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Psychology in B2B Marketing: Social Proof

Lila Reynolds

When it comes to doing anything new, whether it’s trying a new fitness trend or hitting the dance floor at an office party, I never want to feel like the odd one out. But once I’ve asked a couple dozen friends for advice or have seen others doing the same thing, my mind is put at ease. Much like a prospective customer for a B2B product, I look for social proof before making most decisions. Social proof is the brain’s way of ensuring you’re acting appropriately in ambiguous situations by reflecting the behaviors of your peers.

Whether we want it to or not, social influence applies to most facets of our life. It is important to understand within the B2B space as we ask our customers to make major purchases that could spark significant changes within their companies.

Prospects are more likely to invest in your product when they know you’ve received approval from experts like industry analysts, credible publications and other businesses. That means you need to focus on getting approval from the right people and sharing it with others in the industry.

You can easily leverage this psych concept in your company’s everyday marketing strategies by employing several different forms of social proof:

User Social Proof

Clients are the most important group of people to tap into during marketing initiatives. You’ve already won them over, and chances are if you’re doing good things for them, they’ll be willing to offer some approval (if you read my first post in the series about reciprocity, you’ll know why). Potential customers want to see that you deliver on your promises, and past customers are a great form of validation. Social proof like case studies and reviews are two testaments that allow you to showcase and leverage approval from current and former clients.

Walker Sands writes case studies for almost every client we work with to showcase the work we’re able to do. We share quantitative and qualitative deliverables that speak to the real impact we’ve had on our clients. Often, this includes statistics about media coverage, website traffic and conversion rates, as well as quotes from company executives.

According to a study by G2 Crowd and Heinz Marketing, 92 percent of B2B marketers are more likely to make a purchase after reading a trusted review. Studies have actually shown that even imperfect reviews have a positive influence on sales because exclusively displaying five-star reviews is perceived to be less credible. Capitalize on this tendency by displaying reviews on your website and tracking reviews left on trusted third-party sites.

Expert Approval

In a field as highly saturated as B2B tech, choosing between similar competitors can be difficult for buyers. Business executives look to experts to guide their decisions. Attaching recognizable, expert names to your brand helps prospective customers trust you.

When mainstream and industry publications write about your company, they are providing two major services: First, you’re getting free publicity and spreading awareness about your business. Second, news articles are a form of social proof. An effective media outreach strategy will establish company executives as thought leaders, inspiring journalists to reach out to you for expert input on industry trends. Readers will begin to associate your brand with your industry, and to pick you out from competitors.

Similarly, having industry analysts review your products can serve as a form of “celebrity approval.” Like customer reviews or case studies about big-name clients, favorable pieces that recommend your business over competitors are especially impactful when they come from credible sources. Highlight your success with experts on your website.

Crowd Approval

Prospects don’t want to feel like they’re the last business in their field to adopt important technology or solutions. Foster a sense of urgency in potential customers by quantifying your support from the masses.

Social sharing is a great way to publicize your success. Personally, I’m much more likely to visit a restaurant or website when they have 400 reviews than when they have four. Though we like to think customers choose businesses purely based on the effectiveness of their solution, great products are nothing without buzz. Potential clients will look to your social media followers as an indication that users trust and value your product. Note how many followers you have on various platforms, and be sure to give your happy customers opportunities to share your content.

Humans are social beings and are always looking for indications that we’re acting in a socially acceptable way. In order to be heard above the noise, it’s critical to employ as many tools as you can to prove to your followers that you are the socially accepted choice.

If you know you’re the best choice, but still aren’t sure how to prove it to your followers, get in touch with our experts today to develop a marketing strategy that works for you.