If you’re Oracle, Salesforce, or Cisco, everybody knows you and trusts you. But what if you’re a small or medium B2B? How can you stand out and start booking more meetings in your niche?
For most B2Bs out there, the number of meetings booked is one of their most important KPIs (as long as they’re scheduled with the right persona).
Now, both the sales and marketing teams can work towards this KPI via various channels. But there’s a channel to rule them all, your own website.
Today I want to focus on how to leverage website social proof to book more meetings.
The hypothesis here is that you are running some inbound marketing strategy and traffic acquisition campaigns.
Now, users are browsing your site. How can you hook them and move them closer to a booked meeting? Well, the key to success here is social proof. People are social beings, we are split into tribes: the ones that love gourmet food, that listen to classical music, that work in marketing, and so on. We could spend a whole day segmenting tribes.
This means that while making decisions, we look at the actions of others from our tribe, and their own opinions and decisions. Why so? Because our brain just loves shortcuts and doesn’t like to reinvent the wheel, but we’ll dive deeper into this in the next chapter.
So, follow me to find out how social proof works, and uncover some real-life inspiration from B2B websites.
The Science of Persuasion and Decision-Making
When dealing with decision-making, consumers go through certain steps: from becoming aware of a need and finding ways to meet their need to identifying options, and making a decision.
Now, balancing options can be tough. When making a purchasing decision, users are comparing similar products or services, and they analyze risks, opportunities, benefits, and losses. You can imagine this can be daunting many times, and with lots of friction.
If you’re in B2B, you need to minimize that friction, while maximizing your conversion rates.
Now, back in 1984, Robert Cialdini published “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.” It’s an acclaimed boo, even today because he revealed the factors that influence people’s purchasing decisions. He discovered that we act according to certain patterns, and if sales and marketing people understand these patterns, they can influence decision-making, hopefully, in an ethical way.
These are the 6 principles of persuasion Cialdini uncovered:
- Reciprocity. In short, the rule “I help you, you help me” applies in every aspect of our life. So, let’s say someone gives you a free sample of cheese in a supermarket. You will feel a bit guilty, and you’d want to return the favor, and you might end up buying some extra cheese. If a waiter is really nice to you, pays attention to you, you might feel you need to tip more, don’t you? That’s reciprocity, folks. We’ve all been there.
- Scarcity. Let’s say you want to buy a ticket for that Pink concert, and you see that there are only 20 more tickets left for the early bird. You’ll buy it in a snap, right? Because you feel the pressure here, and the fear of missing out (aka FOMO).
- Authority. Let’s say your dentist recommends a certain toothpaste. Would you buy it, or would you buy something you’ve seen on TV? Most of us would go for the dentist’s recommendation because we usually follow the advice of trustworthy professionals. Also, when some of my favorite podcasters make another podcast recommendation, I trust them. This is how I discovered “Cautionary Tales” by Tim Harford, for example.
- Commitment and consistency. We like brands and people to stand by their beliefs, and act according to the values they portray. So, when you find out that Ikea promotes sustainability and wants to diminish its climate footprint, and you have the same values, you will buy more from them. But, when you find out that they used illegal timber from Ukraine, then, you might have second thoughts.
- Liking. In short, the more you like someone, the more you’ll be persuaded by him/her. It’s a mental shortcut our brain takes. It assumes that if you like a person, you’ll make similar decisions. This is not always good. You might give up on objectivity, and make bad decisions. So, be careful with this.
- Consensus or social proof. Cialdini defined social proof as people doing what they notice others are doing. Let’s imagine you are at a restaurant and see a message saying that “8 out of 10 people don’t use plastic straws for their smoothie”, and another one saying “Protect the environment by not using plastic straws”. Which is the most powerful? I would wager it’s the first message.
Now, it’s time to dive a bit deeper into social proof.
How to Leverage Social Proof on Your B2B Website
By using social proof on your website you’re helping potential customers trust you, make a decision, and feel confident about it.
Now, I’ve compiled a list of elements you can include on your site to build trust, land more meetings, and ultimately acquire more customers.
The power of testimonials
Short-form recommendations from happy customers are more valuable than your own affirmations. Make sure to talk to your satisfied customers while the conversation is still hot. If you delay this, you might end up with no testimonials. You can play with various formats, from text to audio or video.
For example, the folks at ClickUp (task management tool) are using audio for their testimonials, and they post them across social media as well.
Here’s another example from Heartland (deck building company).
Heartland gathered feedback from both Google’s search engine results and from their social media pages, then added it on their homepage to reinforce trust to potential customers.
The folks at PerformYard (employee management software) are using a testimonial on the demo page, in order to increase the chances for form submission.
You can replicate this on your “book a meeting” pages.
