Harnessing the Power of Customer Testimonials
Think of the last time you had to find a new insurance company, a new doctor, a plumber, a mechanic, or any other type of professional. You might have performed your “due diligence” with some online research, or perhaps you might have asked a friend or family member for a recommendation. Either way, you were looking for a referral to save time, money, hassle, or all the above. Enter customer testimonials.
Every one of us has had a negative experience with a business or service provider at some point or another. It happens. It’s a part of life. But in our busy lives, it can be a time-consuming headache. So, we look for ways to short-cut trial and error by leaning on the opinion of others who occupy the same space, the consumer.
It’s a survival mechanism that has been a part of our evolutionary DNA since time immemorial. We relied on others for our survival, so we trusted the opinion of our “tribe.” In many ways, we still do. That’s why customer testimonials are so effective. It taps into our primal need to avoid pain and seek pleasure (or success, in this instance)
There’s a reason you see customer testimonials in virtually every infomercial you’ve ever seen on television or the internet. Put simply, they work. Customer stories can cut through the marketing noise to reach your target audience and increase sales better than virtually any other tool in the inbound marketing and content marketing toolbox.
How Do Customer Testimonials Work?
Customer reviews and testimonials succeed based on two fundamental principles: the first is a concept called social proof, and the second is transparency.
Social proof is a behavioral phenomenon where people will copy or emulate the behavior of others when they are unsure of the correct behavior or action to take. This is particularly important to note the psychological state of those that emulate the behavior of others. They are in an insecure state of “not knowing,” like any one of us who is unsure which company or brand to trust.
When we see happy customers having a positive experience, we are much more likely to follow suit. The more positive the experience or recommendation, the more aligned we become with a particular brand.
Transparency is another critical component of the testimonial because it helps to establish trust quickly. A customer’s success stories can offer keen insights into what we can expect from a company or brand, its core values, how they handle or resolve service issues, and the trust others have established with a particular brand or service.
Establishing trust is critical to conversion rates. People know the difference between marketing and sales and the authentic account from customer feedback.
In the information age, the marketing ecosystem is so overcrowded with messaging that brands need a way to rise above the din quickly. In many cases, consumers make their purchase decisions based on the recommendation of a respected friend, coworker, or audience on social media.
In 2022, consumers hold tremendous leverage in businesses’ operations because they have immediate platforms to express their pleasure or frustration with any company in the marketplace.
Trustpilot conducted a study and found that 89% of people consult company reviews and testimonials before committing to a purchase. This new era of consumer power has created a self–sustaining model where people feel comfortable trusting the opinions and recommendations of strangers because the system itself is based on transparency.
If a patron has a good experience at a restaurant, they post about it. If they have a bad experience, they post about that too. Establishing trust and social proof is essential to doing business in this new era. Without it, companies will struggle. Even if you have an outstanding product or service but no real way of demonstrating a high level of customer satisfaction or trust, your business is likely to struggle.
The Difference Between Reviews and Testimonials
Testimonials and reviews are often mistaken for the other, understandably. However, they are similar in many ways, with one distinct difference. Testimonials are requested and procured by a company or business from their customer database. In contrast, reviews are unsolicited and brokered by an independent party such as Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook, or another review site.
From a customer’s perspective, both have intrinsic value. Still, the testimonial is of far greater importance to a business because a review can be negative, whereas a testimonial is always positive.
There are various types of testimonials, such as case study testimonials, social media testimonials, quote testimonials, and video testimonials.
No matter the type, they frequently include much more detail than a review and explore deeper reasons why the customer chose to do business with the brand and how it solved a problem. Unfortunately, reviews tend toward brevity, and although brands can respond online to a review, it is often from a defensive perspective rather than framing their brand in a positive light.
On the surface, it might appear that reviews would be more trustworthy simply because it is an unsolicited opinion. Still, people tend to trust testimonials more because reviews can easily be faked when anyone can post.
Asking for Customer Testimonials
Including customer testimonials in your inbound strategy requires asking for and collecting them from your delighted customers. Here are a few tips to get you started:
Money Loves Speed, Act Fast!
You know the expression, “Make hay while the sun is shining?” The same is true of testimonials. They are fleeting, so asking for a testimonial immediately after the sale is essential. If your customer is happy, they will say yes most of the time.
Enlist Your Advocates.
As a business owner, you know your customers well. If someone is always complimenting your services or singing your praises, leverage that momentum into a testimonial.
Take the Buyers Journey.
As business owners, we build relationships with real people. It’s rarely just a “one and done” kind of scenario. Follow your customers along their buyer’s journey and request a testimonial along their cycle. The more you stay in touch with your customers, the easier it is to ask for their praise!
Delight Your Customers.
All businesses have areas that need work. Occasionally this results in a customer service issue. How you deal with that issue and resolve it for your customer determines their confidence level in your brand. Every business has customer service issues. Make your customers a priority by resolving problems quickly, and you will have their support.
Push the Easy Button.
Let’s face it. It can be a bit awkward to ask for a testimonial. A more straightforward approach is to ask your customers how things are going and what value they received from your product or service.
Take their comments, create a summary, and email it to them, asking for permission to post this as a testimonial.
Customize your Questions.
Customers are like snowflakes. No two are alike. Take your knowledge about each customer and create a short list of customized questions tailored to their personal experience. For example, you might ask:
- What made you choose our brand?
- What challenges did you encounter, if any?
- What did our team do to help remove those challenges to create success?
- In a couple of sentences, how would you characterize our brand?
- Would you recommend us to a friend or coworker, and why?
Placing Your Customer Testimonials
Once you have procured a handful of glowing testimonials, you’ll need to place them for maximum impact within your brand ecosystem. Here are some excellent options for posting your testimonials:
Within Your Campaign Emails & Newsletters.
Your campaign emails and newsletters are the perfect places to add testimonials. Your campaigns are the driver of conversion, and a well place testimonial can go a long way in getting your leads and prospects to the finish line in their buyer’s journey.
They not only help with conversion, but they also help turn your existing customers into your best brand evangelists. Positive feedback from other customers helps to galvanize your current customers’ decision to do business with you. They, in turn, can become your next testimonial…and the cycle continues.
Social Media Graphics.
Punch up your Facebook or Instagram with a strong graphic, photo of your customer, and testimonial. Social media is a great way to leverage lead-generation landing pages and a captive audience. Testimonials serve as advertising without the advertising!
On Your Website and Landing Pages
81% of customers begin their product research online, specifically on your website. This is your first chance to make an excellent impression on a potential customer and stand above the competition. Testimonials help to demonstrate how your product or service has made someone’s life easier. A picture is worth a thousand words! A photo of your customer smiling along with their caption resonates at a visceral and subconscious level.
If you would like to learn more about how you can leverage customer testimonials to power your financial marketing game, we’d love to show you how. Reach out today to schedule a call and let’s discuss the possibilities.
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