Word-of-mouth advertising has always been recognized for its effectiveness and ability to build trust among consumers. The word of a friend or family member is seen as more credible than that of a seller. Long before the internet and the digital revolution, the word of a satisfied customer was considered a reliable testament to a brand’s claims about product and service offerings. The downside to what was almost always considered free advertising included concerns about the reliability of the message’s distribution and the extended timeframe in getting the message to the marketplace. The internet and social media platforms have made it possible for consumers to connect with a world audience in mere seconds and share a brand experience with millions.
Real, authentic testimonials from customers have become an impactful method of marketing. Surveys indicate that 92 percent of consumers read online reviews and testimonials about a company when considering a purchase, and 95 percent say previous customer reviews influenced a purchasing decision. The digital age has disrupted the way we relate to families, interact with friends and make connections with brands. Content marketing is revolutionizing the way brands are connecting with customers through two-way conversations. Today, social media is where consumers interact most with brands and more and more companies are turning to it to validate the brand and add credibility and trust with customers. By using testimonials, it is possible to transform an organization’s sales message into a credible, unbiased recommendation for its product or service and is a good opportunity to substantiate a brand’s claim.
While the majority of reviews and testimonials are text-based, video testimonials are becoming increasingly impactful for many consumers who find informative videos easier to understand and quicker to navigate. Video testimonials can be used to offer the prospect greater insight into how users are interacting with a product. Testimonials from social media interactions are the most common format and represent the rawest form of customer comments. Often reproduced without edits, this method is overt, to the point and is most often harvested directly from social media platforms. They tend to stand-out as candid and unbiased accounts of how well a product performs. “Industry insider” testimonials are ideally suited for B2B companies and are effective because they leverage the reputations of recognized industry experts. So, what makes an effective testimonial?
The best reviews emerge from individuals who are seen as relevant to a targeted audience and include specific and credible information about the benefits of the product or service. The identity of the witness should be revealed to strengthen credibility of the comments. An included, comparative analysis can be used to demonstrate how a product evaluation stands-up against a competitor. A customer testimonial should not be used without prior permission from the source, nor should information be added to or subtracted from the original claim. The internet has produced smarter and more savvy consumers who are apt to research and investigate company claims. Never invent or promote fictional testimonials.
Consider placing the best testimonials on the company’s website where a user views the company’s unique selling proposition and product or service features and benefits. Accompany relevant content with multiple testimonials that support the authenticity of various messages, but as often the case, less equals more. Surveys reveal that 73% of consumers read six or fewer reviews before making a decision.
The most trusted words about a brand’s performance come from satisfied customers, passed on from family to friend, or between like-minded consumers sharing an interest in common solutions. Using customer testimonials effectively can increase revenues by as much as 67 percent and can generate an expanded loyal community of followers.