Let's face it - with so many competitors just a mouse click away, it's never been harder to differentiate our businesses and convince prospects that what we offer is their best choice. So, using testimonials and other forms of social proof are vital to making the benefits of doing business with us truly credible. It provides the tangible proof they need to go from wanting your product or service to actually believing your company can deliver upon its promises.
Using testimonials in your marketing provides an opportunity for your prospect to identify personally with someone who had the same challenge or wanted the same benefit as they had - and see that your company helped them reach a successful outcome. It provides the emotional security they need to fork over their hard-earned cash.
Here are 3 keys to using testimonials effectively :
1) You need to ASK for them!
Far too many businesses understand the power of testimonials and referrals, but allow getting them to be an entirely organic process. They rely on those relatively few clients who actually think to provide positive feedback without any prompting to do so. Why on earth would anyone hamstring themselves like this? Let me assure you, a prospect viewing a testimonial isn't thinking about how you received it AND there is certainly no "extra credit" for getting unsolicited testimonials.
Here are just a couple ways you could go about harvesting testimonials and endorsements in a predictable and systematic fashion:
- At a set time after the sale, use a call, letter or email to ask them their opinion of your product or service and if they would be willing to give you a testimonial so that you can connect with other great customers like them.
- For local businesses - host an annual customer appreciation party complete with refreshments and a drawing for prizes for those who attend. While they are there, ask them if they would please take a moment to go to visit your "testimonial booth" where you have a video camera set up ready to record their praises.
- Have your effort pull double duty by sending out an announcement of an upcoming new release product or service and offer a discount for loyal customers who provide a testimonial.
The variations and possibilities are endless, but the principle remains - "You don't have because you don't ask."
2) Remember that it's always about people!
Whether you are in the the B2B or B2C space - you are doing business with a person. A person makes the decision to do business with you. Being too "starched" and talking as if you are marketing to a company versus an individual within that organization is a surefire way to reduce your potential conversion rate.
Along with this, you want to make sure to solicit and use testimonials from a variety of people who benefited from your product or service in a different way. For instance, one may have enjoyed the value of your service while another was blown away by the convenience. Providing a variety of people with different needs increases the chance of your prospect identifying with someone that had their need or desire.
3) Format matters!
While ANY testimonial is better than no testimonial, some formats are more effective than others. For the most part, this is how I'd rank them - from least to most effective:"
- Written testimonial with no photo
- Written testimonial with photo
- Audio testimonial with no photo
- Audio testimonial with photo
- Video testimonial
In general, it's about credibility and relate-ability. That is why even for audios and written testimonials just adding a photo helps increase the effectiveness. And, because it's about credibility, it is important to NOT overproduce video testimonials as some do by editing and cleaning it up to make a "professional" looking piece. The "grittier" the better and more believable it is! What you gain in "image" by producing a pro quality video will be lost in its effectiveness.
Also - remember that even if your medium has constraints - like a print ad or sales letter that can't feature a video testimonial, you can still display a text testimonial and below it direct them to a web URL that features more happy customer feedback!
If you want to take it to another level entirely, take some of your better testimonials and convert them into full case studies with facts and figures (where appropriate) to add further credibility.
The important thing is to get started today. Begin approaching those you've already done business with and ask. And, set up a system for consistently getting testimonials going forward. You'll be amazed how this social proof will begin to create buzz and new activity which, of course, results in new sales and more happy customers!