Customer reviews and testimonials have been a staple in nearly every marketing strategy for decades. Why? Because customer-created content is an effective way to convince an audience of a product’s value and thus, convert more prospects into paying customers. Consider these statistics:
● 89 percent of marketers say that customer testimonials and case studies are the most effective content forms for influencing purchases. (source)
● Nearly three-fourths of consumers say good reviews play a role in making them trust a brand. (source)
● 88 percent of people trust customer reviews as much as word-of-mouth referrals from friends and family. (source)
Even though marketers understand the value of a great testimonial, it’s not always easy to collect relevant, authentic reviews from customers. Today we attempt to demystify this process by offering eight actionable tips to help you collect better customer testimonials this year. Let’s get into it.
What makes a great testimonial?
As with most types of marketing content, not all testimonials are created equal and some testimonials pull more weight than others. So before you begin your hunt for customer reviews, it’s important to go over the different qualities that make a testimonial most effective. These qualities are as follows:
● Specific and relatable: We’ve all seen online reviews that look something like the following: “I love it!” While it’s great to see that someone loves your product, this review is far too vague to offer anything of value to potential customers. The best testimonials are much more specific. They discuss what the customer likes about your product and how it’s helped them in ways that resonate with their peers.
● Honest: This should go without saying but, in case you’re brand new to customer marketing, it’s important to use testimonials and reviews that are 100% honest. Reviews that come across as disingenuous won’t resonate with your audience. After all, prospects crave authenticity and are highly skeptical of anything that seems too good to be true.
● Succinct and focused: Modern buyers have a relatively short attention span when it comes to being sold something. For this reason, it’s important to collect and use testimonials that focus on one specific pain point or solution. Although shorter isn’t always better, try to use testimonials that get right to the point without relying on too much marketing speak.
● Differentiative: Always choose testimonials that set you apart from other companies or competitors. It’s one thing to read about why a product is great, but it’s entirely different to read about what sets that product apart from all others on the market.
No matter how you choose to collect and generate customer testimonials, always prioritize the qualities above and you’ll end up with high-quality reviews to use throughout your website and marketing materials. Now, without further ado, let’s get to eight actionable strategies that will help you generate better customer testimonials in 2019.
1. Involve your sales and customer success teams.
The primary function of the marketing team in most organizations involves attracting and generating new business. But what happens once new leads are passed off to the sales and customer success teams? In most cases, marketing goes back to the drawing board to generate more new leads.
Because sales and customer service teams interact with customers on a regular basis, it’s imperative to involve these teams in any testimonial collection campaigns you plan to run. Whether you ask these teams to regularly identify happy, qualified customers or whether they’re entirely responsible for facilitating the collection of testimonials, we recommend putting a system in place to keep customer-facing teams closely involved with the process.
This next point may seem obvious, but even your best customers can’t read your mind. So unless you ask for testimonials or reviews, don’t expect to receive any. For this reason, we recommend integrating requests for feedback throughout the customer journey.
Whether you decide to pursue this initiative using automated emails, in-product notifications, or as part of the customer support follow-up, the collection of testimonials and reviews should not be left up to chance.
3. Incentivize your customers.
Your customers are just as busy as you are. And, unfortunately, they don’t always want to take time out of their day to write a review of your product– no matter how much they like it. Rather than relying on good faith and kindness, we recommend offering a small incentive to customers who provide you with reviews and testimonials.
Now, these incentives don’t have to be extravagant. But they should be valuable enough to persuade your customers to stop what they’re doing to answer a few questions about your products or services. If you’re stuck for ideas try offering a Starbucks gift card, a discount off a customer’s next invoice or purchase, or even the chance to be entered into a grand prize drawing for something a bit more expensive.
Get creative with your prizes and switch it up every so often if your tactics don’t seem to be working. Eventually, you’ll land on a prize or incentive that really resonates with your customer base.
4. Follow up with pre-existing online reviewers.
A relatively easy way to collect positive customer reviews and testimonials is to check the platforms or outlets where your customers have already left reviews. Sift through reviews on your Facebook business page, your Google profile, or popular review websites like G2 Crowd or Yelp. Then, reach out to users who have already left you a positive review.
Because these users feel strongly enough about your products and services to leave a review unprompted, they’re likely to respond favorably if you reach out with a request for additional feedback.
5. Integrate the process with in-person customer events.
It’s much easier to miss an email or ignore a phone call than it is to brush someone off in person. That’s why we recommend integrating your testimonial strategy with your in-person marketing events.
There is no one right way or wrong way to execute this tactic. Your approach will likely depend on the types of events you hold and attend. But whether you set up an interview booth at a branded event, send an employee around a tradeshow hall with a clipboard, or hand out quick customer surveys to anyone who stops by your booth, you will likely generate a much more enthusiastic response than simply sending out an email to customers.
6. Exchange reviews.
In the B2B world especially, many of the vendors you buy from are also customers of your products and services. In these instances, there’s a unique opportunity for you to exchange reviews or testimonials with these companies. The incentive in this scenario is a reciprocal review or testimonial.
Keep in mind, you should only exchange reviews with companies whose products you genuinely use and value– otherwise, the credibility of their review may be called into question by skeptical prospects.
7. Social listening.
Similar to our previous point about mining popular review websites and social media platforms for existing reviewers, we also recommend leveraging social listening best practices to find customers who are already talking about your brand in a positive light.
To make the most out of social listening, it’s important to set Google alerts, track hashtags, and monitor indirect mentions of your brands and products. Then, once you identify customers who already advocate for your brand online, reach out and ask them to answer a few questions about your products.
8. Automated surveys.
The process of collecting customer testimonials can seem daunting– first, you must identify successful, happy customers. Then, you have to reach out and request a written response, an in-person meeting, or a phone interview. And even after that whole process, you might still end up with a testimonial that isn’t quite right.
But, thanks to modern technology, it’s easier than ever before to automate communications with your customers. We recommend strategically timing automated emails or in-product alerts that ask top-performing customers for feedback.
Consider sending alerts based on trigger events that indicate a customer might be particularly happy with your product. This trigger event could be a closed deal, a successful campaign, a big event, or something else that your customer was able to execute thanks to your product or service.
Once your outreach schedule is set up, the only manual work left to do is to regularly monitor responses and reach out to happy customers for further participation as needed.
For more information about conducting an effective customer survey, check out this article: How to Use Surveys to Reach B2B Business Goals.
Key Takeaways About Collecting Better Customer Testimonials
And there you have it– a few of our best tips and tricks for collecting better customer testimonials. Although this list is by no means comprehensive, we hope you’ll be able to pick and choose a few of the previously mentioned tactics to integrate with your existing marketing strategy.
Before we sign off, we want to leave you with one last piece of advice: No matter how you collect customer testimonials or where you plan to display them, be sure to always ask for permission to use a customer’s words or photo. Although most satisfied customers will likely give you the go-ahead, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
About the Author: Molly Clarke is the Director of Digital Marketing at ZoomInfo, a leading contact and company database that helps organizations accelerate growth and profitability. Molly writes for ZoomInfo’s sales and marketing blog on topics related to B2B growth and success.