Testimonials seem to be one of the most successful and cost-effective marketing strategies, and they are rapidly gaining popularity for this reason. In this article, we shall explain how to implement this technique more effectively and describe three customer testimonial examples that have proven to be most successful so far.
We shall also highlight pros and cons of these variations and provide some guidelines for identifying, researching and targeting your potential audience as efficiently as possible. And in the end, we shall briefly mention some customer relationship management software, such as Bitrix24, for instance, that can help you achieve these goals more successfully and with less effort.
Basically, a testimonial refers to somebody's personal review of your products or services that the person posts in the public media domain. An example of testimonial posts would be an expression of gratitude by one of your ex-customers for some good work you have done for him. These reviews could also be negative, though, which we shall come to a little later in this article.
Effectively, this strategy becomes a very convenient way to advertise your enterprise or promote your services, and it is becoming increasing more common these days. It also happens to be a relatively easy way to learn more about a product before making up your mind on whether you would like to buy it.
Yelp!, for example, which is one of the most popular social platforms for browsing customer reviews about companies, boasts more than 70 million readers per month. Which suggests that consumers tend to rely more and more on this source of information, and exploring this self-promotion strategy may have become indispensable for any successful economic or public activity.
Several reputable agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission, for instance, have conducted some statistically significant research of the potential customers behaviour, and it may help to know what they have to say on the subject. It turns out that, despite the obvious drawbacks of this source of information, it is one of the most commonly used ones by modern consumers. Basically, there have been two important statistical conclusions so far.
There seem to be two most common types of people when it comes to deciding whether to do or not to do something. The first one is subject to social pressure to a very high degree, and public opinion, as well as the opinions of significant others, become the most significant factors affecting his decisions. Such a person will care more about what others think of your product than he will about its quality.
The opposite type is relatively independent from the external influences and will be more concerned with the product's attributes instead. Needless to say, this type will care a lot less about whatever testimonials you might show him than his antipode would, unless it is a reliable review of the product specifications.
Incidentally, this highlights a very important aspect of an effective testimonial composition. Basically, both types are pretty accessible as long as you speaks to them in the right kind of language:
1. In the first case, it is the public hype and peer pressure that will convince the person to buy something. And the testimonial will be especially effective if it is:
● Easy to comprehend
● Unequivocal or even peremptory in tone
● Very visual and entertaining in format
2. The second type will want to know and evaluate the technical characteristics and financial benefits of the product in question, and the hype that his antipode so easily falls for will just as easily put this person off for good. Instead, he wants to see a testimonial that consists of:
● Facts and figures
● Video demonstrations of the product in action
● References to reputable sources
● Reviewer's credentials suggesting his credibility
The other significant discovery made by the researchers in the field may be very interesting from the psychological perspective, and it is definitely relevant to the subject of our discussion. In simple terms, it can be expressed as follows: when it comes to choosing between their senses and social pressure, the overwhelming majority of people will abide by public opinion.
Surveys conducted by Yelp!, Instagram, TripAdvisor, Twitter and Google Maps reveal that more than 90% of consumers rely on the testimonials published on these and similar sites as the most influential source of information about a product. In other words, those reviews will be more important to at least nine out of ten of your potential customers than the actual attributes of the products and services you try to promote.
Furthermore, almost all of those socially susceptible respondents (88%, to be precise) have confessed that testimonials on social media platforms are more important to them than the opinions of their family members and close friends! Now you know what to do the next time your sister asks you to recommend a good boutique: there is no point telling her what you think about it; instead, look it up on TrustPilot, and it will mean a lot more to her.
A word of caution is in order here: it has become common knowledge that an annoyingly high percentage of reviews are fake, written by copywriters for a ridiculous remuneration. The legislation has adjusted accordingly, trying to weed those fakes out, but it does not seem to be doing a good job so far. Some review sites have introduced the idea of verification reports, but many of them have now started selling those reports for additional fees.
This issue is very important to keep in mind when you decide on which of the types of testimonials that we will be describing later in this article best suit your purposes, as well as when you think of the best ways to compose the reviews. Basically, you should take into account the fact that your target audience is aware of the issue, and that most of your potential customers will follow the two most commonly accepted rules of thumb:
1. Positive reviews are most probably, though not necessarily, false.
2. Negative reviews are most probably, though not necessarily, true.
Frustrating as this situation might be for a decent entrepreneur, he has to accept it for what it is, so that he can figure out how to overcome the obstacles on his way to his target audience and let them know what he really has to offer. And now that we have some general ideas on the subject, let us get closer to the business of implementing this self-marketing strategy, before we discuss different types of testimonials in more detail.
