One of the most power tools at your disposal for marketing is the experiences your previous customers have already received from you. 3 out of 4 people trust online reviews when they see them, so an honest look at your products and services from previous customers can help to convert more prospects in the future.
Today, I am going to cover the nine essential keys to getting great testimonials.
#1. Look for Skepticism
Authenticity is what rules the information on the internet today. People want to see real information that is properly sourced in order to believe what they are being told. Anyone can make up a great testimonial quote, but the most powerful quotes are the ones that exist from a verifiable source. This is why you should always look for skepticism, especially when it occurs early on in the purchasing process, from your customer base.
Why search out your most skeptical customers? Because you’ll be able to take advantage of their unique perspective in these key ways.
- They overcame their doubts. A customer who is skeptical can speak directly to your prospects about what convinced them to purchase something, allowing your brand to reach out more effectively.
- It speaks of honesty. A skeptical perspective feels more authentic because you’re talking about a real thinking process instead of discussing how someone fell in love with your brand at first sight.
- These testimonials are widely available. You can find skeptical customers all over social media today. They’re on your Facebook page, responding to your Twitter account, and maybe even criticizing you on LinkedIn. Ask for permission to use their comments and you’ll gain an advantage for future business.
We are all a little skeptical from time to time. If you’re struggling to get great testimonials, then consider looking at some of the more negative comments about your product or service. See if you can turn those negatives into positives. If you can, then you’ll have a very powerful testimonial to potentially use.
#2. Make It About Others
Far too many testimonials today discuss the direct benefits that the company received from that person’s business. Another large fraction of testimonials speak to a very specific problem that was solved by your brand for that customer. Both of these testimonials might be useful in a niche way, but won’t be that “great” testimonial you want.
The best testimonials are all about others. You’re trying to address a common set of objections that your prospects might have about what is being offered to them. These objections are obstacles, roadblocks if you will, that are stopping the purchasing process from moving forward. But what are the obstacles? Here’s how to find out.
- Research your market. Talk to the people who decided not to be a customer of yours. See what feedback they have for you. This is a great way to discover what roadblocks your testimonials will need to address.
- Ask targeted questions. You don’t get to control the testimonial, but you can influence it by asking targeted questions about the specific roadblocks you’d like to address. This will allow you to construct a testimonial which can begin taking those obstacles away.
- Be consistent with your approach. Your customers and prospects talk with each other more than you might realize. If your approach is different from person to person, then eventually this fact will be discovered and it will tarnish your credibility. You may not even receive an honest testimonial.
The best testimonials describe in detail what your brand is able to do to solve specific problems that people may have. This is how they are able to create a freeway through your sales funnel so your conversion rates can begin to build. Start being proactive by discovering the roadblocks that prevent prospects from becoming customers and you’ll be able to construct the effective testimonials you need.
#3. Put It On Tape
We love videos. There’s nothing like kicking back with the family to watch a favorite movie. Maybe there is some popcorn involved. It’s simple fun that we all do.
The same is true for online videos. They are a welcome diversion to the many bits of information that we consume in virtually every waking moment these days. Watching a video, even if only for 10-30 seconds, creates a change in our information consumption patterns. This allows us to retain more of the information we are getting from the video because the change in consumption is interesting.
This is why short testimonials that are on video can be an incredible marketing tool. Setting up a camera to have one of your customers discuss the benefits of doing business with you is simple and easy to do. Just remember to follow these rules if you decide to use this method.
- Make the meeting be more than just a testimonial taping. If you get a great comment about how awesome you are, just ask your customer to repeat what they said on tape. Most people don’t mind repeating what they’ve said, especially if you’re willing to provide a link to their website with their testimonial.
- Keep it short and to the point. Some people like to ramble a bit when discussing a positive experience. There’s nothing wrong with that kind of communication, but it can be distracting to some potential customers. Do your best to keep the comments short and straight to the point for best results.
- Remember to focus on non-verbal communication cues. How your customer comes across in the video will depend on their body language and their tone of voice. If the customer doesn’t seem trustworthy, then this will become a direct reflection of your brand.
When you put people on tape for a testimonial, you gain a secondary benefit: transcription. You can transcribe the video you’ve created and use these text excerpts as part of your ongoing content marketing strategy.
#4. Offer a Trade
If you’re looking for some great testimonials, there’s a good chance that there’s another brand wanting the exact same thing. Maybe the two of you even do business together already. You’d be surprised at how many B2B transactions take place while each business goes in a different direction to find the testimonials they need. Sometimes your best testimonial comes from your primary customers and clients.
