Testimonials are hugely important in all marketing – and certainly in online marketing.
It has basically to do with TRUST.
You probably have people you trust, people you don’t trust (been burned), and people you don’t know about.
Are you going to buy from someone you don’t trust? I suppose some people might, out of an apathetic hopeless attitude. Almost everyone will only buy from someone they trust.
But the amount of trust required in any given situation is proportional to the importance to the person and how expensive the item is.
What is called an “impulse buy” is simply the purchase of an item cheap enough, and harmless enough, that just seeing the item, maybe picking it up and pushing the button, is enough trust to shell out the $9.95 or whatever it is.
It gets very different when someone is buying a house or a car. Or proposing marriage. Or hiring an important employee. Or buying a website.
These are situations that require a great deal more trust. If you are looking for someone to take care of your elderly mother, 24/7, well, that requires quite a lot of trust.
It also doesn’t happen all at once. An expensive or extremely important purchase is the result of a series of small steps, each one involving a greater level of trust. The first level of trust is not enough trust to make the purchase or commitment. The first level of trust is just enough trust to even look into the product or service being offered – to look into it at all.
Many companies in their marketing fail even this simple test. Typos, ugly websites, illogical statements will lose people in a jiffy. Like a doe in the forest, hearing a strange sound – they’re gone.
Smart marketing establishes what the steps are and what it takes to surmount them. Common actions include demonstrations, laying out the various features and benefits of the product – and testimonials.
THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY
But not all testimonials are equal. There’s a rough scale that grades the usefulness of a testimonial. At the bottom is an anonymous made-up testimonial that doesn’t really communicate to people. Actually, made-up testimonials are a just plain bad idea. I’ve never seen them manage to sound authentic.
There are lots of other things that make a difference. A testimonial with a name and location is better than one with only initials, but sometimes you have to settle.
LONG testimonials are better than short ones. We actually tested this out and found one long testimonial would better engage an audience than a number of shorter ones. Why? They can tell a story and involve the audience in the plight of the author.
By the same token, a video testimonial is better than text. Even besides the fact that it is easier to watch a video than read something, there’s just more reality and impact to it.
If your company receives testimonial letters, PDFs of the actual letter are highly effective – always including the text of the letter for readability and for the benefit of search engines on a website.
Marketing agencies and marketing departments in larger companies typically have something they call “assets.” Assets are any marketing element that is available to be used in marketing. If you have photos of staff and of your office, those are assets – IF you have them preserved in a place and organized in a way where you can find things.
You may think you’re too small to need something like this. The fact is, if you do any sort of marketing at all, it is to your benefit to have an organized system of marketing assets.
The punch line is of course that testimonials are one of those assets. The same testimonial can go on your website, on your Google My Business (map listing) page, on Facebook, in a newsletter (print or digital), etc.
Once you have this figured out it takes almost no time to keep it up and it saves a ton of time, and, to boot, it improves the quality of your marketing for very little effort.
Unless you have more new business than you can handle and are dead certain it will always be like that, this is worth doing.
The great bugaboo in testimonials is, of course, getting them in the first place.
If you are doing a great job with your customers, you can expect to get a certain number of testimonials without effort. These days they typically take the form of Google Reviews.
Again, it is worth some work to get a system going that will get you more. LOTS more. There are third-party services that will email customers asking for feedback or a testimonial, with a link to directly enter it.
You can do the same yourself, even if it is “slow-motion” – the occasional call or letter, it adds up.
Health care practices have success using a dedicated tablet at Reception. A patient comes out smiling, all happy, Reception hands them the tablet.
Service businesses can go out on calls with a stack of postcards with instructions and a “QR Code.” Grateful happy customer at end of service call? Technician hands them a postcard.
There are lots of ways to do it. Just start out with the idea there is a way to get, over time, lots of testimonials and reviews. It is a permanent program, you just work on it day after day, week after week, month after month. Then you look up one day and you’ve got more Google Reviews than any of your competitors – and you’re getting a lot more new business, too.