A Startup Guide to Using Customer Love to Grow
How do you get customers who love you to say great things about you and use that to impact growth metrics?
Customers love you? Here's how to use that to grow.
By Angela Ferrante, Founder of Laudable, modified from a YC bookface post in February, 2023.
I’m a huge believer in using happy customers as growth fuel… so much that I started a company around it (Laudable, S21).
I get lots of Qs on how to do this as a startup, so I’m open-sourcing the lessons we’ve learned over several years for fellow founders.
Note: I'm going to skip the why this is important and assume you agree that customers saying great things about you is better than you saying great things about you.
Let's say you have customers who love you.
How do you get them to say great things about you and use that to impact growth metrics? 🗣❤️
After working as a startup CMO for 5 years, and now working with 40+ high growth SaaS startups and public companies at Laudable, I have some answers (or at least opinions).
How to use this post:
1. Click here if you want to jump straight to our playbook. It has 50+ ways B2B companies (including YC co’s like @Webflow, @Vanta, @Instawork @OpenPhone) are using customer voice to drive revenue. Each play includes the example(s), company featured, channel used, stage of the funnel, and what KPI(s) it impacts.
2. Read on for a primer and startup-oriented guide.
Primer + Guide for Startups:
First, let's cover the types of social proof you most often get:
1. Dark social or private shares - Customers saying things about you when you're not there (e.g. to other prospective customers, on "dark social", in communities, to their colleagues directly, etc) → This format is ZERO TO LOW COST, highest believability, harder to find, easy to use once you do find it, high impact, and low-high reach (depending on where they say it).
2. Unsolicited direct or public feedback - Customers saying things about you, to you or in public, when you don't ask (e.g. to you or your CS team, unsolicited reviews [G2, Capterra, TrustPilot, etc]) → LOW COST, highest believability, easy to difficult to find (easy at volume, difficult at scale without tools), easy to use, high impact, low reach until you amplify.
3. Solicited direct or public feedback - Customers saying things about you, to you or in public, when you do ask (e.g. a testimonial video, quote, case study, or solicited reviews on G2, Capterra, TrustPilot, etc.) - *This type is great when you want to dig in on specific messaging and nuanced use cases and results, which is often important for >$10k price point B2B sales where, "Oh Instawork is awesome we love them!" isn't enough to impact a buying a decision → LOW TO HIGH COST (depending on how you resource it), medium-high believability, easy to find, easy to medium to use, medium-high impact, and high reach if you use it right.
4. Customer logos - these prove that the listed logo companies have (probably) paid you → ZERO COST, medium believability, easy to find, easy to medium to use, medium-high impact, and high reach if you use it right.
5. Aggregated stats - things like “80% of our customers generate at least 10 leads in their first week” → LOW COST, medium believability, medium-hard to find, easy to use, medium-high impact, and medium-high reach depending on use.
You can use all of these in various formats and channels…
Ways to share (formats):
Note: Your format doesn’t need to be fancy if you've got an early stage budget. Quick and dirty works well.
1. Screenshots or embeds - simple screenshots of what customers are saying in slack, email, social, community forums and more make for great content.
2. Video or audio clips -
- Extracted from call recordings, or
- Recorded by customer upon request (VideoAsk style, remotely produced with an interviewer, or professionally filmed).
3. Graphics made from quotes - use Canva (example template here) to generate simple graphics for social, or use a similar style on the web (e.g. the customer quote + headshot circle + logo and company name).
Where to share:
So now that you’ve got this content, where do you use it?
Definitely infuse various forms of social proof on your website, but don’t forget about all the other touch points in your buying journey (pre and post sale).
A few of my favorite easy plays (all from our playbook):
1. Holy shit moment video (also here) to increase return on ad spend and brand awareness. You can DIY this or get a freelance video editor (even on fiverr) to stitch the video clips together with some light animation.
2. Create a low-fi “wall of love” for your website or sales decks with screenshots of customer messages (slack/email), quotes, reviews (G2, Capterra, TrustRadius, whatever’s relevant).
3. Drop customer proof (logos, ROI, quotes, use cases) directly into your contract doc to encourage quick signatures. If you're in B2B SaaS, you likely have several stakeholders (including the CFO) approving your contract. So arm them with data that makes it easy to say yes. (PandaDoc makes this easy.)
Other customer story related Questions and resources:
1. What questions should I ask my customers in a case study interview? Skip the long list of questions - the flow of this will feel tedious and redundant to your customer, and doesn't leave room for rabbit holes which make for the best, and use a messaging guide to guide the conversation, but improv. Here's a sample messaging guide. (Some of it is style, but we find this style of themes + five whys approach + lots of follow up digging works better than straight Qs.)
2. What video app should I use to record interviews if I want to create a video? Don't use Zoom. Riverside.fm gets you higher quality (best resolution if your guest records with a phone vs computer) and is pretty easy to use.
3. How do I get customers to agree to participate? Framing matters. Don't say "will you do a case study with us?" Instead, ask to feature their wins. And get specific. Say you're Deel - did your customer hire and onboard 25 new people last month, because they're able to hire globally without setting up local entities or getting bogged down in logistics when making hires across the globe? Tell them you’d like to do a feature story on how they've been scaling as a company and team, featuring the staff who made it possible. More tips on this here.
The Playbook + How I can help:
1. Here's the full playbook with 50+ real examples of how to use social proof to grow.
2. The best tactics for you depend on your buyer persona, price point, sales process, industry, and priority KPIs. I'm happy to chat more with any of you looking to get started or upgrade your current strategy → just send me an email or linkedin request.
By Angela Ferrante, Founder at Laudable, modified from a YC bookface post in February, 2023.