For as long as marketers have sold products, they’ve sought customer testimonials. In the age of social media, testimonials have transformed, but they still serve the core purpose of establishing trust between seller and buyer.
The importance of testimonials
If you’ve ever written or delivered an elevator pitch, you know it should be brief. Yet experts recommend including customer testimonials even in this very quick form of communication — that’s how critical testimonials are in telling your brand story. Using customer testimonials in your pitch shows that your business is credible, notes the Neeley School of Business at Texas Christian University. And, testimonials can tell compelling stories about your business through the eyes of your customers.
With the frenetic pace of marketing today, it’s critical that we create personal stories to make our customers and prospective customers pause. I recommend soliciting testimonials from customers who’ve had a great experience interacting with your brand.
The power of social media
Testimonials have always served to provide the peer-to-peer recommendations that attract customers. But today’s social content is even more powerful because of the idea of “safety in numbers,” North Seattle College reports. Social media users believe that other users endorse your product or service because they want to, not because you’ve asked them to.
Endorsements from regular consumers serve to persuade other prospective buyers, according to a study in the Journal of Advertising Research. Testimonials lend credibility, humanize products and services, add a variety of perspectives and promote social sharing.
Channels for requesting testimonials
Sometimes you’ll have a great customer who takes the initiative of providing a testimonial. But typically, you’ll need to ask. When I look at companies’ overall marketing programs, I see many opportunities for asking for testimonials.
- Your website: When you write a new blog post or article for your website, include a blurb at the bottom that engages your readers in conversation. You might ask if customers have had a similar experience to what you’ve shared and request that they comment below. You can provide commenters with an option to allow you to use their comments elsewhere in your marketing program.
- Social media: When you post a link to an article or a thought for the day, ask for commentary. If you receive an especially compelling comment, you can contact the person who posted privately to seek permission to use the comment elsewhere.
- E-mail marketing: In your e-newsletter and other e-mail communications, be sure to ask that customers contact you if they’ve had a great experience they’d allow you to share.
- Personal interactions: If a customer relays a great experience, ask if they’d be willing to provide a testimonial.
Ask the right questions
I advise clients to create a survey with standard questions that will result in a great testimonial. Once your survey is complete, create a printed version, and set it up on a web page with a link you can e-mail or send via social media or chat.
Your survey should include open-ended, journalism-style questions that encourage the subject to speak freely. For instance:
- Please describe your experience with our company.
- How did the interaction make you feel?
- How have you shared this information with others?
Promotional ideas to increase response rates
To increase response rates to your requests for testimonials, you can use any number of incentives. MarketingProfs recommends offering a prize for the funniest customer testimonial video posted on YouTube. Other incentives to consider:
- Raffles or drawings for a desirable prize.
- Program points.
- Gifts, vouchers or discounts on products.
With so much noise in today’s digital landscape, your marketing program needs a way to break through the clutter. Customer testimonials humanize your business and tell attractive, compelling stories. If you’re not already using testimonials, I hope you’ll incorporate some of the tips I’ve shared here to add a personal touch to your marketing.