Why you NEED Testimonials
It doesn't matter how long I have been doing this (about two decades) self-promotion can tend to feel braggy. And if I feel that way I'm certain you may as well. Here's the solution: let your customers do the talking. Let your customers tell your brand story.
Get heard above the noise.
Let others do the talking for you.
Create an army of brand evangelists. People trust other people.
What if you became your own YELP review factory? You could just take your YELP reviews and use them in your marketing, that's certainly one approach. Or you could borrow YELP's intense ability to assemble loads of customer reviews on your own, for your own use. One way we talk about doing this in our courses is via our newsletter follow-up after a client visit. Simply asking is the fastest, easiest, and most genuine route. Happy customers have no problem serving up tasty reviews for you.
This is what we all Customer Advocates, and they can be an extremely integral part of your word-of-mouth, or referral marketing efforts.
According to Social Media Today, there are three strong reasons for using Testimonials in your campaigns:
1. It adds a stamp of authenticity to your brand
When you Google a product or brand, the first few things you’ll likely see in search results are company-owned websites and social channels - and then probably lots of review sites and customer forums/discussions that are not sponsored or owned by the company.
You can have all the great taglines and inspiring ad creative in the world, but if your customers are saying bad things about you online, that’s very often the deciding factor for someone considering whether or not to buy what you’re selling.
This is an important shift in how people shop, and it’s something all good marketers should be aware of and address.
Focusing on building positive reviews and customer success stories is key in promoting a positive online reputation - and it’s your real customers who have the potential to be some of your biggest brand ambassadors. Their stamp of approval can mean a lot more than your self-proclaimed awesomeness.
2. It promotes customer retention and referrals
By engaging with your happy customers to co-promote their stories online, you're working towards building trusted, long-term relationships with them, thus leading to better retention. And by making them feel special and appreciated, you're also creating an environment where they feel empowered to indirectly market for you.
Social media enables them to spread the word faster and further, so encouraging your happy customers to leverage their stories on their own channels is a great way to get the word out in an authentic and meaningful way.
3. It’s an inexpensive and effective way to drive new business
You’d be surprised by what happy customers are willing to do without being paid or by just receiving a thank you and/or a nice little gift.
You can start by soliciting testimonials from happy customers, offering only your gratitude in return, then from there, hone in on your favorites and reach out to these customers personally to talk about how you can work together to promote and share their stories. This personal touch to your customer relationship will make them feel appreciated and more likely to want to sing your praises to the world.
But before you start hitting up your customers for quotes and stories, it’s vital to sit down and brainstorm the best approach for your unique target market. Building a customer advocate program should be a strategic endeavor.
A couple of great resources to start are Forbes’ article with some initial steps on how to create a customer advocacy program and HootSuite’s out-of-the-box ideas for building out your customer advocate program.
Customer advocates are just one slice of the marketing pie, but they can help your brand grow in a significant way when utilized well.
Mandy Zelinka is the former Digital Marketing Manager for KEVIN.MURPHY International and owned one of the largest award-winning salons in Portland, Oregon. She was also Voted Best Hairstylist in Portland in 2016 by The Portland Fashion + Style Awards.
But she’s best known for tobogganing down the Great Wall of China as a United States Diplomat and First Lady of a City.