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A strong testimonial is more than just a positive response
Finding customers who have something positive to say about your company is usually not that difficult. People even do it without being asked on social media. If your business is part of the travel industry, you can take a look at customer responses on sites such as Expedia or TripAdvisor. You will also find customers giving positive feedback on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube. Nevertheless, a good testimonial is more than just a positive response.
It certainly pays to follow the comments about your company or products on social media, using applications such as Social Mention. If this leads you to a positive message, all you need to do is ask for the writer’s permission to integrate it into your own content. Sometimes the feedback is very easy to use, but often those spontaneous, positive reactions are not sufficient to be used as testimonials. They’re suitable as nice quotes, but they’re not strong enough to be effective marketing tools.
Address the sceptics
Testimonials have a particular role and a specific objective in the purchasing cycle: you primarily want to use them to draw in the waverers and the sceptics. With testimonials, you’re saying: ‘These are people like you. They’re very happy with their choice, and so will you be.’
6 characteristics of a strong testimonial
For maximum effect, a testimonial has to meet a number of specific conditions. A testimonial that’s powerful and able to convince prospects will be:
- Recognisable. It comes from someone your target audience can identify with. Because your testimonial is directed at the sceptics, it’s a good idea to let your customer talk about their own doubts. ‘At first I thought this product was not for me, but now I wish I’d bought it much sooner’ is a statement that really addresses sceptics’ misgivings and is therefore perfect for a testimonial.
- Narrative. To make the target audience identify with the testimonial, you need a story and a context. A good testimonial is a form of storytelling and creates a setting. This doesn’t mean that it has to be long – you can present a very recognisable context in just two sentences. If you simply say: ‘Mornings are always such a rush around here. My partner and I have to go to work and the kids need to get to school.’ Everyone instantly imagines an entire world.
- Credible. Context not only makes a testimonial recognisable, but credible as well. Always mention the name, role and other relevant details of your customer, such as age, town or level of education. Then make sure to use some photos and videos, as they’re the ultimate way to strengthen your credibility.
- Specific. A good testimonial has a place in the purchasing cycle and presents some clear advantages of your company or product, preferably with facts and figures. ‘This service saves us 30%’ is more effective than ‘We got a good price.’
- Comparative. ‘I now work twice as fast as I used to’ is better than ‘I work fast.’
- Authentic. Guide a testimonial in the right direction by asking the right questions, but never try to put words in the customer’s mouth or edit statements afterwards.