The successful use of social proof in B2B marketing
Published on 8 November 2019 | Author Maximilian Hermann0
People like to orient themselves on what other people have already done or said. This also applies to purchasing decisions. So if a customer states that he has already noticed an offer, then the other can tempt him to do so. This phenomenon is called Social Proof and has become an integral part of the marketing communication of many companies. With Social Proof in marketing, you let the voices have their say that credibly assure you that your offer keeps the promises you make. In a previous blog post, we explained how you can use Social Proof to add credibility to your email campaigns. In addition, you can read here that this principle is not limited to B2C marketing, but can also play an important role in communication with other companies.
Others help to make decisions
Potential customers are intensively involved with a product (or service) before they buy it. They look at it in depth to filter out the best product from many options. This is just as true in the B2C sector as it is in the B2B sector. In addition to the price of a product or service, quality criteria in particular influence the purchase decision. With many products and services, however, these are difficult to evaluate before purchase. It is not possible to try out a machine tool configured individually for one’s own requirements beforehand. The quality of a consultation can only be evaluated if the consultation project is already in progress. In this case it is important that the potential customer can trust the quality promise of the supplier.
Yet many (potential) customers do not consider the quality descriptions written by marketing to be particularly authentic. Assessments by independent third parties are far more credible. In particular, user-generated content has a particularly high reputation.
Forms of Social Proof
Celebrity Social Proof (prominent testimonial testifies to quality), Wisdom of Crowds (“herd effect”) or Wisdom of your friends (advice from friends) are three forms of social proof known in particular from B2C. The Expert Social Proof and User Social Proof are particularly important for B2B marketing.
- User Social Proof: The opinions and experience reports of other users of a product or service serve the potential customer as a decision-making guide. Most (potential) customers consider the opinions of other users to be particularly credible.
- Expert Social Proof: The opinions of experts also have a major influence on purchasing decisions. Especially if proven industry experts recommend your product or service, this is a very strong social proof.
If you use Social Proof, you benefit in several ways: On the one hand you give your marketing messages credibility, on the other hand you save effort, because in many cases your “fans” create already finished content, which you can use for your marketing without further adjustments.
It’s so easy to embed Social Proof in your B2B marketing:
- User Ratings: Probably the best known form of User Social Proof. Your customers evaluate your offer using a simple star scale, for example. The effort for the customer is very low and you can use the ratings immediately (automatically) in your communication. Use user ratings, for example, in browse bandonment emails. Such emails are aimed at potential customers who were unable to make a final purchase decision in the online shop and left products in the shopping basket. With the reactivation messages, you try to persuade exactly such “hesitants” to buy the goods in the basket. User ratings can be the final impulse that the purchase is made after all. However, they are more suitable for low-involvement products such as office supplies.
- User Reviews: Customer reviews provide a detailed picture of the advantages and disadvantages of your products and services. What did other customers particularly like? Authentic reviews enable potential customers to better assess whether your products or services meet their requirements. For the “review writers”, a user review means a little more effort than just assigning a user rating. Especially with more complex products and services, you should ask your customers personally for an evaluation. Place user reviews e.g. on your website or in product/service-specific white papers. Short, concise statements from user reviews are ideal as eye-catchers, e.g. in the subject line of an email or to draw the potential customer’s attention to a call-to-action.
- Testimonials: Testimonials or brand ambassadors are particularly convincing. In the best case, they are known in your industry and valued for their expertise. So that this type of Expert Social Proof can fully unfold its effect, embed your testimonial with a picture and a quotation about your product, your service or your company – preferably in the form of a video – in your marketing content.
- Social Sharing/Follow Buttons: If customers independently share feedback, such as user reviews, on social networks, this is a special proof of how convinced they are of your products or services. Use this social buzz for yourself! Because the content is not shared by you but by the customers themselves, you can reach audiences that might otherwise be withheld from you. Make it as easy as possible for your customers to share, for example by integrating SWYN (Share With Your Network) buttons into your marketing activities.
- Embedded Tweets/Posts: Make double use of the possibilities mentioned above. Integrate current tweets or Facebook posts from satisfied customers who mention you or your product into your website or emails. This is exactly what may give customers who are still in doubt the missing push in the right direction.
To sum up:
Do not only write the usual marketing texts from your point of view, but also let real customers have their say. These “external” voices are convinced of your offer and give it more credibility. Social Proof offers a whole range of possibilities for your communication – from simple star ratings to user videos of testimonials.