With the speed and power of the internet, we can access product trials, previews, and all the data available in seconds. And yet, word of mouth remains the most influential factor when it comes to purchases. Now perpetuated as the social proof concept, word of mouth remains as powerful as ever. Granted, the venturous try new things without seeking opinions, but a confirmation from a friend that one product is better than another makes many reevaluate their decision before they are stranded with buyer's regret. Testimonials are a version of that social proof. Although they're not a wildly new concept, they're highly influential, improve the customer experience, and should be a part of your business strategy.
This post takes a look at the foundations of a good testimonial, what it must contain and how it should be communicated. But first, let’s dive deeper into the important question.
“Why should I use testimonials?”
As said, the opinions and experiences of existing customers are easily the most powerful factors for other prospects to also purchase. Even something as simple as a rating can have a big impact. The value of customer opinions can easily be seen in online marketplaces. On eBay or Amazon, for instance, a positive feedback over 90% or 4.5 stars is practically a must! Because of the anonymity of the internet, consumers are bound to shy away from anyone with a lesser or no rating at all, simply because they cannot see the seller or touch the merchandise.
While testimonials are predominantly used online, know that testimonials can and should be used in physical locations as well. Digital signage allows you to discretely but impactfully display testimonials, alongside other content. There are many ways to showcase testimonials. As one part of a content rotation where they appear occasionally for example, or as a stand-alone campaign which entirely focuses on testimonials.
Let’s go through all the necessary steps and see what it takes to create a testimonial that will make a bang!
1. Ask specific questions
Clearly you can’t create testimonials from scratch as making up testimonials is not advised (or even legal)! However, you can use the data you have to reach out to your customers. Depending on your business, you can email past buyers directly or ask returning customers via a pop-up message online. You might be able to ask for a testimonial in person as well. Though, you are not allowed to buy or bribe your way into a positive review, an incentive to get customers to take the time to provide an honest review, would be to offer a slight discount or some other form of thankyou.
Quality testimonials should not be generic as they’ll have less impact.
To avoid generic testimonials, establish what you want the testimonial to say about your business. Ideally, these would be the key factors that positively set you apart from the rest. Maybe your business prides itself at, let’s say, having the best prices in town, quick delivery, friendly staff, or cleanliness. With this in mind, ask for your customers' thoughts on some of these topics with open ended questions.
Certain testimonial components are a must! Apart from the answer to your question, the name and image of the person (and a logo of the business, if any) is important as it makes the testimonial more genuine. But above all, you need their approval to use the testimonial publicly. In case you adjust their words, for the testimonial to be legal and legit, you must have their approval to share it.
2. Don’t over-edit
Editing testimonials is okay but only in small dosage. You can edit a testimonial to make it fit a certain format or the context of the message you try to present. You may eliminate unnecessary words or sentences for the sake of aesthetics and easier reading but you should never alter the meaning or the customer’s intent in any way. If anything, an innocent typo, a smiley or an enthusiastic “AMAZING” comment makes more genuine.
In case, through the testimonials you receive not only praise but complaints, use them! If testimonials say your staff is not overly friendly, work on that. You can even include a testimonial with that line and leave a note that you’ve taken the critique to heart and have fixed the issue. A truthful minus here or there makes any testimony more authentic. You can never please everybody. If you plan to present dozens of testimonials, you need at least a little bit of dirt. People will find it hard to believe that each and every single rating is 10/10 and “absolutely loves” everything. They might suspect cherry picking.
Get creative with the questions you ask depending on your business type, location or customers. For instance, your loyal customers can tell you what change in your business they liked the most. Using that sort of feedback showcases your business as agile. It shows you listen. New consumers will be more open to you if they know you’ll adapt to their needs.
3. Format carefully
Deployment of a testimonial is different online versus offline. In any case, a good testimonial is short, concise and genuine. Online though, you can link to a full and detailed testimonial for anyone who wants to take a closer look.
On digital signage, keep it short! One or two sentences and the identity of the person commenting is enough. Of course, be wise with which sentences you take from their testimonial. Any layout containing these components will work. Take a look at examples of good testimonials start on the right track!
A short testimonial fits perfectly alongside other content. The settings on your digital signage software help to ensure that in between other relevant content, a few minutes focus specifically on testimonials. For example, you can build a testimonial campaign and occasionally include it within the content rotation. This can even be a part of your pitch when selling advertising space on your displays.
4. Use social media
Testimonials are not the only path to social proof. Social media is an opportunity begging to be used. If you have an active audience on Twitter or Facebook, select a few posts and share them through a feed on your digital signage. Most viewers will know where the post is from and will see it as a real life comment. If you don’t have any feedback on social media, ask for it! And if your business isn’t present on social media, well, you’re certainly missing out.
We’ve covered the basics of testimonials, but be sure to read more about them. With all this data, you can make the perfect testimonial which fits your business and content style. Maybe you'll find that most of your clients do not want their identity shared. In this case, you can share their testimonial anonymously. If you find you can't use the data to build a testimonial, you could run surveys to get statistical data. “95% of our customers say they’d recommend the service to a friend,” for instance, can be a valuable piece of content.