It’s easy to agree, word of mouth is one of the most powerful forms of advertising known to exist. We all prefer a referral over a cold call, but why is word of mouth so important? Two words: Social proof. Social proof is the psychological connection we share in society and one of the most powerful tools in your marketing toolbox. It’s the idea that we will trust something unknown. We like to see someone else, even a stranger, endorsing a service, company, or using a product.
Social proof is defined as:
A psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation.
This essentially, means that people gauge acceptable behaviors or choices, based on others’ experiences. A positive experience typically gives a potential customer a stronger leaning to replicate. While word of mouth is nearly impossible to catalyze without time and users, social proof is not.
We see social proof every day in marketing. When used correctly, it can be a powerful way of placing your customer in the right headspace to work with you. Here, we will explore some of the ways that social proof is best used in marketing and why:
Testimonials are a valuable and cultivatable resource for developing social proof for your company. Customers are 92% more likely to trust something a peer recommends and 70% are more likely to trust with a stranger’s recommendation. The best part? You can cultivate this particular set of tools with automatic efficiency. It is as simple as dropping a converted customer's name into a drip campaign list. This automatically sends the customer an email asking for a testimonial in a set amount of time. They didn’t answer? The campaign will send another email later. When a customer responds, it is entirely up to the company to use that testimonial, request edits, or just ignore it.
Use customers’ first and last names, accompanied by dates, locations, and photos to establish the credibility of the testimonial giver.
Use your testimonials everywhere that makes sense: blog, brochures, website, social media, etc.
Requesting testimonials shortly after conversion is made, allows you to hear and respond to the customer’s thoughts on a product or service, mitigating negative reviews online.
Case Studies (Documents)
Case studies, individual applications of how a customer’s problem is solved by using your product, take a testimonial to another level. This type of social proof is incredibly powerful when working with particularly, complex sales-cycles or products. Case studies tend to be more technical in nature, typically surfaced later in the sales cycle and a valuable tool to further a customer along their journey.
Case studies provide a rich and immersive narrative, focusing on the relationship between the two companies (how product x helped company y). A great way to do this is to collect statistics, photos, testimonials, quotes, and interviews on several topics about the relationship. Illustrate cost savings, time savings, increased efficiency, better user experience, training, service, etc. Keep it customer-centric, benefit-driven, and less selling, company feature-driven. This helps the user connect with the piece through the use of social proof.
Case Studies (Video)
Video is one of the most easily consumed forms of informational content, making it easy to understand why video case studies are so effective and popular. A video case study gives companies the ability to actively express a more human angle of a relationship, maintaining a very customer-centric view. Though they contain many of the same attributes of the case study document, the tone greatly differs. Where a document is informational and technical, video is a showcase of the customer’s company. The video should be predominately in the customer’s voice, offering a healthy reference to the relationship to the company, while maintaining that product is solving a problem or increasing efficiency.
A great way to create an engaging video case study is an interview with the customer on camera. The introduction offers a question, answered within the video, while the rest of the video offers footage of the customer’s facility, staff, and using your product, all with the remainder of the interview as a voice-over. Mix in some high-quality footage of your facility and staff, when referenced, and sign off with the customer recommendation.
Video reviews offer a detailed review of your parts and services in exchange for product samples. The reviewer typically has a decent following of loyal and potentially valuable users, offering an advantage. Providing excellent social proof at scale, these users take a review very seriously, good or bad. If this strategy is used, everything must go off without any problems. Though this is the riskiest of the four tactics, it has the potential to be the most valuable, since it comes across organically.
Akin to the most powerful marketing tool in history: word of mouth, social proof strategies are incredibly powerful tools. When utilized frequently and publicly, companies using these strategies should see a dramatic improvement in customers’ willingness for business. If you need help developing your social proof base, contact Nesbit Marketing: