Guest post by Brent Zahradnik.
In B2B marketing, trust and credibility play an even more important role than in B2C. Your sales prospects need assurance that your company is an established, reliable, and honest partner with whom they can establish a transparent relationship.
Social proof can help create trust and boost your business growth in 2022. Here are five ways to effectively utilize it.
Create a Community of Advocates
Social proof is more than reviews and testimonials. It’s about fostering a community of satisfied clients who will recommend you without feeling like they need to get something out of it. They’ll recommend you because they honestly believe you are the best business for the job.
Social media is a great channel for community growth. Whether you create a Facebook group, a collection of LinkedIn friends, or a specific hashtag, the goal is to provide an outlet your partners and clients can gather around.
Use it to both provide support and industry insight. Don’t use it (at least not more than rarely) to pitch your product or service or to close a deal. You are aiming for honest, human interaction, as opposed to a hard sale.
If you’ve done your job right, the members of this community will send inquiries your way of their own accord.
Aura is a good example of community building with their Facebook group. It is private and somewhat exclusive, and the moderation is excellent. There are no promotions allowed; it’s all about exchanging ideas and experiences.
Image source: Goaura.com
Aim for the same atmosphere: professional and helpful, insightful and valuable, with no BS and no hidden agenda.
Make Your Testimonials Relatable
Decision makers will want to know who you have done business with in the past and what they can expect from you. They’ll want to hear details of the experiences of others who have already used your services or products, and the results they achieved.
If those decision makers can relate to the testimonials on your website, they’ll be much more likely to consider you as a partner. By giving a face and a name to the people whose blurbs you feature, your testimonials are much more credible.
Use photos, job titles, and business names, and make sure you carefully choose the people you display. You want them to appeal to the majority of your target audience, whether by the position they hold, the size of their business, or the kinds of issues they have solved.
Optimal Workshop is a good example of the kind of layout and structure to aim for. The testimonial they feature is short but packed with impactful words. It also includes a video that tells an even more profound story of success. However, you don’t need to go this extra mile. A few paragraphs will do, as long as they speak to your audience’s pain points.
Image source: Optimalworkshop.com
Provide Insight with Case Studies
54% of B2B buyers say they want to read through a case study before making a decision. Customer stories are further testimony to the quality of your work and another indirect way to promote your successes.
Essentially, case studies are marketing collateral. They demonstrate how you’ve implemented a specific solution and how it helped your client achieve a beneficial result. The more impressive (while plausible) the result, the more likely the case study may convince someone to convert.
Yet buyers still value them and (generally) trust them. Their core formatting demands that you offer proof, which will always speak louder than any marketing copy on your sales pages.
Any Hubspot case study can serve as a great example to emulate. Each has a concise summary, leads with the results, provides the right detail about the client, and describes the flow of the collaboration in easy-to-understand language.
Image source: Hubspot.com
The more data and the more visual aids you’re able to provide (think charts and screenshots, before-and-after images, etc.), the better your case study will work.
Showcase Prestige Clients
Businesses want to work with the best in the business. They want to be in good company. If a major brand has already worked with you, smaller businesses will be far more likely to trust you. It communicates that you’ve already been vetted by an enterprise with much greater resources to analyze your effectiveness and results.
Display the logos of the biggest brand names you’ve worked with. More names are better, but even having a handful of well-known brands to showcase is powerful.
Slightly below the fold is a great place to place this section on your website. Take a look at Affinda and how they have designed it. They claim that they’ve worked with hundreds of global clients and show you the best of the best.
Image source: Affinda.com
Combine Multiple Types
Case studies, brand-name clients, customer ratings, and other types of social proof can all be helpful in assuring prospective B2B buyers that your brand is a trusted choice.
But what’s even more powerful is combining multiple types of social proof. Team building company Best Corporate Events does a fantastic job with this, showcasing well-known customers, customer ratings and comments, and their involvement in leading industry associations across their website.
Image source: BestCorporateEvents.com
Social proof is vital in B2B marketing. Take stock of the different types you are able to share (testimonials, big-brand customers, membership in industry associations, awards, client success stories, etc.), and consider these key practices to improve it.
Always think about your ideal customer profile when planning marketing content and base your decisions on what will appeal to them specifically.