How to storify every customer success in 5-mins without costing you a penny ?

Do you “storify” each and every of your customer successes ? Why ? Why Not ?

Lets see why it is important to write a customer success story for every customer. And what is the #1 challenge and how to address it ?

How to write a customer success story for every customer, do it in 5-mins and without costing a penny !  Sounds unreal ? Read on…

 

A. Why is a customer success story important ?

Because it is A-1 Marketing content. The research by Marketing Sherpa lists customer success stories among the top 3 in terms of effectiveness.

customer_success_stories_are_high_on_effectiveness

Also read my earlier detailed article on Why Customer Success Story is a #1 Kickass Marketing Content ?


 

B. What is the #1 challenge that is stopping you ?

Lets accept it. It is lot of work !

No wonder the research done by Marketing Sherpa ranks case studies (aka customer success stories) way below in the ease of creating content index.

 

customer_success_stories_are_high_on_effort

 

Yes. Creating a customer success story needs a lot of effort, takes time and costs a lot of money !!

It easily takes a few weeks to many months to get a publishable story ready.

Cost-wise it costs anywhere from $1,000-5,000 depending on how long is the story. Videos are much more expensive costing $5,000-$10,000.

 


 

C. How to make it easy on ourselves ?

Now that we know the value of a customer success story. How can we make it easy to do a story without having to wait for weeks/months and do it without breaking the bank.

Now without disappointing my writer and agency friends –

The idea is not to say that you don’t need a writer agency to create a professional story, but to show how easy it is to write a basic story. Of-course, having an expert writer on-board definitely has its plus in terms of professionalism.

So the idea is to do the basic story with all customers. And you can always do a step-up on some of those stories to add more meat and professionalism to the story depending on the availability of time, resources and on-need basis.

 


 

D. Use this simple template

We spent a lot of time going through many many different examples of well written stories, and if we had to come up with a blue-print of a story – It would be the one you see below –

blueprint of a customer success story

We bucketed the different components into 3 buckets – low hanging , must-haves and nice-to-haves.


 

1. Add logo, images and introduction (low hanging)

Start with the low hanging fruits. It is easy to find the company’s logo, and a brief introduction about the company from their website. It is also easy to find the appropriate photo from among the existing public photos of the company by just using google image search.

It is also easy to plug-in the solution part.

 


 

2. Add challenges and benefits (must haves)

Any story should have these 3 must-have sections.

i. Benefits

and

ii. Challenges

and

iii. Title of the story

You need to work this backwards. Start with benefits first.

The core of the benefits should be in-line with the benefits of the product or service you are trying to sell. You could add additional benefits as per the customer’s scenario.

The challenges would be opposite of the benefits. Think of the challenges and benefits as a BEFORE and AFTER scenario, with the solution being that magic wand.

The title of the story would be 1 line summary of the story. “How xxx company accomplished yyy with help from zzz company’s expertise”.

Of-course, the best person to provide inputs here would be the Sales or Customer Success person.

Tip:

1. I  would suggest would be to have a standard list of benefits and challenges, and then pick the ones that are relevant to this customer case. Now rephrase it by adding the customer specifics  to personalize it to this specific customer situation.

2. Use the rule of three. 3-benefits + 3-challenges.

 


 

3. Add testimonials and metrics  (nice to haves)

If you can manage to get a testimonial or quote from the customer, it is awesome because it adds more credibility to the story. If you manage to get the quote, then including a photo of the person would be super awesome. Typically people do not hesitate if you say that you want to include their photo along with the testimonial.

Metrics are much more tricky.

But if you are in a SaaS business then you have access to the operations data and metrics, and it makes it a lot easier to state the facts. And you already have it with you is a Big win !

 


 

4. Make it engaging, not boring.

How ?

After reading through 1000’s of stories – one thing i can say for sure is that i hate to read through texty stories. It is so damn boring !! Now imagine the same if not a worse feeling by your to-be-customer who is supposed to get “convinced” after reading these stories  :-)

You can make it more engaging by a simple trick – By having more images than text.

There are numerous studies that show how we engage more with images versus text. Apparently human brain processes visuals 60,000 X faster than text. (source: The power of visual storytelling – Ekaterina Walter)

A recent study by SHIFT shows how tweets with images are 5X more engaging than the ones with just text. This is very relevant here because twitter is a platform for instant gratification. You get it or not. There is no second chance. No-one searches for old tweets.

Engagement_of_images_versus_text

(Source: Jan 2014 Twitter Engagement Study: Photo vs. Text – by SHIFT)

From the customer success story perspective – this means cut down on the text and have more visuals. Even if you want to provide the details break it down to bullet points.

Someone will read through 4 pages of boring text is a myth. Does not happen in today’s world. If you need more than 1 page to convey the story then something is missing ?

Moreover it is relatively easier to get images than content for text.

You can use any of the following – customer head shots, workplace/factory/product photos shared publicly by customers, screenshots of your product-in-use, charts, and more – you can get very creative here ;-)


 

5. Quicker email approvals

Once you have the story drafted pop it into an email and send it to your customer for approval.

Try to keep it simple, and minimal on legal jargon so that there is less scope for delays and rejections.

Below is a standard email text for the approval.


Dear Jane Doe,

Thank you for being an amazing customer. We have put together a short write-up about your success. Please review and let us know if you would want to add anything more ? 

We would like to use this in our marketing communications and it would be nice if you could read through the below text and provide your consent.

ABC would like to distribute these materials. This includes posting them on and making them available for download through the ABC Web site and social media sites. In addition, ABC would like to use portions of these materials, including your corporate logo and quotes attributed to your employees, in ABC marketing materials.

Please confirm that XYZ approves by responding to this email saying that you approve.

Thanks & rgds

John Doe, XXX Company


(disclaimer – I am not a legal expert. In case of any doubt please consult your legal person for the right verbiage as per your industry, country and company risk profile. But the idea is to keep it simple such that people don’t have to run to their legal department to decipher what the hell you want them to sign on)

Tip: It would work best if the sales or customer success person sends it out, and follows it up with a phone call. Of-course. 


 

You are done !

Now that you have customer success story – there begins the most exciting part – promoting them !

Always remember customer success stories are #1 as a marketing content – do a favor to yourself and your customer by NOT piling them somewhere in the corner.

Paint the town red by promoting them everywhere.

Check out this earlier post by me on 25 Ways to use your Stories in Marketing

Now over to you. What has been your experience ?

Do you have other tips to make story writing easy, yet powerful ?


 

Rivet.ly (http://rivet.ly)  is an “intelligent marketing hub” for your customer success stories and social proof content. In addition to helping you automatically manage your ‘our-customers’ tab, It also helps you to put together a story using any kind of customer proof point, using cool templates. Rivet.ly helps you to spend more time with your customers, while helping create and promote their stories. 

If you are interested in an “exclusive” private beta – contact Anupam


 

8 Reasons Why Customer Success Story is #1 Kickass Marketing Content

Customer Success Stories are a “special” kind of content, and it is unlike any other kind of content. I can think of 8 reasons for it being kickass special and why it is (and should be) the #1 marketing content.

When i say customer success story –  i am referring to all kinds of customer/social proof content – case studies, stories, videos, testimonials, customer names, logos, reviews, ROI studies, audio/podcast, and everything in between.

