Why you need testimonials in your marketing
Because they prove that you are the real deal.
Visitors on your site will be much more inclined to reach out to you and then hire you when you can show examples of how you helped others.
These third-party endorsements do the work of selling for you – in a much more effective way than you could on your own.
This is because testimonials are a form of social proof.
So, what is social proof?
Social proof is a term coined by Dr. Robert Cialdini in his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.
The premise is simple: we look to others to guide our decisions.
Here are a few examples of social proof in action:
- A crowd of people is standing in the park looking up into a tree, so you are compelled to stop to look up (turns out there is a hawk sitting on a branch).
- Your co-worker tells you about a great book she read. Before you buy it, you go to Amazon and see hundreds of fantastic reviews. You buy the book.
- It's date night and you’re going to the movies. You pull up Rotten Tomatoes to see which ones are highest on the Tomato-meter. You choose one based on its great reviews.
- You need a babysitter for your kids so you text a few parents you know to get their recommendations. Based on what they say, you call Andrea to come to your house.
- A new Thai restaurant opens a few blocks away from your apartment. Every time you drive by, you see the parking lot is full of cars. You think, "That place MUST be really good." So, you book a reservation for next Thursday.
As you can see, social proof is an important and ongoing part of our decision-making process.
We all rely on the opinions of others to make a decision, and social proof becomes more powerful when we are uncertain or making a large and important decision.
Social proof in the form of business testimonials
This is the reason that you absolutely need social proof for your business results in the form of testimonials.
As Cialdini writes:
“Social creatures that they are, human beings rely heavily on the people around them for cues on how to think, feel, and act."
Testimonials from satisfied customers work best when the satisfied customer and the prospective customer share similar circumstances. Influence is often best exerted horizontally rather than vertically.”
People who are considering hiring your company want to see and hear the stories of people who are already using your product or service.
Done correctly, testimonials will turn a wavering prospect into a paying client.
Now you are thinking: "Great, Wendy. I'm convinced about the power of social proof. I know I need testimonials. But how do I get them!"
Below are my tips to help you ask for testimonials that rock, plus questions you can adapt into your own template.
Tips for asking your clients for great testimonials (and getting them)
If you are like most of the clients I work with, you are not regularly asking for testimonials from your customers.
Perhaps it's because you think it's scary to ask.
Maybe you think it will annoy your clients.
Or, you simply don't know how to do it.
If any of these things are true for you, I have good news!
Satisfied customers are typically happy to help you by singing your praises.
People want to help other people. When you have provided a fantastic service, product, or program to your clients, they are more than willing to help you spread the word about your business.
The key thing is that you make testimonial requests part of your ongoing business operations.
This will allow you to “uplevel” your testimonials over time - replacing older ones with newer, better ones. It will also give you more endorsements to leverage in your marketing.
You can use the same techniques I am about to share for gathering recommendations on LinkedIn, reviews on Yelp and/or Google, case studies about your work, positive experiences taking one of your online courses, and more.
Here are some ideas and opportunities to obtain new testimonials:
- Write down the praise. Whenever one of your customers gives you a spontaneous compliment in person or via e-mail, thank him or her. Then, ask if you can use their comment as a testimonial. Make sure he or she understands that you will be using it in your marketing materials.
- Create a website link. An easy method to help you collect testimonials is to include a link on your website that lets people click on it to give their feedback. In your emails, invite your customers to “click here to let us know what you think.”
- Offer an incentive. Periodically, you can have a “testimonial drive.” Send out an e-mail and offer an incentive for your customers to provide a testimonial. Depending on what type of business you run, it could be a coupon, a discount, free services, and so on.
- Make it part of your sales cycle. As you complete a project, treatment, or another service with your customer, ask him or her for a testimonial.
Timing is everything with this one - make sure that you ask BEFORE you complete your work. If you wait until your work is complete, you may have a more difficult time getting a testimonial since your customer can move into an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality.
- Ask your “star performers” for testimonials. Almost every business collects raving fans. These are the individuals who buy everything you sell, the customer who you see in your store three times each week, or that individual who gets an incredible result from using your offerings. Make a point of asking these individuals to give a testimonial. If they have just had a BIG result, be sure to ask them right afterward.
- Include your team in your efforts. Often, your employees or assistants are the best ambassadors for your brand. Train your staff to talk with people about your testimonials program. You can also set up an internal incentive program or a friendly internal competition to encourage your team to collect more testimonials.
- Send out targeted emails. Send out an email to customers you know have had good results. One simple way to encourage your clients to help your business is to remind them. In your email, you can give them bullet points to help them retell their experience (people are much more likely to send a response when you do most of the work for them).
You can also send them the following questions:
- What was your situation before working with us?
- How has our business helped you to [insert client problem]?
- What tangible results/improvements have you experienced as a result?
- What’s your situation like now?
- Is there anything you would like to add?
Record a video while meeting with your client. If you are at a meeting with your client, ask them if you can record a quick video testimonial with your smartphone. If you meet with them virtually, you can record a video of them using Zoom or Skype.
Don't make it the point of the meeting. Instead, if they have praised you for being amazing (which I'm sure they will!), ask them if you can capture it on video to use as a testimonial.
Take screenshots of comments. If you are getting nice comments from your email subscribers, blog readers, FB group members, or other social media followers, you can leverage these!
Start a folder on your computer and start taking screenshots of all of the nice feedback you get. These can be great to add to sales pages. Below is an example of a nice comment from a list-building challenge I ran in my FB group. When I run it again, I can post little nuggets like this one to get more people to sign up for it!
Leverage testimonials for powerful marketing results
Remember, testimonials are one of the most powerful and cost-effective selling tools you can employ as part of your marketing arsenal.
Even if you already have a process for collecting customer feedback, incorporating some of these tips into your tactics will yield more powerful, compelling endorsements that do the selling for you.
Each of the above techniques will help you receive a ton more testimonials that you use on sales pages, contact pages, blog posts, videos and social media marketing campaigns.
If you want to learn even more about how to get testimonials for your business, I go over them extensively in my book, Marketing from The Inside Out.
Did you get any ideas from this post? Is there a testimonial-gathering technique I left out? Let me know in the comments section below!