When you run any marketing campaign, you do so to increase brand awareness and reputation and hence attract new leads to drive conversions. Customer testimonials are one of the most influential marketing tactics you can use to achieve these goals. There are several studies to support that as a form of “word of mouth (WOM)” marketing, testimonials carry a lot of weight. In one such study, AC Nielsen polled 30,000 consumers, 83% of whom “completely or somewhat trust the recommendations of friends and family” and 66% value opinions posted online. Another survey conducted on around 2100 respondents showed that 88% of consumers trust online reviews to “determine the quality of a local business”.
To increase conversions on your website, you must work on getting testimonials. How do you collect testimonials from clients? You simply ask them. But this will only work if your product or service lives up to customers’ expectations.
Why are Testimonials Good for Businesses?
Testimonials can grow your business in the following ways:
1. Improve Business Credibility
You shouldn’t take it for granted that customers will believe in your products just because you do or you tell them to. Despite your many reassurances, customers will have numerous doubts about your products or services such as:
- I don’t want to get ripped off. What if this product doesn’t work as advertised?
- I will only try this product if others are happy with it. Are there other businesses that recommend this brand?
- I need to see proof that this will actually solve my problems. I’m I going to get my money’s worth?
With testimonials, you can answer each of the three concerns raised above.
Testimonials give social proof. They are believable because unlike a sales rep who is paid to say good things about your brand, customers talk good things about your brand because they have actually experienced it. Usually, potential buyers don’t even need to know the person writing the testimonial to rely on what they are saying. Note, however, that paid testimonials don’t work. An intuitive customer will see through them and will warn others about it.
2. Connect with Potential Customers at an Emotional Level
Besides helping you market your brand, testimonials also create an emotional connection with your audience. Emotions play a big role in making decisions. Antonio Damasio, a neuroscientist, studied the brains of people with damage to parts of the brain that are responsible for generating emotions (the amygdala and pre-frontal cortex). While the subjects were capable of logical thought, such as describing what they wanted, they were incapable of arriving at decisions. This is because they couldn’t process emotions.
Businesses that rely on such studies craft marketing messages that excite different emotions such as happiness, anger, concern, surprise, sadness. In the same way, testimonials excite your audience, who are then inclined to buy because they want to experience the same satisfaction or happiness that others feel.
3. Use the Power of Storytelling to Grab Attention
Though it may not seem like it, every testimonial is a story about a buyer (the hero) who is on a quest to solve a problem and who finally finds a solution after turning to your business. Research shows that We are genetically programmed to think in terms of narratives. Brands that tap into this human trait pull people into a plot with their messaging and as such experience more success with their campaigns.
A story that ends with customers finally reaching a happy ending when they turn to you indeed goes a long way in persuading new leads to pay more attention to what you have to offer.
4. Build Client Loyalty
You have probably purchased and used a product or service that awed you beyond your expectations. You were probably so happy you wrote an email to the company, thanking them for such and such. They reached out, and asked, “Can we publish your generous words on our website?” What’s interesting is that you felt flattered and appreciated that they wanted to feature your message on their site! You felt connected to the brand.
High levels of engagement with a brand automatically forges a connection and out of the connection, loyalty is created. Loyal customers will refer others and if you continue making them happy, they will “cut you some slack” whenever things go sideways.
This is why you should take every transaction and every engagement as an opportunity to make your customers feel appreciated. In so doing, you will elicit testimonials from them organically.
5. Customers Practice their Referral “Pitch”
Think back to a time when you knew what you wanted to say, but just couldn’t put it to words. You were probably talking to your friends about a new gadget or application that you had bought. But when they asked you, “so what is so great about it?”, you realized that you didn’t have a good grasp of the reasons. Sure, the product impressed you, but you didn’t know how to express this.
This scenario is not unique. Words fail us all the time because we don’t practice by writing everything down or reading anything in-depth. When this happens, we experience uncomfortable feelings.
Writing a referral forces the writer to pay attention to what they are saying and removes any mental road blocks that may present down the road. What’s more, when you have a good grasp of the details of a product, you become a trusted authority for family, friends, colleagues and others. This is the same for your customers. writing a testimonial gives them the opportunity to mouth out what they feel about your brand, hence when asked about it, they already have the details readily available.
6. Connecting through Natural Language
Corporate messages are usually carefully crafted, and with good reason: brands have to be perceived as neutral. While corporate messages are important tools for passing information and educating your audience, they fall short when it comes to forming real connections.
Testimonials are written in normal, everyday language. Since they are not carefully crafted, testimonials resonate more with people. What’s more, they introduce a personal touch to your website by breaking away from the formality presented by all your other content.
7. Opportunities to Improve (and Grow)
Not all feedback will be positive. But while it’s normal to dread negative reviews, you shouldn’t ignore or try to suppress them. By embracing negative reviews, you can:
- Learn your shortcomings from the feedback and use the information given to improve your product or service
- Turn it to your advantage. Consider this response to a negative review:
Thank you for your feedback. I am sorry our product did not meet your expectations. I will look into this issue promptly and get back to you within 24 hours.
