How Social Proof Impacts the B2B Purchasing Process
Is your business “keeping up with the Joneses?” While we normally relate to this idiom in situations such as purchasing a car or a new flat-screen TV, it applies to your professional life as well, even if you don’t realize it. If businesses are unsure of what to do in a situation, they will often look to the actions of their colleagues and competitors as a point of reference. This concept is referred to as social proof, and it can have a profound impact on the B2B purchasing process.
When a potential customer visits your company’s website, harnessing social proof can help to streamline the individual towards a purchase. If your company was previous completely unknown to the visitor, they will need some sort of proof to instill confidence in their interest. This relates to another adage that we touched upon in a previous blog, “You never got fired for buying IBM.” It is always going to be difficult to convince your boss to part with their money, and not every business is going to have an IBM-caliber reference.
Any way that your website can alleviate buyer’s anxiety will increase the likelihood that you convert their visit into revenue. One inexpensive and (hopefully) easily accessible way to increase confidence in your business is through testimonials. If your company’s page boasts glowing quotes from happy customers, it will foster a sense of legitimacy and prove that your business has what it takes to help the buyer’s. On the other hand, if you have no quality references, what is the visitor going to think? Probably that you either have no clients, or that your services are less-than-remarkable.
It is always good to put some thought into who you are going to ask for a testimonial from. Although a testimonial from your customer’s CEO is certainly very helpful, a great review from an employee with a less glamorous title, but who is highly influential on industry forums, could be just as valuable, depending on the vertical you are approaching.
Another excellent way to take advantage of social proof is through case studies. A case study can give your site visitors a better idea of what makes your company unique and how you can help their business succeed. Quality case studies should have enough industry-specific terminology and information to prove your expertise, but still emphasize concepts and thought processes that are relevant across the board.
Taking advantage of social proof through content such as testimonials and case studies can be extremely valuable, but you don’t have to take my word for it (see what I did there?). TechValidate conducted a survey of marketing and sales professionals where they asked respondents what types of content they found most effective in lead generation campaigns. “24% of marketing professions rated customer testimonials as the single most effective type of content with another 39% rating this type of content as very effective. Likewise, 73% of respondents rated case studies as extremely or very effective in their lead generation efforts.” If you can acquire testimonials and develop case studies that show your company’s capabilities, and that have both broad and niche appeal, you should start to see conversion rates spike.