In practical terms, the job of building your testimonial database consists of four distinct yet interrelated tasks, namely:
1. Composing effective reviews best suited for your target audience
2. Mastering different types of testimonials that have proven to be effective in the past
3. Collecting natural feedback written by your actual customers
4. Searching for optimal software providers, like Bitrix24, that can assist you with this job and apply thier professional experience and various digital tools in their possession to research your audience more constructively and come up with more effective testimonials
All four tasks are equally important for the ultimate success of your enterprise, and we will now discuss each one separately.
Several guidelines have proven to be helpful in writing effective reviews, so let us have a look at them one by one.
This is, probably, the most invaluable piece of advice that could be given on the subject. Let us face it, your hypothetical reader will most likely not want to spend too much time with your review, or he might not even have enough time to do it, even if he wanted to. Furthermore, his mind may be too occupied with myriads of things to concentrate on it properly.
How do you keep your review short and clear? Well, the answer is as simple as the question:
● Write what you understand must be written.
● When you have done that, stop writing.
It may sound banal, but too many cumbersome testimonials come as a result of either not knowing what to say or not understanding when to stop.
As a variation on the theme, we may remember the Chinese saying that seeing one thing works better than hearing one hundred words. Sometimes, it helps to ask yourself, are you sure you want to say it at all? Perhaps, it would be better just to show it:
● It occupies less space
● It takes less time
● Most importantly, it is easier to grasp
Now, we do not want to suggest that video testimonials (of which you will read more below) work better than texts. But a text could aim at different sense organs, and sometimes a tale can bend its tail until there is no mouse to go for the cheese. The bottom line is, it is often more practical to describe than to explain.
Your potential customer will most likely read a comment about your products or services with the following four questions in mind:
● What did your customer writing the review want to get from you?
● Did he get it?
● What makes you different from your competitors?
● How does your customer feel about you and your services?
This guideline works closely with the first one and, in fact, provides the optimal answer to it. This is precisely what well-composed customer testimonial examples should say. In other words: I wanted to get this and that, and I did get it, and it was much better than it would have been otherwise, and I feel so and so about you and your service.
The SEO surveys reveal that the vast majority of people do not spend more than a couple of minutes on anything, even if it is something interesting and practically significant. In other words, the most effective testimonials are the ones that fit into 50-60 words maximum.
Most people tend to respond a lot better to reviews written in a very informal and personal manner, as opposed to heavily professional and cut-and-dry reports, which would most likely make them yawn.
The exception is a very serious reader who knows what he wants and is looking for product specifications to decide wether it is the right stuff for him. Otherwise, a testimonial written in a free conversational style will appeal to the vast majority of your potential customers, especially if there will be a lot of typical grammar mistakes in it as well.
In addition, you can personalize it by including some logos or even photos to make the reader feel like he is talking to a real person. For example, a review posted by someone with a real face in his avatar will get a much better response than if there was a picture of a bikini or some kind of fantasy graphics in it.
This final guideline is the one that many entrepreneurs tend to overlook. But the truth is, readers can sense a fake even when they do not consciously understand that they are reading one. No matter how ingenious a copywriter you might be, your review will never compare to the one written by an actual customer speaking from his personal experience.
Which bring us to the next task on our list, namely how to collect natural feedback. But before we proceed with it, one clarification may be necessary here.
If you have been with us through our discussion so far, you may have started having a nagging suspicion that we are trying to explain to you how you can manipulate the reader to choose your services? Are we writing about effective techniques of deceiving your target audience? In fact, we are not. We simply draw your attention to the formal aspects of testimonial composition.
That is, we are looking at it from the artistic perspective. Suppose you ask your friend what he thinks about shrimps from Burger King, and he says that they are fine. Well, is that it? Is that all he can say say about it? Now, your friend is not lying, and Burger King shrimps are really fine, no doubt.
The problem is, you probably wanted to hear a little more about them so that you could decide whether you would like to order them. It is very much like a video of a party that you could make with your smartphone camera. The party was great, but the question is, who will want to watch this video, except for your friends on Facebook?
In other words, one truly big question for us at this stage is, how could we collect a good amount of testimonials that would be both natural and convincing at the same time?
In fact, there are several ways to do that, and you can use them all for the best effect.
First, you can browse the feedback you receive from your actual customers and save the ones that happen to be well-composed naturally. Some people seem to have a knack for writing good texts, or it may have been sheer luck. In any case, this is the best scenario, of course, and we hope there would be more of those, as we would have less work to do in that case.
One thing you could do to increase the chances that their testimonials will come closer to what you would like them to be is ask your clients specific questions. In fact, many people will even prefer to leave feedback in that format, since it is a lot easier that answering an open-ended question. And you will only need to think of which questions your target audience has on their minds.
