Most marketers would agree that a customer testimonial from senior member of an established company that does business with you is worth its weight in gold. How you use that gold, however, will have a big impact on how brightly it glitters.
Think about a literal piece of gold for a moment. Not many people walk around with a solid bar of gold — the kind of thing usually featured as “loot” from a bank vault in a heist movie. We know it’s valuable, but it looks even more valuable when that gold is turned into a necklace, a set of earrings or a bracelet.
When marketers don’t treat customer testimonials the same way, they may be missing out on some golden opportunities.
The most common use for customer testimonials, of course, is putting it in a position of high visibility on your web site’s home page. Those with enough testimonials might even give them a page all their own. There’s nothing wrong with that at all, but apply some creativity to testimonials and you’ll have an asset that can be used across multiple marketing channels. Here’s how to get more out of your customer testimonials:
Plenty of companies publish blog posts that extol the virtues of their trustworthy and knowledgeable stuff — without having a lot of evidence to back them up. The same goes with posts that discuss the benefits of particular products and services.
Weave a customer testimonial into the copy, however, and it may become the thing that spurs a lead or prospect to ask some more specific questions about how the customer in question worked with your firm. While case studies with more detailed quotes can do the same thing, customer testimonials in a blog post allow you to use something specific to talk about something more general — about what your firm does to differentiate itself in a crowded space, for example, or how you’re responding to a trend in the market.
No one would want a customer testimonial if it wasn’t using a positive tone of voice, but the reality is that customers are talking about a challenge or pain point your firm has helped them solve. Dig deeper into how other leads and prospects are going through similar issues by inviting them to a chat on LinkedIn, Twitter or an online community of your own. The testimonial can go into everything from the invite copy to an introductory post that gets the reaction of others: is this the kind of feedback they’d like to be giving once they’ve overcome a similar obstacle?
Attention spans are short, which is why more organizations are increasingly seeing video as an effective way to market themselves to potential customers. These videos could be tutorials, thought leadership clips or even customized sales pitches. They’re easy to share, can be watched on any device and consumed at the viewer’s leisure.
Imagine a video, regardless of style, which uses a customer testimonial to perform a function similar to being introduced by a third party. Immediately the viewer knows there is someone out there who would vouch for your firm. You could also close with the testimonial before the end credits to leave a lasting impression of how your firm is perceived. Or just think about a video based on little more than customer testimonials with some B-roll about the relevant products, services and people — letting the best feedback you’ve ever gotten speak for itself on camera.
Pictures may be worth 1,000 words, but people who glance at even the best infographics may only pay attention to some of the words. That’s why — whether you’re using a chart to show statistics or illustrations to convey business problems or trends — customer testimonials can offer a benefit similar to the one we discussed earlier about blog posts. If you choose properly, a testimonial can answer the question “What am I looking at here?” when someone gets to the end of an infographic and whether the images they’ve been shown speak to what’s happening in the “real world.”
Marketing departments often work overtime to improve their open rates and click-throughs, even though we all know subject lines usually determine what messages move to the top of our inboxes.
Try this magic trick: take a customer testimonial and break it into two pieces. Take the part that gets as specific as possible about the benefit the customer highlights, such as “We saved time and money working with XYX Inc.,” or “XYZ Inc.’s service was second to none.” Use this piece as the teaser in your subject line, perhaps with ellipsis or other words to suggest they’ll learn more if they open the email. Then run the testimonial in full in your message and provide context, along with whatever you’re trying to promote. See what that does to your opens and click-throughs.
The last few years have seen a renaissance in organizations of all kinds turning to online audio as a way to tell stories in a fresh way. The problem for B2B firms is often trying to create content as compelling as, say, the investigative journalism podcast Serial.
If you captured a customer testimonial in an audio interview — at an industry event, for instance, or over the phone — request permission to have the subject’s voice be heard and provide more background about the project that lead to the accolades, along with your own actionable advice on how to replicate their success.
Don’t have a podcast? That’s okay, there are many out there already who are often looking for guests. Read your testimonial directly or even paraphrase it when you’re answering questions on the other end of the microphone.
Purchasing in a B2B environment involves a lot of research on the buyer’s part, which means any relevant data can help reduce their workload. Many companies commission or conduct their own surveys or even simple polls, either using social media, e-mail or another channel. Sometimes, though, it’s not clear why the company is conducting or presenting research — it might just be perceived as a veiled sales pitch.
Again, customer testimonials get to the heart of what’s really keeping customers up at night. They can provoke others to benchmark themselves against the firm being quoted, or prompt discussion about other things firms need to do to be more successful. Maybe the testimonial is just the jumping-off point for your introduction or rationale for a survey, or you could use multiple testimonials to add validity to various kinds of questions your asking. It makes your company look like it not only knows its audience well, but is always trying to learn more.
Just like jewelry, customer testimonials should be shown off in a way that says something more about who you are as a company. That’s the best way to ensure you’ll keep finding more gold among your most satisfied customers.
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