It can be challenging for people to believe what your business says about its own product. But it’s so much easier for them to trust another customer or expert who speaks in your company’s favor, as they’re simply sharing their experience. This is exactly what makes social proof so powerful.

Leveraging social proof can be tougher for B2B businesses, though, compared to B2Cs. How can you strategically use B2B social proof to drive sales?

Let’s answer that for you in this guide as we dive into the 11 types of B2B social proof to use, based on what’s worked for 194 B2B marketers in a variety of industries.

With each type of social proof, we also share the challenges that B2B marketers have faced in creating it, and the solutions they recommend for overcoming those hurdles.

41% of B2B businesses reach out to customers at least weekly to build social proof

Building social proof can take a significant time investment, as our survey’s results have shown. 41% of B2B businesses reach out to customers at least weekly to gather social proof:

  • 15% reach out to their customers weekly 
  • 22% reach out to their customers multiple times per week
  • 4% reach out daily

Meanwhile, 9% of marketers reach out to their customers every two weeks, 24%  reach out  monthly, and 11% reach out quarterly.

how often reach out build social proof

What are the best ways to use your time when building B2B social proof? We asked the 194 B2B marketers about the social proof strategies they use, and which strategies have driven the highest ROI. 

73% of B2B businesses leverage testimonials as social proof

We gathered more details about how the 194 B2B experts to learn about which types of social proof they use, and how they leverage it to increase their sales. 

We found that 73% of B2B businesses use testimonials (displayed on their marketing channels), making them the most used way to build social proof.

Positive reviews on external sites come in second, based on how often they’re used to build B2B social proof, with 70% of businesses using them. 56% use media mentions, making them the third-most used way to build B2B social proof. 

44% of businesses use direct recommendations from customers, and 41% use case studies. 

38% use others’ shares of their content, 37% collect endorsements by experts in the field, and 33% use recommendations from affiliates/partners as a way to build social proof. 

And finally, 29% build B2B social proof using referrals (incentivized via referral programs), while 24% display earned certifications and awards.

b2b social proof methods

But are the most used ways to generate B2B social proof also the best strategies, given the results they drive for businesses? We’ll find out below. 

11 types of B2B social proof for growing your business 

We asked our experts to name the single best social proof strategy for generating leads and sales, based on the real ROI their businesses achieved from each strategy.

Based on this data, let’s dive into the details of each type of social proof, how B2B businesses leverage it to generate leads and sales, and how they’ve overcome the challenges of leveraging each type.

Feel free to skip right to the type of social proof you’re most interested in:

1. Testimonials

2. Positive reviews 

3. Case studies

4. Media mentions

5. Direct recommendations from customers

6. Endorsements from experts in the field

7. Clients’ company logos (logo endorsement)

8. Recommendations from affiliates/partners

9. Community

10. Shares of your content

11. Referrals, via a referral program

1. Testimonials

Based on our data, testimonials are both the most-used social proof strategy, and the most effective, for B2B businesses. 

24% of B2B marketers say testimonials from customers (displayed on their own marketing channels) are the most effective strategy to build social proof, based on the ROI they return. 

b2b social proof most effective ways

“Using customer testimonials on your channels can be an incredibly effective way to establish credibility and build trust with potential customers,” observes Adwords Nerds’ Daniel Barrett.

The more you can show that others have had good experiences with your business, the more likely it is that other people will want to work with you as well.”

The majority of the experts agree. In fact, our research further confirms: 

4.18 is the rating marketers give to the effectiveness of testimonials as social proof.

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It’s natural to be doubtful about the results testimonials may bring, but trust the experts – they bring significant ROI. 

As Adwords Nerds’ Daniel Barrett shares, “When we first started using customer testimonials on our website, we were skeptical about whether they would generate any leads for us. However, after just one month of having them on our site, we saw a significant increase in leads from organic search engine results. In fact, we’ve been able to double our lead volume since then!”

James Parsons from Content Powered has witnessed similar results. “I notice a lower bounce rate, higher traffic, and conversion for web pages that employ customer testimonials as social proof. B2B businesses can take advantage of such a tactic to boost brand demand and realize sales and marketing goals sooner.”

For BigMailer.io too, testimonials have delivered significant results. Lilia Tovbin writes, “We have dramatically improved our trust rating by displaying customer reviews and testimonials on our website and other channels.

“Through the testimonials coming from online retailers and small business owners, we have gained traction in our industry. As a result, we have earned multiple trust badges for the past year, increasing our credibility and helping us find more potential clients who want to work with us.”

In fact, as Social Vantage’s Dan Barrett notes “Testimonials have yielded great results for us: we’ve increased our sales by an average of 15% YoY after implementing this strategy!”

Essentially, testimonials show other people trust you. Instead of you saying how your customers’ experience was, your customers share their own words to talk about their experience with your business.

To this end, Barrett shares, “We use these testimonials because we know that people are more likely to buy from a company if they see real, honest feedback from other customers. For example, if you’re trying to decide between two similar products, you might be more likely to purchase one if several people have said they love it.

“We also know that when you see someone else’s opinion about something, your own opinion is more likely to change in the same direction–so we make sure that we always display positive feedback on our website and social media pages.”

Pro tip: Always share the testimonial giver’s title and name to establish further credibility.

Zoltan Bettenbuk from Scraper API talks about it. “In my experience, the best advice I can give on B2B social proof is to include the testimonial of a client, their title, and their company. I have a few from SquareTrade and YCombinator, which are on the homepage of our website. Their words show the human element of a company, which builds rapport, knowing that other colleagues in the field trust our brand.

