The words of happy customers can bring about amazing increases in conversion/sales rates.
Think about the last time you were looking to hire a contractor, or some type of professional for a service. Or, say, the last time you were about to purchase an expensive item.
Who did you consult with before making your decision? Did you ask a friend or colleague for recommendations? Did you consult a consumer report about the expensive item’s performance?
Just like you and I, most people would. You see, word of mouth is one of the most powerful forms of marketing out there. Buyers want to confirm that they’re making the right decision by hearing about positive experiences from other buyers and friends.
As a business owner, you can use testimonials to harness the power of word of mouth marketing. Testimonials will help overcome objections and break down barriers in the sales process. Prospects weighing their purchase decisions will have more confidence knowing that someone else has had a positive experience or seen the promised results.
A strong testimonial program will generate more conversions, bigger sales, more credibility and more qualified leads. Sound good?
Lets Look At The Following:
How testimonials boost conversions
How asking for testimonials can boost repeat business
Types of testimonials
How to get testimonials for your business
What makes testimonial ‘good’ or credible
The presence of testimonials in your marketing materials, in your business and on your website will increase your conversion rate.
Your conversion rate is directly related to you and your staff’s ability to build immediate trust with prospective clients and break down natural barriers. When you use testimonials, some of this work is already done for you.
Testimonials tell prospective customers about the opinions and experiences of other buyers, which builds trust, establishes credibility and reduces perceived purchase risk.
Trust: People have an inherent skepticism towards salespeople and marketing collateral, and it takes time to build trust and rapport with prospective buyers. Testimonials build trust because they come from third party, unbiased sources.
Credibility: Testimonials show that you have been in business for a while and that you have a base of happy customers. This sends a positive message about the quality of your products or services.
Perceived Purchase Risk: Another person has bought the product or service, and been satisfied or pleased with the results, so the risk involved in the purchase seems lessened. We’ll talk more about risk reversal and guarantees in an upcoming E-Class.
The process of gathering testimonials naturally encourages repeat and referral business.
Clients who give testimonials generally stay loyal to your product or service, and will tell their friends and family about it.
Happy customers will be returning customers. However, when a customer shares an opinion or an experience and attaches their name to it, there is an added sense of loyalty created. They’ve publicly declared that they’re a supporter of the product or service in question, and will back up that decision if questioned – even if they find that their decision was wrong at a later date.
When you ask a customer for a testimonial, you’re also asking them to contribute to the growth of your business. Customers who feel they are helping you out will feel a sense of both pride and loyalty to your product or service.
Testimonials are also a great indicators of word of mouth marketing. If a customer has taken the time to tell you about their positive experience or commit it to paper, they’ve also shared it with their friends. This verbal chain of testimonials acts as an informal referral strategy and will boost your referral business
There are five different types of testimonials you could potentially use to market you business:
Customer: Of course, the strongest and most believable testimonial will be one from a satisfied customer. When you use good customer testimonials, you should expect to see strong spikes in qualified leads and sales.
Celebrity: Celebrity testimonials can increase awareness, but they aren’t as believable as customers’ testimonials. Also, celebrities are paid to do what they do, so a testimonial could appear purchased, and no one celebrity is liked by everyone so you could alienate some prospects.
Expert: If there is an expert in your line of work, then a testimonial from that person would be a good way to boost business. For example, if you run a health food store and a dentist or doctor sang your praises. Just be sure the expert is relevant to your industry or product.
Expert Organization: A relevant and credible group or association in your area can offer strong testimonials that will carry weight with prospective buyers. The chamber of commerce, a trade organization or a not-for-profit are some examples.
Press: The media’s opinion can also act as a strong testimonial. A reporter’s positive review of your service or a particular product is an unbiased opinion, so it is likely to be trusted by prospective clients. (I’ll show you how to use the press to get free publicity in an upcoming E-Class).
Here’s how you can start to gather credible testimonials for your marketing strategy.
1. Create a system for requesting, collecting and organizing testimonials.
Once you get rolling with your testimonial acquisition program, you’re going to need a place to organize and store testimonials, as well as to track which customers you’ve asked and which you’ve received from.
I recommend creating a list of all of your customers, and indicating next to each which you have received testimonials from, which you have asked for testimonials, and which you should plan to ask for testimonials.
Then, create a filing system or binder for organizing and managing testimonials. You can sort them by date, customer last name, or category (customer service, product, etc). Just be sure it is easy for you to find them when you need to. This is going to be an going part of your marketing campaign, so prepare for a large quantity of testimonials when you’re setting up your system.
2. Read incoming mail and email for unsolicited testimonials.
Create a folder or system for keeping testimonials that come in on their own – unsolicited ones. Any kind of customer feedback or thank you could be a great testimonial to use, so include them in your organization system.
You may need to go back into your files, or your inbox, to locate the feedback and testimonials you read but hadn’t used or separated. As long as you get permission from your customer, any testimonial – old and new – is potentially a good one.
3. Start by asking your best customers for testimonials.
While you may see a nice number of testimonials float in through the mail and email, you will have to work for the majority of your testimonials. You will have to ask for them.
Start with a list of your customers, organized by sales volume and frequency, and choose the top 10 – 20%. These are your best customers, and a great place to start requesting testimonials.
Use the testimonial request letter template in the member’s only section as a guide for creating your request letter. Be sincere, and encourage the customer to write their own letter instead of you drafting it for them.
Feel free to make general suggestions about what you would like them to write about, but try not to control the process. If you’re comfortable doing so, when you see what they have written make some suggestions or request certain sections be strengthened or more specific.
4. Make requesting testimonials a part of your sales process.
Once you’ve “caught up” on your testimonial requests, and asked your top customers for a few thoughts and opinions, you can create a system for ongoing testimonial collecting. These testimonials will be “solicited” as opposed to “unsolicited.”
The most important point here is to ask for a testimonial as soon as possible after the sale. The longer you wait, the less inclined the customer will be to put the effort in to writing their thoughts down. Besides, most customers are happiest and most willing to help immediate after the sale.
Ask for the testimonial. If a customer is glowing and gushing with praise, ask them to put it in writing, on letterhead if they have it. Tell them that it would really help you (your customers will love to help!) and that you value their feedback. If they’re not gushing, but you know they’re happy, be bold and ask them if they would write down what their experience was with your business. Stay on top of your testimonial gathering and ask as soon as possible.
Get all their contact details. Get all your customer’s contact details you can follow up and have them send you their letter or testimonial. The act of giving you their contact information will also establish a sense of commitment, and it will be more likely that they’ll follow through.
Tell them when you’re going to follow up. You don’t want to be a pest, but if you don’t follow up you may never get that testimonial. Tell them when you’re going to be in contact to retrieve their letter. If you’re going to email them in a week, or call them in a few days, let them know what your plan is.
Offer to write the first draft. This is a last resort strategy for customers who are either too busy or too lazy to write their own. Remember the testimonials written by real customers are the most believable, so try not to offer this up front. If your customer suggests this, try to encourage them to write their own brief notes. If that doesn’t work, brainstorm some of their ideas, and then write it yourself. Make sure you have it printed on their letterhead and signed.