Imagine you’re perusing your next purchase on Amazon. You find two products that meet your needs: their descriptions are similar; they’re in the same price range; and you think they’d both work for your intended use. The only difference: one has 4.8/5 stars on 4,383 reviews; the other has no reviews. Which are you more likely to buy?
All things being equal, consumers trust reviews over no reviews.
And that’s because – hold onto your hats, friends! – 97% of consumers don’t consider marketers to be trustworthy. At least, not trustworthy without proof.
And that’s where customer testimonials enter into your marketing strategy. Here we go!
What is a customer testimonial?
A customer testimonial or review is a written – or, increasingly, videoed – reflection of a real customer’s experience with your brand or business. Customer testimonials may be found on your own website, on your social media, or on third-party sites like Yelp, Google Reviews, Amazon, TripAdvisor, and more.
They’re also one of our favorite low-cost marketing ideas. And when was the last chance you had to deploy free AND effective marketing?
Do I really need customer testimonials?
In a word, YES. (Feel free to skip straight to the most popular types of testimonials if you’re already on board.)
If you need a bit of persuading, consider this: more than 70% of potential customers check reviews and testimonials before they make a purchase. A further 90% report that positive reviews influence their purchasing decisions.
That’s because, testimonials build trust. They’re authentic, they’re non-salesy, and they’re often un-edited and un-influenced; they reflect a customer’s true experience with your brand. Seeing is believing. That’s why we call it social proof. So, go on – prove that you walk the walk, with ample and visible customer testimonials.
Types of customer testimonials + testimonial templates
There are many, many kinds of customer testimonials out there: testimonials that look many different ways, that are published to many different sites, and that function in various methods. At the end of the day, though, testimonials in all their various forms boil down to a few basic types:
Screenshot via Zero to Launch
The most popular type of customer review, quote testimonials have a low barrier to entry: If you have happy customers, then you can get satisfied customer testimonials. The key is to pair a glowing text testimonial with a photo of your happy customer – preferably, a smiling photo, which helps communicate a sense of openness, satisfaction, and approachability.
Screenshot via Hubspot
Influencer testimonials are powerful – but hard to get. Whatever your industry, influencers are the high-hanging fruit: difficult to reach but, once you do, worth serious bragging rights. That’s why these testimonials are easy to spot, most often as onsite badges (frequently on the homepage) that display the influencer’s logo + verbiage somewhere along the lines of “As seen in…”
Industry insider testimonials
Screenshot via Neil Patel
Right up there with influencers – and, in some cases, towering far above – customer testimonials from industry insiders are the most powerful you can post. If you manage to impress the superstars of your industry – thought leaders, celebrities, and other esteemed individuals – then you’re much more likely to also impress their followers (and anyone else who respects them).
Social media testimonials
Screenshot via Moo on Facebook
Social media interactions are, perhaps, the easiest type of customer testimonial to get: You don’t have to ask (at least, not always) and customers come to you. And, because these testimonials are posted on social sites, which brands can’t fully control, they also feel organic, truthful, and authentic. In other words, testimonial gold. The downside: You really don’t have control – even over unsubstantiated, unfair, or biased reviews.
(Bonus: Did you know that social signals, including testimonials, can improve search engine ranking?)
Screenshot via LifeLock on YouTube
If you’re in the position to interview your most successful customers and clients, then this testimonial is worth the effort. What’s better, video testimonials are no longer the dominion of only big companies with big budgets; any happy customer with a smartphone and a drop of video-recording acumen can supply you with the testimonial of your marketing dreams. And, you can post the videos on Instagram to get even more traction from your hard-earned customer testimonials.
Consumer review sites
Screenshot via TrustPilot
We’re all familiar with third-party consumer review sites – TripAdvisor, TrustPilot, Yelp etc. – in part, because they work. They’re also pretty easy to get, especially if you send a post-purchase email to request a review: Most consumers already have accounts with these sites, they’re familiar with the sites, and are therefore predisposed to posting reviews to these sites. And, since your brand doesn’t control these sites, consumers are therefore more likely to trust their reviews. But, again, you don’t have control – beware.
Don’t forget: responding to customer testimonials
The worst thing your brand can do is fail to respond to customer testimonials. Good and bad.
Whether you’ve just received an email to your customer service inbox or found a new testimonial on Yelp, bottom line: you should respond to customer reviews. Even if it’s just a short “thank you” note in response to a positive review, or your sincere apology – and promise to do better – to an unsatisfied customer.
Of course, responding to negative customer testimonials and reviews is more important than responding to the positive. Why? Because, no response implies that you don’t care – and no one wants to work with a company that doesn’t care. Even worse, a nasty or defensive review paints your company in a bad light. Most social media management tools offer monitoring features to alert you when someone mentions your brand (some are even free!) so you don’t have to worry about missing a beat.
So, do your brand a favor and take the high road: respond to your negative reviews. And, as we said, the positive ones, too. Starting now. No, seriously. Right now. Go!
After impressing your website visitors with customer testimonials, make it easy for them to join your community with the Instagram follow button. It’s lightweight, mobile-optimized, and super simple to install so you can start growing your audience in minutes!