Their title builds confidence and familiarity, as it shows similarities between a potential client and the person who gave the testimonial.

“In a way, it matches a potential client with our current clients. Their company makes the testimonial verifiable because a potential client can research the company and reach out to the testimonial giver.”

So, how do you start gathering testimonials? You can try anything from:

  • Surveying customers to learn about their experience with your product or service
  • Asking customers/clients to review you on Google, a leading industry review site or a social network like LinkedIn or Instagram, then reaching back out to the most satisfied reviewers for a more detailed testimonial
  • Asking customers for reviews, then asking for your best reviewers’ permission to feature their name and review on a testimonial page

Virto Commerce’s Dmitriy Bobriakov also notes, “One of the best ways to build social proof for your business is to generate positive reviews and testimonials from your clients. This can be done in a number of ways, such as through surveys, feedback forms, or even just by asking clients to write a quick review on sites like Google, Facebook, or Yelp.

“If you have a good product and provide great customer service, then your clients will be more than happy to sing your praises.”

21% say social media is the most effective place to display B2B social proof 

As you gather testimonials, though, make sure you share them everywhere your audience is – not just on your website. Even though 44% of experts say websites are the most effective channel for communicating social proof, other channels are also helpful. 

For example: 

  • 21% say social is the most effective channel for sharing social proof
  • 11% vote for the effectiveness of sharing social proof on others’ websites 
  • 8% commend the effectiveness of sharing social proof on others’ social media 
  • 6% each think sharing social proof via word of mouth and your content channels are effective
communicating b2b social proof

At Virtudesk, for example, Sara Chern shares, “When our clients provide their testimonials, we post and share them on our social media profiles especially on Instagram and Tiktok, since most of our audience is active on these platforms.”

“We also use customer testimonials on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram,” echoes Daniel Barrett of Adwords Nerds.

“These platforms are great for sharing stories about how customers have benefited from working with us. We’ve found that this strategy helps us connect with potential buyers by showing them how their lives could be changed through using our products or services.”

And finally, it’s also a good idea to add this form of social proof to your blog content. James Parsons from Content Powered recommends this: “I usually advise my clients to incorporate one to two verified B2B client testimonials in the body of their blog articles. This content marketing strategy provides potential clients a good idea of what your brand is like in the minds of like-minded people.”

Challenges with getting testimonials

Some of the leading challenges you can encounter here are:

Not having the time to encourage testimonials from customers 

Depending on your team size, you might struggle with making the time to ask clients for testimonials.

Dan Barrett of Social Vantage shares how they’ve dealt with this obstacle. “The biggest challenge I’ve faced in building social proof is finding the time to do it. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of work involved and forget about it, but if you can get into a regular habit of posting social proof-backed content regularly, it can really drive your growth.

“One way I’ve overcome this challenge is by setting aside a specific time every day for posting. In the morning when I wake up, or in the evening when I’m winding down – whatever works for you! You can even set up a recurring reminder on your phone to make sure you’re getting it done and staying on track with your social proof strategy.”

Pro tip: Schedule emails to clients requesting their testimonials. From there, gather all the testimonials in one document. Use it to batch create and schedule all your social content featuring client testimonials.

Not having enough testimonials

Other than this, Sera Chern of Virtudesk highlights the struggle of not having enough testimonials. “This could really mess up your social proof process because it’s important to stay consistent and post your client testimonials regularly.”

Encouraging customers to actually give you testimonials

Lower Street’s Harry Morton talks about yet another challenge. “The biggest challenge was getting our customers to follow through in leaving their feedback. Most customers often forget about it, so catching them at the right time is key.”

What helped Morton’s team? “We were able to turn the situation around by following up with them or incentivizing them in some way, shape, or form. Aside from this, making the entire process seamless, user-friendly and quick really seemed to help.”

Convincing prospects your testimonials are authentic

And, finally, there’s a chance your prospects don’t trust your testimonials.

“Though we have specific and detailed reviews from satisfied customers, some prospects still find them sketchy,” Lilla Tovbin of BigMailer.io points out. “However, I understand why they are skeptical about those because anyone could just simply fabricate reviews and add them to their website.”

In this case though, mixing direct testimonials with feedback originally shared on third-party review sites is helpful.

“This is where feedback from other reliable channels comes into the picture,” in Tovbin’s words.  “Reviews from platforms such as Capterra, GetApp, and Crozdesk, are a great help to entice potential customers, eliminate their doubts, and convince them to give us a shot.”

2. Positive reviews

21% of B2B marketers say positive reviews on external sites are the most effective way to build social proof, based on the results they returned. This means reviews are highly effective, second only to testimonials in the ROI they’ve driven. 

“Gathering reviews at external SaaS Marketplaces (like Capterra, G2, etc.) is a critical success factor in building social proof on the global market,” shares  Primetric’s Arkadiusz Terpilowski.

Shane McEvoy from Flycast Media agrees, “Having positive reviews on highly respected external sites carries more weight than when they are placed on your own site. This enables us to link to them from our proposal decks and in emails to customers. Client feedback has been much more positive, and we’ve experienced a higher conversion rate, using this method.”

It’s no wonder experts rate the effectiveness of positive reviews a 4.28 out of 5, the highest for driving B2B leads. 

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What’s also notable here is that positive reviews are the second-most used form of B2B social proof as 70% of our contributors use them (only testimonials are used more often). 

Essentially, searching for reviews when deciding on which business to work with is a critical step in a buyer’s journey.

