3 things to do when customers don’t believe your pitch

Modern customers are savvy. They’ve seen it all and they only want the best. So how can you convince them that you’re worth their time and money?
James Wood

We’ve all had that moment when we poke our head into a nice looking restaurant, see that it’s empty and think we should try somewhere else. That thought lingers... there must be something about this place you don’t know that’s keeping people away.

This is what happens when there’s a lack of social proof. 

We know there are dozens of good reasons the restaurant might be quiet at that particular moment. But when it comes down to it, we want a good meal and we play it safe by choosing somewhere other people have already validated for us. It’s another example of customer behaviour being driven by efficiency (or laziness if you’re feeling uncharitable). Humans like to take the least possible action to achieve what they’re after, so we save time by following the judgements of others.

to make your business as appealing as possible, you need to give them tour guides.

This is why social proof is so powerful in all forms of marketing. It’s a reassurance to potential customers that giving your their business is not wandering into the unknown without a map. They’re following a well-trodden path. So to make your business as appealing as possible, you need to give them tour guides.

Liberally peppering your marketing pages with social proof has a resounding effect on visitors: it helps them believe the rest of your marketing. After reading something interesting about your product or service, people tend to have a cynical counter reaction (the ‘well they would say that wouldn’t they?’ response).

So here are three really effective ways to get social proof working for you:

1. Testimonials / customer quotes

Testimonials are your go-to tool here. They’re easy to get, easy to read and can be added into the flow of pretty much any page on your website. 

Adding testimonials after your main selling-points counters any cynicism by having real people endorse what you’ve just said.

To maximise the effectiveness of your testimonials:

  • Keep them short (1-2 sentences) to make them frictionless to read.
  • Make sure they’re on-message, focussed on the features you’ve just been talking about in your copy.
  • Add a photo of the person if possible. Our eyes are always drawn to human faces.
  • B2C sites can get away with just the customer’s first name, but B2B sites need a full name, job role and company to be most effective.

2. Customer logos

If your customers include well known companies, adding their logos is a great way to provide social proof without needing to get written testimonials (though if you can get both, even better!). As with all re-use of customer data, make sure you get permission to show their logo on your site first.

3.Case studies

For B2B businesses, case studies are a god-send. While a bit more time-consuming to create, the long form article style provides you with space to tell a really compelling story of how you helped your customer achieve their goals. It’s great for convincing business customers of your value and it’s great for SEO too.

An extra tip: if you make your case study in an interview style and include some video or photos of the person you’re talking to, your case study page will be much more likely to be shared around your customer’s company and on social media. Everyone loves human interest stories.

Don't be a duper

Remember that authenticity is the key to building a trusting relationship with your customers. Resist any temptation to lie to them by making up testimonials.

  • Don’t put your own words into your customers’ mouths. They won’t like seeing someone else’s words next to their name and it will damage your relationship with them.
  • Don’t make up a customer or company. It’s easy for people to check the truth of things these days and the bad publicity of being outed as a fibber is something you don’t want.

Now you CAN ask your customers very specific questions to help get the quote you’re after, and there’s nothing wrong with suggesting edits, just always be collaborative and get final sign off from your customer before putting it on your site.

What’s been the best use of social proof that’s swayed your decision to buy? Let us know at @onwardstudiosuk

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James Wood
Author, web designer, lover of future things.
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