We’ve all heard it a hundred times: people buy from people. But increasingly in this digital age, people also listen to people before making a buying decision.
As customers become more informed about your business before they even need to think about talking to the sales team, social proof is a term marketers need to familiarise themselves with.
Word of mouth marketing, as I mentioned in a previous blog, never really went away – like most other practices, it has been digitally transformed. If anything, in such a vastly connected world, word-of-mouth is only going to get more influential.
Why Use Testimonials?
According to research by Nielson 92% of people will trust a recommendation from a peer and 70% of people will trust a recommendation from someone they don’t know. This highlights the importance and power of word of mouth, and the reason it pays to delight your customers!
Think about your own preferences, experiences, buying decisions; when making a purchase, do you opt for the product or service with no, very few or poor reviews? Or do you opt for the one with many glowing reviews and happy customers? It seems obvious when we think about it in terms of our own purchasing decisions, but customer reviews, testimonials and recommendations perhaps don’t always sit at the top of our marketing priorities.
Testimonials should be genuine and authentic – the purpose of creating a well-crafted testimonial should be to give prospects and future customers a true insight of what it’s like to work with your company, or what a product is like. Yes, testimonials are curated by an interested party, however they shouldn’t be salesy, rather a true representation of what was experienced by an existing customer.
Here at Tribal we have been working with professional testimonial writer Ian Edwards, and some of our lovely clients to produce some testimonials of our own so thought we’d share a variety of ways to showcase them on your website, integrate them into your content stack and ultimately, influence the buying decisions of your customer.
1. Testimonials Web Page
It may seem obvious but having a dedicated page to collate all your testimonials is a must. There is opportunity to use snippets of your testimonials in other places on your site, however having a dedicated page means you can feature the full version in all its glory.
How to lay out your testimonials page is a whole other blog post (HubSpot have curated some fantastic examples of testimonial pages), but here are a few ideas of elements to include:
- Add some context to your testimonial. You may not have the information or permission from clients to turn testimonial into a full-blown case study, including brief, results etc. however, you can provide a link to the relevant product or service page. This ensures visitors can easily access full details of the product/ service that has been reviewed and don’t need to search through your website.
- Video! Video testimonials of course make a great addition to your website, especially on your dedicated testimonials web page. But what if you can’t get a video testimonial? It’s not always possible especially with clients having busy schedules and being remote. Any testimonial is better than no testimonial, so if you are unable to capture it on video, why not turn your written testimonial into an animation? It doesn’t need to be lengthy, just a couple of lines or snippets from your testimonial put into a short animation can make the content easily digestible and more visually appealing than a block of text. We use Biteable to create animations and it’s a great tool for something like this.
- Make your testimonial a downloadable PDF. I wouldn’t recommend putting this behind a form – a testimonial should be ‘free’ for all to see if it’s displayed openly on your website, why should people give their details to download a hard copy. Ideally, you want to make the testimonial download button a trackable CTA (call to action). At Tribal we use HubSpot so can do this easily. This allows us to see how many people are downloading the content. Not only this, we can use the download of this valuable, decision stage content, as criteria in our lead nurturing and lead scoring process and an indication of an engaged prospect.
- On the subject of CTA’s, in addition to being able to download testimonials, adding a CTA on the page to direct the visitor to the next stage of their journey is a must. You want people to stay on your website by making it easy to navigate and user friendly. Make it easy for people to contact you or progress their journey through your website. Even better, align your CTA’s with the prospects stage in the buyer journey using Smart content and CTA’s – I’ll save details on this for another blog!
I’m not talking trendy poolside shoe, I’m talking revolving thing you see on many websites. Sliders are a great way of adding multiple testimonial quotes to a section of a page – they are compact and great for displaying powerful, short quotes from your full testimonials.
These sliders make a great addition to the home and about pages of your website as they give visitors quick, easily digestible information that lends credibility to your brand.
3. Product Pages
Adding a quote, or couple of paragraphs, to product pages for which you’ve received a testimonial is a great way to showcase experience and successes of previous projects. As mentioned, people really value others’ opinions and to have validation and insights about your product or services from real people, is invaluable.
Adding a video testimonial here would work well as it’s easily consumed, edit this version to include shorter, punchy quotes to keep people engaged and entice people to watch the full testimonial.
4. Blog Posts
I read an interesting post recently on blogging for different stages of the buyer journey, I’ve always thought of blogging as an awareness stage method of communication, but that’s likely because I’m asking awareness type questions.
This blog highlights the type of questions people ask/ you need to answer in blogs for the various stages of the buyer’s journey. And if you plan to write a decision stage blog, it really needs to be decision stage, not a ‘How to...’ or ‘5 top tips…’ style blog. With this in mind, is it right to use testimonials in blogs? I think the answer is yes, but only in later stage blogs.
People looking for the answer to a ‘How to’ question, probably don’t want to know about how your company helped someone at this stage, they just want an answer to their query. However, prospects that are familiar with your brand, understand you are an option for solving their issues and perhaps are even considering purchasing from you, would likely find a snippet of testimonial in a blog about why how and why your solution is the best option, very useful.
5. Email Nurturing
Again, testimonials should be used in the later stage of this process. You don’t want to go from sending a prospect an eBook to sending them a full customer testimonial in one step, this will only serve to switch people off. However, if you continue to send them relevant content, they continue to engage and therefore the content you send turns to consideration and then decision stage pieces, why not send them a customer testimonial?
At the decision stage, this content will add value and adding value is what the nurturing process is all about. This process of course becomes much easier with a marketing automation tool where you map out the nurturing process and only continue to send content to people that are engaging with what you have sent previously and based on their stage in the buyer journey; a truly inbound way of automating things.
6. Social Posts
Okay, so this is where you must try and hold back your excitement about receiving good feedback. Sure, it is something you should be shouting about, but perhaps not in a ‘we are amazing and have evidence to prove it!’ kind of way. Be humble! It ruins the authenticity if the tone is too self-promotional.
Instead, tell a story – explain how you helped solve a problem for your customer, this makes it relatable to people that may be experiencing the same issues and if your testimonial answers the typical questions that your buyer personas will be asking, the content will be strong enough to hold it's own.
Talk about your ‘why’ and how the customers words reflect why you, or your company, do what you/ they do. If you have permission, mention the customer in your posts to show gratitude and make it a two-way interaction. If that’s not possible, no problem – simply reference feedback from a valued client.
Make it visual! An image with a couple of words or line of text on it will make the quotes stand out much more and, without wanting to sound like a broken record, videos would work well here too!
And lastly, make this content available in your employee advocacy tool. If your employees worked on a project for which you have a testimonial, they may well want to revel in the success!
7. Sales Process
Sales can get in on the action as well. Share testimonial content with sales for them to use in the social selling process, particularly when a prospect is in the decision stage of their journey. Sales could use this content in their own collateral. Adding snippets of testimonials to proposals for example, what a great way to illustrate the value of a product or service!