If you’re a business owner or marketing professional, chances are you believe strongly in the product you sell or the service you provide. You’ve likely invested a lot of time crafting your website content to showcase just how awesome you are, in addition to talking about it on social media. But does anyone believe you?
Some people probably do, but others might not. One way to add extra weight to your website or social media is by asking other people to say that you’re awesome, too. There are lots of terms you might hear to describe third-party support of your company, including testimonials, word of mouth marketing, online reputation, and social proof.
But what is it really and how can you do it? Here are a few potential approaches to consider.
Customer testimonials typically involve a specific quote from a client about how your organization has helped them. Ideally, a testimonial goes beyond simply saying, “This company is awesome,” to include a more specific reason why, such as “XYZ Company has been helping us with our digital marketing for five years, and we couldn’t be happier. They’ve really worked to understand our brand, and they consistently execute the plan they developed for us.”
If you’re using testimonials on your website or in social media, be sure to include an individual name, company name, and even a photo if possible. A testimonial from a “technology CEO” is less believable than a testimonial from “Jim Johnson, CEO of XYZ Company.”
Customer stories go a little bit deeper than testimonials, and they can be a great option to include on your blog or elsewhere on your website if you don’t have a blog. Customer stories are also something you can use in print, but be sure to keep them short and simple so they’re easy to read.
In the story format, you have a little more time to go into detail about the problem, the solution, and the result. Perhaps a client needed to increase foot traffic to their retail store and hadn’t been successful with advertising efforts in the past. Your company came in and developed a targeted print and online campaign to reach their specific audience and increased their foot traffic by 35% in six months. That’s a story!
Ever been considering buying a specific product and asked your friends if they had experience with that product? Years ago before the internet became a thing, people might ask their neighbors or friends for a recommendation about what type of vacuum to buy or where to take their car for service. And while that still happens today, you can also read online reviews and testimonials from people you don’t know before you buy any product.
Customer reviews and testimonials are powerful. In general, surveys show that more than 90% of people check online reviews before making a purchase. In a 2017 survey from Spiegel Research Center, 95% of shoppers reported that they read online reviews before making a purchase. In a BrightLocal survey, 85% of people said they trusted online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Online reviews are an option on Facebook, Google, Yelp, and many other sites, although Facebook and Google are the two most commonly used.
Developing a strategy
Many companies use some combination of all three options above to let other people say they’re awesome rather than simply saying it themselves. Whether you choose to leverage one option or all three, it’s critical to have a strategy surrounding your testimonials, stories, or reviews. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but you’ll get much better results if you have a strategy and a process in place.
For customer testimonials, perhaps you start with asking your longest running customers if they’d be willing to write a testimonial for you. For customer stories, you first need to identify potential customer stories, interview those customers for any necessary details, and then write the story. For either of these, be sure to get written approval or permission from your client to use their words and their name in your marketing efforts.
For customer reviews, you need a strategy for asking customers to leave you a review. That could be anything from a call to action sign at checkout of your retail store to a process where you email select customers once a month and ask them to review you on a specific platform.
With some effort invested in any of these tactics, you can increase the chances that someone will buy your product or use your service because other people think you’re awesome and are willing to say so online.
As owner of StoryPath Communications, Linda helps nonprofits and small businesses develop and implement strategic communications plans. She is passionate about helping small organizations clearly define their audience and key messages, as well as identify the most effective communications channels to expand their overall reach and impact in the community. Her prior experience includes positions as social marketing and communications manager at the Oklahoma State Department of Health, director of communications for a K-12 school district, and communications/marketing manager for a corporate relocation firm.
Linda has previously served as Secretary and VP Membership for IABC Central Oklahoma and also served as Bronze Quill Chair for IABC St. Louis prior to moving back to Oklahoma City.