and beyond. They are growing in popularity as a means of converting prospects and leads into clients. In fact, 90% of consumers think that reviews and referrals are more valuable than the information provided by salespeople, with over 92% of them saying they’re more likely to purchase a product after reading a trusted review. With that said, it’s a no-brainer that potential customers use this type of social proof as a factor in considering whether to purchase or subscribe. The best way to ensure you make reviews a priority and use them properly is by making sure you fill out:
- Google My Business Listing (you can set that up here)
- Social media
- Glassdoor (many people want to see if a company treats their employees right before becoming a patron. The bigger the enterprise, the more people care about the ethics of that company)
- Software Advice
Since most B2B businesses don’t follow up to ask for reviews from their customers, you can take advantage of this and use social proof to showcase your brand. If asked, customers who are satisfied with a product or service will be more than happy to provide a review. It’s best to ask for reviews during a customer’s peak excitement (usually as soon as possible after a completed transaction) and get in the habit of sending review invites after every purchase and sharing them online. A tool like NiceJob can help you in this sense.
The moment positive reviews start coming in, share them on your social media. User-generated media posts help keep you in the minds of your followers, help your marketing efforts, and positively impact local search and SEO (improving rankings by about 12%). The more reviews you have, the more traffic you have to your website, and the better the quality of that traffic will be. Even if reviews aren’t positive, instead of dismissing them, respond to them and talk about how the situation was fixed. This will turn a negative situation into a positive one and show that your business cares about resolving any issues.
And remember, images for any case studies, testimonials, or reviews will help put a face to the name and help share that authentic social proof to your potential customers.
4. Trust icons
The whole idea behind social proof is trust. Without it, there won’t be a purchase. That’s why trust icons (or trust badges) are another aspect of using social proof to enhance your business. They can be the difference between you gaining or losing a prospective customer. Trust icons are the visual cues that should:
- Build your site’s credibility
- Rely on another brand’s reputation to build your own
- Inspire trust from your users
Online fraud is an ever-growing problem, and customers are more susceptible to it when purchasing goods or services. This makes them more cautious. But there are many trust icons to use to gain their trust:
- SSL certificates
- Site security badges (located somewhere on the homepage)
- Money-back guarantee seal – most companies offer a 14- or 30- day money-back guarantee to ensure trust with customers
- Secure payment icon – since card information is vulnerable
- Industry award badge – to build site credibility like in this example from SEMrush
- Customer logo icons – include any widely known clients you work with to show customers that other brands they know trust you with their business, like in this example from Testimonial Hero
- Social media icons – although not the traditional form of trust icons, they check all the boxes for what a trust icon is, and allow customers to feel safer knowing that you’re a business that likes to connect with clients
- Free trial trust badge – like this example from Bigcommerce.
Innovative Types of Social Proof in B2B Marketing
1. Trust icons from review platforms
By embedding Capterra or G2 reviews as social proof on your website, you can boost conversions (read about our 11 conversion rate optimization tactics here). These are two of the most trustworthy review platforms that allow you to list your software service or product to get more leads and exposure. People trust and use them to make informed decisions about purchasing software.
Additionally, higher ratings = higher sales. More (real) positive reviews raise social trust by proving that your business can be trusted, and your reviews are trustworthy as well. You can also use a tool like TrustPulse to display Capterra reviews as non-intrusive notification pop-ups to boost conversions.
2. LinkedIn endorsements
When building social proof on LinkedIn, one of the best things you can do is get in the habit of following people and influencers in your business niche. Read and comment on their content, and you may catch their attention. That may be when they’d be willing to provide some social proof for your business. LinkedIn is also a great resource to spread your own content to prove that your business is of value and that you, your product, or service, are a source of industry information.
3. White papers
Considered a marketing staple, white papers tend to be packed with information, which many people won’t read from start to finish. That’s why highlighting a few key takeaways on the front page and including a photo can let the reader know what they’ll find within the pages. You want to generate leads, create brand awareness, and promote your services. So your message and your design need to be memorable.
Take successful results with clients, for example. Just like with case studies and testimonials, you want to incorporate information and visuals that let your readers know that they too can be successful with you. For white paper examples and how to create compelling content for your white paper, take a look at Venngage.
When and Where to Use Social Proof on Your Site?
Using social proof in marketing works, and how you incorporate it makes all the difference. Joanna Wiebe, co-founder of Airstory and Copyhackers, says that “good social proof is useful for all landing pages because people trust other people more than they trust marketers.” That’s why it’s essential to take the type of social proof you use, the content of social proof, and the placement of social proof into account.
It’s also important to take conversions into account when considering the possible placement of social proof. For example, if testimonials are constantly at the bottom of your landing page, consider moving them somewhere where it’d be better for conversions. Additionally, never stop looking for social proof. Just because you have four testimonials on your landing page does not mean that you shouldn’t rotate other social proof content to test for best results. Always remember: use social proof to humanize your marketing.
Social proof is a powerful mechanism for growing your business. It’s best not to leave anything out. Include the socials, skip the boring and faceless testimonials, and always counter objections. Different types of social proof work well at different stages of the customer’s journey.
Figuring out the perfect combination of the social proof that works best for you will be a constant journey for you as well, but one that is worth taking to bring the best content for your customers. Keep them satisfied, and you’ll drive growth and sales.