After seeing some art that didn’t strike him as very impressive, a 17-year-old visiting the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art decided to test a theory. He set a pair of glasses on the floor in front of a blank wall and walked away. Soon visitors started hovering around them, maintaining a safe distance and even taking pictures. The teenager proved that people in an art museum will stare at anything. But he also demonstrated an important human behavior, one your business can tap into using testimonials.
We’re not here to discuss art, fake art, or unintentionally creating performance art like that 17-year-old. Instead, let’s take a look at what makes a good testimonial, how to get one, and how to leverage it in your marketing strategy.
Why Is Social Proof Important?
Humans look for social proof to determine correct behavior. It may have been subconscious, but the gallery visitors looked to each other to decide how to respond to the “art.” They felt validated in viewing the glasses as a “real” exhibit because they saw each other doing the same thing.
Social proof is a learning tool that’s been around since the Stone Age. But now, people aren’t figuring out how to make fire. They’re using the reviews of other customers to determine if a product or service is worth their money or time (except when they’re looking at a pair of glasses on the floor).
A review is simply a person’s opinion organized to give social proof to others… at least, that’s the idea. On the internet, you can find reviews for just about anything, from films to restaurants to the best frog emoji styles. As a business, you have little control over the reviews people give you. They can be good or bad, accurate or completely off-base.
Regardless of their accuracy, reviews make an impact. According to BrightLocal, positive reviews about a company make 91 percent of consumers more likely to do business with them. 82 percent of people are put off by negative reviews. What’s more, 85 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust recommendations from friends and family. That’s social proof in action!
Testimonials: Making Good Reviews
A testimonial isn’t like other reviews. It’s a message from a satisfied customer that you’ve sought out directly. You have control over what’s in it and you choose when and where to deploy it. Using testimonials, you can put social proof to work to generate leads and convert customers.
The right questions make a good testimonial. You don’t want to ask for a testimonial and get “loved it 5 stars” or a thumbs-up emoji in response. You want genuine guidance to pass on to new customers. Make a list of open-ended questions that can’t be answered with “yes” or “no,” like these:
- How has my product or service saved you time, money, or hassle?
- What’s the biggest benefit you’ve seen to using my product or service?
- What would you tell someone who’s considering purchasing this?
Don’t be afraid to experiment with different formats like audio or video. People have a stronger reaction to visual material than written. Try creating a quick testimonial interview with willing customers. You’ll want to prep this beforehand and let customers know exactly what you’ll be asking so they can formulate a good answer.
How To Ask for a Testimonial
To start getting testimonials, you’ll need to find customers who are willing to write them. There are two approaches to asking for testimonials, one favoring quantity and the other quality.
The most accessible way to get testimonials is through a mass-gathering system. Email each customer a request for a testimonial shortly after they’ve made their purchase. Once they’ve had enough time to form an opinion about your product, they might be willing to write a testimonial for you.
The best way to get testimonials is by identifying your best customers and building rapport with them, something that is also part of a good customer retention strategy. People who buy from or interact with you repeatedly will be more willing or even eager to evangelize your brand to others. Asking them directly also shows that you value their opinion and further strengthens your bond with them, both personally and as a brand. If you’re in regular dialogue with your best customers, asking them for a testimonial can be a natural part of the conversation.
Using Your New Testimonials
Getting the good word of your customers in front of as many eyes as possible should be a central part of your marketing strategy, but do some editing first. You don’t have to publish the testimonial exactly how you receive it. Correct any grammatical errors or spelling mistakes. Format the testimonial in a way that makes sense and highlights what the customer is trying to say. If you make any significant changes, send it back to the customer for approval. You don’t want to edit it so much that you’re putting words in their mouth.
Now where do you put it? Here are our suggestions:
- On your Home, About, and Contact pages: By using testimonials on your Home page, you’ll be placing glowing reviews front and center for your visitors to see. You can also validate your About page with supporting testimonials, or use them to let customers know how great and prompt your customer service is via the Contact page.
- Alongside your Calls To Action: A good CTA is the crux of your marketing effort. The encouraging words of another customer can give it the extra oomph it needs. Paired with a CTA, a testimonial can be a powerful conversion driver to get potential customers off the fence.
- On product or service pages: Testimonials next to products can provide powerful social proof that might convince customers to make a purchase. This is especially true if the testimonial specifically mentions the product or service. The biggest takeaway here is to try to find places for testimonials where their message is relevant.
- On your blog: People reading your blog are potential customers. While your blog is a great way to put your expertise on display, incorporate testimonials to back it up. However, you don’t want to break the flow of your blog content, so we recommend placing testimonials in a sidebar. That way they’re noticeable but not distracting.
- In emails: An email marketing campaign is one of your most direct links to potential customers. Placing testimonials in your emails is a good way to encourage them to not only read the email but follow through on with the email’s CTA.
- On social media: Using testimonials in your social media marketing is a great way to get good reviews in front of a larger audience. Pair them with visuals and use them in your Instagram marketing or turn them into Tweets. You can also incorporate them into your paid social media advertising, ensuring the word really does get out. YouTube is a great place for video testimonials, but you can also feature them on your website.
- In printed marketing materials:Your customers aren’t looking at their phones or computers all the time. Physical marketing, like brochures, billboards, or in-store signage, is a great place to add testimonials. Testimonials can help your printed marketing convince people to visit your website or fulfill non-digital calls to action, like visiting your store.
Testimonials are an essential part of marketing because they utilize your customers’ voices rather than yours. They provide potential customers with social proof that your brand is worth their time and money. People listen to the recommendations of their peers, so show them that their peers love your brand by using testimonials in your marketing strategy.