Social Proof That Converts

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How to leverage social proof in B2B

PSA – Social proof is about more than just a strip of logos on your homepage and a few testimonials.

In this Lightning Round segment; Ross & Talia discuss the power of social proof in B2B and why it’s often misused and breakdown the step-by-step process they use for leveraging social proof to increase conversions.

The Case of the Delicious Curry (transcript)

Ross Simmonds: So earlier this week I happened to make the decision that I was going to order some food via Uber Eats from a restaurant locally, because we’re in self quarantine. So you’re not able to go out and go to the restaurant in person. And I relied on the reviews to make an amazing decision. I ordered from a small little local Indian restaurant and the food was amazing. I’ve made the mistake in the past of not reading reviews, and I’ll never do that again. I truly believe that you need to trust what other people are saying when you are making decisions. And I love the internet, and I love apps that allow you to get advice from other people, because I was able to get the most delicious curry that I’ve probably had in years.

Talia Wolf: Well, thanks for making me hungry, but also what you’re referring to Ross, is the bandwagon effect, Which is a psychological trigger.

We’re talking about social proof. When we see other people doing something, we all want to do it too. So we trust others. I think Andy Crestodina, who is a great friend, probably the king of content, says it the best way. He says:

“When you say it, it’s marketing, but when your customers say it, it’s social proof.”

Andy Crestodina

I just love, love, love that quote, because it nails what social proof is all about. As you were saying, “I made a decision to buy and to order food according to what other people were saying.” And these days it’s common sense, everyone knows you need testimonials, everyone knows you need social proof. But I would argue that most businesses are using them incorrectly. I don’t know, do you use social proof, Ross?

Ross Simmonds: Probably not as well as I could, but I do see a direct relationship between when we generate the most sales from when we leveraged social proof correctly. I think in B2C, social proof is oftentimes done way better than it is done in B2B. And B2C, it’s everywhere you look. Like you cannot run a restaurant unless you have social proof.

You can’t run a hotel if you don’t have social proof. If TripAdvisor says you’re bad, you probably aren’t getting customers. If Yelp says your bed, you’re not getting customers. But in B2B, I don’t feel like brands leverage or even understand as much as they should, the value and importance of social proof.

Talia Wolf: For sure. And I think with B2B the worst part is that most of us in B2B know that we have to use social proof, so it’s become sort of a task, where they throw in a bunch of logos and say, “Cool, we have social proof now.”

But it doesn’t really work that way.

How most B2B brands fail to leverage social proof correctly

And the result of it, is that market is using testimonials or reviews that don’t actually reflect their customers, or focus on aspects that their customers care about. Basically they have no effect. So people look at them and like, yeah, the logos, the regular logos, ignore those. And what that basically means, is that they’re losing a huge opportunity, and huge potential to turn more visitors into customers or clients, and build that trust, because people are using it incorrectly.

I don’t know about you, but when I look at B2B companies, all I see is those logos and maybe a testimonial. And the testimonial is usually, “This is the best decision I’ve ever made.” Or, “This is the best company ever.” But there’s no real story.

Ross Simmonds: Right. Yeah, 100%. I think that’s one of the most common mistakes really, is that folks don’t worry about the story. They just want to check the box to say, do we have a testimonial? Yes. Okay, that is good. They don’t even really dive into what does the testimonial mean, and does it speak to the pain points that my customers might be trying to solve?

Talia Wolf: Right. And I think that’s the key to social proof, and that’s what most companies miss. The whole point of social proof is to actually address common objections and roadblocks of your prospect.

So for example, you could say: “We’re trustworthy, you should trust us.”

However, if a customer or client say: “I was stuck at 2:00 AM and I had my head in my hands, I had no idea what to do. And finally Gemma came online on chat and helped me through that, and figure this stuff out. I was amazed by it, the support.”

The difference between you saying it, and them saying it? HUGE.

And it’s all to do with understanding the objections and the things that people are worried about before converting. So social proof done well, is actually social proof that addresses those common objections. It helps people visualize themselves using your solution. It helps people feel safe choosing you. And as a result, it increases conversions.

Social proof done well, is actually social proof that addresses those common objections.

