Every marketer perks up when they hear "social proof" for the first time. That enthusiasm fades as soon as they realize it isn't as simple as publishing a few case studies and putting 3 testimonials on their landing page.
Usually, when we look closer at companies’ social proof and customer marketing programs, we notice 3 main factors that hinder their success.
1. No structured approach to customer engagement.
The issue isn't a lack of happy customers. Nor is it their unwillingness to help.
Every loyal customer is someone you could actively involve in customer acquisition and growth initiatives. The biggest problem is that most advocacy programs start at the end and work backward.
When people think of social proof, referrals, references, case studies, and word-of-mouth normally come to mind.
Yes...these are the outcomes. But how do you get them?
They don't magically appear. And customers (almost) never volunteer themselves.
Without a way to systematically collect and manage your customers' goodwill, it inevitably slips between the cracks.
You might have a portal for referral partners or a simple reference form. At best, those will help you land one-off case studies and reviews. And they still require manual intervention or the customer to call themselves to action.
2. A cumbersome process for customers.
Broadly, the traditional approach to customer advocacy looks like this:
- Find your most valuable customers through NPS scores or your team's recommendations.
- Figure out what kind of social proof each customer is best for.
- Reach out to them and ask for their participation.
- If they oblige, schedule next steps.
- Hand-hold them through the entire process — whether it's helping your team with a case study, hopping on a reference call, or creating a video testimonial.
- Rinse and repeat every time you need their participation.
The problem is, it's never that simple. To get the high-value content you need, there's always back-and-forth trying to schedule and coordinate, answer questions, and make sure everything turns out well.
With you as the intermediary (and them without any structure), it's kind of like inviting your friend over for dinner but asking them to cook everything themselves.
Customers want to help, but they don't have the bandwidth or patience to jump through hoops for you. As a result, most companies find themselves cherry-picking the most vocal and responsive customers, rather than engaging their entire customer base.
3. An uninteresting and unrewarding experience.
Why should they refer friends to your business? Why should they take time out of their busy schedules to talk about it, write reviews, and create content?
Think about what would make the process worth it for them:
- Can they set it up themselves in a few minutes or less?
- Do they get points or rewards for participating?
- Do they receive personalized recognition and appreciation for their contributions?
You don't have to do anything crazy. But points, cash rewards, and personal recognition from your CS team will make the experience a lot more personal, engaging, and rewarding for them.
How to start leveraging your social proof effectively
Even with a structured approach and software to help you, your customer marketing program still has a few gaps.
Simply put, the size of your customer base or extent of your program doesn't matter. What matters is how you engage with your customers and their impact on your brand.
Solve these issues, and your advocacy program will become a well-oiled machine.
Automate customer touchpoints to reduce friction in the advocacy process.
Completely removing the human element of customer engagement will make your program seem disingenuous. But a high-touch approach strains your team, customers, and, by extension, results. So you'll want to consider which touchpoints make sense to automate.
Here are a few places to start:
- Onboarding — Rather than physically reaching out to every customer, set up your program using software and send a simple email that allows them to join your program in a few clicks.
- Content creation — Rather than asking your customers to be copywriters, use a tool that lets them input feedback, then turns it into a case study or targeted review in minutes with AI.
Centralize everything in a customer-facing app.
Managing your referral program, collecting reviews and testimonials, setting up reference calls, and curating content in one place makes all the difference.
Segment your customers for targeted matching and higher conversions.
Each prospect in your pipeline cares about a few use cases and scenarios where your product or service can make a difference. Segmenting customers who join your program into specific profile types and matching them with specific types of reference calls, marketing assets, or case studies makes your social proof more relevant.
In the Deeto platform, customers onboard themselves, choose how they want to help, and set their availability. Deeto's smart matching and auto-scheduling streamline customer-prospect matching and call setup. Generative AI turns feedback into case studies that reinforce your unique selling points. See how it works.