Customer testimonials can be a powerful marketing tool. A strong testimonial can boost customer trust and may even increase conversions. If you aren’t using testimonials on your website yet, we have some ideas to help you get started.
Why Testimonials Matter
Let’s start with some basics. Do testimonials even matter? A recent consumer review survey revealed that 85% of customers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Not only that, 82% of consumers look a business up online before using them. Those numbers are hard to beat. You may argue that these statistics apply to online reviews, but testimonials fall into that category. They’re just a more tailored, strategic version of an online review. Adding new testimonials to your website also provides fresh content for search engines, which can help boost your website SEO for free.
How to Ask for a Testimonial
The best time to ask your client for a testimonial is at the conclusion of a successful project. In fact, we recommend making the “ask” part of your project post-mortem process. Have the person who has the closest relationship with the client reach out, thank them again for their business, and ask if they would be willing to give a testimonial that may be used for marketing purposes. Be sure to get permission to use names and other identifying information. Your clients are busy. Make it as easy as possible for them to give you a testimonial:
- Send them an email with open-ended questions specific to areas of service you want to highlight
- Develop a survey that can be completed online in a few minutes. (Again, steer clear of questions with yes/no answers.)
Do not offer incentives for providing testimonials. Even if your motivation is truly just to encourage your clients to make time to do this for you, offering even a small incentive could be misinterpreted as an attempt to sway opinion in your favor. You don’t want that.
How to Write a Testimonial
There are a few ways to go about creating testimonials. Many companies use direct quotes from the customer to serve as the entire testimonial, which can be quite effective. People have short attention spans, especially online, so if you are writing your testimonials, keep them brief - these aren’t case studies.
It’s also important to be as specific as possible about how you helped the client in a way that sets you apart from your competition. Include names of people, organizations, and projects if you can. Video testimonials are a great, engaging option, too. Consider having them accompany, rather than replace, brief copy so you still get the SEO benefit of keywords. You might also use video testimonials in your social media marketing. It can be a great way to increase your exposure, as people share video content more often than text-based content. Check out these strong testimonial examples to get some other ideas.
Testimonials vs Online Reviews
There are varying (sometimes strong!) opinions about the value of testimonials in this age of Yelp and Google reviews. Some marketers believe they are no longer relevant, and some consumers feel you can’t trust a testimonial the same way you can trust an online review. That’s an understandable position. Companies certainly have far more control over the testimonials on their website than they do over third-party review sites. However, online reviews give your business the chance to demonstrate strong customer service by the way you respond to positive reviews and address unhappy customers. Our position is that the best scenario for a business is to have a combination of strong testimonials on their website and third-party reviews from Google, Yelp, and others.
More Testimonials Tips
Here are additional ways to get the most impact from testimonials:
- Be strategic about placement on your site. Testimonials should be visible on a mobile device and easy to find with a quick scan of the website. Consider placing individual testimonials throughout the site, especially on the home page and any page with a contact form.
- Act on the feedback you get from testimonials! The information you learn from them can be extremely valuable in improving your business processes to provide a better experience to your customers.
- “The more the merrier.” When you ask you customers for a testimonial, send them a link to leave a Google review at the same time to make it as easy as possible for them to provide their feedback.
- It’s never too late to add testimonials. Especially if your website has been built with the growth-driven design (GDD) methodology, which starts with a strong foundation that can be scaled and added to over time as additional content is needed. (Confession: Our own newly-launched GDD website doesn’t even have testimonials yet, but they are in the works for a future phase of development.)
Are you using testimonials on your website? Do you think they’re irrelevant? What are some great examples of testimonials you’ve seen recently? We love hearing from you, so talk to us in the comments!