Customer Testimonials: How to Get Them & What to Do Next

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Creating “Virtual” Thought Leaders
Hearing kind words from happy customers always feels good, but did you know these testimonials can also impact your bottom line? McKinsey & Company, a global management-consulting firm, notes in one study that “word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20 to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions.”

But how, exactly, do you get people to make these “word of mouth” recommendations? And how do you leverage these testimonials to your company’s advantage? Read on to find out.
How to Get Customer Testimonials

1. Provide regular, gentle reminders. You’d probably be surprised at how willing a happy customer would be to sing your praises. The issue is that many of these people don’t know you’re looking for testimonials, which is why you need to provide reminders in places like…

  • Invoices
  • Emails
  • Newsletters
  • Social media

Basically, any place you have contact with customers, you should occasionally remind them how important their positive words are. Ask them to submit a testimonial directly to you or to write a review on sites like Yelp or LinkedIn or on sites related to your business. For example, design/build firms would seek reviews on sites like Houzz and Zillow.

At the same time, you’ll want to “mix up” how you ask so that your gentle reminders don’t blend in the background. For example, one month in your email newsletter, you might add a graphic that says, “Do you like the work we do? Write a review on LinkedIn.” The next month, you might direct people to a feedback page on your website where people can share their thoughts and their willingness to be quoted in a testimonial.

2. Make it easy for people to give testimonials. If a happy customer gushes over the phone about the service you provided, jot down some of the words and ask the customer if you can use them in a testimonial. Most people will say yes (and many will be grateful that’s all they have to do).

Let the customer know that you’ll send a copy of the testimonial via email, and ask him or her to officially “sign off” (and then keep the email on file). This is also the time to ask whether you can use the person’s real name or not.

Everyone in your business who has direct contact with customers should be poised to do this, from sales to marketing to the receptionist who answers the phone. Make it a group effort, and you’re bound to get even more testimonials than expected.

3. Take advantage of customers who want to give more than a standard testimonial. We’ve all had them, haven’t we? That customer or two who constantly tells us how fabulous we are and asks if there’s anything they can do to help spread the word beyond telling their family and friends.

Take advantage of any customers offering up such a generous gift! Consider using these customers for something beyond written testimonials, such as full-blown case studies and/or video testimonials where the customer is videotaped and talks about his or her experience using your product or service. Video testimonials with real people who are willing to share their real names are some of the most compelling advertising around.

How to Use Customer Testimonials

1. Add them to the company website:

  • Think beyond one page. The biggest mistake businesses make is setting up a page on their website called “Testimonials” and dumping all the testimonials there. Yes, it’s smart to have a main repository on your site for customer reviews, but what if someone never makes it that far into your site? You want to sprinkle the testimonials throughout your website, especially your most trafficked pages like Home, Contact, and Service and Product pages. Try to match the testimonial to the content on the page. So if someone is talking about a specific product, place that testimonial on the corresponding product page.
  • Don’t ignore landing pages. A landing page has a form, one that’s usually attached to some sort of offer (e.g. white paper download, free ebook, demo request). A solid testimonial can help compel a person to take the final step and fill out the form.
  • Make the testimonial stand out visually. You might lay the text over a graphic, make a pull-quote in the middle of the content (which is a good way to break up long text), or use it in a sidebar. There are dozens of ways to make the testimonial visually appealing. Your web designer should be able to guide you. Make sure you don’t bury it in the page—aim for above the fold. Another effective method is to add pictures of the person next to his or her testimonial. As Conversion XL demonstrates, pictures add tons of credibility.
  • Freshen them up over time. The same testimonial showing up on the home page year after year is boring. Swap in new testimonials as you get them (you wouldn’t want repeat visitors seeing the same reviews every time they go to your site).
  • Don’t ever assume you have enough. Gathering testimonials should be a regular, ongoing effort.

2. Add them to relevant client/customer communications. Remember how we said that you should solicit testimonials on invoices, emails, newsletters, and so forth? Well, you should also include actual testimonials in any communications that customers will see.

3. Don’t forget social media. Occasionally post or tweet a line or two from a happy customer. Tag the person’s name (if you have permission to use real names!) so that the person will see it (and possibly share it with his or her network).

4. Add them in unexpected places, like promotional products. Including a line or two on the imprint area on products like custom mugs, calendars, and apparel is a great way to extend the testimonial’s reach.

How do you request and use customer testimonials? We want to hear your tips and strategies! Share in the comments.

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