8 Reasons Why Customer Success Stories are number 1 marketing content

8 Reasons that make Customer Success Stories #1.

Lets start with the most obvious

1. It is 10X more expensive than other content.

It is not just the cost of interviewing and writing, but the overall cost involved in acquiring the customer and making them happy in the 1st place. Add to it the cost of writing the story and finally publishing the end product.

It costs much much more than any other piece of content in terms of the effort, resources, money, time and people involved.

measure-ROI-customer-testimonials

If we go with the market dynamics which says cost is directly proportional to the value of a product/service, then customer success stories ought to be at #1.

50-80 % of a typical customer reference/advocacy program budget is spent on content creation alone (source: Customer Reference Forum)


Doesn’t just this say it all ?

Not convinced yet ? :-)

Lets see if the other 7 reasons can convince you …


2. It is the 2nd most effective tactic in content marketing.

65% of B2B users feel that case studies are very effective as a content marketing tactic. Whereas 70% felt that the same for in-person events. This is huge to know – how users see customer success stories as comparable to in-person physical events in terms of being an effective tool.

effectiveness_of_customer_success_stories_in_content_marketing

(Source: 2014 B2B Content Marketing Trends—Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs)


3. It is among the top ‘must-haves’ for any B2B website.

Case-Studies (at #3) and testimonials/client list (at #5) are on top of the top-10 things that users feel are a must-have in any B2B website. It is right below important things like pricing (at #1) and technical support (at#2).

customer_success_stories_is_must-have_in_B2B_website

(Source: 2014 B2B Web Usability Report | Huff/KoMarketing)

In-fact, the same survey says that case-studies are #1 when it comes to what users feel as “lacking” or needs improvement today., which is something to think hard about.

customer_success_stories_testimonials_lacking_in_B2B_website

(Source: 2014 B2B Web Usability Report | Huff/KoMarketing)


4.  It helps influence the buyer decision early-on, and that is “super important” today.

By now we all know enough about how buyer decisions are being taken early-on in the buying cycle . More than 57% of buying decision is taken even before talking to the company sales.

Purchase_decision_early_on_in_sales_cycle

(source: The Digital Evolution in B2B Marketing 2012 – CEB/Google )

And this is a 2012 figure. The figures being quoted in recent discussions is upwards of 70% !

Here is a huge opportunity for marketing to help tilt the scale, and positive voices from existing customers can play a big influence.

Testimonials and Case Studies are the most influential content types both in the awareness stage and the evaluation stage

customer_success_stories_most_influential_early_stage_content

(source: 3 Keys to B2B Success 2013 – Hawkeyee.com)

Promoting and advocating your customer success stories through various channels is a sure shot way to get there.

Marketing should amplify and promote customer successes to help win in the early discovery and engage stages of customer life-cycle. Waiting for the sales team stage would be too late. (source: Tip The Balance From Reference Customers To Advocates – Forrester/Influitive)


5. It is among the top ‘must-haves’ for any Landing Page.

Any landing page or marketing copy without a customer/social proof is seen by users as just marketing fluff due to the 1-sided nature. Experts recommend social/customer proof as one of the must-haves in any page whose end objective is conversion/lead generation.

anatomy-perfect-landing-page_testimonials

(Source: Anatomy of Perfect Landing Page – NiceLandingPage.com/Unbounce)

And adding customer/social proof increases credibility, thus improving conversion drastically as proved by all the experts. unanimously.

34%_increase_in_conversion_with_customer_testimonials

(source: Social Proof Tips to Boost Landing Page Conversions – Aschottmuller/Unbounce/Visual Optimizer)

Adding social proof helps increase landing page conversion between 5-500% (source: Unbounce, CrazyEgg, Kissmetrics, Optimizely, Visual Optimizer, Kickoff Labs, Hubspot, and other marketing optimization experts)


6. It has an extended shelf life.

Typically a detailed story like a case study has a life of 2-years at the minimum. Many stories stay relevant for a longer period of time and hence can be used for more than 2-years.  Shorter proof points like testimonials and logos have an indefinite life span.

46% of companies said they use customer success content for up-to 2 years. 43% said they could use it infinitely !

high_shelf_life_of_customer_success_stories

 (source: 2012 InEvidence Global Customer Reference Survey)

Which means you can re-use it like crazy. This is very important given the fact that producing enough good quality content is the #1. challenge for marketeers today.

producing_good_content_is_a_challenge_1

(Source: B2B Content Marketing Spotlight Report Nov-2014 – Technology Marketing Group LinkedIn/BrightTalk/IDG)


7. It can be added to other content to make them do more selling.

The #1. end goal of any content marketing initiative is lead generation.

customer_success_stories_check_all_boxes_against_content_marketing_objectives

(Source: B2B Content Marketing Spotlight Report Nov-2014 – Technology Marketing Group LinkedIn/BrightTalk/IDG)

Adding customer success proof in the form of customer names/logos, testimonials, proven benefits metric, story snippets, videos, etc into other content like best-practices articles, blog articles, whitepapers, discussion forum topics, ebooks, etc not only makes the content more interesting with real-life examples, but also adds a dab of marketing into them – thus helping you get more traffic to your website, more conversions and leads into your marketing funnel.

In-fact it helps check almost all the boxes against the content marketing goals.

As an example – An awesome example of using it in the blog would be this one

quicksprout_neil_patel_blog_testimonials_1

(source: Quicksprout/Neil Patel Blog)


8. It is valuable in all stages of the buying cycle.

Many people still believe that customer success stories are only needed in the last 2 stages –  i.e vendor comparison, and sales closure stages. This is incorrect.

The below research shows that it is in-fact useful in all the 4 stages. And it is the “most helpful” content in the stage-2 (understanding the problem) and stage-3 (Identify solution, consider vendors) in comparison with all other types of content.

 Customer_success_stories_for_all_stages_in_sales_cycle

(Source: B2B Tech Buyers – Which Assets Are Most Influential, and When? – MarketingCharts/Eccolo Media)


Conclusion:  You need-to believe in your Customer Success Stories.

Irrespective of any of the following –

You believe in Customer Success or not.

You believe in Advocate Marketing or not.

You believe in Content Marketing or not.

You believe in Digital Marketing or not.

You believe in being Online or not.

You do need-to believe in your Customer Success Stories.

Why ?

Because it is the most effective marketing content out there, without any doubt !

So what are you doing about your Customer Stories ?

almost_there

How Not To – Stop Short of Being Awesome – with your Customer Success

 How Not To – Stop Short of Being Awesome – with your Customer Success
(Image credits – changinglivesonline)

   

The just concluded Dreamforce 2014 was one of the eagerly waited events for the B2B subscription economy. And it had Customer Success written all over it. There is no question about the fact that paying attention to customer success is a must-do for any company to become successful in the subscription economy.

   

But Customer Success is not a new concept. It has existed every since the existence of doing business. What is new though is the availability of data and visibility on a real-time basis, to know if the customer is engaging with your product/services. Thus giving us the golden opportunity to work with the customer and ensure that they are successful. That’s a big deal.

   

I am a big fan of Lincoln Murphy. Lincoln is one of the most popular faces of SaaS and Customer Success. He talks in detail about what is customer success, and the  20 things you can do to ensure customer success. I would add an important step post making your customer a success. I would recommend you to “write home about your customer success” .

   

Yes. Document your Customer Success Story !