If you are in a B2B network, then ask if there is a need for a great testimonial the next time you place an order. If there is, then propose a trade: you’ll provide a testimonial for them, see if they’ll do the same thing for you. Keep these key points in mind to prevent the situation from becoming a little awkward if you use this method.
- Be proactive about your testimonial. Don’t say that you’ll leave a testimonial if the other business does so first. You’re already in a B2B relationship. Just leave a nice review and then just encourage them to do the same for you.
- Ask if they can post your testimonial. If you don’t want to leave an unsolicited review, then write one and send it along with your next order. Let them know they can use your words if they wish to do so and they might offer you one in return without you needing to ask for one.
- Make sure this isn’t a one-sided B2B relationship. Testimonial trades only work when the money is flowing in both directions. If you’re leaving a testimonial for them without ever using their products or services [and the same is true in reverse – they should be buying from you], then you lose the authenticity you’ll need for a solid online reputation.
The best testimonials come from others who are outside of your industry, but regularly use your products or services. If you’re both in the same niche, then all you’re doing is helping the competition be more effective against you. Be strategic, be honest, and be proactive with this method to get great testimonials and you’ll see results come in over time.
#5. Paternal Instincts
Great testimonials are waiting for your right now. The only problem is that there’s a good chance you’re not approaching the people who want to share them with the right attitude. Have you ever noticed how the way someone asks something can change your mind about what you’d like to do?
“So… are you going to give me a testimonial or what?”
“Yeah… not so much. Not with that kind of demand and attitude.”
This is where your paternal instincts will help you find the best testimonials that are waiting for you out there right now. Maybe you’re not a parent – draw upon the experiences you have seen with your parents or guardians as you were growing up. This instinct helps you know what someone else likes or hates, while also knowing what emotions are being felt before the person even recognizes what they’re feeling.
Most of all, your parents or guardians loved you without really expected anything back in return. This is the attitude a brand must have when they want to get some great testimonials. Here’s how to approach people using this method.
- It’s all about others being at their best. Strive to help each customer be a little bit better tomorrow than they were today.
- Encourage word-of-mouth marketing. To have positive experiences shared as frequently as negative experiences, an effort must be made to go over-the-top on the good feelings a product or service generates. Do everything you can for each person, over-deliver, and you’ll encourage people to spontaneously share what happened.
- Treat people like human beings. It’s easy to think of customers as “revenue sources” or “business metrics,” but in the end, we are all human. We all want to be treated as people. By treating each customer as an individual, you’ll get testimonials in return without even needing to ask for them.
Being a parent or guardian is a tough job. It’s often thankless for a number of years. Yet those instincts which develop as a parent can directly translate into your search for great testimonials. Treat others as you’d like to be treated, take the good out of even your most negative of experiences, and you’ll show a level of integrity that will encourage many to leave the feedback you want.
#6. Put Yourself Out There
The best testimonials come from direct experiences that you can provide others. If you’re just getting started, it can be really tough to get your name recognized, must less mentioned, as a top provider in your industry. If you can piggyback onto the reputation of someone else, however, then you have the chance to use their name recognition through the testimonial process in order to build your business.
This means you’ve got to put yourself out there. You must be willing to provide your services or products to some of the biggest brands that are somewhat associated with your industry and do so for free. Well… mostly free. In exchange for your work, ask for some kind of badge or graphic which links back to your site so if your work is noticed, you can begin to generate some leads.
Why is this such a useful method of developing testimonials when you’re first getting started?
- You get proof that your product or service works. Although you’re providing products or services for free, you’re receiving evidence that the value proposition you’re offering works. This allows future leads to be able to reference the data you’re generating from this process.
- It develops your reputation. The fact that you work with bigger companies makes it easier to close more deals in the future. People like to do business with winners.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for a testimonial. There’s nothing wrong in asking that big company to give you a direct testimonial in exchange for the work you’re doing.
It can be frustrating to work for free, so remember that you’re working for a different kind of compensation. Maybe you won’t be earning a paycheck today, but when you can produce proven results for a recognizable brand, you’ll earn a much bigger paycheck tomorrow. You’re making an investment into your future.
#7. Write It Down
Life is busier than it ever seems like it has been before. The internet allows us to connect with one another like never before. Even when we get home from work, we’re still kind of at work, right? We check emails, voicemails, and maybe even take the work computer home to put in an extra hour or two of productivity. People have always been busy, but instead of homesteading, we are farming for specific data that can produce a crop of profits.
Your customers might be very willing to give you a great testimonial. They might also be busy enough that they keep forgetting to give you the testimonial they’ve promised. It’s not intentional. It just happens. You can get around this issue of “being busy” by writing down a testimonial that you’ll publish on their behalf.
