How to Use Testimonials Strategically

So now you have a pile of glowing customer testimonials. What’s next?

Testimonials are enough to convince people for now. – Alex Chiu

Well, obviously your next step is to use the testimonials you solicited. Generally, you want to place them in your marketing materials and other places where prospective customers will see them.

But you probably have a variety of testimonials, in e-mail, letter and verbal format. These testimonials probably speak to a wide range of aspects of your business, and your product or service offering. You may have some that sing the praises of a particular product, and others that rave about your customer service standards. Some might be from customers, others from the media.

We have created this blog to show you how to use your testimonials strategically and to get the most out of their power. Testimonials may be more believable than sales copy, but they way you use them in your marketing is the same: with a clear purpose in mind.

In this post we will cover:

  • Why testimonials need to be used strategically
  • How to choose the right testimonials
  • Where to use testimonials in your business
  • How to make the most of your testimonials

Testimonials need to be used strategically to maximize their value and their impact on your business.

Testimonials website www.wequipu.com

Let’s say you were reading a brochure about a new product that you were interested in purchasing. The copy describing the product claims that it is the ‘best product you’ll ever use’ and that the quality ‘far exceeds the competition.’ That might be true, but I bet you’re a little skeptical.

Next to the sales copy, there is a quote from a customer that reads, “Exceptional customer service. The salespeople made every effort to ensure I found what I needed, and left the store happy.”

What does that do to increase your confidence in the product? Does it help to eliminate some of your skepticism? Probably not. It’s just telling you that you’ll be treated well in the store.

In order for you to really harness the power of testimonials in your marketing materials, you have to put some thought into where you place them and why. They need to support the message you’re trying to communicate, even though the words aren’t yours. They need to make sense in the context of where they’re used.

Each time you use a testimonial you need to decide what you are trying to accomplish or what message you are trying to support.

Testimonials have the power to achieve a variety of things for your marketing and customer retention programs. They can:

  • Overcome buyer skepticism. Use a testimonial to shine light on your credibility, or on the quality of your product or service. This type of testimonial builds trust and overcomes natural barriers. In the example above, the testimonial could have read: “Best product I’ve tried in this price bracket – and I’ve tried many. Great value for money, and no shortcuts on quality.”
  • Overcome objections. Your readers are going to be naturally skeptical of any claims, promises or bold statements. As much as you can back yourself up with facts, a third party experience or opinion will work wonders to overcome unspoken objections in the customer’s mind. “It all sounded too good to be true, but when I used the hair straightener, there was more shine and less breakage.”
  • Simplify or make a point. A customer’s personal experience with your product or service will work to persuade your audience like a story does. Complex explanations or abstract applications will make more sense when applied to real life examples. This works well with highly technical products or complex services where the customer doesn’t need to understand all the details.
  • Break up and maintain interest in long copy. Readers have short attention spans and they will get bored unless you can change up the structure on a regular basis. Quotations and testimonials will break up the tone or voice of the copy, and sound like the customer is reading dialogue, which will keep them engaged. You can also break up paragraphs with a testimonial that supports the point you have just made.
  • Target anxieties or doubts. Just like they can overcome skepticism and objections, they can also overcome hidden anxieties or doubts at each stage of the sales process. Anticipate questions like “is this worth my money?”, “do I really need this?”, “can I trust the guarantee?” and “will they sell my information?”, and place testimonials accordingly.

When you have established what you’re trying to do with the testimonial, choose credible ones that will support your purpose.

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When you’re going through your stacks and stacks (hopefully!) of customer testimonials, it can be hard to choose which one will suit your purpose best. I’m usually so proud of mine that I want to use every word of each of them, but of course that’s not possible.

Use these guidelines when choosing your testimonial:

  1. Is the testimonial credible? (includes customer’s full information)
  2. Does the testimonial describe or prove the top benefits or results of my product/service?
  3. Is the testimonial detailed and specific, and describe their experience as a customer?
  4. Is the testimonial from an expert source or organization that will be recognized?
  5. Does it describe the problem the customer was experiencing before the purchase and the relief or happiness they experienced after?