As Jacob Gaito from SimpleTexting puts it. “When looking for a new software tool, it’s only natural for people to look around online to see what people are saying. They tend to end up on review websites that allow them to easily research and compare their options. Filling these review sites with positive customer reviews builds credibility through a large quantity of high ratings.

“On top of that, these review sites typically have badges and awards for high performers in a given category. These badges can then be leveraged on other channels (company website, social, ads, email, etc.) to further build credibility.”

The experts that we talked to also nod at the effectiveness of these trust badges. 3.27 is the effectiveness rating marketers give to displaying earned awards and certifications for driving high-quality B2B leads.

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As you collect reviews, though, “you must remember three significant factors: timing, satisfaction, and an effective review collection channel,” says Primetric’s Arkadiusz Terpilowski.

“In the case of Primetric, we’ve built the framework for that and, in just three months, [we] received 17 awards from G2 for the best B2B SaaS in 6 different categories. It increased the conversion rate on our sign-up form and improved the CTR from Capterra/G2 to our website. Cost per lead has also decreased.”

At Instrumentl, Will Yang shares that they made a strategic effort to grow reviews on G2. “We made a conscious effort to drive more G2 reviews last year, going from 12 reviews to about 50. Once that happened, we started hearing more inbound folks sharing how they found us when researching for grant prospecting tools.

“We then built a process where every time we have a positive customer interaction, we’ll ask if they’d be so kind as to leave thoughts on their experience with us,” continues Yang. “We’ve used a tool called Testimonial.to to make this easy for the customer, and it auto-imports new G2 reviews for us.”

Marketgoo’s Larissa Murillo shares that they’ve also automated their process. “We automated testimonials for our site through Intercom (using this method published by Baremetrics), and then reached out individually to those who had left a testimonial.”

“That way, we were already contacting a self-selected group that was willing to go on the record. We then invited them to leave a review on an external site like G2 or Capterra. We do get leads from these sites, but the true value has been in our visibility and the first impression potential users or partners get when searching for reviews of our software.”

As for the team at Outback Team Building & Training, Datis Mohsenipour says they use NPS surveys to gather reviews.

“We automatically send an NPS survey to our customers after they’ve completed an event. Whenever someone gives us a 9 or 10 rating, an automated email gets sent out asking them if they’d be willing to give us a review on Google, Facebook, or Yelp.

“To help increase our chances of getting the review posted on a third party site, we:

  1. Include a copy of their feedback within the body of the email, so that they can easily copy and paste it to the review site(s)
  2. Provide instructions on how they can submit their reviews 
  3. Link directly to the review sites.”

Lastly, take a page from The Kaplan Group, which uses an external review site to build their B2B social proof. 

Dean Kaplan elaborates, “We set up a profile on The Better Business Bureau (BBB), an established and well-respected external review site. BBB is well-optimized for SEO, so it appears on the first page of the search results if someone is searching for reviews of our company.

“To encourage reviews on BBB, our customers are sent an automatic email at the conclusion of our work for them. The email requests that they leave a review on BBB and provides a link to our BBB profile page. The majority of our customers have been happy to leave a review and currently, we have 42 customer reviews on BBB with an average score of 4.9/5.

“Our customer surveys indicate that 81% of our customers read our online reviews before doing business with us, and 67% of our customers have read our BBB reviews. We estimate that having online reviews on BBB and other sites has given us a 21% uplift in sales.”

Challenges with gathering customer reviews

Some of the leading challenges of collecting this type of social proof are:

Identifying customers to ask for reviews from

To begin with, Jacob Gaito of SimpleTexting opines, “The biggest challenge is identifying the customers to reach out to. But by combining a combination of NPS surveys and automation, we’re able to identify and reach out to delighted customers asking for them to leave us a review on external websites such as G2 or Facebook. This has created a review-producing engine that runs itself.”

Encouraging customers to review you

Shane McEvoy of FlyCast Media also observes, “Generally the biggest challenge in building social proof is getting clients to make the effort to go to external industry sites, log in, and then write a testimonial. Some of these sites are a little complex and take a bit of effort to understand.”

Squadhelp’s Grant Polachek talks about the same struggle. “Gathering social proof is a communication challenge. You need to connect with the right customer at the right time with the right message.”

How do you beat this challenge? Write a clear, easy-to-understand email requesting a review.

Here’s Polachek’s approach: “We use direct product usage signals to find our best customers, then email them with a simple and clear message inviting them to give us a review, just at the time that their project is closing. At that point, they are most likely to be excited about the results we’ve helped them achieve.”

And Harshit Mahawar shares that Mailmodo has the following 3-step review request process:

  1. “Soliciting reviews after a specific number of days after purchase so that there’s adequate time to try out the product (e.g., a week after purchase).
  2. Highlighting the intent or ‘why’ we’re seeking a review to encourage customers to share their experiences.
  3. Creating a smooth process for customers to fill out reviews. E.g., an interactive feedback form in email, notifications, etc.)”

Pro tip: Follow up with customers who don’t review your business on the first request you make. Chances are your client intends to review you, but forgot about it or got busy. In that case, all they need is a small nudge that your follow-up email will give them.

Datis Mohsenipour of Outback Team Building & Training also notes you can give material incentives to encourage reviews (assuming a review site allows this in their policy; check carefully before using this strategy). “We haven’t tested this yet, but we are currently in the process of implementing a video testimonial flow. If someone gives us a 9 or 10 rating, we’ll automatically send an incentivized video testimonial request. Upon submitting their video testimonial, we’ll automatically reward them with a $25 gift card of their choice.”

Personalized messages help as well. Motivosity’s Logan Mallory points out that they “send customers personalized messages letting them know how much a review means to us as a growing company.