Alternatively, you can ask you clients if they do not mind that you will edit the feedback they send you, to make it sound more suitable for your target audience. In that case, you should promise them that you will show them the edited version before posting it so that they can see that their message has not been distorted. The chances are, they will be perfectly all right with that in most cases.
This is a very simple idea, yet it works miracles. You will be surprised how much your customers will be willing to do for you in exchange for a small discount or a voucher. Besides, you are asking them to tell you what they really think, so you actually kill two birds that way: getting more testimonials for your collection and learning how well you are doing. And it is more decent than paying a copywriter for some blatant lie anyway.
In this section, we will introduce three types of testimonials that have proven to be very effective, and you can decide for yourself which ones seem most suitable for your business needs and personal preferences. We will briefly describe each type and share some ideas on how to use it most effectively.
This is probably one of the most frequent and straightforward types, and it also happens to be the most favoured one by search engines for SEO purposes. After all, social forums are there for people to share ideas about their common needs, and most users visit those platforms to learn something about the products and services that they currently need.
Your testimonial could be a short description of what you have to offer, a video interview with one of your customers or just a photo of your product, but whatever form it takes, make sure to take care of the following:
1. The presentation must be most casual, relaxed and engaging, and it should not take longer than a minute to finish with it, since nobody will have time for you past that limit.
2. In the case of somebody else posting the testimonial, it should be a real person with an active account, real-face avatar and all other attributes of a genuine social profile.
This is another most obvious and effective type as your potential audience will most likely want to know whether:
● Experts in the field know about you, in the first place
● What they think of the quality of your services and products
It could be some reputable site, like Forbes, Wikipedia and Rotten Tomatoes, or an extremely influential person who has been commonly accepted as the "word of truth" on the subject. In any case, there will be two factors to keep in mind if you choose to use this type of testimonial:
1. The fraud industry being as widespread as it is these days, you should expect your audience to be more or less sceptical about anybody's "feedback" in public domain (see our section on Scam), and you will dowell not to compromise your reputation by posting your reviews on some dubious site.
2. The truly knowledgeable and reliable authorities, whether sites or individuals, will most likely not care about your money or anything else, except their reputation and the subject of their expertise, so you will actually have to deserve the privilege of being mentioned by them at all. That is why they are trusted, after all, and their word is definitely worth striving to earn.
This is another example of testimonial posts that is rapidly gaining popularity these days, and there seem to be three main reasons for it. For one thing, seeing how something works has a much greater impact than reading about it. In addition, the presence of a real person in the video makes the presentation a lot more personalized and alive.
Apart from that, people do not really want to read anything these days anyway. Even in the case of an interesting book, most people will probably prefer to hear it as an audio file instead of actually reading it on paper. Our ears seem to be replacing our eyes as our primary sense organ, and YouTube is gradually becoming more popular as a source of information than Wikipedia or even TrustPilot.
Now, producing a video requires a lot more effort and investment than merely posting a comment on a social media platform, but it is definitely worth doing for the ultimate success of your enterprise. There are two golden rules for producing an effective video testimonial:
1. Do not try to economise on the quality.
A video testimonial is an extremely powerful self-marketing technique, and you would like it to look as impressive and professional as possible. Besides, most people find a poor-quality video almost unbearable to watch, and it can put them off for good, so making a low-budget investment will be totally counterproductive in this case.
2. Use videos in conjunction with other methods.
In other words, do not think of the video as a type of testimonial at all, using it only as a presentation format instead. It could be a visual demonstration of your product in action or a discussion of your services with some authoritative person in the field. It will work a lot better that way, and you can save some money by pooling your investments instead of using them for each type of testimonials separately.
As you might have guessed by now, successful implementation of this self-marketing strategy requires a lot of experience and skill. Furthermore, it depends on proper identification and research of the most suitable target audience for your enterprise.
In case you find the task too daunting, or you have no time or knack for it, you will be relieved to know that there are plenty of excellent CRM software providers on the internet who will be glad to do the job for you. In fact, it is probably a good idea to apply for their services in any case, in conjunction with the other three projects that we have discussed in the section on General Strategic Plan.
Moreover, some professional, experienced and reputable companies, like Bitrix24, will offer you lots of additional business management services, from leads generation and HR management to documentation processing and project management. This way, you can outsource the testimonial composition and other auxiliary functions to reliable experts and focus on the more fundamental aspects of your economic activity instead.
Your clients' reviews about your services and products can serve as a very powerful tool for promoting your enterprise. However, you will first need to understand your target audience, in both marketing and psychological terms, and master the basic skills of effective testimonial composition.
And while you are doing that, you can also start building your collection of good customer testimonial examples and select the sites where you would like to post them. Besides, if you would like to involve some knowledgeable professionals in the process, there are plenty of highly experienced and reliable providers who you can outsource part of the work to, and all that for a comparatively low fee too.