Testimonials are one of the most powerful tools a business can possibly have at their disposal. After all, the average person puts a tremendous amount of stock in the personal opinions of other consumers. You can talk about how great your business is until you’re blue in face. The fact of the matter is that potential clients expect you to say that. No matter how good a game you can talk, the customer will always know in their back of their mind that even if your business was entirely unimpressive you’d probably be saying the same things. However, if the potential clients hears the same kind of claims not from a business owner but from an average consumer like them they’ll often start to really pay attention. It stands to reason that a recommendation from a stranger wouldn’t carry as much weight as one from a trusted friend or loved one, and yet it seems that this is largely not the case. According to a study by BrightLocal, around 88% of customers trust online reviews from strangers as much as they would trust a personal recommendation from someone they actually knew. Combine this with the fact that 88% of consumers also bas their opinions of businesses, and their merit as potential recipients of their money, on online reviews and you can begin to see just how important positive reviews are.
So how does one get positive reviews for their business? Well, in a perfect world they would simply come to you. You’d do a good job and, in return, you’d be rewarded with a positive review. Unfortunately, the real world doesn’t work that way. When people have a negative experience with a business they leave unsatisfied. They are in need of closure and often attempt to find it by posting a negative review. They have a strong impetus for leaving a review. On the other hand, those who had a positive experience, those who are truly satisfied, have already experienced closure. In their minds there’s no reason for the experience to continue. They reached a positive outcome, and as such there’s no real reason to continue to engage with the process. As such, it’s often necessary to provide a bit of impetus to get satisfied customers to leave reviews. How does one do that exactly? Here are a few ways:
Offer a Reward
This is a somewhat dangerous one on the surface, as giving a reward for leaving a positive review can potentially be seen as bribery, and as such the practice is frowned upon by many review sites. That’s why it’s important to reward people not for the content of their review but for the fact that they made a review in the first place. This can be as simple as saying that if a customer leaves a review, regardless of its content, they will automatically be entered into a sweepstakes or they’ll receive a gift certificate. Something small can go a long way here. No matter what you offer, incentivizing the process is a great way to get former clients to take notice.
Establish a Cycle
This method is a bit more subtle, but it’s still quite effective. If you’re worried about building positive reviews simply make it a part of your routine. Make review gathering a part of your standard company-to-client email communication cycle. If you work in an industry that necessitates a lot of email communication between your company and your clients this will seem all the more natural. As soon as you finish your interaction with a client simply send them an email thanking them for your business and asking them if they’d like to contribute a review. Then provide them with a link to a form where they can do so quickly and easily. The people who take the time to do so will likely be very positive or very negative, so be sure to monitor whatever reviews you receive carefully.
Keep a Camera Handy
Watching a video is a lot less labor intensive than reading content. As such, the average user will be more willing to click play than read a page of testimonials. For this reason alone video testimonials are a great resource. They can also be shared very easily by doing little more than sharing a link. Finally, and perhaps best of all, you can get a video testimonial anywhere. Bring a video camera to jobs with you or keep one in the office. Once you’ve completed a job for a happy client ask them if they wouldn’t mind recording a quick video review. If they say yes, just pull out your camera and in a minute you’ll have a testimonial you can share with everyone, no waiting or hoping required. If the idea of shooting video testimonials does interest you then you’ll want to be somewhat prepared. Use lapel microphones to improve audio quality, purchase a tripod for your camera to reduce shakiness and try to shoot your video in a noise-free environment. The testimonial itself is the most important thing, but video quality is key as well. The better your video looks and sounds the more readily the viewer will be willing to consider its content.
Scour Online Review Sites
If your business is well known enough to have had a good deal of clients there are probably plenty of potential testimonials just waiting for you online. Be sure to scour review sites like Angie’s List, Yelp, Yahoo Local and Google Places for positive reviews. If you find one that meets your liking simply send the reviewer a quick message asking if you can use their review on your site. Many consumers won’t consider the possibility of sending reviews to your site directly when sending them to sites built around such reviews is a much more obvious course of action. You need to let them know that their review is important to you, and that you appreciate their commitment to your business.
So, once you have your positive reviews and testimonials, how can utilize them effectively?
• Use Visuals Whenever Possible: Photographs of clients can help personalize testimonials and make them resonate more effectively. Videos of clients are even more effective in this regard. Regardless of their type, visuals will also help break up the text on your testimonials page, making it more engaging and user friendly.
• Get the Most Diverse Testimonials You Can: If you run a multi-faceted business you’ll want to show off as many sides of it as possible through your testimonials page. Therefore it’s best to pick testimonials from clients for whom you’ve performed different services. Too much repetition will basically equate to white noise. Use one testimonial which praises one aspect of your business, another which praises a different aspect and so on. This will illustrate your business’ potential value to the consumer.
• Put Your Page Front and Center: Make sure your testimonials page is as easy to find as possible. Put a clear link to it from your main page, and preferably from all other pages as well, and make sure said link is clearly identified. You may even want to take a couple of your favorite testimonials and add them to landing pages for your business. Emphasize them effectively and they’ll certainly pay off in time.
Overall, the importance of positive reviews and testimonials really cannot be overstated. Understand that in most cases they will not come to you. You will have to go out and get them yourself. Also understand that if somebody respects your business enough to be a good candidate for a testimonial that they would probably do so of their own volition if they knew about the practice in the first place. Though they are widely used, many satisfied customers simply walk away not because they don’t want to help but because they don’t know they can. No matter how you solicit testimonials, be sure to engage your clients, to let them know their opinion matters and to thank them for their help. A business’ reviews can make or break them. A negative review can be just as harmful as a positive review can be beneficial. Unfortunately, you don’t have to work for the negative reviews but getting the positive ones really does take some effort.