The modern consumer wasn’t born yesterday. They’ve heard countless brands claim that their offering is the most revolutionary product of all time – and consumers today just aren’t buying it.
The vast majority of people with whom your company engages aren’t going to take your word at face value. You might pique their interest with exaggerated claims, but it will take much more than that for them to make a purchase.
This is where testimonials come in handy.
7 Major Benefits of Customer Testimonials
Leverage Social Proof
As a whole, customers will likely take your marketing with a grain of salt (if that). Over 40% of US consumers believe brands are less truthful than they were twenty years ago. Unfortunately, this means that even if you’re 100% honest about your product, nearly half of your target audience simply won’t believe you.
However, when people who have no affiliation with your brand share their thoughts about your product, customers will listen. 83% of consumers trust recommendations and testimonials from their peers over any other form of marketing or advertising.
Showcase the Specific Benefits of Your Offering
Incorporating customer testimonials into your pitch allows you to showcase specific aspects of your products or services (as opposed to making generic claims).
The testimonial in the screenshot above, for example, focuses on the individualized service Booker provides. Not only does the testimonial highlight one of Booker’s unique selling points, but it also adds a layer of authenticity.
Target Specific Customers
Customer testimonials allow you to target a variety of audiences at different stages of the buyer’s journey.
Bluebeam uses video case studies to illustrate how their clients use the software:
Bluebeam also provides short, text-based testimonials for not-yet converted clients:
Social proof is crucial at every stage of the sales funnel. Use a variety of testimonial formats to nurture prospective customers toward conversion.
Provide a Preview of the Customer Experience
Although your potential customers’ main focus is likely on the end result, it’s also helpful to give them an idea of what to expect throughout their experience.
Customer testimonials give an “in-the-trenches” perspective on gratified customers’ experiences. Utilize both short- and long-form testimonials so that you can provide as much detail about the typical customer experience as possible.
Use Your Customers’ Own Words
By using your previous customers’ own words within your website, sales copy, etc., you’ll appear more in touch with your current customers’ needs. Their reviews can inspire effective ad copy, social media posts, and blog articles that engage your audience.
Identify Your Best Customers and Cultivate True Loyalty
Even among your most satisfied customers, not everyone will provide a positive testimonial – but those who do can be considered some of your most valuable customers.
You’ll want to do everything you can to keep these customers on board for a long time.
The more engaged a “testifier” is, the more valuable their testimony – both to potential customers, and to your company. Testimony from highly engaged individuals provides an authentic glimpse into the customer experience, a valuable vantage point. And of course, the honest reviews only boost your credibility.
Focus on Improving
Not every testimonial will be positive; some of the most popular and successful brands in the world have one-star reviews. Even testimonials and reviews that are mostly positive may include a few comments regarding shortcomings or missteps in your services.
It’s imperative that you don’t ignore these comments. You don’t want to lose the customer who took the time to write to you in the first place, so address their concerns as quickly as possible. Beyond that, you can use the entire experience of receiving a negative comment and making the necessary improvements to generate other positive testimonials down the line.
The Principles of Showcasing Customer Testimonials
There are three important rules for using your customers’ words as marketing content. Testimonials must be true, detailed, and relate to where customers are in their journey.
1. Testimonials Must Be Authentic
Fake testimonials aren’t an option.
The main purpose for using testimonials is to build trust with potential customers. Using fake content to make your brand look good will eventually backfire.
It’s also important to only use testimonies that accurately represent the customer’s sentiments. While you may make some basic edits to their quotes, don’t put words in their mouth, take a quotation out of context, or change the quote’s meaning.
2. Testimonials Must Be Specific
Below is a generic (and fictional) testimonial, created via Testimonial Generator:
There’s no substance to this review. Anyone reading up on “ABC Company” would still have no idea what the organization does.
Now, check out these authentic and specific testimonials for BioClarity:
With three short quotes, BioClarity showcases specific examples of customer experiences, so that potential customers can confidently move forward with their purchasing decision.
3. Testimonials Must Be Appropriate
Typically, the longer and more in-depth the testimonial, the further down the sales funnel it should appear. Some testimonial formats don’t make sense in certain industries at all. If your products are relatively simple or on the low-tech side, you probably won’t have many interview-style testimonials or case studies about their life-changing effects – but you could still generate quick-hitting product reviews. Avoid using testimonials that aren’t appropriate to your product or target market.
Remember: When looking for testimonials to use on your site, stay away from generic words of praise. The more authentic, specific, and detailed your testimonials are, the more valuable they’ll be in the eyes of your audience.