   

It can be a long copy or just a short one. Either ways, I would go to the extent of saying that every customer success should be followed by a customer success story. Yes. It is a big deal to to have a successful customer, and it is definitely worth writing home about it for the following 3 reasons:

   

3 Big Reasons for having a Customer Success Story

   

1. Customer success story helps you to showcase credibility and Social Proof.

Social Proof is big deal. It is one of the top must-haves that a buyer looks for before thinking about doing business with you.  It is an awesome marketing opportunity.

   

2. Customer success story helps you to celebrate and showcase your customer.

It is an opportunity to thank and promote the people at the customer side who made it possible.

   

3. Customer success story helps to recognize and motivate your teams.

It is an opportunity to thank and promote the people at your end that made it possible.

   

Net-Net – Customer success story helps you to multiply your customer success.

By promoting each of your customer’s success you are creating an opportunity to create many more such customer successes. Therefore do not forget to document your customer success stories, and do promote them internally, as well as externally.

Also see my earlier article on writing and promoting success stories –  How to Convert your (Ordinary) Case Studies & Customer Success Stories into a Selling Machine (w/ 5 Examples)

What has been your experience ? Please share by commenting

   

How Not-to-Waste the Opportunity with your Our-Customers (Our-Clients) Page ?

Our-Customers (or Our Clients) page is where you would showcase your Marque Customers and their Success on your website. Today Social Proof is no longer a nice-to-have, but a must-have in your company website from a buyer perspective. Unfortunately, this very Our-Customers page is one of the most “under-utilized” page for most businesses. Therefore there is lot of scope here for making them work for you – in terms of converting your visitors – to leads and customers – by providing credibility and proof to your marketing claims.

Lets see how to make this work for you.

In this article i would be analyzing the Our-Customers page of some impressive companies looking for best practices. We will do this based on below 5 factors. When i say Our-Customers Page – I mean any page or tab where you would list all your social proof, including Customer Names, Testimonials, Videos, Stories, Case Studies, Social Mentions, Social Counts, Media Mentions, Badges, Reviews, etc etc (for more about the different kinds of social proof – read this)

5 Factors to Evaluate Our-Customers (and Our-Clients) Pages

1. Well Organized  – Show Where to Start !

Organizing the content such that it is difficult for visitors to figure out where to start is a bad design. Therefore make it clear which is your featured customer or content. Don’t give choices to the visitor ! An A-Z list or filters to start with is a bad idea. Not all your customers are equal. Make up your mind as to which story you want to showcase, and make that clear.

2. Engaging – Make it Interesting !

The content needs to be engaging so that the visitors are inclined to continue, and not close the page.  Enough has been said about how visual content is more engaging compared to text. Make it interesting with Photos, Videos, Charts, Graphs, etc.

3. Compelling – Does it Convince to Convert ?

Make sure that the messaging in terms of benefits and value to the customer is clear and it does stand out. Highlight the key takeaways. Make sure it is in sync with your marketing copy. Use metrics and bullet points to show the results post your solution.

4. Credibility  – Does it sound Credible as a Social Proof ?

There are many many different kinds of social proof you could collect and show. And it could be company generated or user generated (UGC). I would recommend a mix and match. The more varieties you can show – the better. It helps provide assurance by showing consistency in the opinion across your audience base. Which means less skepticism and more credibility. (for more on which kind of social proof is more credible – read this)

5. Calls-To-Action (CTA) –  What is the Next Step ?

The worst thing would be to have a page with dead-ends – the ones where the visitor does not know what to do next , and has to search for a path. I mean in the fortunate case where he/she sticks along. Make sure to connect them to your lead funnel via CTA (Calls To Action) buttons or links.

 

Now, Lets analyse the Our-Customers Page of some awesome companies, and rate them on a scale of 1-5 for each of the above factors.

(Author’s disclaimer – I am in no way associated with any of these companies. These are hand-picked form the 2014 Forbes Most Promising and Most Admired Companies. Mostly. )


 

Example 1 – AirPush

AirPush is #2 on the 2014 Americas Most Promising Companies, and #1 in the Media category. It is a platform for Mobile Ads, with many big names like Coca-Cola, Amazon, Volkswagen, Hotels.com, LG, etc as its customers.

Home Page

Their Our-Customers page is a section in the Home Page. They have 2 sections

1. Logo banner followed with

2. Testimonial Quotes.

Best of Our-Customers (Our-Clients) Pages : How To Make Customer Success Marketing Work For You ? Example AirPush

Case Studies Page

They also have a case studies page with 3 case studies.

Best of Our-Customers (Our-Clients) Pages : How To Make Customer Success Marketing Work For You ? Example AirPush

  1. Organized  – 3/5 – There is a limited set of assets, but it is well organized
  2. Engaging – 2/5 – There is limited content. And the case studies could have been crisper. Interestingly, the PDF versions of the case studies are much better, but given that it is another click away, i am not sure if has been put to good use.
  3. Compelling – 4/5 –  The benefit metrics and the message is clear and therefore compelling.
  4. Credibility  – 3/5 – The brand names are very impressive. They also show some usage and reach statistics like total # of live campaigns, # of mobile apps, etc which is impressive.
  5. Calls-To-Action (CTA) – 3/5 – The “View Case Studies” CTA on the home page does stand out, but the real one – ‘Create Account”  within the case studies page is somewhere at the bottom of the page. Something worth testing.

Overall Score – 15/25 = 3.0


 

Bonus Tip 1 : 

I personally hate PDFs because they are dead ends by design. There is no scope for CTAs. PDFs do allow users to download and read offline, but i do have my doubts on how many people will go back and read offline something that they did not manage to do online, unless of-course you have created something super super engaging. The negatives of PDFs far outweigh the positives.

For more on why not PDFs read this interesting post in The Washington Post – PDFs that Nobody Reads


 

Example 2 – HireVue

HireVue is #10 on the 2014 Americas Most Promising Companies, and #4 in the category – IT Software and Services. It is an online platform for screening and hiring employees.  It has Hilton, eBay, Dunkin, GE, etc as its customers.

Our Customers Page

The website has Customers tab as one of it primary tabs. There are 4 sections in the Our-Customers page

1. Featured customers

2. Overall customers/reaped benefits stats

3. Story snippets with logo and shoutout

4. Sea of logos

 

Best of Our-Customers (Our-Clients) Pages : How To Make Customer Success Marketing Work For You ? Example HireVue Best of Our-Customers (Our-Clients) Pages : How To Make Customer Success Marketing Work For You ? Example HireVue

 

Best of Our-Customers (Our-Clients) Pages : How To Make Customer Success Marketing Work For You ? Example HireVue - Customers

Case Studies Page

The story page typically has a logo, a video, a benefit shout-out (which is cool), and the actual story in the problem-solution-results format. It also has some relevant testimonials quotes. all making it an interesting page.

Best of Our-Customers (Our-Clients) Pages : How To Make Customer Success Marketing Work For You ? Example HireVue Customer Case Study Page

 

  1. Organized  – 3/5 – Though there is a clear focus on the featured stories, they are taking all the space and making the rest of the content inaccessible. Added to it the whole image (photo of the customer’s business) is hyper-linked to the respective case study. You cannot avoid not clicking on it. Making it highly unlikely for people to have seen all the nice metrics in the rest of the page.
  2. Engaging – 4/5 – There is a lot of content in the form of photos, videos, case studies, shout-out metrics, quotes, etc. Everything making it more engaging.
  3. Compelling – 4/5 –  I liked the idea of providing the overall average benefit metrics – Improved quality of hire, Increased speed and productivity, Stronger engagement and satisfaction. I am almost sold on just this 1 section. In my opinion this should have been the top section. It is a shame that no-one would have got to see it because of the issue i mentioned in #1 above.
  4. Credibility  – 4/5 – The combination of the average benefit metrics with the case-studies/testimonials detailing it makes it a great combination. In addition there are those big brand names.
  5. Calls-To-Action (CTA) – 4/5 – There is a clear and prominent CTA – for taking the Live Demo

Overall Score – 19/25 = 3.8


 

Bonus Tip 2 : 

Showing statistics related to the usage of the product or service is one of the very effective social proofs. Especially if you have some impressive numbers.