Kind regards, *Nelly
This response allows you to salvage the situation by:
Giving a face to your company. Notice the use of “I”. It shows that there is actually an individual dealing with the issue. Signing off with a person’s name, instead of an impersonal sign off like “from the customer care team,” also gives confidence to the complainant.
You get a chance to show you can keep your word. By giving a time frame (24 hours), you give the customer another metric to judge you by.
You get a chance to give good customer service. The promise to “look into it” is a great opportunity to display your customer service levels. A 2018 Zendesk study shows that good customer service influences how customers interact with a brand, including influencing recommendations and future purchases.
8. Improving Staff Loyalty
Asking customers to compliment your staff is a great way to show your clients that
- You appreciate the effort your staff put in
- You acknowledge that your brand’s success is not only of your own doing, but a result of a concerted effort
In turn, when staff members feel appreciated, they become even more invested in your success. Staff appreciation also lowers attrition and attracts the best talent.
Besides being a great platform for social listening, social media is one of the best platforms to garner publicity for your brand. While you might be tempted to make your sales pitches on social media, testimonials are more shareable. Your fans will share your testimonials with their fans, who will then share with their fans, and on and on. It’s very effective word of mouth. What’s more, if you include your website url in your posts, you will get a lot of clicks, all without making a sales pitch.
10. Testimonials Surpass Analyst Reports in Importance
Third party analysts are some of the most revered authorities in the online space. Their opinion can influence how people view your brand. More so, because of their large following, getting third party analysts to review your product or service can give you a lot of publicity.
However, as important as analyst reports are, research shows that customer testimonials are a more effective form of marketing content because they represent the “customers’ voice”. In fact, 97% of B2b customers say that user-generated content is more credible.
11. Influence Purchase Decisions
Customer testimonials shape buying decisions among b2b and b2c buyers. There is a lot of research to support this assertion, such as the examples below:
- 95% of online shopper read reviews before making a purchase, especially for products of services with a higher price tag. Reviews increase conversion by up to 190% for lower-priced products and 380% for highly priced products.
- 88% of buyers have based their buying decision on an online review (Zendesk).
- Businesses that have excellent testimonials experience 31% more spending from customers. (Invespcro)
12. Higher Click Through Rates (CTR)
In 2016, Brightlocal conducted a study on 6,283 consumers to find out how reviews affected click through ratings. They found that listings with 5-star ratings attracted higher clicks than 4- or 3-star ratings. Interestingly, a 1-star or 2-star rating attracted lesser clicks than listings with no rating.
This study shows that businesses with excellent reviews attract more leads. On the other hand, a low or negative review shows that a business has a bad reputation and has a negative impact on lead generation.
13. Reviews Generate more Leads than Case Studies and most other Vendor Resources
Case studies are some of the most widely used content for B2B marketing. Yet a 2018 B2b Buyer disconnect report by Trust Radius rated customer reviews over case studies as a more authentic and unbiased source of information. The respondents found reviews to be personal, easier to read and consume, unbiased and capture real experiences. Testimonials capture the pros and cons of a product and validate or dispel a vendor’s claims.
14. Take Advantage of Video Marketing
Video testimonials are an effective way of boosting social proof. As far as content goes, video ranks higher up the food chain in terms of ease-of-consumption, entertainment value and boosting customer trust.
When people video themselves talking about your products or services, they become the “face of your business”. They are also putting their reputation on the line, a fact that in itself engenders trust as not many people would do that for a brand they don’t own.
What’s more, video is a popular form of content. According to a study conducted by Cisco, by 2021, video content will account for 82% of internet traffic. As such, including video testimonials in your content strategy that is bound to increase your traffic.
15. Show Up on Search Rankings
Earlier in the post, we mentioned that businesses with higher ratings attract higher number of clicks. for that to happen, you have to first show up on search rankings. When visitors perform a query, Google aggregates review ratings from reputable review sites and determines which businesses to return in search rankings.
If you haven’t collected testimonials from your clients for a while, you need to look at the up datedness of your testimonials. Most businesses fail to update testimonials because asking customers for a testimonial is awkward. But what you need to know is that search engines promote websites that are frequently updated.
Implementing Google Customer Reviews is an easy way to get customers to review you after checkout. It also makes you eligible for a Google Customer Survey badge, which you can display on your website.
As you can see, the importance of customer testimonials cannot be understated, for b2b and b2c businesses of all sizes. Whether you are running a local store or a global brand, your customers will be inclined to trust the word of other consumers. As mentioned, even negative reviews can be turned into a positive, by boosting engagement and engaging in proactive problem solving. If possible, ask your reviewers to include a photo of themselves and personal details such as name, company, designation, etcetera. If you are overwhelmed by the whole process and don’t know where to start, you can reach out to an agency that provides lead generation services to view testimonial format examples that will help you collect relevant information such as:
- How your product works
- The benefits to their business
Level of customer service delivery