February 18

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The Social Proof Formula that Works for SaaS & B2B Brands

By Jessica Tee Orika

February 18, 2021


Today, the B2B SaaS industry is like a red ocean.

As such, a blue ocean strategy can be the difference between getting lost at sea or moving to a place of differentiation. 

Simply put…

Your ability to stand out from the competition, grow your customer base and market share couldn’t be more difficult. 

But how do you overcome?

What formula can you rely on to move prospects from visitors to trial users to paying customers, all in a few days, not weeks?

Social proof!  

The right social proof formula can work wonders for your SaaS and B2B brand. It can improve your brand’s visibility, and by extension, imbue trust. Those two can, in turn, increase the frequency of product sign-ups.

But like there’s no smoke without fire, there is no trust without influence. And without trust, no matter how little, there won’t be a purchase. 

People trust people, not self-promoting copies or ads. 

They want to read, hear or see how your product (or service) made or is making life easier for other people before they jump on your offer.

Don’t take my word for it.

In “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” Robert Cialdini refers to Social Proof as one of the “potent weapons of influence.” 

He writes:

“One means we use to decide what constitutes correct behavior is to find out what other people think is correct. 

The greater the number of people who find any idea correct, the more the idea will be correct.”

Robert Cialdini.

For a SaaS and B2B brand, this means that… 

No matter how impressed prospects are with your product (or service), they’ll almost always look at others’ decisions to guide their choices.

They’ll seek validation (from friends, family, industry experts, and even strangers) before they make a purchase.

So, the more you show people sharing how your product (or service) solved their problem, the more likely prospects are to take a leap of faith, choosing you over your competitors.

You still remember the last time you purchased a product or service because of the testimonials and reviews by people you trust?

Good. 

That was social proof in action.

Now, imagine you had that kind of compelling energy instilled into all your content marketing pieces. 

Don’t you think you’ll increase conversions each time a qualified prospect comes across each content piece you create and distribute? 

You will.

I know this for sure because it works for us: Prospects see the results and testimonials by other clients we share in our content and reach out:

SaaS content marketing

And we’re not alone on this.

It worked wonders for high-growth SaaS company, Clearbit.

The company got a whopping 84% increase in sign-ups by using personalized social proof on its demo request forms:

social proof formula SaaS b2b
Using personalized social proof increased signups by 84% for Clearbit

In the words of Clearbit’s Sara Yin:

“Prospects want to see others “like them” getting value out of using your product — to believe that they can, too.”

Sara Yin, Content @ Clearbit.

Why Is Social Proof Formula Important for SaaS and B2B?

Wikipedia defines social proof as:

“A psychological and social phenomenon wherein people copy the actions of others in an attempt to undertake behavior in a given situation.”

A more straightforward, relatable definition by Shanelle Mullin, CRO at Shopify, goes: 

“Borrowing third-party influence to sway potential customers.”

Shanelle Mullin.

As humans, our behavior is mostly influenced by what the majority of people are already doing.

For instance, an empty restaurant at 6 PM on Friday can make you wonder, “Perhaps there’s something wrong with the food.” 

And seeing the number of people who have signed up for a newsletter can either make you go, 

“Wow… This must be something valuable. I should sign up too.” 

Or 

“Maybe I shouldn’t be in such a hurry to sign up since not too many people have signed up.”

See where I’m going with this? 

Social Proof is like blood in your product’s veins. 

Without it, all you have is a dead business. 

It shows prospects that real people have engaged with your product (or service), and they found it satisfactory and worth recommending.

With that, you earn a prospect’s “initial” trust. 

Based on users’ reviews and customer success stories, they can decide to take that leap of faith to try out your product (or service).

Take Slack, for instance.

On their homepage, they sell a subtle social proof: how people feel when they use Slack for internal communications:

social proof formula

Beyond subtly using social proof on their homepage. 

It’s no news that Slack is the fastest-growing SaaS company of all time. If you don’t use their product, at least you know someone in your network who does.

How did they grow to this point?

Short answer: 

They welded the weapon of influence – social proof – to their advantage (in addition to a fantastic product, of course)!

Here’s what they did:

Before the official launch, Stewart and his team released a preview version of the product to test the market, identify bugs and upgrade opportunities, and, most importantly, create awareness. 

The results?

Beta users’ feedback did more than point out bugs, errors, and features that resonated with them.

It generated a buzz, arousing curiosity and influencing others, especially brands that saw Slack as a Savior from the tedious traditional emailing.

That was the starting point of Slack’s initial growth

By 2014, industry leaders like Medium endorsed Slack, causing more businesses to adopt Slack as their internal comms tool. 

Since then, Slack’s ARR has grown from $12 million in 2014 to $630 million in 2020, with 12 million daily active users.

slack growth

Source

All in less than ten years!

Amazing, right?

No wonder Stewart Butterfield, CEO, and founder of Slack, said, 

“As hard as it was to convince people to start using Slack, once they started using it, they almost never stopped.”

Stewart Butterfield.