Read more about how to use social proof in marketing here – 25 Ways of Using Social Proof in your Marketing


Example 3 – OnDeck

OnDeck is #11 on the 2014 Americas Most Promising Companies, and #2 in the category – Financial Services. It is an online marketplace for business loans trying to disrupt the dominance of traditional banks by easing out the complete process. It has lent ~$825M so far and has many many small businesses as its customers.

Home Page

The home page showcases the featured testimonials along with a photo, which is cool. It makes it very homely and welcoming for the small business owners since they are the target segment. customer persona matched.

Best of Our-Customers (Our-Clients) Pages : How To Make Customer Success Marketing Work For You ? Example OnDeck

Testimonials Page

The Testimonials Page is the equivalent of the Our-Customers page. It has 3 sections

1. Link to Reviews on TrustPilot

2. Kudos mentions/posts in social media, and Yelp

3. Testimonials by Industry

 

Best of Our-Customers (Our-Clients) Pages : How To Make Customer Success Marketing Work For You ? Example OnDeck - Testimonials Page Best of Our-Customers (Our-Clients) Pages : How To Make Customer Success Marketing Work For You ? Example OnDeck - Testimonials - Page 2

 

  1. Organized  – 4/5 – It is organized well from a visitor perspective, but maybe the ones that link to 3rd party platforms should be lower down to reduce the risk of link leakage.
  2. Engaging – 4/5 – There is a variety of content making it interesting.
  3. Compelling – 4/5 –  The benefit metrics and the message is clear and compelling
  4. Credibility  – 5/5 – In addition to the testimonials, the addition of the reviews from the 3rd party platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Yelp and TrustPilot makes it very credible.
  5. Calls-To-Action (CTA) – 4/5 –

Overall Score – 21/25 = 4.2


 

Bonus Tip 3 : 

I love it when companies don’t limit themselves to just company generated content like testimonials, videos or case studies. User generated content (UGC) like reviews on 3rd party platforms, social media mentions, etc add a lot of credibility, and it works magic when you showcase both.

for more on this read my article on What is a Better Social Proof – Company-Generated OR User-Generated ?


Example 4 – Tapad

Tapad is #12 on the 2014 Americas Most Promising Companies, and #5 in the category – IT Software & Services. It helps online advertisers to track and target consumers across various devices – desktop, tablet and smartphone.

Home Page

The home page gives a summary of their Our-Customers. they have 2 sections

1. Badges of Top X out of Y Companies in Z Industry Segment

2. Interesting mix of Media Mentions, Influencer Endorsements and Testimonials

Best of Our-Customers (Our-Clients) Pages : How To Make Customer Success Marketing Work For You ? Example Tapad - Home

Case Studies Page

The Case Studies page has a listing of 6 anonymous case studies from 6 different industries each. And each of the individual case studies look like the one below.

Best of Our-Customers (Our-Clients) Pages : How To Make Customer Success Marketing Work For You ? Example Tapad - Customer Case StudiesTapad - Case Studies page 2

  1. Organized  – 5/5 – The section on the home page gives a very good start. I love the way they have made an interesting mix of all the social proofs – Top X out of Y Companies Badges, Media Mentions like the Forbes Ranking, Frost & Sullivan Award, Endorsements from Influencers (like the one from Evidon CEO), Testimonials (like the one from Dell)
  2. Engaging – 2/5 – There is not much details after the great summary.
  3. Compelling – 3/5 –  The benefit metrics and the message is fair but not outright compelling.
  4. Credibility  – 3/5 – Tapad is using “privacy” as their USP, and as a result there are no customer names.  So from a credibility perspective, the proof points score low. They could have made up for it by displaying other social proofs that don’t involve naming a customer.
  5. Calls-To-Action (CTA) – 1/5 – No clear CTA.

Overall Score – 14/25 = 2.8


 

Bonus Tip 4 : 

If you are in a business where you cannot take the names of your customer, either due to the nature of the industry or because for your own reasons, you can still showcase credibility by using social proofs that does not involve customer names. examples would be –  endorsements from 3rd parties or influencers in the industry, usage statistics like # transactions, benefit statistics like average improvement, media mentions, awards, partnerships, etc etc. see all the 22 different kinds of social proof here

 


Example 5 – CollectiveBias

CollectiveBias is #18 on the 2014 Americas Most Promising Companies, and #1 in the category – Business Services & Supplies. It is a platform to connect freelance blogger with companies for creating content. It has an impressive lineup of customers like Nestle, Walmart, Starbucks, Sears, Walgreens, etc

Home Page

The Home page showcases the featured testimonials.

Best of Our-Customers (Our-Clients) Pages : How To Make Customer Success Marketing Work For You ? Example CollectiveBias - Home

Our Work Page

The Our Work Page is the Our-Customer equivalent here. It showcases the case studies.

Best of Our-Customers (Our-Clients) Pages : How To Make Customer Success Marketing Work For You ? Example CollectiveBias - Our Work (Our Clients)

Case Studies Page

Best of Our-Customers (Our-Clients) Pages : How To Make Customer Success Marketing Work For You ? Example CollectiveBias - Customer Case Study

 

  1. Organized  – 3/5 – The featured testimonials and the featured case studies gives a good start.
  2. Engaging – 2/5 – Given that CollectiveBias is a content platform, the social proof content showcased falls short in terms of the opportunity to engage.
  3. Compelling – 3/5 – The metrics are good to give an idea of the reach of the content, but does not really provide a competitive edge. Not compelling enough to take that next step.
  4. Credibility  – 3/5 – Impressive names like Nestle and Disney make it sound credible.
  5. Calls-To-Action (CTA) – 2/5 – the CTA that is visible is the “Subscribe” to the newsletter, which is probably not a very good use of the Customer Successes.

Overall Score – 13/25 =2.6


 

Bonus Tip 5 :

It is a proven fact that people pay more attention to visual content than just text. Adding visual elements to the content makes it more interesting and hence engaging. Therefore add more photos, videos, charts, info-graphics, screenshots, etc to your Our-Customer pages.

see this article in Under30CEO on why visual content makes sense

 


Example 6 – Google Adwords

Google is #1 in the 2014 Forbes Most Admired Companies. Of-course ! We are interested only in the Google Adwords business for this exercise since that is the selling angle.