“We’ve found that this approach works best because it taps into emotion and provides the customer with a compelling reason to leave a review,” Mallory says. “When we switched to using this approach, we found that the reviews customers were leaving were more in-depth and provided stronger examples of why they liked our product.”

Updating social proof pages

This is another struggle, and to overcome it, Will Yang of Instrumentl recommends using Testimonial.to. “Testimonial.to has been awesome. It’s an embeddable widget that allows us to keep refreshing with our latest customer stories,” Yang says.

Bonus: 2 tips to increase your reviews

To top it all, you can solve all these challenges and increase the number of reviews you get by providing exceptional product satisfaction and excellent customer service.

“These are always key factors for building customer satisfaction,” Arkadiusz Terpilowski of Primetrics suggests. “Once you find the perfect balance between those two, building social proof is a piece of cake.

“To achieve that, our customer support started reaching out personally to all identified Product Champions to gather feedback and understand what could be done better. Based on that, we have created new use case profiles and features that could help our users achieve them.

“We’ve also improved our product communication, including with:

  • Feature releases with a comprehensive description and video explainers
  • Beta version with new features that haven’t been published for the most engaged users, so they can give feedback even before releasing them on the production stage
  • Public roadmap
  • Monthly product newsletter”

Lastly, to continue getting more positive reviews, take Jon Torres’ advice. “Respond to reviews quickly to have a higher response rate.”

As a means to this end, Torres recommends: “Treat online reviews like customer service tickets that need to be resolved quickly. Though social mentions and reviews, whether positive or negative, are significantly influential in building a social proof, you’ll also want to have a higher response rate. Most of the leading B2B brands respond impressively faster than the average ones.

“Responding even to negative reviews gives your brand a transparent reputation. You can use a good online reputation management tool to see any negative review quickly and resolve it as soon as you can.”

3. Case studies

41% of B2B marketers leverage case studies as social proof, to narrate how other businesses achieved a given set of results thanks to their company’s product or service.

And 16% of B2B marketers  tell us that case studies deliver the best results, compared to other social proof strategies. This means that case studies are the third-most effective way of generating social proof, behind testimonials and reviews. 

The key to their effectiveness? The narrative angle. Thanks to it, case studies help readers visualize what success would look like for them with your business.

It’s why Allie Decker from Omniscient Digital defines case studies as “testimonials on steroids.” “When done right,” Decker continues, ” case studies communicate your customer’s positive sentiments as well as share data that illustrates the impact of your product or service. Case studies also leverage storytelling to give context to your customer’s testimony and engage the emotional part of a prospect’s decision-making process.” 

Thanks to this, case studies help generate leads who are more primed to make a purchase. When we asked 194 experts about how effective case studies are for generating high-quality leads, we learned that they rate case studies a 3.52 out of 5.

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One other thing that case studies do: they “show the practical use of the product [which] effectively helps businesses understand the problem it solves,” says Sean O’Dell of Spacelift.

“Case studies are an excellent mix of statistics, problem-solving and creative storytelling. Multiple Spacelift departments use them to their advantage and move the needle.”

No wonder, lots of businesses alongside Spacelift are taking advantage of case studies for getting more customers. 

Take it from Home Service Direct’s Adam Olson who shares, “We found out case studies are the best strategy for building our business’ social proof. Visitors of our website are potential clients who want to know more about us and the services we offer. They want to know what they can expect and if we can deliver results. Case studies are a great way to answer that!

“While positive online reviews can also provide this benefit, case studies are more in-depth, more encompassing, and tell a real, complete story that prospects can relate to. And when one can relate to something, it gives them a chance to visualize themselves in the same situation–in this case, the success story in your case study.”

To add, case studies also help your SEO. Olson writes, “Case studies also help boost our website’s SEO. They draw people to our site, who then will read our case studies and engage with our content.

“Further, case studies provide credible evidence to prove the value of our services. Such evidence isn’t just verbal or written claims, but it is backed by data and numbers.” Talk about using both emotion and logic to make a convincing case for your business.

Matt Jackson also leverages case studies for his SEO service business. “In my view, case studies are the most transparent form of social proof and show clearly the legitimacy of your work. I update case studies every six months on my site. This demonstrates to clients how effective my strategies are and the results I get.”

77% of marketers share social proof (like case studies) on social media

Don’t limit yourself to sharing case studies, and other types of social proof, on your business website alone. Repurpose them for different social media platforms as well. Instead of simply sharing a link to the case study, though, take a creative approach to get more eyeballs to your B2B social proof.

At Mailmodo, for instance, Harshit Mahawar shares, “We turn case studies into bite-sized graphics and social posts and share them across all channels. During such a campaign, our traffic and sign-up numbers see a spike.”

Interestingly, 77% of marketers communicate their social proof on social media. 

This is second only to sharing social proof on their website, which 86% of the marketers do.

different ways to communicate b2b social proof

Other channels where marketers share social proof include: 

  • 64% add social proof to the content they create
  • 42% communicate their social proof via word of mouth or referrals 
  • 36% share social proof via emails such as their newsletter 
  • 27% share social proof on others’ website such as media websites 
  • 18% share social proof on others’ social media 
  • 15% share social proof via others’ content 

Using case studies for both sales and marketing

You also don’t have to use case studies for marketing alone. You can use them for generating sales, too.

Harshit Mahawar of Mailmodo explains, “Case studies help sales when our salespeople include these stories in their chats with potential customers to showcase the real-life benefits that Mailmodo has created for their peers.”

