Customer testimonials are still effective marketing tools. Given Americans’ increasing reliance on others’ opinions when buying everything from lipstick to enterprise-level software, testimonials may be more important than ever. Here’s what you need to know to generate customer testimonials with maximum marketing impact.
How to create a customer testimonial strategy
The goal of customer testimonials is to help convince prospective customers to take the next step — in other words, to overcome objections they may have to doing business with you. Get started on your testimonial strategy by pinpointing the most common stumbling blocks that prevent prospects from going further.
For example, obstacles that could keep people from using a personal trainer include beliefs like, “Personal training is too expensive,” “I’m too out of shape to work with a personal trainer,” or “I don’t have time to work out every day.”
Once you have a list of common objections, your goal is to find customers who had those same concerns. This will help you get testimonials from a wide range of customers that your prospects can relate to.
What to include in customer testimonials
Good testimonials should be authentic and relatable. Explain who the people giving your testimonials are. If you sell B2B, that could include the person’s name, company and title. If you sell to consumers, it could include demographic information, such as the customers’ age, city, job, marital status, whether they own their own home and if they have children — whatever is relevant to your business. When prospects see people like themselves in your testimonials, it puts them one step closer to doing business with you.
Good testimonials should also be specific about how your business, product, or service helped the customer. Avoid vague generalizations like “This is an amazing product!” Instead, you want to show the need or problem that the customer had, and how your business solved it. For example, a personal trainer could use a testimonial like, “I couldn’t lose the baby weight, and my youngest child was 8 years old! I didn’t think I had time to get back in shape, but in just three sessions a week, X Personal Fitness helped me lose 35 pounds.”
How to get great customer testimonials
To start, ask your best, longtime customers if they’re willing to provide a testimonial. Then reach out to customers who say nice things about your business on social media or give you positive reviews online. Sometimes, those comments may be testimonial-ready. Other times, you may need to flesh them out a little bit.
Very few people think they are good writers, and most get nervous when asked to write something for the public. That’s why asking customers to write their own testimonials is a recipe for failure. Your customers will stress out and you’ll end up with bland, generic testimonials.
Instead, provide some guidance to get the kind of testimonial you want. Initiate your testimonial request via email or social media message, and then ask if the customer is willing to chat on the phone for 5–10 minutes. Once you have them on the phone, the following questions will help elicit good customer testimonials:
- What problem or need did you have that made you consider our business?
- Why did you decide to choose our business instead of the competition?
- What has our product or service helped you accomplish?
- What do you like the most about our product/service/working with our business?
Throughout the conversation, don’t be afraid to ask the customer to be more specific. For example, a personal trainer could ask clients how much weight they lost, how many dress sizes they lost or how much they can bench press.
Recording your conversation has a couple of benefits. You capture the customers’ exact wording so you can use it in the testimonial, which makes it more authentic. You can also pay more attention to your conversation since you won’t be racing to take notes. Be sure to ask the customer for permission. Recording a phone conversation without permission is illegal in some states. Once you’re done, write a testimonial and run it by your customer. Get their approval in writing before you use it.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and President of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Follow Rieva at Twitter.com/Rieva and visit SmallBizDaily.com to sign up for her free TrendCast reports. She ha been covering small business and entrepreneurial issues for more than 30 years, is the author of several books about entrepreneurship and was the editorial director of Entrepreneur magazine for over two decades.