How many times have you been asked to find a company to do XYZ and you have no idea where to turn? You do a Google search and sift through some companies but you just wish an individual would tell you, “Hey! Pick this company because I did and it was the best decision I ever made!”
You’ve had this experience before and so have your customers. This is why having reviews and testimonials on your website (or third party review sites like Yelp) makes it easy for prospective customers to see what others have to say about your company and become loyal customers as a result. The why and how of everything testimonial-related is right here for you, so let’s get started!
Why Testimonials are Important:
With the advent of technology “word of mouth” advertising isn’t just Adam at the diner telling Steve about the new barber in town or Janet sharing her experience at the new café in town with Cindy. Instead Mike in Minnesota can learn about Joe in Iowa’s experience ordering from Pat’s Flowers in Ohio. This last scenario is why you want current customers to share their experiences and why it’s important to share them on your website – brand exposure for your company is vital to staying relevant in today’s marketplace.
A survey conducted in early 2013 by Dimensional Research and sponsored by Zendesk found that 90% of their 1,046 participants claimed that positive online reviews did influence their buying decision. You can learn more about their findings here.
Hungry for more info? The Local Consumer Review Survey 2013 found that trust in reviews is rising and the authenticity of those reviews is becoming a bigger factor that consumers take into account when working with a new company. In their research they found that 67% of consumers read six or fewer online reviews before forming an opinion about that company. That means you have to make your reviews and testimonials work for you and not against.
One last tidbit of numbers that needs to be showcased is from the popular RetailMeNot.com website. They wanted a global perspective on buying habits from Australia, Canada, China, India, and Sweden among others.
The question that pertains to customer reviews and testimonials was, “When shopping online, which of the following has an influence on your purchase decisions?” 20% of the total respondents agreed that comments, reviews and opinions from peers on social media influence their purchasing decision. Their study shows that customers taking reviews into account before working with a company isn’t just a thing we do here in the United States, but worldwide. You can see their study in its entirety here.
Testimonials from your customers aren’t just a way for your sales team to get a pat on the back. More importantly they’re there to help potential customers learn more about your operating practices and your business. Don’t discount their importance and figure you’re doing everything else right so they don’t matter. They do!
Who do you ask when you need a plumber or an electrician? Your family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers all probably come to mind, right? What about a niche market like rubber ducks that look like celebrities or heck, promotional products? Doing some research and seeing which companies have outstanding Yelp reviews, Google Places reviews, as well as testimonials posted on a company’s individual website is where your customers start.
How should you go about getting customers to leave reviews or testimonials? I promise it’s not as hard as you think!
Advice from Other Small Businesses to get Customers to Leave Testimonials:
“We simply ask people that if they have a positive experience with the product and love it, perhaps they would like to write a testimonial. It’s that simple. You would be amazed how many people are happy to offer a testimonial if one, you have a great product, and two, they actually feel a personal connection to the product.” – Craig Wolfe from CelebriDucks
“I’ve had great success with simply asking customers to leave a testimonial / review. I send them an email asking them if they could share their experience with my business and I include a link to Google Places, Linked In, etc., where I would like them to leave a testimonial.” – Charles Ogwyn form MyInternetMarketingPartner.com
Here are some ways to remind customers that you’re on Yelp without being pushy:
- Put a badge and link to your Yelp listing on your website using Yelp’s review badges – the review averages and counts even update automatically as new reviews come in!
- Put a “Find us on Yelp” sign in your place of business: on your door, by your registers, and in your front window.
- Include a link to your Yelp business listing in your email signature with the words, “Check us out on Yelp!”
Venture Out and See What Customers are Saying on Social Networks:
“Scan Twitter for mentions of your product name or Twitter account. You don’t need to buy some fancy social analytics software for this. Most people don’t realize Twitter’s website can already save your searches and make them easy to see again. It’s easy to check them once a day for mentions.” – Nathan Kontny from Draftin.com
Make it Easy:
“We have an automated survey that goes out after a client returns from a vacation. Within that survey, we ask them if they would like to provide a testimonial. If they say yes, they click on a link that takes them to where they can leave a testimonial. This makes it as easy as possible on them to complete it and right after their experience with our services.” – Amy Sinclair from Ears of Experience
“Customers generally will only review you if you make the process for their leaving a testimonial easy and user friendly. Try to appear on the main review sites so that you are easy to find. The trick is to be absolutely candid with your customers and express the importance of their leaving a testimonial.” –Matthew Reischer, Sales Process Manager from LegalAdvice.com
Make Your Customer Feel Appreciated and They’ll Be Grateful Back:
“As soon as I have done business with someone or a company, I send a hand-written thank you note. In that note, I state, “I would be deeply grateful to receive a letter of recommendation from you that I might use with future clients.” The majority of customers respond from this simple request.” – Christine Clifford from Christine Clifford Enterprises
Thank Your Frequent Reviewers:
“Target happy customers that like to leave reviews. For example, most Yelpers have an active social profile on Yelp, which means a business can look at the reviews it has already received, observe who has taken the time to leave a review, and build that note into their existing CRM platform. This means you can know that “Joe Smith” left a great review for you on 4/21/13 on Yelp, and the next time he passes through your doors you should know he likes to leave reviews; use this knowledge to your advantage by providing him with extra special treatment.” – Josh Meah from Matador Solutions
If you’re an online retailer then having your testimonials and reviews easy to find is a ‘must’! Include a tab on your website where potential customers can read about others’ experiences working with your company and make sure you share somewhere that you’re on third party review sites.
Quick Take-Aways to Remember:
- Google Places doesn’t allow you to give customers free gifts or discounts for leaving reviews: Simply ask and share the link to your page and more often than not, you’ll receive a review without angering the Lord(s) of Google. Learn more about their review guidelines here!
- Yelp discourages businesses from asking for reviews; “Yelp exists to connect people with great local businesses. We do this by providing people with as much trustworthy information as we can. If consumers don’t trust our content, people stop using Yelp, and everyone loses”.
- Set aside time to ask for testimonials if your workday is too swamped: “Not every [customer] can write well or has the time to sit down and think about what to say. Clients provide me with list of customers willing to offer a testimonial. I contact them to schedule a short interview, typically 5 – 10 minutes. After the interview, I draft a testimonial for their approval and forward to my client.” – Tami Belt from Blue Cube Marketing Solutions
- Post and share your testimonials wherever possible! Include them on your website, print out emails from happy customers and display them on your office wall, put them in a binder for potential clients to flip through while they’re in your reception area, just do something with them.
Nobody wants to feel like they’re pestering anyone, especially a loyal customer, but in all reality if you do a good job and you have a quality product, customers won’t mind taking a few minutes of their day to write a nice testimonial or a review. Go ahead and ask your current customers for some praise! They’ll love helping others and prospective customers will enjoy hearing what others have to say about you!