Spacelift is also particular about making sure various teams leverage case studies. Sean O’Dell points out:

  • “The sales team uses case studies to show the prospects the value of the product during demos and calls.”
  • “The marketing team uses it to promote the product on external channels and websites.”

What’s more, O’Dell shares they’re very strategic about the CTA button’s positioning in reference to the case studies. “The case study carousel is just above the Call to Action button – to magnify the social proof – making it easier for prospects to trust us.” 

Challenges with creating case studies

Leading challenges with creating case studies as your B2B social proof are:

  • Getting customers on board and ready to share their story
  • Lack of a process for creating case study content

To begin with, “the biggest challenge is to solicit reviews from customers,” Harshit Mahawar of Mailmodo observes. 

Amanda Thomas from Konstruct Digital even admits, “Our initial biggest challenge was assuming that case studies and testimonials  would come naturally.” But they’ve since realized: “You have to ask and it must be built into your business process.”

And as John Porrini of GetLeadForms echoes,  “I think one of the biggest challenges is getting others to take action and be willing to give a case study using their name or company name. I’ve had success overcoming this by giving away a gift card or a discount for the service.”

 Intergrowth’s Pat Ahern shares another challenge that’s common when creating case studies. “Our biggest challenge has been getting buy-in from clients to feature their sites in our case studies.”

So what’s a possible solution to these challenges? Have a solid process for creating case studies.

At Intergrowth, Ahern tells us that the team takes these steps: “We review the results of the businesses that we partner with and write an in-depth breakdown of the strategy that we employed to help 1-2 of those businesses scale exponentially over the past year.

“We break down their status prior to working together, the opportunities that we uncovered in our analysis, and the implementation plan that we used to help them reach this new tier of growth.”

In all this process though, Ahern notes it’s essential you give clients editorial control. This way, it gets easier to get their buy-in to feature their story:

“One of the most effective tactics that we’ve uncovered is to give clients full editorial control over the final draft of the article or offer to anonymize the client’s name to respect their company’s privacy.”

You also need to get the sales team on board in the production process. This is a lesson that Richard Barker says they learned at Clarion Security Systems.

Barker comments, “To create effective case studies, I needed sales involved to ascertain what the client’s pain points were, I needed the project team to let me know how the project went, and I then needed to liaise with the customer to get their feedback. Putting in a simple process has helped automate everything so that I can ask for everything when certain project milestones have been completed. With the whole team on board, writing case studies is easy.”

And, finally, it’s important you prioritize your case study production and distribution processes. This one’s a hat tip to Amanda Thomas of Konstruct Digital, who opines, “Social proof doesn’t usually just happen. It has to be engineered.”

At Konstruct Digital, for example, Thomas’ team has “built-in checkpoints to our engagement process where various social proof campaigns are initiatives. These are personable, high-touch processes that are treated on par with our service delivery. Too often, obtaining social proof can be the last priority in a list of to-dos. For us, it’s priority one.

“Another method that can guarantee success is by committing to and outsourcing social proof development. For example, companies like Case Study Buddy specialize in this. They’ll do end-to-end customer interviews, case studies, and reusable asset generation.” 

4. Media mentions

Another notable form of social proof is media mentions. From growing your brand awareness to encouraging sales, these help with it all.

As cited above, 56% of B2B businesses leverage media mentions, making them the third-most used way to build B2B social proof. 

Media mentions also deliver on the ROI front. Marketers rate media mentions a 3.80 out of 5 for high-quality lead generation. And 7% of marketers say media mentions deliver the highest ROI for their B2B business, when compared to other forms of social proof. 

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At Nahamani.org, for instance, Nahamani Yisrael shares they’ve been able to reach a broader audience with media mentions.

“Working collaboratively with media partners I am able to reach a broader audience,” says Yisrael. “This added exposure gives me access to their readers, viewers, and advertisers. Additionally, any past media mentions are shared on my website, where potential clients can confirm that I am able to help them communicate their brand’s value to its target audience.” 

Colin Toh of Headphonesty adds to this. “Media mentions are a great way to build social proof because they show that your brand is a trusted source of information.

When a company leader is quoted, it raises the brand profile, as well as builds trust with prospective customers.”

In fact, Zenzero’s Adam Crossling goes on to say that media mentions are their “best strategy for building social proof as a B2B.

“If you consistently provide the best products and services to your customers and keep your social media channels up to date, word spreads around.

People start mentioning you on their social media profiles in a positive light, which boosts your credibility by leaps and bounds and helps you build robust social proof. After all, what could be a better sign of reliability than other people mentioning you on their profiles?

Note that “Media mentions don’t have to be directly related to the product or service you’re offering, but it is a bonus when that’s the case. For customers, simply seeing your company name featured in major media helps to build credibility,” Toh shares.

For example, contributing your insights in an expert roundup is a great form of media mentions that grows your authority. A media publication sharing your business’s example ­– say your marketing strategy – is another type of media mention. 

Challenges with building media mentions

Common challenges here include:

Getting the media to notice you and mention you

In Headphonesty’s Colin Toh’s words, “It’s a catch-22 in the beginning – you need the social proof to help grow, but it’s hard to get because you don’t have much social proof yet.

“The key was simply being persistent – posting and sharing a lot of useful and informative content on our own site so that when we pitched other sites they could see that we were a reputable source.”

Being consistent in earning and building these mentions

Besides consistently sharing valuable content, you can also overcome this challenge in the following ways:

  • Contribute to HARO queries. Set daily or weekly time for this and share your experiences on relevant queries.
  • Follow the hashtag #JournoRequest on Twitter to contribute to journalists’ media requests.