Now, make sure you place some testimonials on your homepage, preferably as close as you can to the header. They’ll convince the users to stay a bit longer on your website, and will also convince them to scroll more. Also, make sure you mention the company name, the person’s name, and its role in the company. It will add more credibility to the testimonial.
In terms of copy, make sure to focus on the problem your client had, and how your solution helped. People will resonate with statements like this.
Here’s an example of a testimonial for Mailchimp (email marketing software).
Edwin mentions that for small teams a simplified workflow is a must. And this is where Mailchimp came in handy. You can imagine that every small team might resonate with this, don’t you?
Tip: place a call to action next to the testimonials section, with “Book a call” or “Book a meeting”. Users would be more likely to click right there, then later on, after scrolling through other website sections. You’re familiar with the concept “while it’s warm”, don’t you?
Using logos of former clients
Yeah, you can say you have worked with 50+ clients, but, showing some of them will give even more credibility. This is why you definitely need a section with logos of former clients. I always advise people to have this section right beneath the header. Why? Because we have short attention spans, and if the header is not compelling enough, a list of logos can enforce your message.
Here’s an example from Zendesk (customer support software):
Show off your ratings
If previous customers are rating you on Capterra, or Clutch, make sure to show them off (if they are good ;) ).
For example, the folks from Pipedrive (sales CRM) are mentioning that they have a 4.5 rating for “ease of use” on Capterra.
Whether you operate in several countries or have X clients, make sure you let people know.
This is how Onfleet (logistics software) is using this best-case practice:
Ok, now you’ll say that you are a small business, and can’t find such numbers.
Well, there’s a way. You could mention how many clients recommend you, or how many of them are returning, like the folks at Project People do when selling their marketing and product strategy services.
Going back to the Pipedrive example, they have 93% customer support satisfaction. This is crucial when you have a product where your users interact often with support.
Leverage user-generated content (UGC)
Certain products or services can end up being mentioned on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and more. Make sure to listen to what your users are saying about you. This is more popular with B2C, but it will definitely work in B2B as well.
Use trust icons
Have you got an award recently? Are your products awarded? Maybe you’ve built an app used by thousands of people. Make sure to let everyone know.
Let’s look at this example from Divante, a software development company in Poland.
Here’s an example from Voltas IT, a tech company in Lithuania. The device they designed has been awarded in a prestigious automotive competition.
In the example below, man. digital is a marketing company that is a Google, Drift, and Hubspot partner. People in the field are familiar with these badges and understand their value.
Here’s another example from Chicago roofing contractors HX Home Solutions. Not only did they include trust icons as a banner, but they also leveraged the power of Google ratings.
Develop case studies
Case studies are probably the best example of social proof. Your potential customers can understand how you work, deliver things, or how your product or service solved a pain point of theirs. They build trust, I’m telling ya’!
Now, whenever someone reads a case study it means that they might be lower in the funnel. They are pretty close to making a decision, so make sure they perceive the right message, and that your case study is strong enough to convince them.
Make sure to also include a call to action such as “Contact us”, “Book a demo”, “Book a call”, within the copy.
In the case of Netguru, one of the biggest software development companies in Europe, they have a call to action (CTA) of “Estimate project” in their sidebar. I think that they could make it more visible and sticky.
They repeat their call to action at the end of the case study, in a banner.
Tip: You can personalize the copy that goes along with your call to action. Let’s say you do product design for a variety of niches and you’re featuring a case study in the health industry. You could go with something like: “We partner with companies in the Health market to deliver state-of-the-art products”. See where I’m getting at?
Wrapping It All Up
We all know that word-of-mouth marketing is the best marketing channel out there.
But, in the digital and globalized world, how can you translate word of mouth? Well, by using social proof.
You can leverage it across every channel, from the website, paid campaigns, to social media. It is really powerful in B2B, because there, oftentimes, the customer lifetime value can be pretty high, and the decision-making process can take even months.
In B2B the sales cycle is longer than in eCommerce, and oftentimes getting a potential customer to book a call is crucial, especially when you sell à la carte products or services, or enterprise services.
This is why social proof is a must in your current marketing strategy because it will build trust around your brand, and make it also look knowledgeable.
Now, let’s recap a bit which the most important social proof strategies out there:
- Use testimonials in various formats, from text to audio and video;
- Place the logos of former clients as close to the website header as possible;
- Show off your ratings (from Facebook, Google, to Capterra);
- Use statistics that prove your know-how and customer satisfaction;
- Leverage user-generated-content;
- Use trust icons, awards, and badges;
- Develop case studies that are relevant to the pain points of your potential customers.
That's all folks. I wish you lots of bookings!
About The Author
Alina Belascu is a digital marketer with a passion for web design. When she’s not strategizing for Colibri and ConvertSquad, she’s doing photography, listening to podcasts on history and psychology, and playing with her 2 dogs and cat.