June 16, 2015
Customer testimonials are an incredible tool to build trust with prospects, find raving fans, and grow your business. In one study, customer testimonials had the highest effectiveness rating for content marketing at 89%. Turns out people trust what previous customers say about their experiences with businesses. As the co-founder of Rocket Referrals, I’ve dedicated years of my life to researching the power of testimonials and testing tactics to collect the greatest number of responses from the right people. Along the way I’ve learned the real power of customers promoting a business in their own words. In this post, you’ll absorb why testimonials are essential for your business, a proven method for stockpiling high-value responses, and the components of a great testimonial. Let’s dive in.
6 ways testimonials grow your business
After interviewing hundreds of business owners, marketers and sales professionals over the course of several years, I’m convinced there’s a knowledge gap of the real power of testimonials. There’s a missing “why”. What follows are six tangible benefits of making testimonials a regular part of your marketing strategy.
1) Testimonials increase customer retention and commitment
After a customer makes the commitment to promote you to others it becomes a part of their self-image. In our experience, we’ve found that customers who’ve put a stake in the ground and said “This business is great and here’s why” are far less likely to leave and buy from another company. The nerdy, psychological term for this is cognitive dissonance: the mental stress a person feels when they are confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values. In other words, it’s easier when a customer has said “I like this company” to stick with it through thick and thin.
2) Testimonials are rehearsals for referrals
One interesting aspect of testimonials is they are often precursors to word-of-mouth referrals. When people take the time to write something positive about your business it helps them remember the positive experiences they’ve had with your company. When the opportunity to talk about your business comes up, it’s easy to recall their positive feedback because those thoughts are stored in the back of their minds.
3) Testimonials open the door for valuable feedback
An obvious but often overlooked benefit of testimonials is that they provide valuable feedback for your business. The more responses you collect, the more insight you have into what exactly converts paying customers in raving fans. The key takeaway is find out what customers like and give them more of it.
4) Testimonials help you find your best promoters and raving fans
Written testimonials are an easy way to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. You will quickly find out who your promoters and raving fans are. Before you have an automated process in place to collect testimonials (that’s what’s below), your best bet is to directly reach out to customers you already know are satisfied and ask them to write a testimonial for your company.
5) Testimonials encourage your team!
At Rocket Referrals, we have collected thousands of testimonials for our clients. We hear over and over how much our clients enjoy reading testimonials from their customers. There is perhaps no better way to lift up company morale than showing real proof of a job well done.
6) Testimonials reveal your top performing employees
This holds true particularly for service-related companies. Staff on the front lines interacting with clients day in and day out are more likely to be mentioned in written testimonials. We’ve seen that when customers mention names like “Hadley did a great job!” or “Christian made the perfect design”, it establishes a more personal, human feel around your company. Also, this helps business owners know which of their staff is driving the most smiles.
What makes a great testimonial
Not all testimonials are created equal. The best testimonials are:
- Not too long, not too short, but just right (2-3 solid sentences)
- Mention specific ways in which you have helped
- Believable (don’t make you out to be a greek god)
Not every client will provide the perfect testimonial. That is normal. But two ways to improve your chances are by providing examples of other great testimonials for customers to see and asking customers to be specific about what you did right.
A proven method for stockpiling testimonials
Okay, okay! You got it: consistently collecting testimonials is great for your business. But how do you go about acquiring them? At Rocket Referrals, we have developed a proven method for stockpiling written testimonials for our clients. In fact, across all our clients, we see an average of 30% of their loyal customers provide valuable testimonials with this approach. Trust me, it’s almost painful to give this away considering how much research, testing, tweaking, sweat, tears, etc. went into identifying this ultimate method. But, what the hell, we love educating businesses on best practices. Here’s the secret process to stockpiling testimonials… The first step is to implement the Net Promoter Score (NPS) for your business. There is a lot to say about the benefits of NPS. The best place to get started with your learning is The Net Promoter Community and The Net Promoter System website. The important thing to take away here is that the NPS, if implemented correctly, yields a very high response rate. We have seen an average of 40-50% of recipients respond by following these best practices in your NPS survey email:
- Simple and personalized subject line. Example: “Carl, two questions for you.”
- Brief explanation. Example: “It’s important for my team and I at insert company here to continue making improvements. That’s why I’m sending this email; to ask you for your feedback.”
- Only one call-to-action. Example: “How likely is it that you would recommend insert company here to a friend or colleague?”
The second step is to collect the testimonial. Directly following the NPS a number of the respondents are primed to keep giving more feedback. All you need to do is ask! After a customer responds to your NPS survey, the next step is to ask the reason why they answered the way they did. Frame the question dynamically based on how they scored. For example, ask the detractors “What are specific ways we could improve?” For “promoters”, ask “Could you let us know what it is we did right?” and include a checkbox asking for permission to publicly share the response. Check out the email to promoters below. By asking what you did right you are essentially gathering a testimonial for your business. Pretty clever, huh? Customer testimonials are a powerful way to grow your business. By collecting and sharing what your customers say about you in their own words, you’ll emotionally connect with likely buyers, grow the commitment of your existing clientele, and spur on your company to greater and better work. How have you seen the power of customer testimonials yourself? What is the process look like in your business to collect and share what your promoters say? Let us know in the comments.