5. Direct recommendations from customers

These recommendations are also known as word-of-mouth marketing, generated from satisfied customers.  8% of the B2B marketers in our survey credit word-of-mouth recommendations from customers as delivering the most significant ROI, while 7% think referrals via referral programs produce the best results.

The great thing about word-of-mouth recommendations is that they are always genuine. They come from real customer experience with real results, so they are always credible and rarely come across as sensationalized or exaggerated,” outlines Marcus Clarke from Searchant.

“In the business world, everybody knows somebody,” adds Clarke. “Businesses are connected to two or more other businesses who may be in need of your services. This is what makes this social proof strategy effective in B2B.”

The potential results that customer referrals drive? Clarke writes, “In our case, 50% of our client base come from word-of-mouth referrals. We’re expecting this number to increase because of the snowball effect.”

No wonder, 4.22 is the rating experts give to the effectiveness of direct recommendations from customers as a lead-generating form of B2B social proof. 

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Challenges with building word-of-mouth social proof

Two big challenges here are:  

The patience it takes to build this type of social proof

Clarke recalls, “Building social proof was a really big challenge starting up. As far as people and potential clients were concerned, I was just some SEO guy, and my company was just some SEO company like hundreds of others.”

“But for the people who knew me, they knew that I was good at what I do. So we started locally with the backing of people who knew intimately what I could bring to the table and how SEO could greatly benefit businesses.”

“Fortunately, the results spoke for themselves. And it became a cycle of results-referral-new customers until our social proof grew to what it is today.”

Encouraging clients to refer you to others

“The biggest challenge that we have faced when asking clients for referrals would be a lack of incentives,” Erin Neumann from Soxy says.

“Consumers don’t just simply use a product and recommend them to friends and family members. They want to know what is in it for them. This lack of motivation hinders our ability to stay dominant in the marketplace.”

Strategically asking and incentivizing customers – via a B2B referral program – helps, though. “We overcame this challenge by providing customers with incentives when referring someone to our brand,” shares Neumann.

“The benefits are discount coupons that can be redeemed website. Such individuals are eligible for increased discounts with every member they refer to our brand. It helps create a strong customer base.”

We’ll cover more of the benefits of referral programs later on in this roundup. 

6. Endorsements from experts in the field

“Expert endorsements solidify our claims of providing excellent value to our customers,” points out Charles Cridland of YourParkingSpace. “It is a sign of approval from one of the most trusted individuals in the industry.”

For the OSP International team too, expert endorsements are the best type of B2B social proof. Cornelius Fichtner explains, “I have a tremendous amount of content created in collaboration with experts in my field and adjacent ones. In the content, the experts endorse me as a specialist – and endorse my core product. This kind of endorsement is worth a lot in B2B industries like IT learning and development, and it’s been a massive driver of leads and business for me these past few years.”

Expert endorsements are an effective business driver for service-based businesses, too. Be it an endorsement on a podcast or a webinar, or an expert mentioning you on social media, the shoutout carries a lot of value.

In fact: 4.19 is the rating that marketers give to the effectiveness of endorsements by industry experts.

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So what are some ways to generate this B2B social proof? Here are three ideas:

  • Network with the industry leaders in your field. For example, join the same Twitter chats as they do. This is a great way to get on their radar and showcase your expertise to them as you answer the chat questions.
  • Run a thought leadership newsletter – one that isn’t based on curating content alone. Instead, share your experiences. For example, things that you learned from an A/B test that you conduct. This will help you attract experts as subscribers. In turn, they’ll eventually talk about you (provided your insights are outstanding).
  • Participate in public speaking. You can even start your own podcast. The plan here is similar to the ideas above: build relationships with experts and impress them with your insights. As you build your authority, more and more experts will talk about you, trust your insights, and help spread the word about you.

Another idea is to leverage influencer marketing

At Virtudesk, for example, Sera Chern shares, “Working with B2B influencers and entrepreneurs can draw more attention to your business and social media channels. This type of collaboration drives the influencer’s audience to be more likely to follow you on social media and engage with your brand,” Chern adds.

Paige Arnof-Fenn says they also use this strategy at Mavens & Moguls.

“My best tip is to utilize a mix of influencer types. Instead of just focusing on the most popular individual influencers, include internal experts, nano and micro-influencers, niche experts, and customers in your influencer marketing mix,” writes Arnof-Fenn. “Getting multiple perspectives and insights always enriches the discussion and generates more activity online.”

“Today, small businesses can successfully advertise and promote their brands online without spending tons on traditional media by leveraging the internet and online marketing. Research shows that peers and influencers actually carry more weight today with consumers than paid endorsements. 

“This is great news for organizations that can’t afford to shell out the big bucks for fancy ads or a celebrity campaign. Instead, those brands might be better served by working with micro-influencers who offer smaller follower counts, but post around niche interests, leading to more meaningful one-on-one connections with audience members,” shares Arnof-Fenn. 

But it can take a long time to generate B2B social proof like this. Plus, you’ll need to be consistent in your efforts of producing content and showing up online regularly.

The efforts are all worth it though. Take it from Charles Cridland of YourParkingSpace, who shares, “We generally host an industry expert every month to offer insightful discussion on a subject and the contribution of our business to industry problems. These engagements are published across our social media platforms and website blog.”

The results? “This strategy has increased our revenue by 4% as more businesses are open to working with us.” 

