The goalposts have well and truly been shifted and companies looking to sell their wares have never had it tougher when it comes to convincing people to become paying customers. In the past, the merchant controlled the buying cycle but with the advent of online shopping, customers have the power and aren’t afraid to wield it!
A large percentage of companies still make the mistake of assuming that social media acts as some kind of magical selling formula. In actual fact, surveys have shown that social media websites drive as little as 2% of all traffic to business-to-business websites.
What does this mean?
This means you need to get on top of the consumer research cycle since the buyer is now all-powerful. There are few marketing tools better than testimonials when it comes to increasing your profit margin. Perhaps the single most important thing about testimonials is that they add an element of credibility to your company and its products since you receive actual feedback from real customers. Testimonials are disarming as they enable your target audience to identify with the experiences of others while using your products.
In essence, testimonials are online reviews that support your level of expertise and credibility. They can transform a cynic into a customer and remove the last layer of doubt that separates visitor from paying consumer. Here are some fascinating statistics relating to online reviews in general:
- 60% of consumers believe online reviews and ratings are important when researching businesses.
- Almost 70% of Internet users in the United States alone will read a review or compare a price before bothering to visit a physical store.
- Almost 80% of consumers aged 18-64 agree that online reviews play an important role in their purchasing decision.
- According to Google, listings with 3+ stars reviews get over 85% of clicks.
Why Testimonials Work
Simply put, testimonials are an example of ‘social proof’ according to Robert Caldini. This is basically a psychological phenomenon that takes place in social situations where people that don’t know how to behave follow the lead of others who they assume have a greater level of knowledge. While this may often be a case of the blind leading the blind, it really works! Testimonials have worked in traditional advertising for decades and this success has translated seamlessly to online selling as well.
Despite the proven success of testimonials, online companies seem to regard them as a secondary concern and focus on more ‘important’ aspects of their business. By simply adding a testimonial to your web copy, you can expect to enjoy a greater level of sales than with the copy alone.
How to Get Testimonials
It is rather easy to receive testimonials from delighted customers; you simply ask them! The next time you fulfil an order, why not ask customers for a testimonial by phone or email? Ask them about their experience with your product, whether they enjoyed it and if they were happy with it. Whenever you receive positive comments, ask for permission to print them on your website and also get a signed release if possible.
Specific testimonials are always the best ones to receive as they showcase the benefits of your product:
Product X helped me lose 15 pounds in 30 days without starving myself
System X helped me increase by revenue by 25% in 3 months
In the event that you are a new business and don’t have enough customers to get testimonials, look to give away a free product/service to target audience members as a ‘reward’ for their feedback. Another excellent method of using the power of testimonials for a new business is to add case studies related to the service/product you are selling. In fact, case studies can be even more powerful than testimonials because they tell a story and help create a bond between you and your prospects. Testimonials, while excellent, limit you to the words used by a client, case studies actually help you elevate the value of what you are offering.
In the end, credibility is everything and testimonials provide that in spades. When you use testimonials in a strategic manner, you can greatly improve your company’s reputation and enjoy a brand identity associated with quality products, excellent customer service and a high level of trustworthiness and this is publicity you can’t put a price on.
What are your experiences with customer testimonials? Have you found them to be a profitable endeavour?