Home  Page

The Home Page shows 2 featured testimonials – one each for the Adwords (for Advertisers) and Adsense (for website owners who rent out advertising space)

Best of Our-Customers (Our-Clients) Pages : How To Make Customer Success Marketing Work For You ? Example Google Adwords - Home

Success Stories Page

The Stories page consists of customer success stories in the form of videos or case studies. The page is divided into 2 sections

1. Small and Medium Business

2. Fortune 500

 

Best of Our-Customers (Our-Clients) Pages : How To Make Customer Success Marketing Work For You ? Example Google Adwords - Customer Success Stories Page

Best of Our-Customers (Our-Clients) Pages : How To Make Customer Success Marketing Work For You ? Example Google Adwords - Customer Success Stories - Fortune 500

  1. Organized  – 3/5 – Google does highlight some of its success stories in other pages, which is good. In the Success Stories page it has tried to organize it based on the customer persona – small/medium businesses versus big enterprises.
  2. Engaging – 3/5 – The videos look interesting and good therefore making the small/medium business section more engaging than the Fortune 500 section. The case studies could have been much better.
  3. Compelling – 3/5 –  Given that it is Google and it has access to a lot of resources, the content could have been better in terms of showing the BEFORE-and-AFTER scenario. None of the material do a great job of explaining why you should do Ads in Google. If it is not for the proven fact that search ads work, it would have been a challenge to compel people to go for it with just these stories.
  4. Credibility  – 3/5 – Many popular brands
  5. Calls-To-Action (CTA) – 4/5 – The CTA of “Get Started Now” along with the 1-800 number is clear and stands out.

Overall Score – 16/25 =3.2


 

Bonus Tip 6 : 

Customer Videos is a social proof that can be very effective if done right. The key would be to keep it short, make it interesting by storytelling, having the right CTA, providing a preview and promoting it in all places.

To know more read this article – How to make your Video Testimonials Work ?


 

Example 7 – Twitter 

Home Page

The Home Page features a prominent section linking to the success stories. It also showcases some featured stories of popular brands like Nat Geo, Adidas.

Best of Our-Customers (Our-Clients) Pages : How To Make Customer Success Marketing Work For You ? Example Twitter Advertising - Home

Success Stories Page

The Success Stories Page is the Our-Customers page for Twitter. It showcases a summary video which is cool.

Best of Our-Customers (Our-Clients) Pages : How To Make Customer Success Marketing Work For You ? Example Twitter Advertising - Customer Success Stories

Case Study Page

The Case Study page is very interesting consisting of the typical problem-solution-benefits. In addition it has some related “tweets”. Also it has some relevant testimonial quotes. Twitter also takes the opportunity to highlight the features/offering and ties it to the challenge-benefits. Overall, it is engaging.

Best of Our-Customers (Our-Clients) Pages : How To Make Customer Success Marketing Work For You ? Example Twitter Advertising - Customer Success Story Page

Best of Our-Customers (Our-Clients) Pages : How To Make Customer Success Marketing Work For You ? Example Twitter Business - Customer Case Study Metrics

 

 

  1. Organized  – 4/5 – All 3 pages are organized well – The home page section, the success stories page, and the detailed story page.
  2. Engaging – 5/5 – The content is made interesting by including tweets, testimonials, takeaway shout-outs, key success factors, photos and feature description.
  3. Compelling – 5/5 – The Take-away shout-outs and the best practices do a good job of explaining the value proposition.
  4. Credibility  – 5/5 – The popular brands and the tweet embeds, along with all the detailing make it look credible.
  5. Calls-To-Action (CTA) – 3/5 – the “start advertising” is kind-of lost at the top. this could have been placed better. Needs testing.

Overall Score – 22/25 =4.4


 

Bonus Tip 7 :

Customer Case Studies and Success Stories are very powerful as a Content Marketing Tactic because it has the added advantage of having the power of 3 –

1. Informative (as a Content Category)

2. Credible (as a Social Proof)

3. Selling (as a Marketing Copy)

Read more about it here How to Make your Case Studies and Success Stories Boost your Marketing ?


Conclusion

Now if you are wondering why none of them got a 5 ? well ..this is a reason

That is because there is scope for doing a lot with your Our-Customers Page. What you saw above were some great ideas, but there is definitely lots more. Watch out this space for the “Perfect Our-Customers Page” !

Meanwhile, if you have some awesome ideas please do share by commenting. And if you find this article useful, please SHARE it.

Appreciate it. Thanks, Anupam 

……………………………………………………………

anupam_bonanthaya_customer_rivet_founder_ceo

Anupam Bonanthaya is an experienced Customer Success Marketer and the Founder of CustomerRivet – The Social Proof Marketing Experts

Rivet.ly – Hosted Our-Customers Page

Get More Leads and More Conversions by Optimizing the use of Testimonials, Success Stories, Case Studies, Videos, Reviews, Customer Photos, Tweets, or any other Social Proof, in your Marketing.

Ask for a Demo today to see how it can help “Transform Your Customer Success Marketing”. OR Contact Anupam Bonanthaya via LinkedIn

Self Brand Marketing : Social Proof To Boost Your Career

How to boost your career ? What are the skills that will help you become successful in marketing yourself ?

First, let me give you the bad news.

There is no such thing ! The marketplace is dynamic and saying you will need A,B,C skills is short-sighted and it will always come with an expiry date, because by the time you master something there is always something new. Lets accept that it is a continuous learning process and accordingly the window of opportunity keeps shifting. What is hot today need not remain hot a few months later, and that’s a fact you need to get used to.

But, there is good news !

Here, Let me not give you the fish, but rather teach you how to fish. If i had to pick one skill that is critical to a professional success, that would be Social Proof.

But first what is Social Proof ?

In very simple terms – Social Proof is a marketing term used for “herd mentality” of human beings. We get positively influenced by what others like us are doing, and the influence is very compelling if these people have become successful by doing whatever they are doing. We want to become like them by copying their methods. (also see my recent article on the 21 different kinds of social proof used in marketing)

This can help you in 2 ways in your career –

1. To help you know what are the right skills at any moment.
AND
2. To assure potential employers (or buyers) that you have these skills.

Let’s see what this means –


 

How can Social Proof help you know –  What are the Hot Skills you should Acquire ?

 

Self Marketing : How To Boost Your Career With Social Proof - How to Know What Skills are Hot

Get a sense for what are the hot trends in the market by doing any/all of the following

1. Following the trending news topics on popular sites – Example –  Mashable, Huffingtonpost, Steamfeed, etc

2. Watch out for what influencers’ and prominent personalities in your field are talking about – Example – Seth Godin, Dharmesh Shah, Guy Kawasaki, etc

3. See what prominent companies in the field are saying and doing.

 

Now lets take two examples related to fields close to my heart – Marketing and Technology.

 

Example 1 –  Top-3 trends in ‘Marketing’

If you look around you – these are the top trends in marketing.

1. How to keep producing a pipeline of content for the insatiable  needs of marketing ?

2. How to use sponsored content in facebook, twitter, instagram, pinterest, etc ?

3. More and more people are using smartphones to do things – how to reach them ?

so correspondingly the hot skills would be – content marketing, native ads, mobile marketing, and social media marketing

 

Example 2 – Top-3 trends in ‘Technology’

Again here if you look around you – these are the top trends in marketing.

1. Wearable Technology – everything from wrist watches to glasses can be a device.

2. Internet of Things – every gadget or device can be connected to the internet.

3. What Actionable Insights can you derive from Data ?

 

so correspondingly the hot skills would be – Wearable technology, Internet of things, Big Data, and Analytics 


 

How can Social Proof help you – Assure Employers that you have the Skills ?


 

Personal Brand Marketing - How can Social Proof help you - Assure Employers that you have the Skills ?

