The proof is in the pudding. How many times have we heard that? However, when comes to building a brand it holds true 100 percent of the time.

When companies have social proof of repeated positive interactions with their customers it builds trust in the marketplace which increases conversion rates of new customers. 

Traditional advertising efforts are declining in their effectiveness. Consumers have been marketed to so profusely that they have become resistant to almost all claims made in advertisements.

I received yet another phone book on my doorstep over the weekend. Like millions of others, I immediately recycled it. Studies show most millennials don't even watch tv. Newspaper subscriptions are down across the country, rendering their ads far less effective than they once were.

There is simply so much noise that consumers have largely shut down and tune out commercials. They simply don't place any value in the claims made by marketers unless they can be validated from actual proof from within the marketplace.

Credibility is essential to building a brand and consumers simply would prefer to find out what others are saying rather than placing faith in what advertisers are telling them.

Here are several simple yet highly effective ways marketers can leverage social proof to increase conversion rates:

  • Create case studies from successful customers. Demonstrating how existing customers have benefited from a brand's services establishes credibility. Share them to your website and social media.
  • Write blogs that tell the company's story, demonstrate industry thought leadership, document success, highlight talented employees, and create engagement.
  • Encourage customers to leave online reviews and publish them to the company website. The sales team should seek recommendations from existing customers via LinkedIn that can be displayed on their profiles.
  • Ask influential existing customers to give a testimonial via a quote. Create a graphic with the quote prominently displayed and share it via social media.
  • Prominently feature awards, mentions in the media, or any other positive rankings or ratings via social media.
  • Leverage numbers when possible. People are far more likely to take a certain action if they know others have already done it. If a company has 75,000 subscribers to their e-Newsletter making that known lends credibility and encourages new users to sign up as well.
  • Encourage your sales reps and account managers to get LinkedIn recommendations from existing clients. Then, make the recommendations part of the sales pitch to prospects. I have 37 LinkedIn recommendations and have used them as a closing technique for years, "don't just take my word for it, see what my clients have said about me."

To get business, blogging has been the only advertising I've done for my startup. When I was in the corporate world and before blogging, it was always me who was doing the reaching out to companies (calling, emailing, messaging on LinkedIn, etc). 

Since I began blogging and left the corporate world, I found that giving away just enough free information via my blogs attracts interest in my business. Blogging helped me convert from a 100% outbound marketing strategy to an inbound one in which people reach out to me.

When I meet with companies about their social media, one of the biggest fears I see is negative reviews online. They are hesitant to go all in on social because they fear that by doing so it will give their customers more opportunities to voice a negative experience.

What many don't realize is that these negative reviews are likely already happening to some degree with your company. The best way to offset a negative customer experience online is to share and highlight positive outcomes from customers that show the real benefits of your products and services.

Once a company has an understanding of how to leverage their social proof, they become truly influential within their industry. The key to marketing is what others are saying about a brand, not what the brand is saying about itself.