Website testimonials prove your online value proposition.
Testimonials have the highest content marketing effectiveness rating – 89%
Unless you’re IBM, Apple, Nike, Google, eBay or another category brand leader, you need to build your credibility by associating your business with the respected third parties with whom you partner or do business. You can have a strong value proposition and compelling calls to action clearly laid out on your website, but every potential customer visiting is thinking, “This sounds good… now where do I find proof that what they’re saying is actually true?” The simple answer is in your third party testimonials, references and endorsements. To prove your quality and service claims, you need witnesses.
The reputation and legitimacy of your organization is important for users to know before they decide to do business with you. People coming to your website will probably not accept the messages you’re promoting at face value. The fact is, what you say about yourself is less believable than what other people, especially those in positions of respect, say about you. It follows that what others say about you is more believable, so why wouldn’t you include plenty of testimonials and references on your website to make it a trustworthy resource for your visitors?
Consider this statistic from a 2013-2014 survey of content marketers published by SocialMediaToday: “Customer testimonials have the highest effectiveness for content marketing at 89%. This tells us that 89% of the real experts, the people who actually implement online marketing for their companies and measure the results, rate testimonials as the single most effective aspect of content marketing.
Go ahead and make your promise to your target audience, but be sure to back it up with a variety of third party testimonials and endorsements. Following are six of the most common forms of website testimonials and third party references.
1. Written Testimonials by Named Sources
Quotes coming from named individuals carry more weight than those from anonymous sources. What or who is more credible, an unknown title or a real person representing herself and her organization? For example, when giving credit to a testimonial, instead of citing “office administrator for a major law firm,” cite instead “Anna Marie Medeiros, vice president of administration, Brenner, Rothschild & Clement.” If a person is willing to put their name on a quotation and make it public, you know they are risking their reputation by endorsing a business or product. This is clear evidence of your performance value.
Testimonial Tip: For written testimonials, it’s usually best to 1) get permission, 2) write the testimonial yourself but in the client’s voice, 3) have the client sign off or edit. This technique makes it much easier for your customer and will speed up the process for you.
2. Video Testimonials
Real people – real customers talking sincerely as they extol the wonderful benefits of doing business with you is proof that you’re the real thing. If possible, get a respected celebrity customer on video for your business and you’ll have pure marketing gold! In most cases, short video clips can be taken with a good smartphone because all you really need is decent picture quality and audible sound. Spontaneous and candid moments tend to work well in personal shares such as testimonials. You need to make people more comfortable about further engaging with you or your website. Below is an impromptu video testimonial of a Parker Web Services client that we feature on our website.
3. Third Party References
Displaying respected business partners as well as organizational certifications and endorsements on your website engenders confidence in your company’s ability to compete and win in the market. When your company is involved in its industry and community, working closely with well-respected entities or individuals, you should make these relationships known on your website. Borrowing the brand value of respected organizations builds more equity in your own brand.
4. Case Studies
Make the testimony tangible. Tell a true story about how your solution solves a client’s problem or how specific customers receive a superior experience, more convenience and better value from your website and service team. You’re giving visitors solid, provable facts about your products & services as well as a third party endorsement. Your website visitors can take comfort in knowing that you deliver what you promise.
5. Published Articles and Advice Columns
If your business attracts trade media or broadcast coverage and your competition remains comparatively obscure, guess whose brand name gets the first Google search? If you have any relatively recent press coverage in a positive light, make it visible on your website. Invite publishers, editors and reporters in your industry media to consider the newsworthiness of your company’s unique accomplishments and post any positive media coverage you get about your company/product/services. Write expert advice articles that contain valuable information to your customers and work with editors to get them published. Liberally share these expert advice articles online to further build your respect as a thought leader in your market.
Winning recognition for community service, business excellence, best-in-class technology, etc. further builds confidence among prospects in your target audience. Display your industry/trade/community service awards with the appropriate visibility. Don’t brag, but do allow visitors easy navigation to where they can find your company’s accolades.
Work on Your Relationships and Deliver!
So how do you get powerful testimonials and third party references to use on your website? Simple. If your relationships are good, you ask for them. It’s important to have conversations with your customers or other constituencies about your intentions to use their testimonials to improve your website’s effectiveness.
Consider any cross promotional opportunities and be ready to back up your testimonials with swift inquiry responses and great customer service. After all, your customer is staking their reputation on you so you can improve your own.
The last word: Third party testimonials and endorsements are like earned gifts. It’s your responsibility to honor your relationships and reputation by delivering what you promise while your customers and associates back you up.