Of-course, you will first need to acquire the skills, and do a good job at it. But as you are doing that, you need to build your social proof – 3rd party proof that can vouch and assure future employers that you have got the skills.

It can be any/all of the following

1. Endorsement from past/present employers – Example – LinkedIn recommendations.

2. Popularity – Example – Social Mentions ( Tweets, LinkedIn Updates, FB posts, etc) about you in kudos posts by people who have worked with you.

3. Sphere of Influence – Example – Connections in LinkedIn, Followers to your Blog, Twitter Handle, FB Page

4. Expertise in Subject Matter – Example – Blog articles, Your Comments in Blog threads related to the subject, Sharing in social media, etc

In today’s world – rest assured that no-one will hire you without doing a background search of your digital footprint. A simple google search would bring out a lot of interesting facts ? Therefore make sure what people see is what you want them to see.

 


 

Summary

By making sure you are paying attention to Social Proof – you could accomplish 2 important things –

1. You will always be on top of the hot skills (and therefore working towards acquiring them )

2. You will be able to market yourself effectively to your prospective employers for those hot skills.

And this is applicable universally, irrespective of your field of interest.

 

I would love to hear about your experiences and examples. Please share via commenting.

If you feel this is useful, please SHARE it with your friends. appreciate it. thanks. anupam


anupam_bonanthaya_customer_rivet_founder_ceo

Anupam Bonanthaya is an experienced Customer Success Marketer and the Founder of CustomerRivet – The Social Proof Marketing Experts

Rivet.ly – Hosted Our-Customers Page

Get More Leads and More Conversions by Optimizing the use of Testimonials, Success Stories, Case Studies, Videos, Reviews, Customer Photos, Tweets, or any other Social Proof, in your Marketing.

Ask for a Demo today to see how it can help “Transform Your Customer Success Marketing”. OR Contact Anupam Bonanthaya via LinkedIn

 


 

Special Thanks to Bob Clary, Marketing Manager at Webucator for offering free online training to our readers as part of their Most Marketable Skill Campaign. This month’s topic is Microsoft Powerpoint.

Feel free to write to Bob ( bobclary@webucator.com) or visit their Twitter Page for any questions/clarifications


 

How to Transform Your (Boring) Video Testimonials & Customer Success Stories into a Marketing Opportunity ?

In this article, I will not-be talking about 1. “Why you should have Video Testimonials ?” AND I will not be talking about 2. “How to shoot Good Videos ?”

Because It is a given that Customer Videos are one of the very powerful Social Proofs, and a very credible one it is because for the obvious reasons associated with anything video. And I am not the competent person to comment about the nuances of shooting a good video.

Instead, I will be talking about how to make your video testimonials a very effective marketing tool – effective in getting you more conversions and more leads, which should be the end objective of any customer success asset or social proof in the 1st place.


 

Bonus Tip #1 :

There are many different kinds of Social Proof – Testimonials, Photos, Case Studies/Success Stories, Videos, Reviews, Social Mentions, etc etc. See the complete list of Social Proofs here – 21-Kinds of Social Proof that you can use in your Marketing

Also see what type of social proof is better for you –  user-generated-content vs. company-generated-content – which social proof works better ?

 


 

The 6 Rules to Evaluate Your Video Testimonials & Success Stories

Lets look at video testimonials from various popular companies for best practices. We will do it based on the following 6 parameters. In the end – we will also look at 2 of my favorite video testimonials.

1. Preview – Why Should I See It ?

Unlike text, videos are not suitable for skimming. Providing a preview in the form of an executive summary is a good way of attracting visitors to see the video. It would also be a great idea to provide a text transcript, if possible.

2. Duration – Design for Low Attention Span !

Short is sweet. The attention span of a typical viewer is in seconds. Therefore the duration of the video should not be more than 1-2 mins at the max. Shorter the duration, the higher the chances of the viewer seeing what you want them to see. It is also the main reason for the popularity of video formats like Vine, which are 6sec videos ! In addition, it is quicker to load a short video.

3. Engaging – Make it Interesting.

It is boring to see just talking heads in a video. Make it interesting by covering the context as visually as possible, and making it interactive where possible.

4. Compelling – Does it Convince to Buy ?

Remember the convincing power of a testimonial video  is not directly proportional to the cost of the production. Having a professional crew shoot the video, and lots of editing can make the video look good, but that need not mean that it will really impress your prospects. In this respect, User generated videos will be way cheaper, and might do a better job almost all times.

5. CTA (Calls-To-Action) – Make Sure it does not become a Dead End.

What is the desired next step for the viewer after seeing the video, and is that obvious even without seeing the full video ? remember most people don’t see the full video, no matter the duration. Therefore you need to have your CTAs very clear and prominent.

6. Promotion – How are you Promoting the Videos ?

Any piece of social proof is a valuable marketing resource. Are you actively using them in your content and inbound marketing ? If not, it is a lost opportunity if you are under utilizing a valuable resource. This is where using a popular 3rd party platforms like YouTube helps. It allows users to discover your video as part of the search features of Youtube and Google.


 

Bonus Tip #2 :

You can promote your social proof in many many ways. see my recent article on how to use your customer testimonials (including videos) to boost your marketing –  Customer Testimonial Examples: 25-Ways to Boost your Marketing (w/ best practices)


 

Now lets see how to apply this to some popular Customer Video Testimonials.

Author’s disclaimer – I am in no way associated with any of these companies. I allowed Google Search to give me the top Video Testimonials  which is a fair way of going about this. The intention of the analysis is purely for educational and best practices purpose. 

Example 1 – Qualys


 

qualys_videos_index

qualys_videos_Novartis

Preview – 2/5

There is no way to know which video i should watch, and why. The only indicator is the company name/logo and the profile of the speaker.

Duration – 2/5

The duration is ~5-mins. It is more than the recommended 1-2 mins.

Engaging – 2/5

Talking heads is not a very engaging format. Not a good use of the time when the speaker is spending most of the time in listing out all the benefits verbatim.

Compelling – 2/5

It would have been more effective to list the benefits as a text versus someone reading it out in a video.

CTA (Calls-To-Action) – 1/5

There is no CTA buttons. Not in the Video. Not even in the pages where the videos are listed.

Promotion  – 1/5

No promotion of the videos anywhere. The videos themselves are not from a 3rd party platform like YouTube, which further limits the chances of finding these videos.

Final Score – 1.67


 

 

Example 2 – Salesforce Pardot


 

pardot_videos_index

pardot_videos_EzeCastle

Preview – 3/5

The quote helps guess what the video might be about. 

Duration – 4/5

The duration of ~1.2 mins is awesome. It addresses the attention span issue perfectly. 

Engaging –  3/5

The demo of the application screens during the video gives some ideas of the product itself. Though it is not sufficient to understand the functionality, it does help break the monotonicity of the talking head. 

Compelling – 2/5

Though the screen sharing of the application makes the video interesting, it does not make it that compelling. Of-course, it does make it look more genuine. 

CTA (Calls-To-Action) – 1/5

There is no CTA buttons. Not in the Video. Not even in the pages where the videos are listed.

Promotion – 1/5

No promotion of the videos anywhere. The videos themselves are not from a 3rd party platform like YouTube, which further limits the chances of finding these videos.

Final Score – 2.34


 

 Example 3 – Courion


 

courion_videos_harvard_pilgrim

Preview – 1/5

There is no preview. The only indicator is the company name/logo and the profile of the speaker.