There are two principal ways to collect positive testimonials:
- Ask customers to create new content
- Find previously published content on the web
Let’s take a closer look at how to approach each of these methods.
Generating New Content
With a little nudging, you can increase the chances customers will create a product review or blurb.
The first step is to outline what they’ll gain from sharing their review. Take a look at the following example from Baremetrics:
Baremetrics explains that the goal for collecting testimonials is to shine the spotlight on their successful and satisfied customers. In some niches (such as the fitness industry), successful customers want to show off their success. In others, such as the B2B realm, it’s all about how the product or service better enables the user to provide for their clients:
Consider the customers’ perspective. If they don’t stand to gain anything from providing a testimonial, they probably aren’t going to do so.
And when you do ask for their help, make it as easy as possible for them to give you what you’re looking for. Let’s go back to the example from Baremetrics:
Not only does this message make it clear that they only require a couple sentences, but Baremetrics even provides a template:
The message here is: We’ll do the legwork, you do the talking.
Finally, make sure you’re reaching out to your customers at the right time. If you’re looking to generate a product review, you probably don’t want to solicit a testimonial within 24 hours of delivery; they’ll need to spend a bit more time with it before they have anything of value to say. But, if you’re looking to get some feedback on your company’s payment and fulfillment processes, you’ll want to reach out the moment the package is delivered in full.
Finding Existing Testimonials
While you want to solicit new testimonials, you probably already have a bunch of testimonials from your customers.
Chances are, at least one of the following applies to your brand:
- Your Yelp and Google My Business pages have a decent amount of reviews
- Your brand gets mentioned on various social media platforms
- Your biggest fans have created user-generated content featuring your products
- Your satisfied customers continually talk about the same benefits and value your brand brings to the table
Always get permission before posting anything created by someone else on your site. When reaching out, you might also want to ask for clarification and/or elaboration on their comments. Err on the side of clarity to avoid turning a fan into an angry consumer.
For those who happily grant their permission, elaborate on their statements and look into whether they’re interested in collaborating with your team to create more in-depth content. If they have amazing things to say about your fitness company’s weight loss regimen, they’re a prime candidate to create a longform success story about your product.
Generating feedback and testimonials is sometimes challenging, so if you can find pre-existing positive mentions of your brand, most of the work has already been done for you.
The 6 Most Effective Customer Testimonial Formats
The simplest form of customer testimonial is the basic quote or quip from your happiest and most satisfied fans.
Typically, these customer quotes are short and to the point. Notice that the above examples link to more detailed content with additional information about these customers’ experience.
Each quote touches on a different aspect of these customers’ experiences. While all mention the value B-School brought to their lives, the testimonials all approach the subject from a different vantage point, focusing on specific ways the program helped them grow.
Short customer quotes are great because they can be sprinkled in around on your website. You can include them on your landing pages:
Product or service description pages:
Or on a customer quotes page:
Wherever you choose to place them, it should be a page that gets a high amount of traffic – you want as many people to see these succinct, hard-hitting quotes as possible.
Social Media Posts
Any time fans go out of their way to post about your brand – either on your social media pages or their personal accounts, use the praise to your advantage.
Typically, social media posts can be used in the same way as formal quotes:
Or you can focus on generating reviews on your social media pages:
Maybe you’d rather feature specific user-generated content on your site or social media hubs: Whichever approach you take, make sure you’re pointing your visitors to a specific page on your site, or sprinkling tweets, posts, and images throughout your site.
Product or Service Reviews
Depending on your industry, there are a few different ways to generate reviews.
For eCommerce companies, allow customers to review your products directly on your product pages (and post these reviews there, as well):
An active social media presence can encourage customers to review your products:
Or, check out third-party sites such as Yelp, TrustPilot, or Capterra to see what your customers are saying:
When choosing which reviews to showcase, a good rule of thumb is that depth trumps high ratings – as long as the deeper reviews are positive. A four-star review that discusses specific aspects of your brand’s services can do more for your company than a five-star review that doesn’t say all that much.
Any time your company generates positive press coverage from a reputable source, share it with prospective customers by linking to the article on your site and/or social media accounts or reposting the article or video. Just make sure you have permission from the source to republish or share the links.
Hopefully, you now have a better idea of how to generate, collect, and publish customer testimonials. Remember: When looking for testimonials to use on your site, stay away from generic words of praise. The more authentic, specific, and detailed your testimonials are, the more valuable they’ll be in the eyes of your audience.