Why Customer Testimonials Matter for Small Business
Prospective customers want to know what other people think of your business before they hand you their cash or their card number. That’s where customer testimonials come in.
Done right, testimonials on your website and social media channels provide social proof, raise conversion rates, and even help promote specific products or services you offer.
Here are some best practices to make sure your hard-won testimonials work hard for you.
How Testimonials Help Your Business
First, what is social proof, and why does your business need it? Social proof is a fancy way of saying that we humans like to know that other people have had a good experience with something before we give it a try.
Think about your own habits – when you’re trying to choose which product to buy online, do you go with the one with no reviews or the one with a dozen mostly positive reviews? Objectively speaking, your choices may be more or less equal, but you probably choose the one that other people have chosen, because it seems less unfamiliar.
The idea behind social proof may sound vague, but marketers can and do measure its impact. One business case study found that adding properly formatted testimonials to a company’s homepage boosted the conversion rate by 34 percent. (Testimonials aren’t the only way to strengthen your business’ social proof. Learn more ways to leverage social proof for your site.)
Getting more customers to contact you or buy your products is one way to use testimonials, but you can also use them in more specific ways. For example, if you’re launching a new product or service, testimonials from preview users or beta testers can help overcome that natural human reluctance to be the first to try something new. Keep in mind that there are some ethical guidelines for sharing testimonials from people who tried your stuff for free, which we’ll go over below.
You can also use testimonials to raise interest in specific products or services that offer quality but aren’t selling as well as your other offerings.
How To Get Customer Testimonials
Getting testimonials from your customers sounds easy—just ask—but some requests are easier than others, so start with those. If you get great feedback via email or on social media from one of your customers, thank them and ask if you can use it on your website. Most of the time, they’ll say yes.
You can also embed positive customer reviews from third-party sites like Yelp and Google on your site and let them serve as testimonials, and you don’t need to request any special permission to include those on your site.
There’s also straight-up asking your best customers if they wouldn’t mind writing a testimonial for your site. If you have a good working relationship and they’re naturally expressive people, they’ll probably agree to share their feedback. Make your request something short and sweet like, “I’m inviting my best customers to write short testimonials about our widget/service for our website. If you’d like to contribute, I’d really appreciate it.” Be sure to thank them for their time, too.
As we mentioned above, you may have preview customers or beta testers for a new product or service, and you can use their testimonials with their permission. However, to stay on the right side of ethics and Federal Trade Commission rules, you must disclose it if the people providing your testimonials got a discount, a free trial, or anything else in exchange for what they’re writing about.
4 Ways To Make Your Customer Testimonials Even More Effective
Getting testimonials from clients and customers is just the beginning. To get the most value from their comments, follow these best practices.
1. Use names, faces, and places.
Prospective customers seek out testimonials, but more importantly, they seek out testimonials that seem real. In an age of bots and online shenanigans, it’s more important than ever to show that your testimonials are from real people. The simplest way to do that is to include their names (full or just first), photos, and city or company—with their permission, of course.
2. Include specific positive feedback.
Prospects check reviews and testimonials to see why other people like your business. If you have the best customer service in town, try to get testimonials that mention it. If your products do something none of your competitors do, get a testimonial that says so. And if you’re easy to work with and deliver great value, let one of your customers sing your praises in their testimonial.
3. Keep testimonials short.
The best testimonials are only as long as they need to be to share specific positives about your business, so keep testimonials to a couple of sentences at most. That respects your visitors’ time. It also makes it more likely that local prospects who are searching on their mobile phones will see your testimonials and take action—reading short blurbs is much easier than reading long paragraphs on a phone.
What if you get a great testimonial that’s more like a story than a blurb and really makes your company look great? Turn it into a case study and level up your marketing.
4. Update your testimonials.
A good testimonial can work for your business for years, but it’s a good idea to check your testimonials every now and then to make sure they refer to products and services you still offer. Keep asking for testimonials as your business grows to cover more aspects of what you do. Asking for feedback is also a way to find out what your customers like best and what they’re only lukewarm about. Those are the areas you can work on until they’re worthy of a testimonial, too.
Testimonials Help Grow Your Business
Testimonials are just one way to get the customer feedback you need to help your business thrive. Learn more about listening to your customers to grow your business.
Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelancer who enjoys writing about business development and marketing, e-commerce payments and fraud prevention, and travel.