Duration – 3/5

The duration of ~2.2 mins, which is decent.

Engaging – 3/5

Th video covers the facility and multiple speakers, which makes it more interesting to watch.

Compelling – 3/5

It is compelling.

CTA – 2/5

There is a small link to ‘Contact Sales by Email/Phone’ in the index page. Definitely better than no CTA.

Promotion – 1/5

No promotion.

Final Score – 2.17


 

Example 4 – Yodle


 

Yodle_videos_index

 

Yodle_videos_example

Preview – 3/5

The quotes and profile of the customer gives a decent idea of what each video is about.

Duration – 3/5

The duration is ~2-mins, which is excellent.

Engagement – 3/5

The video shows the speaker in his/her workplace, doing their day-day job, hence making it engaging.

Compelling – 3/5

The story-line of how the company helped sounds compelling.

CTA – 1/5

There is no CTA of any kind.

Promotion – 1/5

No promotion of the videos beyond the videos page.

Final Score – 2.34


 

Example 5 – Nagarro


 

Nagarro_videos_index

Nagarro_videos_sample

 

Preview – 3/5

The preview gives an idea of what would be covered in the video, thus helping decide if/if not to watch it.

Duration – 3/5

The videos are of ~2.2-min duration making them a decent duration.

Engaging – 3/5

Showing the details about the customer’s business makes the video engaging.

Compelling – 3/5

The story-line is compelling to try/buy the services of the company.

CTA (Calls-To-Action) – 4/5

Yes. As you can see above there is a contact form in the same page as the video listings.

Promotion – 3/5

Simple thing like posting it on Youtube provides an additional way to promote the videos.

Final Score – 3.17

 


 

Example 6 – OfficeVibe


 

officevibe_videos_index

officevibe_videos_example

Preview – 5/5

The CultureTalks videos by OfficeVibe has one of the best previews. It actually gives the full transcript of the video. Very Useful.

Duration – 1/5

It is really long running into ~20-mins each.

Engagement – 4/5

It is in an interactive interview format where someone from OfficeVibe is interviewing HR experts in the customer side over Google Hangout, thus making it very interesting and engaging.

Compelling – 1/5

The video is very engaging from the subject point of view – the “culture” within the customer company. But it is not clear how the customer is using the product/service of OfficeVibe in doing whatever it is doing. That connection between the success of the customer and the solution provided by the company is missing somewhere, thus making it less compelling. Actually it is not even clear if the speaker company is one of OfficeVibe’s customers !

CTA – 3/5

If the desired next step is to share the video as a content, then there are the standard sharing/embed buttons, which is great.

Promotion – 5/5

The videos are on TouTube. They are also promoted extensively in social media by OffcieVibe.

Final Score – 3.17

Correction : I got a clarification from Jacob Shriar, Growth Manager at OfficeVibe – the cool dude doing the interviews,  saying that the CultureTalks video interview series is not necessarily with their customers, and hence they are not intended as testimonials for OfficeVibe.

Now it all makes sense. I would still like to retain it here because i think this is still a best practice, and a valuable social proof as such.


 

Bonus Tip #3 :

I would recommend  doing very similar interviews, but with your customers. You can do this with those customers who are not comfortable to publicly endorse you as the vendor/service provider for their own corporate/legal reasons. But I am sure they will be more open to do a best practices session on a subject matter that you care about. Still a big win for you :-)


 

Example 7 – GoPro 


 

GoPro_videos

GoPro_videos_sample

Preview – 4/5

There is no preview, but the cover photo and the short description does give a fair idea of what the video is all about.

Duration – 5/5

The duration varies from 1-20 mins, but the key thing here is that the duration does not impact the end objective – highlighting the capabilities of the GoPro camera.  Irrespective of where you stop, you still get the message. Thus making the duration irrelevant.

Engagement – 5/5

It is very engaging. One of the best videos.

Compelling – 5/5

Very compelling. I am sure you feel like getting one of those cameras even if you are a couch potato whose life does not involve any such outdoor adventures ! ;-)

CTA – 3/5

There are many CTA’s like Sharing, submitting your own videos, subscribing to the channel, etc

Promotion – 5/5

It is on YouTube. It is also well promoted on platforms like Mashable. GoPro videos have a cult following among outdoor enthusiasts.

Final Score – 4.5

 


 

Summary:

You saw 7 different examples of Video Testimonials, and the good/bad in each of them based on the 6 parameters. They were just examples for the sake of demonstration, but you can apply the rules to pretty much every video testimonial. 

Overall, you need to pay attention to the following 2 important areas (since it is not always obvious)

1. CTA (Calls-T-Action)

It is a big lost opportunity if you are not using your video testimonials for conversion, especially when they are meant for selling (lead generation) as their primary objective.

2. Promotion

You need to be promoting your video testimonials everywhere. Assuming that your prospects will come searching for them is again a lost opportunity. Keep in mind that 60-80% of the buying decision is already taken before your sales teams get to talk to your prospects. And this is the exact phase where  your social proof in the form of customer videos can tilt the scales in your favor. It would be really smart to bring your success stories in-front of your audience.


If you have other good examples please share via commenting.

If you feel this is useful, please SHARE it with your friends. appreciate it. thanks. anupam

anupam_bonanthaya_customer_rivet_founder_ceo

Anupam Bonanthaya is an experienced Customer Success Marketer and the Founder of CustomerRivet – The Social Proof Marketing Experts

Rivet.ly – Hosted Our-Customers Page

Get More Leads and More Conversions by Optimizing the use of Testimonials, Success Stories, Case Studies, Videos, Reviews, Customer Photos, Tweets, or any other Social Proof, in your Marketing.

Ask for a Demo today to see how it can help “Transform Your Customer Success Marketing”. OR Contact Anupam Bonanthaya via LinkedIn

 


Social Proof Marketing: user-generated-content vs. company-generated-content – which social proof works ?

How do you ensure that the social proof you are collecting will help you in your inbound marketing ? Company Generated Content  or User Generated Content (UGC) – which proof works better – in terms of getting you better results – in the form of more traffic, more conversions, and more leads !  (see my recent article on 25 Ways to Boost your marketing with customer testimonials and social proof )

Keep in mind social proof can be any/all of these –  customer names, logos, testimonials, photos, social share/follow counts, success stories, case studies, videos, user reviews, ROI studies, snapshots, spotlights, business benefits, metrics achieved, stats about customer base, product/service usage, tweets, social mentions, media mentions, celebrity endorsement, etc etc (see my recent post to see all the 21 types of social proofs that you can use in your marketing)

In general, we can classify Social Proof into 3 Categories based on how it is created.

A. User Generated Content (UGC)

This is created by the end users on their own, typically on 3rd party platforms. Less or no control by the company.

Examples could be the following

1.  Social mentions and posts in platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc

2. User Reviews in platforms like TripAdvisor, Yelp, BazaarVoice, TrustRadius, G2 Crowd, TrustPilot, etc

3. User Videos in platforms like youtube, vimeo, vine, etc

 (also see here for the various different kinds of UGC )

B. Company Generated Content (with endorsement from Users/Customers/3rd Party)

This is produced by the company, but with close collaboration with the end users and customers, or even 3rd parties of repute. More control by the company, but still endorsed by the users.

