Customer testimonials are a tried-and-true staple in the marketing world — and there’s evidence that testimonials are more effective now than they ever have been. Today’s consumers have grown increasingly wary of traditional marketing messages, as they prefer authentic and unbiased customer reviews and recommendations from their peers. If you need proof, look no further than these statistics:
- 89% of B2B marketers say customer testimonials and case studies are the most effective of the content marketing tactics they implement
- 92% of B2B buyers are more likely to purchase after reading a trusted review
- Case studies help convert and accelerate the most B2B leads
- Including a customer testimonial on a landing page can increase page sale conversions by up to 34%
The hardest part of creating testimonials comes in the early stages — that is, collecting customer feedback that is relevant, valuable, and authentic. The struggle is real. Here, we’ll explore the difference between a great testimonial and a so-so one, plus offer several tactics you can implement today to start collecting stellar customer testimonials.
What should you look for in a customer testimonial?
The quality of your testimonials is far more important than quantity. So, before we help you collect more testimonials, let’s review the key characteristics each of your testimonials should include.
1. Customer testimonials should be honest and authentic.
Your sales prospects are intelligent enough to know that when something seems “too good to be true,” it usually is. Reviews that paint your company as the hero and your products as miracle solutions will only inspire skepticism from your target audience.
Refrain from using inauthentic or misleading reviews as part of your content strategy. And, if you work with customers directly to create new testimonials, don’t push them to exaggerate their experience or the results they received from your products.
2. Customer testimonials should be specific.
Imagine you’re searching for a new email marketing tool. Which of the following reviews would resonate with you more — “The best product I have ever used!” or “This tool helped us boost the open rates of our emails by 50% and contributed to a 200% growth in revenue over the course of a year.”
Both of the above statements are very positive — the first one perhaps even more so — but the second review makes for a much more effective testimonial. Why? Because it gives specific details that the reader will be able to relate to. It helps prospects understand exactly how the product has helped other customers and, in turn, enables them to visualize the results they’ll achieve if they purchase the same tool.
3. Customer testimonials should illustrate what makes your company unique.
Prospects often read customer testimonials toward the end of the buyer’s journey, during what we call the “Decision” stage. At this point, they’ve narrowed their options down to a few vendors, and they’re looking for details that will elevate one provider above the rest.
That’s why your testimonials should offer more than positive statements about how great your products are. What makes your company and products different than the rest? What do you offer that your competitors don’t? These are the issues your testimonials must address if you want a prospect to choose your product over the many other options available to them.
5 Tactics to Generate High-Quality Customer Testimonials
Every company loves to receive positive feedback they can use throughout their marketing content. But, collecting customer testimonials requires a proactive strategy. In other words, you can’t expect high-quality testimonials to fall into your lap; you must go out and find them. Here are some tips to help you do just that!
1. Ask your top customers for testimonials at the optimal time.
We know what you’re thinking, this seems like a pretty obvious piece of advice. But, you’d be surprised how many companies don’t reach out to their top customers to ask for reviews or testimonials. Satisfied customers are more than likely to provide the feedback you seek — but you can’t expect them to do so on their own.
Implement a formal process for requesting feedback from your top customers. Your objective should be to reach out to customers at the moment they’re most likely to provide positive feedback. For example, you may determine customers are most willing to provide testimonials a month after they’ve been using your product — rather than directly following their purchase decision. Or, the best time to reach out might be after a customer has a positive interaction with your brand on social media.
If you have a large customer base, consider using email automation workflows or notifications so you can reach customers at precisely the right moment, and never let the opportunity to generate a testimonial pass you by.
2. Implement a social listening process.
As you search for customer feedback, don’t forget about the place where your customers are already talking about your brand and products. We’re referring, of course, to social media. If you aren’t already doing so, now’s the time to implement a social listening process so you’re able to find customers who share positive sentiments about your brand.
Here’s an example that illustrates just how important social listening can be to your testimonial strategy. Imagine a customer sends a Tweet about how much they’ve enjoyed working with your company or a specific individual on your staff to solve a business challenge. They don’t tag your company profile, so unless you’re searching for branded key terms or indirect references to your company, you never see the message.
Now, imagine that as part of your social listening strategy, you set up Google Alerts and keyword tracking to monitor any mention of your brand. The next time a customer sends a positive Tweet about your products or services, you’ll receive an immediate alert. You can then quickly send that customer a message to thank them for their kind words and ask them if they’d be willing to answer some questions about their experience.
3. Monitor review sites and follow up with positive reviewers.
Review sites are another great place to find pre-existing customer feedback. Think about it: if a customer goes out of their way to leave a positive review of your company, there’s a great chance they’ll be willing to provide more in-depth feedback.
Monitor B2B review sites like Clutch and G2 Crowd, as well as your company’s Facebook and Google profiles. Reach out to people who left positive reviews and ask them if they’d be willing to chat more about their experience with your company.
4. Reward customers who provide testimonials.
Remember, providing a testimonial is a favor to your business. Even if a customer absolutely loves your company, products or customer service, you’re still asking them to take time out of their day to provide online feedback or answer your questions. So, show your appreciation and consider throwing in a small reward in exchange for customer testimonials. There is a case, however, against incentivizing your reviews. Remember that authenticity factor we talked about earlier?
But there’s no reason you can’t offer a gesture of appreciation. It might be as simple as taking an “I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine” approach by recognizing their brand on your social channels or elsewhere. If you choose to reward them in other ways, you don’t need to break the bank — a simple hand-written thank you note with a gift card or other small token of appreciation can go a long way. Loyal customers will likely provide the feedback you’re looking for no matter what, but you may boost your success by offering a small incentive.
5. Collaborate with your sales team.
That’s right, marketing and sales can work together. Creating a customer testimonial page may fall firmly in the marketing wheelhouse, but that doesn’t mean your sales team can’t help you collect valuable feedback from customers. After all, who knows your customers better than the salespeople who interact with them almost every day?
Consult your sales team and explain the goals of your testimonial strategy. There’s a strong chance they’ll be able to identify a number of perfect candidates — happy customers who would love to contribute a testimonial. From there, sales reps can get the ball rolling for you by reaching out to the customers they have existing relationships with.
RELATED: How to Use B2B Customer Testimonials as a Marketing Force
Of course, there are many more ways to generate testimonials beyond the five tactics discussed in today’s post. But however you choose to collect testimonials, remember to respect your customers and show appreciation for their feedback, and always ask for permission before including a customer in a piece of content.
We’ll leave you with this: the best way to generate positive feedback is to earn it. Delighting your customers with a positive experience is at the heart of inbound marketing and the ultimate goal. If you exceed their expectations at every turn, you’ll have no trouble finding happy customers who would love to provide a positive review or testimonial.
Many customers who are willing to provide testimonials are great candidates for a more comprehensive case study. If you need help taking your customer testimonials and reviews to the next level, check out our Case Study Template.