Of course every testimonial won’t be all five of these things, but they’re a good way to identify strong testimonials that will have impact.

Remember that more isn’t always better. Choose quality over quantity, and try to support what you’re saying, not distract from it. A single strong testimonial will have more impact than a page full of mediocre ones.

Now, make the most of each testimonial you choose.

Chances are, you won’t get testimonials in convenient paragraphs of copy that support what you’re trying to convey. Usually, they’ll be in letter form, and potentially a few pages in length.

Sometimes you’ll use the entire testimonial, perhaps on your website or posted in store. However, most of the time you’ll need to choose an excerpt that will fit your needs. You can always use a different part later. To identify what part of the testimonial should be used, ask the following questions:

  • What is the most convincing part of the testimonial?
  • Is the author a recognizable name?
  • Is there a specific sentence or paragraph that sums up their experience?
  • Are there several sentences or paragraphs that will be of use?

For example, if you need to group testimonials under a specific category, like “Here’s what our customers had to say about their experience,” you’d only need to pull sentences that speak to customer service. If you’re looking for a killer testimonial that will speak to product quality and service standards, you may want to pull a full paragraph and let it stand alone.

You can use testimonials in your business wherever your customers can see them. Here are some suggestions for placement:

Put them on your website.

  • Create a page of your website dedicated to customer testimonials.
  • Include testimonials on every page of your website – especially the pages that generate the highest traffic.
  • Put your best testimonial in a prominent location on your homepage – in sidebars, call out boxes or above the headline – and put a new one up on a regular basis.
  • Use testimonials to break up long bits of sales copy throughout your website.

Put your best 25 to 50 letters in a waiting room book.

  • Keep a binder or album of testimonial letters, printed on source letterhead, for your prospects and customers to flip through.
  • You can keep this binder in the waiting room, your office, your point of sale, your boardroom, or anywhere else you prospect may have an opportunity to look at it.
  • This strategy allows customers to build trust while-they-wait, and usually results in prospects being more open to what you have to say.

Hang your best testimonials in your store or office.

  • Frame your best testimonial letters (again, printed on letterhead) and hand them up in your business or your office. Hang several in a row for maximum impact.
  • Even though your prospects may not read each and every one, the presence of testimonials will send the message that you have happy customers. They may even want their company names on the wall too.

Put them in your advertisements.

  • Testimonials are highly effective in advertising. Use short, clear, purpose focused testimonials for the best results.
  • Avoid cluttering up your ad with paragraphs of testimonial copy – save that for your website and brochures.

Put testimonials in your direct mail.

  • Let the words of others speak for you when sending a direct mailing. Attach a page of testimonials to a direct mail letter, or include them on postcards or brochures.
  • Since you can’t physically be there to sell your product, the use of testimonials in direct mail campaigns can boost response rates.

Partner with a complementary company for a joint mailing.

  • Send a joint mailing with a company that offers a product or service that is complementary to yours, and you’ll gather a host of qualified leads.
  • The way it works is you send a letter to your clients on your letterhead introducing and offering the other company’s product or service, and they do the same for you. Since your existing customers already trust your business, and you endorse your partner company, the letter acts as a testimonial.

Use video testimonials on your website, in presentations and in store.

  • Put videos of happy customers on your website for browsers to find when they’re looking at your offering. Videos tend to be more interactive, and may be seen by more people than plain text.
  • If you attend trade shows or sales presentations, keep video testimonials on a CD or DVD to play on a loop or in strategic points of your presentation.
  • Transcribe the audio to written testimonials that can be used in your print collateral, and make the most of your customer’s comments.
  • In your marketing materials, invite customers to visit your website to view videos of other client’s experiences and thoughts after using your product or service. It’s always more interesting to see something live than read it on paper.

When you put some thought into how you use testimonials, they will have a stronger impact on your target audience.

Remember that the key to maximizing the power of your testimonials is making sure that your prospects see them when they need to see them.

You want to use testimonials to back you up when you’ve said or claimed something unbelievable, or are trying to build credibility. You want to place them so they’re seen right before you ask for the close, or the call to action. Let others speak for you when it matters the most.

To Your Success!

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