Examples could be the following –

1. Testimonials, Case Studies, Stories, Videos, etc

2. Social Sharing, Followers, Subscribers, etc

3. Celebrity and Influencer Endorsements, media mentions, etc

C. Company Generated Proof (unverified or not easy to verify)

These are “facts” claimed by the company, with less scope for verification. Fully controlled by the company.

Examples could be the following –

1. Customer Base  Statistics eg. 10,000+ customers.

2. Product and Service usage statistics eg. 40 Million Emails sent out.

 Now which of these categories makes sense ? 

Though the question seems simple enough, the answer is not very straightforward. To answer this question lets look at it more pragmatically – not from the seller point of view, but from the  buyer point of view. Putting myself in the shoes – If i am a buyer in the market, what are the questions i would ask when evaluating any vendor ?

6 Questions that i would ask any vendor

1. Social Proof – Do you have it ?

Could you demonstrate to me that there are other people who have used your product and services before ?

Lets look at the results of a survey that Dianna Huff and KoMarketing Associates did asking what B2B Buyers today want from vendor websites.

 

Social Proof Marketing: user-generated-content vs. company-generated-content : social-proof must-have credibility indicators for websites

It is very clear that social proof is no longer a nice-to-have, but a must-have in order to establish credibility in the eyes of the buyer. This is very significant given the fact that 60-80% of the buying decision is taken even before a prospect tries to contact your sales teams.

 

2. Credibility – How much can i trust this ?

There is no question about faking social proof what-so-ever. That would be a stupid suicide. (see more in my recent post on Best Practices : How to keep testimonials real, and reasons why not to fake them)

The question is how convinced the buyer would be on seeing your proof points ? How credible does your proof look ?

We can classify the 3 categories based on the level of inherent credibility of the type of social proof. This has nothing to do with the proof point in itself, and it is a relative ranking.

I. User Generated Content – HIGH

User Generated Content does stand high in the credibility ladder. The reason being obvious – it is the end user making the point. He/She has no reason to say something good (or bad for that matter), unless there is a strong first hand reason. It also gives a fair representation of both good and bad sides. In real-life nothing is 100% good, so it always make it more credible to see the not-good side as well.

Example – Yelp Reviews – Lazy Bear

Social Proof Marketing: user-generated-content vs. company-generated-content

II. Company Generated Content (with endorsement from Users/Customers/3rd Party) – MEDIUM

Company Generated Content like testimonials, case studies, and videos will always be lower in credibility compared to the earlier User Generated Content types. But you can always make it get closer (if not equal) by taking measures to keep it as real as possible. for the same reasons – it is a good idea to cover areas that might not be your week points, by answering questions that might be a concern by your typical customer. Of-course it has to be delivered and acknowledged by the end user in your content.

Example – Campaign Monitor’s Testimonials

Social Proof Marketing: user-generated-content vs. company-generated-content - Example of Company (+User) Created Content

III. Company Generated Content (unverified) – LOW

Pure company claimed “facts” that have no easy way to verify would naturally be received with an element of skepticism. Therefore it always helps  to link it to publicly available facts where possible.

Example – MailChimp’s 5 Million Users

Social Proof Marketing: user-generated-content vs. company-generated-content - Example of Pure Company Generated Content

 

3. Consistency – is everyone saying the same thing ?

Am i hearing these from just 1 channel from 1 particular audience ? or is it across the board irrespective of channels, across the audiences ?

As a buyer. As a prospect – If there is just 1 kind of social proof, then i am skeptical about it. Whereas if there are different kinds of social proof, it gives me an opportunity to see if the experience is consistent across the board.

Are your case studies, videos, reviews and tweets saying the same things ?

Lets look at an example – Social Proofs by Hubspot

A. Hubspot Case Studies

In this example Geoff Tucker from Alere Wellbeing says how good his experience has been with Hubspot’s customer service.

Social Proof Marketing: user-generated-content vs. company-generated-content  hubspot_casestudy_example

 

B. Hubspot Twitter Posts

This Tweet by Stephen says how good his experience with Hubspot has been w.r.t customer service.

Social Proof Marketing: user-generated-content vs. company-generated-content  hubspot_tweet_example1

 

C. Hubspot TrustRadius Reviews

This review in TrustRadius by Kevin says the same thing about Hubspot’s customer service.

Social Proof Marketing: user-generated-content vs. company-generated-content  hubspot_review_example

All 3 different types of social proof are saying the same thing about Hubspot’s customer service, which is awesome. Therefore more varieties of proof points are very welcome from a buyer perspective because it provides the buyer an opportunity to verify if the claims are consistent across the board. Which leads to a  stronger assurance to believe the vendor.

 

4. Natural – does it look too scripted ?

Scripted content is less convincing compared to natural sounding ones. This is where user generated content scores over company generated ones. If they sound non-scripted and spontaneous, it makes them more believable.

Example – Manpacks Testimonials

 

Social Proof Marketing: user-generated-content vs. company-generated-content  manpacks_tweets

Therefore it also makes sense to keep the company generated content less scripted. The imperfections actually make them sound more genuine. Don’t edit anything just for the sake of it, unless it makes a significant difference to the messaging.

 

5. Clear Benefits – are the features-benefits convincing ?

Is it clear that using the features provided would lead to the benefits claimed  ? Features in itself does not mean anything, unless the customer can see the benefits associated.

Example – Optimizely’s Case Studies

Social Proof Marketing: user-generated-content vs. company-generated-content  optimizely_case_studies

This is especially important if your product or service has a lot of features. As a buyer, i would like to hear from users how using a particular feature has led to a claimed benefit.

This is where the company produced assets like case studies, stories, ROI studies, videos, etc are better placed compared to user generated ones where there is less control on the structure and flow of the content. (see more in my recent article  Case Study Tips: 5 Examples of how not-to-waste your customer success stories (w/ best practices)

As a buyer i am more compelled to believe your social proof when you have the depth and clarity.

 

 6. Buyer Persona – does it look like “me” ?

The crux of the social proof argument is that it is “what people LIKE ME are doing”. Therefore for it to be effective as a marketing tool, it will have to match the desired profile of the  buyer – what we call as the buyer persona. It sounds easier said than done because your current customer base need not be the same as your ideal or desired customer base. This is because your target customer profile is always a moving target.

 

 

Social Proof Marketing: user-generated-content vs. company-generated-content Buyer Persona

User generated content has less control on the profile of the people who create and contribute to the content. Whereas company generated ones have more control on the people you want to collaborate with. Also it is easier to fill the gaps.

 

Conclusion – the good news is that you need everything !

As you can see there is no 1 kind of social proof that can satisfy all the needs of the buyers. Therefore it is good to have as many types as possible because showcasing them together helps cover all the needs of the buyer. It is way more smarter than betting on 1 type of social proof. Therefore, Company Generated Content is as important as the User Generated ones, or vice-versa.

If you feel this is valuable, please LIKE and SHARE it with your friends. Appreciate it.

thanks & regards, anupam


anupam_bonanthaya_customer_rivet_founder_ceo

Anupam Bonanthaya is an experienced Customer Success Marketer and the Founder of CustomerRivet – The Social Proof Marketing Experts

Rivet.ly – Hosted Our-Customers Page

Get More Leads and More Conversions by Optimizing the use of Testimonials, Success Stories, Case Studies, Videos, Reviews, Customer Photos, Tweets, or any other Social Proof, in your Marketing.

Ask for a Demo today to see how it can help “Transform Your Customer Success Marketing”. OR Contact Anupam Bonanthaya via LinkedIn