Social Proof: How to use psychology in B2B Marketing


Social Media, Social Selling, Social Marketing Strategy … Yes, the word “social” is put in all the sauces in marketing, and this exponentially since the expansion of web 2.0, including social networks.

But today, I want to talk to you about a very old practice, stemming from sociology, which calls on this term: it is about the Social Proof, central element today of any strategy of digital marketing which respects itself. What is it, and why is your BtoB marketing badly in need of it? What are the risks of not putting a good dose in your strategy?

Social Proof ?

If I tell you that the most effective way to explain the principle of Social Proof is to start from an Elvis album, do you believe me?

Social proof-marketing-btob-elvis.jpg

The King releases a compilation of his biggest titles, which he titled  50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can not Be Wrong – literally, 50 million Elvis fans can not be wrong. The choice of this title would make many sociologists smile; indeed, this is a classic use of the famous Social Proof that I want to talk to you.

If 50 million buyers have already given in to the temptation of the gold lame costume and the rock’n’roll that deposits, how can they be wrong? And why resist this temptation yourself? The album of course made a second card. 

This is why we define the Social Proof, or “social proof” in French, in this way: it is about the fact that a person undecided on a subject will more willingly take the party of another person who has expressed his point of view on it. Famous blogger Aileen Lee describes Social Proof  as ” the positive influence created when someone discovers that others are doing something “. 

It is this “social proof” which explains, for example, that one can not help but often prefer the restaurant to the long queue to the one next door, to the empty room. Unless you test both, you can not make objective differentiation. Yes, but if so many people find an attraction in the first restaurant, is not it the best of both? 😉

Social Proof: what’s in it?

Your storytelling, at the heart of a Social Proof strategy

You have great products or great services to offer to your potential customers; I have no doubt about it. However, never these elements will form social proof if you do not build them around a particularly chiadée history . With your pencils: you need to create a solid and attractive storytelling around your company . Put this information forward on your website to increase your brand awareness and improve the chances of attracting the prospects you target.

Investors trusted you? Put it forward in this story. Are your teams happy to work for you, and fundamentally believe in the benefits of your solutions? Also highlight this, for example make ambassadors of your brand on social networks . In short: bring into this storytelling all the individuals who participate in your Social Proof. 

The goal is to build an e-reputation of your company’s thunder on the internet.

The opinion of your customers is important!

The power of a testimony lies in the fact that it comes from a source external to your company. When was the last time you made a purchase without consulting other users? 63% of consumers will be more likely to make a purchase on a website that displays products with user ratings and comments (Search Engine Journal).

In BtoB as in BtoC, consumers are looking for the best offer. On average, a BtoB buyer makes an average of 12 web searches before committing to the website of a specific brand (Google 2014). Your prospects are rarely pioneers! Whether you have the innovation of the century or your market is very competitive, you can reassure and convince your prospects using the advice of your previous customers.

Do not be fooled, here are some clues for the choice of customer testimonials to use:

  • Use short quotes (2 or 3 sentences maximum) but with an impacting message
  • Be certain that the value of your product or service is easily understandable in this quote
  • Include images of users or product in use to gain credibility 
  • Highlight your ideal consumer  : the prospects who are in your target must be able to recognize themselves

Numbers, numbers, and more numbers !

Finally, what better way to develop one’s credibility than the least subjective elements: the numbers? Put them  at the heart of customer case studies that you will have in strategic places on your website, highlight the elements of your performance measurement; spread out all these figures in the eyes of the general public. On your blog posts, add widgets that display the number of shares  on the various platforms. Why not also insert a counter at Likes ? Digital makes it possible to collect so much credible data, that it would be stupid not to insert them in your strategy of Social Proof. 

Social Proof : where do I start?

Putting a Social Proof strategy in place for your marketing campaigns is to take care of the elements that constitute this social proof , and put them at the center of your communication and content marketing strategy, especially on the Internet.

