Customer testimonials and reviews are some of the most important components of a comprehensive Internet marketing strategy.
When used effectively, organic recommendations and endorsements from your customers are instrumental in building your brand and growing your business.
Why Testimonials Are So Effective
A customer’s own words of endorsement are a powerful way to build trust and overcome the skepticism that prevents prospects from making the decision to patronize your business.
Customer endorsements resonate with your prospects even more when they can relate to the individual providing the recommendation.
This is especially true if you or your staff differs demographically from your primary customer base. If your ideal client is a teenager or college student, for example, a testimonial from a peer will be much more influential than your sales pitch.
How Endorsements Benefit You
First of all, testimonials and reviews prove to your prospects that other people have purchased your products or used your services and have been satisfied.
When someone visits your store or place of business, they have the opportunity to see other shoppers making purchases or partaking in your services. In the online environment, however, your prospects have little opportunity for the same validation.
Reviews and recommendations from other customers send a strong message that your business really does live up to its promises. This level of organic credibility is difficult to achieve in any other way.
Perhaps best of all, these authentic endorsements are free.
Human nature makes most of us naturally inclined to help others. Assuming you make the process simple and fun for them, your satisfied customers will be more than happy to acknowledge and help you in this way.
Don’t Be Afraid to Get Creative
Historically, businesses have added testimonials pages to their websites, or featured customer comments strategically throughout their content. Be careful that yours don’t become lost in the information overload that bombards your prospects at every turn.
Offer your customers a variety of options for providing their testimony. Video is a highly effective medium, but audio comments and photographs are helpful as alternatives to text as well.
It’s never wise to bribe your customers for endorsements (more on that below), but it isn’t necessary either — they usually will be honored that you asked them for a recommendation. Explain how important their patronage and support is to your company, and tell them you want the world to share in their enthusiasm.
Don’t be shy about asking for detail. A customer’s words of assurance that yours is a great company are nice, but your prospects want more.
Ask your clients to share in their testimonial how your product or service solved a problem in their lives. Ask them to describe the benefits of doing business with your company or some their favorite product features.
Some Brief Words of Warning
To keep it ethical as well as legal, always be sure to get your customers’ permission to use their testimonial as well as their name, company name and (if applicable) logo in any of your marketing materials.
You can edit a testimonial for length, but not if doing so changes the essence of the message. And, if your customer should (heaven forbid) become dissatisfied in the future, honor any request to remove his or her message from your marketing materials as soon as possible.
Sidestep legal trouble by avoiding the temptation to make up endorsements. It’s also usually ill-advised to bribe your clients with a freebie in exchange for their recommendation.
Strive to really earn those testimonials, and your customers will be more than willing to provide them!
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