Social proof is a powerful thing, especially in the digital sphere. With independent reviews just a few clicks away, it’s easier than ever for customers to find testimonials on their purchase journey. But how exactly does social proof affect your own business? And how can you leverage it to increase your B2B sales?
Here you’ll find exactly that, learning how to enhance your business and boost your sales.
What is social proof?
In scientific terms, social proof is the phenomenon in which people make an action based on the actions and influence of others.
But in commercial terms (and in terms that will matter to your business), it is the approval and positive testimonial given to your brand by your customers.
Before making a purchase and committing to a business, your customers do their research. As well as perusing your website and marketing materials, they’ll also seek independent third-party testimonials attesting to the quality of your product or service.
Social proof isn’t a luxury you can do without — it matters.
61% of consumers check online reviews before purchasing a product or service, and that includes B2B consumers. Those same reviews hold more sway than product descriptions, and are almost 12 times more trusted.
In short, social proof counts, especially when it comes to your sales figures.
How can I use social proof to boost B2B sales?
There are myriad ways you can use social proof in your marketing to increase your online sales. Here are a few tips to help you achieve this.
Use expert opinions for authoritative social proof
Positive testimonials from everyday shoppers have their place, especially in B2C fields. But in more niche or technical B2B industries, consumers want approval with some weight behind it.
That’s why testimonials from experts are so powerful. Positive social proof from knowledgeable individuals within a specific field is naturally held in higher regard by consumers.
By sourcing independent reviews from experts, you can enhance your product or service’s value in your customers’ eyes. Videos in particular are great for delivering social proof, increasing its authority by giving it a human face.
And if the expert is a notable figure within your industry, even better. A brand endorsement from a public face that your customers are familiar with is more powerful than a simple customer testimonial ever could be.
Great social proof doesn’t tell — it shows
Your product or service descriptions can only go so far in selling them to your customers. You can refer to as many features as you like, but it will only increase sales to a point.
Because features are flat, lifeless. To really boost sales, you have to get customers to envision themselves benefiting from what you’re selling. You can achieve this by showing benefits through social proof.
For example, simply telling your customers that your industrial safety equipment can help reduce workplace accidents isn’t enough.
But displaying real data from satisfied customers showing a marked decrease in workplace injuries lifts your features out of the screen and into reality. Customers visualize the benefits of your product rather than simply reading them, enhancing your business and increasing sales.
Get local social proof to foster trust in your brand
Social proof works because it is based on familiarity. Your customers see positive reviews from fellow businesses and think: “they’re like me, and they like this product, so I should like it too.”
Familiarity breeds trust. Seeing the same mailman every day makes you trust them more, and the same applies to your social proof too.
By highlighting similarities between satisfied and prospective customers, you can boost online sales further, and going local is an easy way to do this.
Let’s say you’re looking for a marketing agency for your Houston business. You could easily find a dedicated B2B marketing agency online from anywhere in the world. But you want an agency that you can trust — that knows where your business sits in a local context. So you go with a Houston marketing agency that gives you a bespoke, personal service. They’re from the same place as you, so you can trust their opinion.
The same notion can be exploited for your social proof.
Regional customers will recognize fellow Houstonians and, by virtue of their shared locality, hold it in higher regard. Brownie points if you get reviews from the same vertical industries and manage to create an expert profile for your B2B brand in core areas of your business.
Even in the online world, local matters. Include social proof from nearby businesses and make it clear that it’s from a local person.
Use negativity to drive sales
You’ve no doubt trawled online reviews yourself when making a purchase. If so, you’ll likely have seen testimonials that are obviously fake, created by bots or click farms to falsely inflate a product or service’s value.
Because dozens and dozens of rave reviews don’t always indicate a great brand. If it’s too good to be true, it usually is. No business is perfect, and having flaws is a natural part of B2B life — indeed, of any kind of business. But it’s how you deal with those flaws that sets your business apart. Use a service like TrustRadius to take control.
Social proof is your chance to be honest with your customers about your business. Negative reviews, when handled poorly, can detract from a brand. But when handled carefully, they can enhance it.
Publicly respond to negative reviews, addressing customers directly and acknowledging their grievances. Make it clear that you want to improve, and work with them to discuss how.
Observers to this will see a brand that cares about its customers, and one that strives to be better. This will build consumer trust in your business, in turn encouraging them to purchase with you.
Head objections off at the pass
When customers browse your products or service, they’re viewing them through a highly critical eye. For example, perhaps your B2B customers think that the price tag seems a little too high for what they’re getting.
Social proof lets you nip these objections in the bud from the off, allaying any concerns as they arise.
Highlight reviews that specifically reference (and resolve) customer concerns and place them front and center. This will help sway any dithering customers when they’re making a purchase, increasing your sales.
Lean on industry experts to build trust in your brand. And don’t shy away from negative reviews — embrace them.
Social proof is the bedrock of a marketing strategy that delivers conversions, so follow these tips to build yours today.
IF YOU LIKED THIS...
...YOU'LL LOVE TO SEE HOW SOCIAL PROOF BOOSTED SALES IN THIS DIGITAL STRATEGY CASE STUDY.
This blog is a guest post by Patrick Foster from Ecommerce Tips