Testimonials are an invaluable marketing tool for businesses of all sizes. An honest, engaging testimonial from a happy customer can often be the deciding factor for a wavering prospect.
One of the most important interactions a company will ever have with its existing customers is the process of getting a testimonial. Approaching someone about their experience with your company is a delicate interaction that should be handled with care. The more expertly you or your customer service representatives can handle this, the more impressive your testimonials will be — and the better they are, the more new customers you’ll get.
Guest Post by Simon Slade, CEO of Doubledot Media.
Here are some tips for ensuring your company’s testimonials live up to their fullest marketing potential.
1. Tell a Story
Your objective when getting a testimonial is to get a story. Like any marketing content, this story has to have universal appeal and meaning.
The story should explain why the customer’s experience with your company was important. This is best done in two distinct chapters: the struggle that existed before they started using your product or service, and the peace and harmony that they felt after using your product or service. This contrast should be clearly defined.
Compile a long list of questions before your interview with the customer. While you might not use all the information you get from them, you want a wealth of material to work with while crafting this content.
Details are highly important, so make your questions as specific as possible. Don’t simply ask, “Why did you buy our product?” Instead, ask, “What was your life like before you started using our product? What kind of problems were you having that our product helped you with?” These answers allow your customers to think about their experience in greater depth and provide you with details that will improve the testimonial.
2. Seek Out the Best Stories
You can find customer testimonials in a variety of places, the most obvious of which is social media. Facebook and LinkedIn provide review options, and any online selling platform will also feature reviews. Anyone who has spoken positively about your business has the potential to provide you with a great testimonial.
Some customers simply communicate more effectively than others, so it might take a few tries before you find the best story. If you leave a conversation feeling uninspired, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to turn that interview into an impressive testimonial. Connect with several customers on different outlets to find the best stories and ensure a diverse sampling of people.
That said, you don’t want your testimonials to be too diverse. Your potential customers want to hear from people they find relatable, so consider your target demographic when seeking out customers to interview.
3. Write Flawless Copy
A testimonial shouldn’t just be a block quote on the front page of a website. In fact, testimonials are most effective when much longer and more detailed than that.
A fully developed testimonial provides an opportunity for the reader (and potential customer) to become engaged in the story. The reader should start to care about the customer’s plight and be moved at how your company solved their problem.
For the best possible results, it’s important to have someone who knows how to transform an interview into a good story. If you don’t have an in-house marketing or content professional, consider outsourcing a writer for this purpose. Given the effect great testimonials can have on buyer intentions, paying for the best version of this marketing copy is sure to be money well spent.
4. Use Visuals to Increase Believability
A text testimonial, especially a well-written one, is a very powerful marketable tool. But, as with any marketing tool, images and video can increase its effectiveness.
A recorded interview can provide an extra element of trust and reality to your customer’s experience. If you have the chance to meet a customer in person, or can connect with them via webcam, take advantage of that opportunity.
At the very least, try to include a photograph of your customer with their testimonial, and always include their full name. You can also include a link to the customer’s website as an incentive for the person to talk to you about their experience.
5. Above All, Be Honest
While testimonials are undoubtedly a marketing tool for your business, they shouldn’t sound that way. These stories must be honest and real. Don’t try to fabricate or exaggerate your existing customers’ satisfaction. With these tips, it should be easy to create solid testimonials from their positive experiences with your company.
Simon Slade is CEO and co-founder of SaleHoo, an online wholesale directory of over 8,000 prescreened suppliers, and its parent company, Doubledot Media Limited, which provides seven different training and software applications to over a million customers worldwide.