These elements are multiple, and can all be used together, in a process of coordinating efforts. It’s your turn :

Your website, the key place of your Social Proof

Your website will become the receptacle of all the elements of social credibility that you have been able to gather here and there. Feel free to play, like many sites today, the porn logo  ; this is the trend of displaying all the logos of its customers . Be careful though, too much logo kills the logo: it should not interfere with the readability of your pages!

Why not links to recommendations that your customers have made on social networks (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram or other). The plus is to include them on the pages where you offer an ebook or a commercial offer. The testimony adds credibility and reassures prospects who arrive on your landing page . 

Your company has passed certifications or received distinctions? Here is another social proof to put forward, in the footer of your site or on a dedicated page, type “About the company”. It’s up to you to emulate good BtoB marketing practices by seeing what your competitors are doing on their site … and do not hesitate to take some seed. 

Include your Social Proof in your e-mailing strategy

It is not only on your website that you can highlight your achievements. Adding a dose of social in your emails is easy enough and there are many ways to do it.

  1. Showing numbers : Impressive numbers allow you to build trust with your recipients and increase your credibility.
  2. Present evidence : comments, product notes and testimonials are the most effective levers of the Social Proof. So add them at the bottom of your marketing emails with a photo if possible.
  3. Use the logos of well-known brands : whether they are customers with whom you worked, or the certifications of your company to achieve a halo effect. As people recognize the logos or distinctions that you put forward, they will have a better vision of your business. This will increase your conversion number.

A business blog to highlight your expertise

If your customer stories are long enough, you can use them to feed your business blog. The goal is to present more details to your prospects to generate more confidence from them. In addition, this method helps you to increase the referencing of your website stack on topics that interest you.

But why would your prospects read stories of past customers? I told you before: it’s storytelling .

One of the big reasons why companies are struggling to convert or retain their customers is because their potential customers do not know if the product will work for them or not. Examples from lived experiences are much more likely to be selected than statistics. We tend to put ourselves in the protagonist’s place, especially if he has strategic issues similar to ours

Social Proof: So what for my BtoB marketing?

The Negative Social Proof is the death of the conversion rate

Many marketing experts still feel that giving consumers a sense of urgency is the best way to get them to make a buying decision. In reality, they only boost their CTA ( Call to Action ) with bad social proof, which puts their conversion rate at risk.

Why ? Because you risk inducing bad consumer behavior in your prospects. Let me explain: take the case of Wikipedia. Do you remember the messages they display on their fundraising campaigns?

What do you think of when you read the highlighted phrase? Probably the same as thousands of other netizens: “If the majority of people do not give, there is no negative consequence to not give. “

This kind of sentence is negative social proof . Just as social proof leads prospects to trust you, a bad choice of testimony or wording can make you lose credibility with your future clients.

Buyers believe in authentic content

Interruptive marketing no longer has a place in today’s world. Prospects tend to ignore unwanted ads, and rely on the opinion of other users. This is the power of user-generated content (UGC). The goal is to induce an emotional reaction in your target.

While not advertisements, customer quotes tell buyers the fact that other people with likes similar to theirs have enjoyed your product or service. These testimonials can highlight an operational issue that you have helped to solve, or a concrete advantage obtained by your client: gain in productivity, fewer manufacturing errors, the ability to control more projects at the same time …

For example, imagine that your company offers software that helps perform market analysis and that you target SMEs or VSEs. A generic social proof can be: “The PERFECT software for your business”. You will find that nothing is learned from your product by reading this sentence. Can not convince a prospect this way!

Today, do not hesitate to highlight your old customers who explain how their purchase has been beneficial. Keep in mind the challenges your prospects face in their everyday lives. As a result, your new quote could be “This software allowed my salespeople to better analyze the data we had on our target and to win a market share that we did not suspect. “

And now, you’re ready to make your brand more believable than ever on the web! Use this information as a differentiator in your marketing strategy against the competition of your sector.

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