Consumers trust other consumers. When shopping for a product, people are much more likely to be swayed by positive reviews by real people like them than they are by the positive things store owners have to say. And that only makes sense — store owners are obviously biased toward their products, and are trying to make a sale on top of that. Other customers, though, are viewed as much more objective.
Normally, however, consumers don’t have access to other consumers’ opinions, and may have doubts about whether a product will work for them. That’s why testimonials are so valuable: They give customers the reassurance they need that your products will work for them, and you can hand-pick whose testimonials to use in your marketing materials and whose to leave, ensuring that consumers get a positive impression of your products. Read on to learn some great tips for finding and using customer testimonials.
1. Collect testimonials from current customers. Asking current customers for feedback is always a smart move. Offer slips of paper and pens for customers to write out their feedback after or while shopping, and be sure to ask for the customers’ contact info. Some companies include a box to check if customers will allow you to use their comments on your website or printed materials (don’t say the word “marketing” or you’ll turn many people off). Others choose to contact customers whose testimonials they’d like to use and ask them individually if that’s okay. Although this second method is more work, you may get better results than with a checkbox.
2. Ask experts or celebrities for testimonials. For some products or stores, expert opinions are the most effective testimonials you could get. If you’re hoping to have an expert or celebrity endorse your product, send several people the product for free — ask for permission first for larger or more expensive products — and politely ask for the person’s opinion. Do not expect that you’ll hear back, and if you do, don’t expect an endorsement once they’ve tried the product. Getting positive expert testimonials may take a few tries.
3. Include customer testimonials on your website and other marketing materials. Your website is wealth of information about the products you carry, and including testimonials is just plain smart: Without the space limitations of printed materials, there’s no reason not to include testimonials, and they may well make the difference between a sale and closed page. However, it’s also great practice to include at least two or three testimonials in written marketing materials — despite space limitations. Testimonials are so persuasive that it’s worth taking up space even on brief marketing materials to include testimonials. Include a headshot of customers if possible, both online and on printed materials. For websites, some companies choose to include rotating testimonials like a banner across the top of the site, while others have a separate page specifically for testimonials.
4. Remember that online reviews are testimonials too. You may not get to pick and choose what customers say publicly about your business, but reviews online are just as valuable as the customer testimonials you put on your website. Make sure your business is listed on as many review sites as possible, and monitor what customers are saying and respond when necessary. Know the rules for the individual sites, too — some review sites let business owners choose which reviews to take down and which to allow, while others take reviews down only in the event of obvious fakes or other violations of terms of service. It’s not such a bad thing to not be able to take down negative reviews, though — just as customers may trust reviews on review sites more than hand-picked testimonials on your website, customers may also trust review sites where owners can’t take down negative reviews over those where owners can filter out negative information.
About the Author:
Valerie is a writer for RetailPackaging.com.