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What is social proof and how does it apply to the B2B SaaS world?

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Humans have always depended on fitting in for survival, and this instinct for acceptance is why social proof is an essential part of brand success. So what is social proof? Why is it important? And how can B2B SaaS companies incorporate it into their marketing strategy?

What is social proof?

We’ve all been there: you get invited to a social event by a new friend and have no idea what to expect. When you arrive, your head is full of questions. What kind of humor will the attendees enjoy? Can I dance and let loose or will that make me look out of place? 

When you arrive at the event, you observe the way the other guests joke and the level of dance floor activity and you emulate that behavior to look like you belong. Does it matter if every single guest at the gathering is just as uneasy about misinterpreting the vibe? Not particularly. What’s important is that you believe everyone else knows more than you do. This belief is a driving factor behind the psychological phenomenon called social proof.

 

Social proof in the workplace

The need for social proof can affect not only our actions among friends but how we consume products and services in our professional lives. When we buy something, the last thing we want is to get duped into purchasing a product that isn’t worth the money. The stakes are even higher when our purchasing decision might make or break our reputation at work. 

Most people want a guarantee that their purchase will go over well with industry peers and colleagues before they buy. From a marketing perspective, this means companies hopeful to prove their worth need to create and solicit the content that will serve as the evidence their buyers need. 

Evidence can come from many different sources, so let’s look at some of the most popular social proof vehicles in the B2B SaaS world.

 

User reviews

User reviews for a productAh, user reviews. Their ability to make or break a company can scare off even the most established of companies, but that shouldn’t cause your organization to shy away from them. We know how much a recommendation from a trusted friend can influence whether or not we decide to try a new product or service, but surprisingly, user reviews can have nearly as big of an impact. 

Need proof? According to TrustRadius, a whopping 88% of consumers trust user reviews as much as personal recommendations and 45% of B2B buyers use reviews during their purchase process. Even more impressive, 92% of buyers reading reviews will share them with at least one other person, and 40% will share them with four or more buying committee members. According to Forrester, two of the most popular review sites in the tech world include G2 and TrustRadius, becoming for B2B SaaS companies what Yelp has become for restaurants. We encourage establishing a presence on these sites for maximum impact.

So what about bad reviews? And what if no one is reviewing your product at all? As a first step, verify that your customer service is hitting the mark. According to ZenDesk, the two most important aspects of customer service for buyers are quick responses to initial inquiries and an overall smooth experience with your service team, including not having to repeat information or send more than one email for a response. 

The good news is, that once your customer service game is on point, 67% of buyers are likely to recommend your product or service to other people. And, after reading a good review, 50% of consumers report visiting a company’s website as their very next step in their research.

 

Thought leadership content

Establishing your organization as a thought leader in your industry can make a huge difference when getting buyers on your side. In one study, 54% of B2B buyers reported making a purchase from a company they had not previously considered as a vendor due to thought leadership content produced by someone from that company. 

For smaller or lesser-known companies, this type of content is vital for establishing that you understand the problem your potential customers are having — and that you know how you solve it. Most B2B buyers consume at least one hour of thought leadership content per week, and 47% say they read a piece that was persuasive enough to lead to a purchase from a company that was not yet considered a leader in the industry. That’s a lot of new business for an organization that’s just getting started.

When planning thought leadership content, support it with third-party data and insights from trusted sources. 80% of consumers prefer to see that your writer’s claims have been verified, regardless of their reputation.

 

Case studies

As you think about content formats, it’s important to consider the audience you’re trying to reach. These days, millennials stand out as one of the top demographics in the B2B buyer’s group, with 73% involved in purchase decisions and around 30% being the sole decision-maker on purchases for their department. A popular type of content among millennials researching new products and services? You guessed it — case studies, second only to video.

Case studies are an excellent form of social proof that double as promotional pieces for your best customers. Here are a few examples of what a basic blueprint for a successful case study can look like:

  1. Approach companies who’ve demonstrated that they love your product and ask if they would like to partner on a case study about how they’ve put it to work. 
  2. Collaborate to showcase your customer in their best light to make it much more likely that they’ll share the piece of content on their own platforms, giving you more exposure than you’d get just promoting it on your own. 
  3. Consider tapping into millennials’ two most popular forms of content by filming your interviews and creating both written and video versions of each case study.

If a company elects not to work together on a full case study, it can’t hurt to ask permission to display their logo on your website — especially if their company is considered a leader in the industry. B2B buyers love to see that a successful company uses your product, and this type of social proof can increase conversions by as much as 400%.

 

Get out there!

Don’t sleep on establishing social proof and becoming a brand people trust. The sooner people learn you’re the next hottest thing on the market, they’ll be yearning to join the crowd — and tell their friends.

Need help creating impactful case studies or making your thought leadership content shine? Content Matterz specializes in creating quality content to put you on the map in your industry. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for your organization.