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The Power of Testimonials
Just as they were 30 years ago, or 300 years ago, the power of testimonials is still just as significant today as it was back then. Positive feedback from your customers can propel your online business’ image in the eyes of your potential and existing customers. It is one of the basic building blocks of marketing commonly referred to as “grassroots marketing” or ground level local marketing and can help any business - brand new, growing or mature.
Positive customer feedback in the form of testimonials is a great way to market your online business because they provide instant credibility. The power of testimonials can help you tip over the potential customer who has spent some time on your website but is unsure or taking that next step of purchasing your product or service or signing up for your newsletter. In addition, positive testimonials are extremely encouraging for you, the online business owner, from a psychological standpoint; it makes you proud of how you are operating your online business.
With all the good word on your side, you can clearly use this online marketing technique to set yourself apart from the competition and show your potential customer why you deserve their business.
When should you collect feedback?From the day you are in business! You should seek the feedback of your customers on a periodic basis. Feedback helps you tweak your business and continuously improve customer satisfaction. It tells you what is working and what isn’t first hand from your customer. When you receive the feedback, ask your customers if it is ok to display the feedback as testimonial on your website.
Take the constructive feedback and improve your website using it as a guideline. Take positive feedback and save it until you have enough to start posting to your website. Request and accept feedback in all forms: simple comments, personal experiences, impact of your product or service, a customer story, the quality of your product, your company’s customer service, etc. Anything that reflects positively on your business is a good candidate and should be retained.
Be very persistent in collecting testimonials from your customers. You have no reason to be afraid of approaching your customers if you know you are running a great online operation. It is very common that some of your most satisfied customers will not reach out to you to provide positive feedback. Not because they don’t want to, but just because it is common for people not to go out of their way to provide positive feedback yet they will tell at least 5 people on average of a negative experience. All you have to do is shoot out a brief e-mail asking for their feedback and they will provide you with one almost 100% of the time, especially if they are satisfied with you.
Depending on the nature of your business, you may have some stellar customers that you may decide to reach out to personally and ask if it’s ok for you to send potential customers to them to seek their opinion. Many of your customers would be more than happy to do this if they are satisfied with their experiences with you and your business. Or you can ask your good customers for their feedback and guide them on how to write testimonials. And on a side note, you may also choose to have your good customers market your products and services as affiliates of your online business.
Which ones to use?The good thing about the gathering process is that you don’t need very many testimonials to convey your message to your potential customer. The more you can get however the better for you. Once you have an abundant amount, you can choose and hand-pick the credible testimonials you want to display. You can always go back to your customers for more if needed.
Generally, you want to select testimonials that are detailed yet specific and concise. You also want to make sure the comments are believable and do not reflect too much emotion. Make sure they reflect some level of emotion however they make them read as genuine and having written by a real person. For example, if you received a testimonial that reads “Your business is awesome”, you can go ahead and scratch that one from your list. It is not very specific it all.
On the other hand, a good testimonial may read as follows: “Thanks to your CR consulting service, we have successfully reduced our operating costs by 30% and have been able to sustain that level ever since”. Now that’s a great testimonial. Can you read the emotion inherent in the executive’s words when they were able to save 30% of their costs? The testimonial is not long and is pretty specific in that it indicates the specific service that led to specific results.
Harnessing the power of testimonialsTestimonials are extremely powerful and often undermined by online business owners. Just personally I know that I have made purchasing decisions based on testimonials I’ve read on websites whenever I’ve been on the borderline. Positive notes from other customers can be very comforting and may instill in your potential customers the confidence to take that next step. You can try to convince your potential customers as much as you want about your own credibility and legitimacy, but reading great credible testimonials from other customers has a very different and drastic impact on their decision.
A good way to really leverage the power of testimonials is to include your customers’ credentials with their information when quoting a testimonial from them. Ask your customer in advance if they have a certain title, special degree or designation. This will definitely amplify the way a testimonial reads to your customer or reader. John Smith, CPA, John Smith, MBA or Dr. John Smith definitely reads much better than just John Smith. Of course, always ask for your customer’s permission before displaying anything on your website. This ensures you have independent testimonials that are also credible.
Why are testimonials so powerful?Your potential customers have no idea how big or small of a business you are running when you are online. In many ways that is the beauty of online businesses and how technology has level the playing field for the big boys and the small online entrepreneur. However, in our community businesses are sometimes thought of as cunning and one track minded with a narrow focus of profitability.
With all that said, your potential customers need real information that they can trust and rely on to make their purchasing decisions. When you display positive comments from other people that are real and include their names and where they are from, your potential customer is more likely to believe that over the 8 paragraphs you have written in your about us section building the legitimacy and credibility of your online business.
Just remember to always ask permission from your customers before displaying their information. Similarly, when other press media makes a mention of your business, contact them and ask permission to use their coverage on your website. Having true, genuine information that has come from others is always more favorable when marketing your online business.
The testimonial trick - Don’t abuse the useOne main thing to keep in mind in your use of testimonials as an online marketing technique is not to crowd out any one webpage of your website. Your customers and readers are on your website to get the information or product they are looking for, not to read your testimonials. If you want to include testimonials on certain web-pages with substance, consider adding just a handful and place them apart from your website’s main content. Make sure you can see the distinction between the testimonial and the actual material on your webpage yourself.
Some websites have a separate dedicated section just for testimonials. This is often just a compilation of the testimonials you have received from your customers. I prefer this method of including your testimonials on your website. This way, your website visitor or reader can specifically go to that section of your website if they are interested in what others have to say about your online business.
I have also seen testimonials as separate web-pages that pop out as an answer to certain questions in the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section of a website. For example, I once was on a website’s FAQ section and they had a question that read: “What are others saying about us?” I clicked on the question and it led me to a separate testimonial webpage. I thought this was a pretty neat way of displaying testimonials. You can also use your testimonials in other Internet marketing mediums that you are using to market your website. email newsletters are a good way to slip in a testimonial or two.
ConclusionOften forgotten in the mix of things, sometimes we need to go back to our roots and do our marketing the old fashioned way. The power of testimonials is a proven time tested marketing technique that builds a great deal of credibility in you and your business. They are free and often will take a small amount of time to gather, especially if your customers have had a good experience with your online business.
Marketing your website through testimonials is no different than word of mouth – just done within the online capacity. And you know how powerful word of mouth marketing is. Nothing beats word of mouth. Just think about the last time you took up a recommendation by a buddy of yours? Yup – that’s exactly why displaying independent and credible testimonials are important and an effective marketing technique for your online business.
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