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Customer testimonials: let your fans inspire your prospects

Blog
October 18, 2018

When you’re looking into new products, services and businesses, you probably find yourself clicking through countless websites, scouring online review sites and asking friends and family members for their opinions.

Know what? Your prospective customers are doing the very same thing.

Before buying anything new from you, your prospects need to know whether your product(s), service(s) and organization are worthy of their time, effort and money. So how do you tell your prospects how great you are without sounding phony and/or overconfident? With testimonials from your existing customers.

Let your customers’ opinions educate and persuade your prospects

If you’re not asking your customers for testimonials (along with permission to use them in your marketing efforts), you’re missing a HUGE opportunity to boost your bottom line. Customer testimonials are free, reliable and invaluable in convincing prospects of your greatness.

Your prospects want to shop smart. And they want you to make them feel smart for choosing you. Let your current customers tell them exactly what elevates you and your products above the rest. Then, invite your new customers to tell others why they made the smart decision to buy from—and stick with—you.

Four reasons testimonials can significantly impact your sales

Even with the continued growth of online shopping, “word of mouth” still means something when it comes to buying decisions. In fact, the leading global information, data and measurement company Nielsen reports that approximately 60% of Americans are putting content online, and that most consumers trust opinions/reviews from family and friends over advertising or businesses. That’s why testimonials are so important. Testimonials let your customers communicate important information to your prospects, even if they’ve never met and likely never will.

  1. Testimonials build trust. Despite your best intentions, your prospects may not trust you at first. You’ve got to earn their trust, and testimonials help greatly. Without concrete, credible evidence to the contrary, prospects may figure you’re in business just to make a profit. And they won’t just “take your word for it” that you’re not. Prospects will, however, take your satisfied customers’ word(s) about your company’s trustworthiness and value, since your customers already know you and appreciate you. Plus, your customers likely have no agenda, other than sharing their opinions and/or experience with others.

Testimonials from your existing customers also show that you’re interested in building relationships with ALL your customers, rather than just selling them something.

  1. Consumers increasingly base buying decisions on experience, rather than product or service attributes/descriptions. Today, more than ever before, people choose products and services based on others’ experiences and how they can relate to those experiences. This is primarily because the Internet gives people countless sites on which to post written, photo and video comments and reviews—individual business websites, collective review sites like Yelp (see sidebar) and social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Companies of all types are also increasingly using influencer marketing to educate and inspire prospects; they’re asking enthusiastic users/customers to tell others about their firsthand experiences through video blogs, Instagram posts, Facebook posts and/or tweets.  

Prospects can quickly, easily find and explore literally thousands of reviews, blogs and social media posts about virtually anything they’re thinking of buying. In exploring customer testimonials, your prospects will “put themselves in your customers’ shoes,” to determine whether your product or service can create unique and beneficial experiences in their own lives.

  1. Testimonials evoke emotion because they are built on emotion. And thankfully, emotion drives ACTION. When you can connect with your prospects and your existing customers on an emotional level, you’re more likely to gain new and repeat sales. Essentially, when people feel something, they’re more likely to buy something. And customers who feel good buy more frequently.

Powerful emotions—especially humor, sadness and excitement—boost testimonials’ impact. When choosing which testimonials to use in representing your business, consider the following examples:

  • “This dress made me the hit of my class reunion… I never looked this good in high school.”

vs.

“Your red cocktail dress looked nice on me.”

  • “You made my family feel so welcome and comfortable when our dog needed surgery.”

vs.

“You took good care of our dog.”

  • “I just adore your dark-roast coffee! It makes every day better!”

vs.

“Your dark-roast coffee is delicious.”

The longer, more descriptive testimonials offer more insight and more FEELING people can actually relate to and act upon. The shorter testimonials, while still valuable to educating your prospects, simply don’t inspire as much joy or action as the longer, more emotional testimonials.

  1. Testimonials tell stories customers enjoy and relate to. People love stories. Stories help us relate to the people in our daily lives and to the world at large, and they can lead to buying decisions. In fact, science has proven that the human brain is “wired” to focus on and appreciate stories, and that when the brain is focused on a good story, distractions have minimal—if any—effect.

People also enjoy placing themselves in stories, especially stories with a “hero” who gets a “win.” When relatable, story-style testimonials illustrate how your business helped individual “hero” customers achieve success, customers stay engaged and prospects see their chance to become heroes themselves (with your help, of course).

10 terrific testimonial tips

  • Make giving testimonials easy. On your website, include a short “comments/share your story” form, a prominent “contact us” section, and social media icons that encourage shoppers to visit your accounts and leave comments there. You can also send out short email surveys asking for feedback. And if you have sufficient staff and time, consider contacting your customers directly (and regularly).
  • Thank your testimonial contributors. At the very least, send a quick message acknowledging their comments.
  • Gather testimonials from ALL your customer segments/target customers. This gives prospects the broadest picture of what you can do for them.
  • Use “meaty” testimonials that highlight product or service specifics. “This jewelry box is awesome,” while positive, doesn’t really say much and readers may just gloss over it. “This jewelry box has 4 drawers that snap shut and stay shut, so I can store my earrings without worrying about them falling out and getting lost.” is much better because it’s illustrative and relatable.
  • Maximize your testimonials’ reach with placement on your website, blog, social media channels, brochures, press releases, proposals, etc. Be sure you have your contributors’ written permission before publicizing their insights.
  • Don’t make up testimonials from fake customers. This deceptive practice can harm your credibility and reputation.
  • Do not alter original testimonial content unless doing so eliminates redundancies or corrects spelling errors. The more realistic the testimonial, the more relatable and effective. Plus, you may run into legal issues if you inadvertently change the context or meaning of an original testimonial.
  • Respond to negative testimonials honestly and courteously, and use them as learning experiences. Don’t immediately remove negative comments from your sales channels, because prospects and customers alike will see your effort to change/improve and respect you for it. Besides, if your company displays only positive reviews/comments, customers and prospects may become skeptical and decide to shop elsewhere. Also, your fans and advocates will likely “come to your rescue” by responding to negative posts with positive messages. When paired with your response, these “rescue” testimonials can shine a bright, positive light on your brand.
  • Invite customers to contribute testimonial videos or photos to your social media channels or your website. In addition to showing the actual end result of using your product or service, they offer “social proof” from satisfied customers. Videos also let prospects see and react to tone of voice and body language. If enough of your customers share photos and/or videos, you can even use them as source material for future marketing campaigns.
  • Refresh your testimonials regularly to give prospects and customers new perspectives to drive additional sales. 

Are you using your satisfied customers’ words to their fullest potential? You know your customers love you, so why not let them help you tell the world how great you truly are?! Not sure where to begin? Contact your marketing team or agency for assistance with putting your customers’ testimonials to work for you. They’ll help you choose the right channels, make gathering testimonials a breeze and ultimately boost your bottom line.

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