feedbackIt’s pretty common knowledge that word of mouth is one of, if not the, best ways to sell your product or service. Here, David Standing from mybizadvisor looks at how you can use the power of word of mouth in the form of testimonials on your website to grow your business.

Increasing your customers and prospects are using the internet to search or local products and services. Providing a good quality website doesn’t need to cost a fortune and if built properly will give you a return on investment by generating leads and sales on a daily basis. One of the key building blocks for any website is a range of testimonials.

Firstly let’s be clear what we mean by a testimonial. Testimonials are endorsements from customers, an independent indication that you have done a good job. Their purpose is to provide evidence to new buyers that you can do what you say that you can do and help you stand out from your competitors.

Of course you can simply tell potential customers that you’re great! That might seem like the easiest route, because getting good testimonials will take some effort, but the effort of collecting testimonials is worth it. Research shows that 90% of people trust recommendations from people they know and 70% of people trust the opinions of strangers posted online (Neilsen, 2009). No matter what product or service you’re promoting on your website, your business will benefit from having testimonials.

1. Getting Started

To get started you need to have a process in your business that collects testimonials on a regular basis. It is possible that you will get testimonials without asking but it will be on an ad hoc basis. For most businesses the best time to get a testimonial from a customer is as soon as they’ve bought something. Not a month later, or even a week later, but straight away. They are in a positive frame of mind, pleased with their shiny new purchase. So ask them for a few words and if appropriate a photograph.

2. Mix it up

Collect a range of different testimonials so you have something to use in a variety of marketing. Simple client quotes about why they chose you, reviews of your products or services and videos of customers will all have a place on your website. Don’t be daunted by the thought of collecting video testimonials. Most Smartphones come with a video option these days. For better production values invest in an easy to use video camera and keep it to hand! Not in a locked drawer in the back office where it gets forgotten. For even better quality video consider contacting a local college to see if their film studies students are looking for a freelance project or talk to a local video production agency. It will cost more, but the better production values are likely to be worth the investment.

3. People like your prospects

When collecting testimonials make sure you get a range; different people talking about the range of products or services that you offer. This is because it’s important that your testimonials reflect your target audience. Also having a variety means that you can match the appropriate testimonials to the relevant page on your website. You should aim to have testimonials on as many pages of your website as possible. It’s unlikely that prospects will visit every page of your website so spreading testimonials around means you will get the benefit of them no matter how many or few pages that your prospect sees.

4. Mind your language

You might be tempted to edit or copy videos to reflect your industry phrases or language but in most cases this would be a mistake. Your customers will recognise authentic endorsements and will be suspicious of anything that looks like corporate speak! Real words from real people are worth their weight in gold. If you work in the business to business arena consider including the testimonial’s job title and the logo of the business that they work for. This will help re-inforce the fact that these are genuine people!

5. Keep it simple

We all lead busy lives so make sure it is super simple for your customer to give you a testimonial and be clear what you want. A testimonial like ‘Great service – thanks’ whilst lovely, won’t tell prospective customers a great deal about what you do or why they should choose you over a competitor. A great way of making it easy is to provide your customers with a few sample questions. Tell them they can answer as many or as few as they like. Here are four to get you started – but amend the list as appropriate.

– What did you find as a result of using this product/service?

– What did you like most about this product/service?

– Why did you choose to do business with us?

– Who else do you think would benefit from using this product/service?

6. If they say no?

Or even worse tell you something you don’t want to hear? If a prospect declines to give you a testimonial this is worth further investigation. “Negative” reviews are not a bad thing. Indeed I would suggest that you consider them as a gold mine because of the information they provide, so view them as free market research. Where else can you get such honest, valuable feedback? Don’t be defensive. Read them and consider what you can learn about what you customer is telling you.

In a nutshell

DO:

– set up a system so you get testimonials on a regular basis

– make sure that you have testimonials on every page of your website

– consider using video as well as the written word

DON’T:

– forget to ask permission before using their comments

– ignore your target audience

– do this for a while and then forget about it – constantly update you testimonials

David Standing has written a free guide with further details on how to collect and use great testimonials. If you would like a copy simply visit www.accordantpartners.co.uk/poweroftestimonials

For more information regarding mybizadvisor and the services they offer visit www.mybizadvisor.com. You can also find mybizadvisor on Facebook and Twitter.