In the marketing profession, it is common practice to collect customer testimonials in order to allow prospects that are considering purchasing your product why others in a position similar to theirs found useful. As much as we try to translate the value of our products to our customer, the customer testimonial is highly effective because for the customer; it mimics asking advice from a friend or a professional contact. To the prospect, words from a customer are real, in that they are not written as part of that person’s job nor to “market” the product. Marketing copy, on the other hand, can be seen as contrived, because it is written with a certain goal in mind and may or may not reflect the writer’s actual opinion. Customer testimonials provide a sense of objectivity in statements made about your product. Customer testimonials, however, will have a stronger impact if you focus on best practice, instead of simply collecting and posting customer testimonials as part of your common practice.
Here are 10 Tips for Effective Use of Customer Testimonials, Customer Testimonial Best Practice:
- Whether in print or online marketing, do not lump all of your testimonials into one section. Fewer people will read a page of testimonials than will read a testimonial if one is located at the top of every web page, sprinkled throughout your brochure, etc.
- Draw attention to your customer testimonials by distinguishing them from marketing copy using font, font size, pop-out text boxes, color, etc. If a photo of the customer that authored the testimonial is available, use it.
- Where possible, guide your customers in providing customer testimonials. Solicit customer testimonials by sending out customer satisfaction questionnaires, and write the questionnaires with customer testimonial goals in mind.
- On your web site, encourage customers to give you feedback (and acknowledge that what they say be used for marketing purposes). Provide a prominent link to a customer questionnaire, or simply a feedback box. Ask the customer to tell you what they think.
- Do not edit or alter customer testimonials (aside from technical fixes, such as correcting spelling errors). The most effective customer testimonials are real.
- Thematically pair customer testimonials with the place where they appear in your marketing collateral. For example, place a testimonial that highlights the ease-of-use of your product next to the section of your website or brochure that addresses ease-of-use.
- Use bold font, italics, etc. to highlight what you consider to be the main or most attractive point of the customer testimonial. Draw attention to the “thesis statement” of the testimonial.
- Where possible, solicit customer testimonials in multimedia formats. Photos, videos, etc. are highly effective testimonial formats. For example, the statement “we love our new patio furniture” is made highly effective by a picture of the family enjoying the furniture. A customer testimonial regarding the customer’s satisfaction with their new HR software becomes that much more real in video format.
- Include the customer’s real identifying information (ask for permission first), such as full name and job title. This highlights the fact that your customer testimonials come from real people, and help the reader relate to the author of the testimonial.
- Keep your customer testimonials fresh. By collecting customer feedback continuously, you will be able to keep your testimonials in line with any changes in the conditions of your customers’ industry or needs of your customer base.