Customer testimonials are incredibly powerful.
In a world swimming in information and options, your potential customers are looking for someone to trust. It's easier for them to relate to your former customers than content you create yourself, because people are aware of your self-interest.
A lot of businesses understand the potential of customer reviews and testimonials, but they aren't taking full advantage. They might put a few testimonials up on their website. That's about it.
But what if you tried something different? What if you proactively distributed your testimonials across various marketing channels?
Let's talk about how to do it.
When Not to Use Customer Testimonials
As you'll see in just a second, testimonials can be used in a wide variety of situations, but sometimes they just don't work well.
Here are a few places where you shouldn't use testimonials:
- Too early in the sales process. If you're bombarding first-time visitors with testimonials, you won't connect with them because they are still newly in your sales cycle. They are primarily focused on gathering information. Some of them aren't even aware they have a problem yet – much less potential solutions. Testimonials work better for people already at that stage.
- On existing customers. If someone is doing business with you, there's little reason to send them more testimonials. They're already convinced! However, if you're trying to get them to invest in a different product or service (possibly upselling a more expensive product), you can make an exception.
- In blog posts or other top-of-funnel content. Blog posts are usually intended for people just beginning the sales process. These information-gatherers are typing in search terms for answers and advice. They aren't interested in endorsements for specific business solutions yet.
- In Calls to Action. Calls to action (CTAs) are invitations for people to do something to further their relationship with you. This can range from joining an email list or downloading an eBook, to trying a trial product or scheduling a consultation. People are used to seeing testimonials for free and without any prompting. If you ask for a commitment and that's all they get in return, they might feel slighted.
Where to Use Customer Testimonials
Now that you know where to avoid using testimonials, let's talk about all the places where they can be effective.
Case studies are detailed accounts of how your business helped a specific customer solve a problem. They typically contain images, statistics, and specific quotes from the happy customer. These quote portions are actually testimonials.
So, while testimonials can stand alone and still be influential, you can also use them as building blocks to construct more in-depth case studies. These resources are great for buyers near the end of the journey, who, for whatever reason, need a bit more reassurance to overcome last-minute objections.
Website Product or Service Pages
General testimonials like, “It was a pleasure doing business with Acme Corporation,” are a lot better than nothing, but the true power of testimonials is when they get specific. Instead of just displaying all your testimonials together randomly, you can tailor them to the specific products or services they endorse.
This makes testimonials a great fit on product or service pages of a business website. If someone is interested in a specific product, seeing tailored testimonials gives them a more relevant experience.
Website Testimonial or “Customers” Pages
Another option is to assemble all your testimonials and display them on a designated testimonial or “customers” page. This is a good idea if you've collected quite a few already; seeing the sheer number of endorsements can be powerful to a potential customer. If so many people became happy customers in the past, it's easier for them to imagine joining that group.
Some businesses have large libraries of testimonials, even allowing visitors to filter them by specific products and/or industries. This makes it easier for people to find the content most relevant to their interests.
Nurture Email Sequences
Because the vast majority of their audiences won't become customers right away, many businesses use email marketing to nurture relationships and qualify leads. Automated email sequences keep you top of mind while providing value in the form of additional content.
Testimonials work great as pieces of that content. If you're targeting subscribers deeper into the sales process, you could craft emails specifically designed to share testimonials. Everyone love a success story – especially ones whose “heroes” (your past customers) are people the reader can relate to.
Email testimonials build credibility because they prove your product or service can do what you claim. You could even include a link to a more in-depth case study for readers who want to find out more about the customer's story.
A business homepage is probably the most common place you see customer testimonials. Unlike a specific testimonials or customer page, you'll want to be selective here. Because your homepage has to do so much already (convey your value proposition clearly and succinctly), limit your testimonials to avoid overwhelming visitors.
Three to five testimonials is a good number here. Because it's your homepage, it's okay if your testimonials are a bit more generic than they are for specific products or services. Focus on testimonials that appeal to a broad audience. If you've worked with influencers or brands your audience will recognize, this is a great place to point that out.
Written testimonials are the most common format, but with how much video content we are consuming online these days, embracing this format makes a lot of sense.
If you record your customers giving testimonials (this might happen anyway when you're creating a case study), you can distribute those videos on your website and popular platforms like YouTube. Being able to see a person and hear their words humanizes the impact you've made in a powerful way.
YouTube is also the second largest search engine in the world. You might be surprised at how many people stumble on your videos. Because they get to decide what to watch, only the people deeper into the buying journey will do so. The process is self-selecting. You can also include a call to action at the end of your video linking viewers back to your website.
Testimonials are short quotes, making them great for fast-paced social media. If you've been building up these platforms, sometimes you'll have customers message you about the great job you've done.
These organic, unscripted testimonials are perfect to retweet and distribute across your networks. Another option is to simply quote from the testimonials on your website, along with a link back to the appropriate pages.
Effective social media for business is all about opening dialogs and building connections, not blatant self-promotion. It's okay to brag about yourself a little bit though – as long as you let your customers do it for you!
Your Sales Process
Testimonials can be just as effective during sales as they are with marketing. Your sales team focuses on well-qualified leads. Because they're deep into the sales process, they'll be receptive to hearing about the experiences your testimonials discuss.
Spice up your next sales meeting or presentation. After you've pitched for a few minutes, share a testimonial to reinforce what you said in the customer's words. Your sales team can also study testimonials to pick out language patterns and common objections to overcome.
Get the Most from Every Testimonial
Testimonials are too powerful to languish unnoticed on some obscure page of your website. If you get proactive about distributing them, you'll connect with your audience like never before.
There are a lot of options to explore, but don't let the sheer number of them overwhelm you. No need to try all these strategies at once. You can start with one or two, and branch out gradually as you get comfortable.
You've worked hard to make your customers happy. Now it's time to have their words work just as hard for you!