Challenges with getting expert endorsements

Typically, you’ll encounter the following challenges:

  • Finding and building relationships with experts
  • Being consistent in your efforts and in showing up online
  • Communicating the correct brand message with influencers

Cridland shares their experience here. “Getting expert endorsements was challenging initially, but it got easier as we approached more experts and gave them a more in-depth understanding of our business.”

Similarly, Cornelius Fichtner of OSP International talks about the challenges of staying consistent as well as keeping up with trends relevant to your audience.

Says Fichtner: “I am experienced with SEO, Twitter, and Facebook. But as LinkedIn blew up these past 2 years, I’ve had to keep up with that. I’m also starting to go on YouTube more now. But having to be on as many channels as possible to have social proof anywhere people might look stretches internal resources thin, being honest.”

As for pairing up with influencers, Paige Arnof-Fenn of Mavens and Moguls shares what they’ve learned:

  • Make notes of what type of influencers you’re looking for, then research extensively

Finding appropriate influencers requires a lot of research, online and offline. You want to find someone with a track record of success, stellar reputation, large social media following, who can authentically live your brand values and who is not overexposed.”

  • Start off with a small pilot project to understand how well the collaboration will work

“Once you identify a short list of candidates, it is best to test them with your target audience to see who is the most credible and in synch with your brand.”

  • Give influencers the space to be creative in their work

And finally, Arnof-Fenn suggests, “[The partnership] should not feel like a paid opportunity, slapping on the #ad to a post. You want to give them the freedom to create their own content, but ensure it’s still getting the message across.”

And some parting advice about attracting expert endorsement comes from Cridland who says,

“This type of social proof is generally slower to peak, so businesses should slowly work on building a reputation that experts can endorse.”

7. Clients’ company logos (logo endorsement)

This form of social proof doesn’t rely on customers’ words. Instead, their logo alone is enough to build your credibility, by showing that other leading names are trusting you enough to work with your business.

“Our B2B social proof shows relevant current business clients, who are experts in the field. We showcase the businesses we serve by including their company logos on our website, like an endorsement,” explains Zogics’s Jeff Stripp.

“We started with just a few logos, which drew in their competitors – which is why we currently serve well-known businesses in the same industry. An example is the fitness industry, wherein some of the businesses that we expanded to are Anytime Fitness, Orange Theory Fitness, Club Pilates, Cyclebar, F45, Gold’s Gym, etc. Their logos continue to contribute as social proof.”

Challenges with getting logo endorsements

The most straightforward challenge here is that you need to put in the work – provide the best business to your clients. It’s only then that you can build an impressive clientele and subsequently add their logos to your website.

Stripp shares another challenge. “Our biggest challenge has been social proof outreach and placing the social proof in places where businesses would be searching for wholesale cleaning and disinfecting supplies.”

“We are overcoming this by reaching out to trusted business magazines, directories, and resources that are relevant to specific industries. For example, to increase our brand awareness in the fitness industry, we’ve reached out to the National Fitness Trade Journal to include us in their directory.”

8. Recommendations from affiliates/partners

3.67 is the rating experts give affiliate partnerships as social proof, based on their effectiveness for generating leads. So, partnering up with relevant content creators, and asking them to help generate sales in exchange for commissions, can drive real results when done right. 

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“I like to partner with people who already have an audience or customers that align with my SaaS, like agencies, and have them drive in new customers by demonstrating how my tool can help,” shares John Porrini of GetLeadForms.

“In exchange, they get a percent of the recurring revenue. This not only acts as social proof, but it’s a great acquisition channel and leads to the highest trial to paid conversion rate compared to other channels.”

Darin Swain takes a similar approach at Advantage Attorney Marketing. “I partnered with a well-known attorney training organization and became a sponsor for their conferences. This allowed me to be highlighted at the conferences and brought in quite a bit of business. This then helped me to gain a reputation among many attorneys, who passed along my information via word of mouth.”

As for Brooks Manley from Manley Marketing, LLC, this approach has driven significant business.

Forming strategic partnerships is how I’ve obtained about 80% of my business. It’s not the most obvious form of social proof, as it’s not so public, but it’s effective.

“I’m often not showcased on my partner’s websites or social accounts, but I’m very present in their conversations with leads. I try to partner with anyone who does work in my industry but who doesn’t serve my specific client type or business size. I get leads every week thanks to this strategy.”

Challenges with growing partnerships 

You’ll most likely struggle with the following when creating a B2B affiliate program or other partnership program:

Finding the right partners to collaborate with

For building effective partnerships, start with determining who an ideal partner is for you. From there, search them online. Use your network to find people who align with your ideal partner profile.

Working out a mutually beneficial deal

As you find partners, it’s crucial you work out a deal that benefits both sides, including an attractive commission incentive for affiliates or partners. It’s only then that your partner will be invested in the collaboration. Setting clear terms is the key to building lasting partnerships.

Making time for partnerships (especially if you’re a solopreneur)

For John Porrini of GetLeadForms,  the biggest challenge is time. “When you’re a solo founder of a SaaS, there are a bunch of things to focus on. It can be hard to allocate the time to focus on partnership social proof, especially because it’s tough for me to measure ROI on. But it’s one of those things that is absolutely necessary and even something that I need to start focusing on more of myself. “

Pro tip: With an affiliate partner program, it’s easy to measure ROI thanks to trackable links. These links will trace every sale back to the affiliate responsible, and award them a commission in a timely manner. 

9. Community

Another way to build social proof is to build a strong community of loyal customers and brand advocates. This is a surefire way to not only gather testimonials and reviews, but also to grow your media mentions and positive word of mouth.