Talia Wolf

Ross Simmonds: So we all know now at the end of the day, a lot of organizations are not leveraging social proof as much as they could. They may have a couple of logos, but they haven’t really spent the time to do it well.

What can they do to actually be better at leveraging social proof, and connecting with people who have pains in using their existing customers or existing clients, to help them tell the story that’s going to lead their potential customers and potential clients to be a conversion?

How to create social proof that converts

Talia Wolf: Great question. Meaningful customer research. I want you guys to reach out to your clients and your existing customers, and ask them…

  • What were people concerned about before choosing your solution, has that changed?
  • Are they still concerned about it?
  • What’s the result and how has it changed?

So the idea here is to really start looking for those repeating themes. Things that people keep saying that maybe before they signed up to your solution, they were really worried about how technical it would be, and they were worried they won’t be able to use it. Maybe they were worried about being able to get all their team on board. What are the specific things people kept mentioning that they were worried about before converting, and how did you solve that for them? So that’s the first thing I would do.

What do you think Ross?

Ross Simmonds: I love that. I think that is where you have to start. I think if you don’t start there, you’re going to completely miss out on what the value of social proof is.

You have to start by figuring out what were people concerned about before they chose your solution. You have to figure out what changed that made them decide they were going to use you. And that all informs the messaging and the copy and the story that you will tell on your website. And the more you can do that frequently, over and over and over again, the better off you will be when you are telling your story.

I think another opportunity to unlock some social proof is to go to your sales team, go to the people who have worked closely with these clients, and ask them:

  1. “Where did you see our customers’ eyes light up?” And try to get them to go back into time to say,
  2. “Okay, what was it that they were speaking about where they got super excited?”
  3. And then use that to again help position and communicate the social proof to the audience that you’re trying to reach.

Talia Wolf: I love that Ross. And it also gave me another idea.

So if you guys are using Intercom or or any chat app.
Go to their dashboard and download all those chats. And yes, it sounds tiring, but it’s an amazing way to see repeating questions. So if you can look at what your visitors are asking on your website, what is a repeating question? What do people keep asking, they don’t understand, they don’t get from your website. Then go to your clients and say, “Hey, what do you think about this specific question? How do we solve this for you?” And then you use that story as a testimonial.

So instead of people keep asking you this specific question over and over again on your website, you now have a testimonial that addresses that specific question.

The step by step process of creating the social proof prospects need to see on your page

Ross Simmonds: Okay, so let’s bring this back to my world for a second, because as I mentioned, I’m doing social proof some ways, but it’s not something that we’re fully in on. So how would we showcase social proof a little bit more effectively? Just to give you a bit of context, Foundation, we sell B2B content marketing services. So oftentimes we’re selling to CMOs or founders if it’s an early stage company, and they’re looking at a wide variety of different things. Sometimes they look at us and their number one hesitation is something like price.

Ross Simmonds: Sometimes their number one hesitation is whether or not this is something that they’re not going to be able to see the results from immediately. Or how long does it take to start seeing results from content? Sometimes they are not sure whether or not they’re going to get burned, because in the past they’ve worked with agencies and they’ve had a hard time getting to results, or even communicating with them. What track should we take? Or where should my head be at when I’m thinking about how I can use all this insight and all of this information, to deliver social proof on my website?

Talia Wolf: First, I love the fact that you know the top free concerns that your prospects have, because many businesses don’t know that much. So it’s amazing that you do have that knowledge and what you want to do is leverage it. So when we’re talking about price, how long it’s going to take to see the ROI from it, and can they trust you? Those were basically the three concerns that you mentioned.

So what I would do is, I would reach out to existing clients, and maybe even past clients and say to them: “Hey, when looking back at everything that we’ve done, would you say that the ROI was worth it?” And just listen to the whole conversation? Or you would ask them, “How do you feel about our services, about how we worked with one another? What could we do better in our communication?” Listen to that answer, and use it. And here’s how I would actually use it.

Talia Wolf: So when we’re thinking about let’s say, how long will it take me to see a return on my investment with working with your agency? But what I would do is, as I said, collect all these stories, and then use an actual story on the page. Many times you’d see that people love to feature just the good stuff. They’ll say, “This is the best company.” But what you actually want to say is maybe, “Well, when I first started out, or before hiring Ross’s agency, I was super worried about this specific thing. I was worried about seeing ROI.