It took a great product, the right timing, and of course, the right social proof formula to boost Slack’s credibility and conversion rates. 

If you don’t have real people to talk about the amazing results they got from using your product (or service), then your business may die before it even gets the chance to live and thrive.

Still not convinced?

Here are six statistical reasons why social proof is critical for SaaS and B2B Brands.

So, as a founder or marketing executive, you should consider upping your marketing game with the right Social Proof Formula.

It will boost your conversion rates, reduce bounce rates and facilitate your funnels.

Now let’s see.

How The Right Social Proof Formula Powers SaaS Sales Funnels

The whole point of social proof is trust.

Trust is critical for any relationship’s success, including the ones you’re trying to build with prospects.

And with the right social proof formula powering your SaaS sales funnel, establishing trust will become a matter of seconds, minutes, and days, not weeks. 

All it takes is an Aha! Moment

Random visitors have Aha! Moments when they realize that your product (or service) is the perfect solution for their problem. 

So, instead of waiting weeks (hoping that the traditional sales funnel does its magic), you can get qualified leads and customers directly from SaaS content.

But this is no easy task. 

B2B prospects are becoming increasingly aware of marketing techniques, considering that they now have access to a ton of useful information.

That’s why 60% of your prospect’s buying decisions happen before even having a conversation with your sales team. 

And 92% of B2B buyers are more likely to purchase after reading a trusted review.

You don’t need to push your prospects down a long, tiring funnel (with zero light at the end of the funnel) before they convert. 

They don’t have to get to the bottom of your sales funnel before recognizing your product’s value. 

Like we do, you can show visitors that your product is the answer by blending social proof with compelling product-led stories and landing page copies (like a pro).

Take us, a SaaS & B2B content marketing consultancy, for instance.

Our formula – the Product-led Storytelling formula – transforms each content piece into a customer acquisition tool, converting engaged readers into trial users or Product-Qualified Leads (PQLs).

product-les storytelling funnel

But it doesn’t stop there.

In each content piece, we employ social proof. 

We build trust by showing readers (first-time visitors and qualified leads) that other people (companies, industry experts, and professionals) trust our brand to deliver value every time. 

For instance, we use personalized testimonials – one that cites a specific person, their position, the company they work for, and how our service got their desired results.

After all,  85% of people trust testimonials as much as personal recommendations from friends and family members.

Pretty much like this one from our landing page:

social proof

So, it all boils down to igniting trust with social proof. 

People will go where they feel safe, especially if the majority headed in that direction, all have positive feedback.

Always keep this in mind.

PS: If you want to learn more about how you can improve your SaaS Sales funnel in days, not weeks, you can read the full article here.

What’s the Best Social Proof Formula That Works For SaaS and B2B Brands?

Finding the right social proof formula for your business is combining in-depth research with testing the insights on your ICPs (Ideal Customer Personas). 

There are various social proof types, including user reviews, the crowd’s wisdom, expert opinion, influencer mentions, trust badges, certifications, social shares, and the like. 

However, not all social proofs are created equal. 

Some are pretty straightforward, while others require some “attention to detail” while applying them. 

I’ll show you six different ways major SaaS and B2B brands apply different social proof types to increase their conversion rates and grow their monthly (and annual) recurring revenue.

You can try them out too.

Pro Tip: Social Proof only works well if you have a great product. If your SaaS tool solves problems for your customers in a fast, efficient, and reliable way, then you’re good to go!

6 Ways to Use Social Proof for SaaS and B2B Growth 

1. Display Positive, Personalized Users Reviews on Landing Page and Sales Copies 

User Reviews are one of the most persuasive forms of social proof marketing for SaaS and B2B companies. 

You can display user reviews on your landing and sales pages to drive more sales. However, they don’t always increase conversion rates. 

Making user reviews believable is crucial if you want them to trust you’re not just after their money. 

Reviews should speak directly to your Ideal Customer Persona (ICP) instead of being generic. It seals the deal for an engaged reader. 

So, how do you make user reviews believable?

Here are some tips

Instead of using too many testimonials or random reviews, pick one or two with real, metric-driven results that are relevant to your primary ICP.

Simply put:

Nail down your customer personas, revealing specific (key) details like your ICP’s real name, title, and organization.

Then put a face to the name – use a high-quality photograph to go the user’s words. 

Why is this important?

User reviews are more believable when visitors can put a face to the words. Research on increasing “truthiness” proves this concept, revealing that pictures do increase trust. 

Not just any kind of pictures, please.

Use high-quality photos, preferably one where they wear a smile. It makes your landing page inviting and friendly. 

Just like this example from FutureFuel, a student loan repayment company.

social proof formula

See how the high-quality images of people enjoying the product lit up the page?

That, for me, is refreshing.

The next thing you want to do, like FutureFuel, is to capture a moment where a user describes a real, specific pain that your product (or service) helped ease.  

When capturing user reviews, be contextual. Include metrics and links to their websites (or businesses) to show further they are real product users.

The review should also be in the first person. 