At Juro, for instance, Tom Bangay shares, “We built a private, invite-only community for lawyers at scale-ups, our ICP, and the close rate on sales opportunities who are members is more than double our average close rate.”

Most of all, this method helps you get shares on your social proof. Ryan Stewart from The Blueprint Training, notes, “I’ve found that the biggest challenge in building social proof is getting people to share.”

Thankfully, building a community helps with this. “The best way to overcome this challenge is to build a community of brand advocates who are excited about your product or service,” as Stewart puts it.

“Once you have a group of people who are excited about what you’re doing, they will be more likely to share their excitement with others, which builds social proof for your business.” 

Challenges with building a social proof-generating community

The biggest challenge lies in creating, running, and incentivizing your community. Once you put in the legwork though, gathering social proof gets easy along the way.

Tom Bangay also shares another challenge that they face at Juro. “If your customer base is anything other than large enterprises, then name recognition between customers in different geographies can be low, in terms of social proof. To overcome this, we focus on specific use cases and pain points that appear to be universal across our key industries and verticals – and it works!”

10. Shares of your content

Social shares of your content are also social proof. Why? Because they show your authority. Prospects and interested leads can look at them and realize lots of people trust your expertise, as proven by their engagement with your content and willingness to spread it.

3.52 is the rating experts give to others’ shares of your content as a social proof form for generating quality B2B leads. 

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Rodney Warner from Connective Web Design writes, “My best strategy for building social proof as a B2B is the number of times my content was shared on social media. This shows me how my target audience reciprocates toward my posts.”

“It further allows me to analyze what they want to see and ensure the marketers generate engaging content,” notes Huynen as another benefit of this social proof.

“As a result, my social media profile is circulated among my target niche, which improves my engagement and retention rate. It also enables the social media team to monitor and see their efforts become fruitful.” 

Challenges with getting shares of your content

Two main challenges here are:

Creating content that resonates with your audience

An effective way to overcome this struggle is by talking to your target audience. Ask them about their pain point and the content format they typically consume. From there, create and test content to identify which content helps your audience the most.

Tracking results

“The biggest challenge I face while building social proof is monitoring the results,” Christiaan Huynen of DesignBro outlines.  

The solution? Here’s what Huynen does. “Instead of just relying on metrics and insights available on different platforms, I tend to generate a comprehensive report using a social media dashboard. It mainly focuses on areas where my team is lacking and allows us to analyze them carefully. After which, we brainstorm effective solutions to the problems and develop a new marketing strategy.”

11. Referrals, via a referral program

Lastly, create a referral program to build your B2B social proof.

3.81 is the rating experts give to the effectiveness of this form of B2B social proof for generating leads. 

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“At Mailbutler, we had a referral program that inspired people to refer a friend for free credits,” shares Ilija Sekulov from Mailbutler. “We saw an increase in customers and also we received backlinks on many websites of various experts. It was a win-win.”

At Service Provider Pro, too, referral programs have proved to be immensely helpful. Deian Isac explains, “Most of our leads come directly to us either via referrals (direct or indirect). Direct referrals are through word-of-mouth, indirect referrals are from branded backlinks.”

“We also have affiliates who promote us, but referral sign-ups are about a third higher, which is why we concentrate a lot on providing top-class support and help to get clients set up,” Isac shares. “They’ll start referring us to their friends and partners automatically.”

Samuel Pavin shares that Resumption asks for both direct recommendations and incentivized referrals, but prefers the latter. “Depending on the type of client and their needs, we can have discussions and simply ask them to share with relevant contacts. More often, though, we offer a finder’s fee as a reward for referrals from existing clients (usually, this is a discount on their next invoice).

“By default, referrals from existing customers allow us to grow one-for-one or even a little more. More importantly, it often speeds up the discovery and trust-building processes.”

HouseCashin also uses this form of social proof, coupled with reviews and testimonials. As Marina Vaamonde shares, “We build social proof through network referrals, reviews, and testimonials. Real estate is a purely trust-based industry. The most lucrative deals are done because a friend of a friend knew someone who was selling property and told you about it. Hence, we focus many of our marketing efforts on obtaining reviews, testimonials, and referrals.

“One way that we do this is by sponsoring local community events and nonprofit organizations. This increases our brand visibility and makes people talk about us more, thus leading to more network referrals. Since implementing this strategy, we’ve seen a 21% increase in people who found us through referrals.” 

Challenges with creating a referral program

The top challenge here is not knowing how to build a winning referral program. An effective way to get started is by visualizing an ideal referral program, based on what’s worked for other B2B brands.

Figure out what referral incentives you’ll give, how clients can win these rewards, and other key factors in how the program will work.

Pro tip: It’s best if you use referral software, as this streamlines the process, creates trackable referral links to distribute to clients, lets you customize a referral form or page, and instantly pays out incentives to the client who earns them. Plus, you’ll easily be able to track the ROI of referrals. 

Then, document how your program works in an easy-to-read format. After that, start promoting your referral program and educating customers on how they can win rewards (say, a discount) by referring your business to others.  

Summing up 

In short, you have a handful of different B2B social proof types to choose from. 

But you don’t need to focus on one – you can play with 2-3 types of social proof at a time. For example, pair a referral program with testimonials from customers and reviews on external sites. 

Whatever you decide, make sure you don’t dilute your focus by picking up several types of social proof to gather. Instead, focus on one to two at a time. Add more to your bucket only after you master creating the other types. 

For each type though, create a defined process to generate the B2B social proof. And don’t just stop at gathering social proof. Distribute it too. 

Interested in creating social proof through a B2B referral program or affiliate program? Referral Rock can help. Get started for free today.