Of course you’ll need to get their permission to use their name with the testimonial you’re writing on their behalf. You’ll also want to keep these key points in mind.
- It needs to be straightforward. You can tell which testimonials are self-written because they tend to be overly promotional. Although you’re trying to sell something, what you’re really trying to offer is a look at how that transaction takes place. You want your prospects and leads to picture themselves completing a transaction with you.
- Include real results within the testimonial. Data points are what we’re all pursuing. Make sure the testimonial you write has some of the key data points you’re trying to stress to your targeted demographics to grab their attention.
- Offer an outcome. What can someone expect from your brand if they choose to become a customer? Use this type of testimonial to reinforce what your current value proposition happens to be.
Sometimes your best customers are just a little too shy to write their own testimonial. Others might be a little too busy. Just remember to always get permission to associate a name with a testimonial you’re writing on their behalf so you have an ethical post. Otherwise the authenticity of your testimonial might be affected and this could produce a harmful negative first impression from which a recovery may be virtually impossible.
#8. Time It Right
You’ve just downloaded an app that you think will be fun to use. It’s loading right now on your tablet, and then BOOM! A box appears which asks you to review the app. You haven’t even had a chance to use it yet. If you do decide to leave a review, it will either be about your anticipation or it will be negative because you haven’t used it yet to offer a fair testimonial.
When you’re asking for great testimonials, you’ve got to time it right. You want to catch people at a time where they feel the best in using your product. Picture your favorite sports team. You love them, right? Now how much do you love them if they wind up winning the World Series, the Super Bowl, or whatever trophy has been designated for that team’s league?
Yeah. The best testimonials come when your customer feels like they’ve won the Super Bowl by finding your product or service. Ask then and you’ll receive an outstanding testimonial. If you ask before that moment or ask when the product or service has outlived its usefulness, the results you receive could be very different. Think about it like this.
- Don’t rush it. Give people a chance to experience the value proposition you’ve offered. This will improve the authenticity of the testimonial you receive in the end.
- Ask for certain specifics. You want to tap into the emotions that took place when your customer won the Super Bowl. It’s that excitement within the testimonial which will help you close more deals, more than even the words themselves.
- Address the results. Every business solves some sort of problem. Use the emotion of the moment to address the tangible results received by the customer so your leads and prospects can see themselves having the same amount of success.
Bad reviews and testimonials don’t always come from poor products or inadequate customer service. Sometimes they come from bad timing when asking for that review or testimonial. Give people time to enjoy their purchase. Let them experience the value and success and then ask. When your customers are at their happiest, your testimonials will be the very best they can be.
#9. Third-Party Sites
There are a number of third-party websites which are in the business of soliciting reviews about customer experiences. You’re familiar with many of the names: Trip Advisor, Angie’s List, and Yelp. There are also a number of sites that work with specific industries, such as Avvo, which works within the legal professions.
These third-party sites get many unsolicited reviews on a daily basis because they promote a greater transparency of each industry. People are willing to share on these sites because there is a certain level of anonymity that comes with these reviews. These sites are also an opportunity to get great testimonials without putting in much work.
Once you’ve discovered the best site for your industry, then here’s what you’re going to want to do next.
- Register at your preferred review site. Always register your business with Google. Then look for the most influential site that collects reviews for your industry and make sure you claim your business. There’s a good chance there might already be reviews in place for your business that you can use.
- Be active. You’re active on social media. You also want to be active on these third-party sites. These reviews might be the only way to know that a customer had an unsatisfactory experience. Most customers aren’t confrontational. They’ll just stop sending money your way.
- Take advantage of branding tools. If your business is claimed on these review sites, then there’s a good chance you can link to those reviews from your site. This helps to further establish the foundation of trust that your leads and prospects are wanting to see.
Testimonials may come in many different formats – including an extensive review. You don’t have to publish an entire review. You can also take a perfect sentence out of that review, with permission of course, to get the great testimonial you want for your brand. Over time, this method can become almost effortless.
Knowing how to get great testimonials isn’t necessarily a complicated process, but it can be a time-intensive one. You’ve got to make sure you do everything you can do to make your customers happy, time your request for a testimonial to be at the right time, and then subtly direct the composition of the testimonial so that it can meet your needs.
When you get it right, great testimonials are one of the most influential components of your online reputation.
Testimonials can be placed anywhere on your site. They’ll often be on a landing page and used as a way to progress a visitor toward the end of a sales funnel, but anyone can use any testimonial virtually anywhere on their site and experience some level of success. Just make sure the testimonial is authentic in some way so you don’t inadvertently damage your brand.