It should show how the product (or service) solved the user’s problem. And when referring to the product, avoid using “we.” Instead, use your company’s name

Let’s see another example:

Kissmetrics takes it a step further, adding the user’s name, title, and logo of their organization. 

In addition to using high-quality ICP pictures, they used “FutureFuel” when referring to their product, and customer reviews are in first-person. 

social proof formula

They used “Kissmetrics” instead of “we” when referring to the product, and customer reviews are in first-person. 

Let’s see MailChimp:

social proof formula

MailChimp, not only uses pictures, name, title, and organization (including a specific testimonial), they show numbers so prospects can measure how much progress users have made since they signed up.

Pro Tip: You can add a call-to-action to blend with the Social Proof. The button copy should invite the visitor to a similar experience. That’s something we highlighted in our breakdown of the top SaaS homepage copywriting examples.

2. Use Rating Platforms and Metrics

Numbers don’t lie. 

If you have it, flaunt it shamelessly.

You can show the number of weekly trial users like Ahrefs:

social proof formula

Or Monthly trial users like Calendly.

social proof formula

You can also display ratings from platforms like Capterra and Trustpilot on your homepage and acquire new signups. 

social proof formula

3. Let Authority Speak 

Influencers can be those who have become a strong voice of influence in your industry – industry experts

Or those who are leaders outside your industry – Celebrities and Thought Leaders. 

You can lend their voice since people respect their opinions and follow what they say.

Perhaps you’re wondering why this happens.

It’s something called the Halo effect

Psychologists discovered that we’re like to judge the quality of a person’s opinion based on our overall impression of that person. 

Since these influencers already have an established voice, those in their network will be more inclined to listen and follow if they endorse your product/service. 

So, you can use a notable person in your industry like Landingi:

social proof formula

Or cite notable mentions/businesses who trust and believe in your product/service. Just like Trello:

social proof formula

Pro Tip: You can use this on your landing pages, homepage, sign-up, and pricing/features page.

4. Use Popular Choices to Create Default Options

Some people struggle with making a choice, especially when it is unclear which is the best option for their needs. 

It’s like the Paradox of Choice, where having more than one option makes it difficult to settle for one. 

So, they procrastinate and abandon the process, and some never return. This, of course, can affect your conversion metrics as well as monthly recurring revenue. 

It would help if you avoided this by making it easy for visitors. 

You can start by highlighting each option’s benefits, pointing out which are default and which come with a specific plan. 

You can also take it a step further by highlighting “the most popular” plan, so you don’t confuse prospects and lose them in the process. 

You’ll find this on most SaaS products’ pricing pages. 

For example, catering order automation software, HoneyCart:

social proof

5. Share Product-led Stories with Prospects 

I’m pretty sure you’re familiar with the saying, 

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care…” 

One way to show prospects that you care about solving their problem is by sharing valuable, actionable product-led stories. 

In addition to showing them you care about eliminating their pain, you are also building your authority and boosting your credibility.

Does it work for B2B SaaS companies?

Yes, it sure does. 

It worked for Ahrefs, helping them to generate over 3,000 customers per week. 

The company’s CMO, in our study on how Ahrefs generates over 3,000 customers per week, said:

“For most of our new users, when they sign up, they tell me: I read your articles. I say how you use Ahrefs for this, and this made me sign up.”

Tim Soulo.

Everyone sure loves a compelling story, and Product-led stories address one problem at a time (in an engaging manner). 

It shows prospects how to solve a problem in real-time using your product right in each content piece you create. 

Done right, it also filters your audience, converting those who need your product instantly. 

So, instead of generating email addresses (MQLs), hoping they become leads, you’ll get PQLs (product-qualified leads) — people who “trial” your product and are on their way to becoming paying customers. 

If you want to learn how to craft compelling product-led stories, you can follow the nine steps outlined in the image below:

product-led storytelling

Or download the Complete Product-led Storytelling Guide.

Conclusion: Blend Social Proof with Product-led Stories

Getting social proof right for your brand is critical if you do want to stay on top. 

No matter how impressed prospects are with your product (or service), they will almost always look at others’ decisions to guide their choices.

And the more you share how your product (or service) solved or is solving other people’s problems, the more likely prospects are to take a leap of faith, choosing you over your competitors.

But based on our experience, nothing beats blending social proof with product-led stories.

We use this formula to craft high-converting content pieces for our clients and our SaaS content marketing consultancy. 

Does it work, you ask? 

Yes.

It’s how we engage and get our ICPs to reach out to us like this:  

But crafting content (the way we do) takes knowledge, skill, practice, and hands-on experience. 

And that’s why we’re in business.

So, if you’ll like us to help transform your content into engaging product-led stories that convert, contact us here.

Also, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section. 

What other social proof techniques do you think would be useful for SaaS and B2B brands?

Let me know what you think!

Jessica Tee Orika

About the author

Content Strategist, Product-led Storyteller. I love connecting with people, learning new things, and chatting about love, life, & faith.

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