Ever hear the phrase, the proof is in the pudding? Endless lines stemming out of a restaurant, bestseller novels adorned with flattering reviews, and case studies that lavish praise for a particular company. Social proof is all that, indicating to the passerby that others trust your brand. It’s a way of establishing to the market that your solution both works and is liked. And it’s not just applicable to B2C contexts.
In the B2B space, social proof couldn’t be more crucial. When leveraged properly, social proof can spark a powerful urge in potential buyers to make the leap from hesitant consideration to a firm decision. Just below, we’ve covered four methods B2B marketers can use to take advantage of social proof in their marketing efforts.
How You Can Use Social Proof for B2B Marketing
At its core, social proof is a psychological phenomenon that means one thing: people trust and are influenced by others. Acting alone is dangerous and fraught with uncertainties so naturally, to minimize risk, the average person tends to look for a beaten path before making a decision.
To effectively attract buyers, B2B marketers will have to leave a trail of breadcrumbs for them to follow. Here are some of the most effective crumbs you can lay out:
The words of industry bellwethers and experts are worth their weight in gold when it comes to social proof. A word or two from their mouths will often influence public perception of a product. Through their approval (or disapproval), readers will instinctively understand that whatever they say is both credible and trustworthy.
While similar to celebrity endorsements in the B2C space, things work a little differently for the B2B marketer. You can’t just go for whoever has the most followers or whoever has the most “clout”. You’ll have to carefully research and find knowledgeable experts within a specific niche or industry who are well-respected in their space. And once identified, you can then proceed with the outreach process to secure their stamp of approval.
Before making a purchase decision, over 85% of buyers will turn to online reviews as part of their research process and will read an average of 10 online reviews. It’s no surprise then that customer reviews can make or break the success of marketing campaigns, which is why they should be a priority.
The unfortunate reality is no matter how good your solution may be, it’s no guarantee that customers will leave a review. This is why incentivizing your customer base is important. To achieve this, marketers must leverage approaches such as email campaigns, review sites like Capterra, and even offer compensation (e.g., Amazon gift cards) in exchange for reviews. These are tried and tested methods that work – just don’t forget to showcase your reviews on either your site or another appropriate space.
User-Generated Content (UGC)
Encouraging your users to create content related to your solution is a fantastic way to generate trust, especially for younger audiences. Blog posts, videos, testimonials, photos, and even tweets are all different types of UGC. They communicate to potential customers that your solution works. And, most importantly, readers will recognize that UGC is trustworthy and isn’t influenced by corporate bias.
While encouraging positive reviews is one way to create UGC, it doesn’t stop there. Marketers should actively foster an environment that cultivates UGC. For instance, they should learn to embrace negative reviews by addressing concerns and turning naysayers into advocates. Hashtag campaigns are another great way to bolster social sharing while creating community groups (e.g., Facebook, Slack, Atlassian Community) that connect users with each other. This naturally produces more UGC as users simply converse and exchange tips with each other.
Within the B2B marketer’s arsenal, the case study is by far one of the most powerful tools. They’re captivating narratives grounded in reality that explore a problem faced by a user and illustrate how your solution worked to their benefit.
Why case studies are effective is simple. They’re more than a brief quote or a few words taken from a testimonial, review, or mouth of an expert. They’re engaging stories that allow the reader to follow a similar prospect’s journey from a problematic start to a satisfying finish. And because they focus on just one customer’s story, they tend to be better remembered by readers, as opposed to presenting a wall of dry statistics. If you’re curious as to what your case study should include, you can read more in our guide to case studies here.
Get the Stamp of Approval
You could have the best product or service in the world, but if it isn’t backed with social proof, it won’t get anywhere. Potential buyers seek validation above all else. They want to see others in their shoes walk the path ahead before they do via reviews, endorsements, case studies, and more.
To curate content that generates social proof, marketers need to conduct extensive customer and competitor research to understand both sides of the coin. At Brighttail, we do the heavy-lifting for our clients, from understanding the buyer to implementing a strategy that drives results. To find out more about how we can help you, get in touch today!