Every day I read about sales managers and customer service agents complaining that their buyers don’t use their products or services to the fullest extent. They believe that consumers are ignorant or way too lazy to read the manual or the product’s best practices, so the product itself loses practical value.
It’s not a one-niche exemption but rather a multi-industry problem that frustrates companies in B2B and B2C sectors. There are countless examples of this problem, but they all look something like this:
- Purchasers of project management tools don’t use all of the product features.
- People don’t respect the prescribed dose of medicine or ignore nutritionists’ suggestions.
- Housewives fail to follow cooking guidelines from the brochure.
These and many other examples reveal that the problem lies not in instructions but somewhere else instead. It seems like the message alone is not enough to make customers trust your recommendations and act accordingly. But where should you look for the problem in that case?
My suggestion for you is to look in the mirror because that’s where you’ll find the answer.
Namely, customers are very suspicious brand-wise and don’t take corporate messages for granted. If you tell them to utilize premium software features to make it work in full capacity, users will know that “premium” basically means “more expensive”. If a gym guy sells vitamin cocktails to help you improve strength, you will doubt the optimal dosage recommendations because you know that he wants to sell more and earn more.
Barbara White, a digital marketing expert at UK Best Essays, recently noted: “Only a handful of international brands managed to establish customer relations based on trust, but even they need to invest a lot of time and resources to make it sustainable”.
Now, the real question is – what can you do to enhance customer experience?
My advice is to conduct a thorough analysis of the customer journey and detect every link in this chain. Once you’ve done that, you will probably notice that there is nothing wrong with your best practices and manuals. You will likely realize that clients don’t read your instructions because they don’t consider you to be a credible source of information. For them, you are not the authority.
For this reason, you should exploit the social proof strategy with these social proofs:
Types of social proofs
Every niche has a few key opinion leaders that customers know about. If you can find one to talk on your behalf, you can expect a sales boost.
People love, and follow, and mimic celebrities. That’s your chance to increase brand awareness.
Users are average customers, so their recommendations count.
The crowd of followers or buyers doesn’t have to be well-informed about your products or services, but it will probably make an impression on your audience.
These are the people clients trust and appreciate, so it’s always good when friend groups endorse your products.
Official approvals are the best social proof forms on some occasions. Amazon best-seller badges are a great example of such model.
A social proof draws power from the word of mouth marketing. It simply represents the customers’ habit of trusting other people more than brands or companies. That’s why almost two-thirds of marketing executives believe that word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing.
As much as it is useful to hire professionals to support your brands, I strongly recommend turning to average buyers rather than industry experts and social influencers. Customers are ready to accept a specific behavioral pattern as soon as you provide them with the proof that the majority of other purchasers behave the same way.
For instance, Copyblogger is one of the most popular blogging platforms that exploit the wisdom of the crowd. With more than 330 thousand subscribers, Copyblogger is proud to reveal this information and convince other visitors to join such gigantic community. As the result, they earn more and more subscribers each week.
You can test the social proof mechanism rather easily. If you frequently organize webinars or roundtable events, one time you could replace industry experts with the actual users of your products or services. Invite real and loyal customers to address the attendees and tell about their experiences.
They will explain the benefits of your brand much better than professionals. They can answer user inquiries more precisely than experts. They will look reliable and authentic because they understand how an average consumer feels like.
Besides that, there are a bunch of other examples you could learn from. Here are some of them:
- Nightclubs often minimize the reception area in order to create a small crowd. That way, outlet managers want to show people who are walking by that their place is in high demand.
- Websites use social share count to confirm that their visitors love and share the content on their social media profiles.
- Most restaurants will hang the photos of celebrity visitors to prove the exclusivity.
- Many organizations have membership waitlists. Some of them really need waitlists to prevent overcrowding, but most of them only want to make their clubs look more important and popular.
- eCommerce stores reveal the number of orders to improve the odds of attracting even more customers. When people see you sold 100 thousand copies of the same book, they will probably show interest in buying it as well.
Customer experience became the most important brand differentiator in the last decade. Buyers don’t believe brands anymore and want to make sure that the product they use is credible and authentic, so you need to provide them with a solid social proof.
A simple message or product manual is not enough, so I suggest you exploit the crowd or user-based social proof to promote the business. Customers may not trust you, but they will definitely believe their peers.