Talia Wolf: I was worried about … I’ve been duped before, and can this company be trusted? But over time their company just showed me how amazing they are, how helpful they are, reaching out to me. Even during these times, or other times, or even providing content and information when I didn’t request it. And it wasn’t even part of the stuff that we’re engaged about. But they cared enough to do it.” So what you want to do is have that entire story. You don’t need that quote that’s on the homepage that says, “300% return on investment.” Yes, it’s a cool number.

Ross Simmonds: Right.

Talia Wolf: What people care about is the actual story and the authenticity of it. So the more you can tell a story of how people felt before, the before and after effect, that’s where you want to put the emphasis on. Does that make sense?

Ross Simmonds: That’s awesome. Yeah, 100% that makes a lot of sense. I’m going to send this episode to the team as soon as it’s live. Okay, so now we’ve got our hows in order in terms of the website. We’ve talked about how you can tell that story through testimonials on your site, through strategically placing your case studies and making sure they’re communicating the pain, the before and the after. How can you leverage things off of your website?

Because I think oftentimes when we think about social proof, we oftentimes just think about it from our website, but there’s a lot more you can do with it. So let’s talk about that a little bit. When it comes to something like Facebook advertising, how could you leverage Facebook ads, or Facebook in general to leverage social proof a little bit more?

How to leverage social proof in Facebook ads

Talia Wolf: I love using social proof in Facebook ads. I started testing it in 2019. Probably the most high converting ads that I’ve ever used. Now granted, you do need to know when to use these quotes and the social proof in ads, because it needs to be a certain type of person that’s ready to see these testimonials. But there’s such great ways to leverage social proof in Facebook ads. For example, you can mention the number of people, the number of clients, the customers, the users who are already using your solution. It doesn’t have to be only copy that you have in your ad, but just simply mentioning it as part of your ad, can be a huge, amazing way to leverage social proof. There are a couple other ways that I love. For example, you can feature video testimonials of people talking about your solution.

Talia Wolf: Now you don’t have to have high quality video. You really don’t. Even just asking some of your customers or your clients to shoot a video on their iPhone or their Android, and just send it to you, could be super, super cool. And you can also use written testimonials as ad copy. That’s probably the most high converting ads that I have, is when the actual copy of the ad is a testimonial by students of ours that have taken our courses. What about Ross? Any suggestions for using social proof in Facebook ads?

Ross Simmonds: Yeah, I love, 100% love the idea of incorporating video testimonials of people talking about your solution directly in your ads. I think that’s one of the most effective ways. One of the other opportunities that I think exists with Facebook, especially in ads, is the fact that if you are an organization that is generating positive press somewhere else outside of your own website, take that material, take that content and use that as a remarketing ad to give you additional social proof in the eyes of your audience. So if your founder was named as one of the 50 over 50, or if somebody on your team was recognized as customer success person of the year. Or you’ve given a keynote at a top industry conference, you can use that as social proof as well.

Ross Simmonds: I have seen organizations, especially in the startup space, where they actually run remarketing ads of announcements that they’ve gotten investments from major players in the VC space. And that has acted as great social proof and giving them credibility to Fortune 500 companies to know, this isn’t a startup that’s going to go away tomorrow. They have some big names behind them, and they’re likely going last. So don’t forget the value of getting the social proof from third parties, and using that as a way to demonstrate an extra layer of trust and certainty, that what you’re offering is actually going to add value to your customers.

Talia Wolf: I love it. And I think there’s just so much opportunity when it comes to social proof. And I really hope that often listening to this episode guys, you have at least one or two ideas of how you’re going to leverage social proof. So right after this episode, if you just ask your customers one question, or if you go back to those chat scripts, or just think about some cool ways that we’ve just mentioned here where you can leverage social proof, that would be fantastic. And I really hope to see you leveraging this as a better tool than whatever you’re doing right now, and hopefully see even better results from your social proof.

Ross Simmonds: Awesome. So I really hope folks got a lot of value and insight from this episode. If you want to chat about it more, don’t forget to check out our Facebook group, We would love to see you inside. And of course, we’re always open to five star reviews as well, wherever your podcasts are available, five stars only, please. And thank you.

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Ross & Talia
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