Testimonials work to your benefit in a couple of ways. Firstly, people trust reviews, and they add credibility to your online presence and help customers make up their mind about your business. Secondly, reviews and testimonials can also help with your search engine ranking efforts, those magical 3 letters for small business: SEO.
How to Get ‘Em
The most common way to get testimonials from your customers is to ask them. The key is to make it easy! Ask for feedback in a way that it will only take a few minutes of their time. You could ask for feedback in a number of different ways:
- via email or phone or in person at your location. However you communicate with your customers.
- ask via social media; your Facebook, Twitter, or other social media channel channels.
- ask in your email newsletters.
- if your small business has a physical location, have feedback cards handy and ready to be filled out.
- have a contest where you ask customers to share success stories.
- have a request for feedback in your email signature, directing them to an online directory where they can easily provide their feedback (see below).
An important step in gathering testimonials is making it clear that you will be using feedback publicly.
But my clients are too busy, you might be thinking, I don’t want to bug them. One trick you can use is to offer to write it for them, and get their approval. And no, that’s not tacky. You know how you’ve helped them. Go through some of your email communications or think back on a phone or in person convo where they praised what you’re doing (but not in a formal testimonials way) and grab some of that. Make it concrete and specific. As long as they approve it, it’s fine. If you write your own testimonials without asking and attribute a name and a business to it, yup tacky and completely unethical.
Leverage your online marketing channels
Your online marketing efforts can make it easy to get more testimonials for your small business…
- Reviews and testimonials are found on public pages like Google Maps, Yahoo Local, Yelp, and other online directories. Do you have your small business registered on these sites? If so, you’re ready to start collecting feedback.
- Leverage Facebook recommendations. Click for instructions on how to enable your Facebook page recommendations.
- Get recommendations via your LinkedIn profile.
What’s great about testimonials and recommendations that you get via your online channels is that they are fair game for you to use on your website or other promotional materials because they were already submitted publicly. So you can take a LinkedIn recommendation for example, and bring it into your site.
What to Do With ‘Em
Put them on full display! Anywhere you can: your website, your social media networks, any printed material… the sky is the limit!
- On your website, consider having a dedicated testimonials page. It’s also a good idea to spread them around your site, in the sidebars for example, so they’re visible even if someone doesn’t go to your testimonials page. Think especially about the pages where potential customers are in the process of making a purchase decision or a decision to take some sort of action. A testimonial on these pages can help move them into the “yes” decision. For my blog for example, I’ve chosen to put some testimonials on my email sign-up page to further encourage site visitors to join my email list. I also have plans to add testimonials to all of my services and packages pages to help people feel more confident about choosing me to help with their internet marketing needs.
- Share a nice testimonial once in a while on your social channels, or in your email newsletters or any other communications channels you use.
- Include testimonials in blog posts. Depending on your business, you might get some really great customer success stories where alot of information is shared about how your product or service helped them. These are always wonderful to have but if they are really long, they might not be ideal for a testimonials page. You could use a succinct blurb within your website testimonials page, but have the full story posted in the blog (this also makes sharing the story online really easy!).
- Do you get nice comments via Twitter? There is a great piece of Twitter functionality that lets you add tweetstimonials to your site. You can see them on my blog at the bottom of the sidebar. Check out this great article on setting that up over at Social Media Examiner.
- Don’t edit them. As much as possible, leave the testimonial in its original form. It doesn’t matter if it’s not the way you would have said it or not very polished. The whole point for testimonials is for them to be credible. And there ain’t nothing more believable than a testimonial that hasn’t been polished. For example, I have recommended in the past to clients that have received testimonials from people that don’t have English as their first language to leave them as is, grammar mistakes and all.
- Make it clear who it is. Another part of a testimonial being believable to making it very clear that it came from a real person. This is one of the most common mistakes I see online. Ever seen a testimonial like this? “Martina is great and does good marketing work.” – Bob. Umm, yeah. Not so powerful. Picture. Logo. Full name. Business name. Title. Location. Even if your person doesn’t want to leave a full name, first name and location is more believable.
- Avoid generic. The above example also is very generic and vague. You’ll see alot of testimonials like this. But they’re not powerful. The more specific the better. “You/your small business did x,y,x to rock it and helped me achieve this” is the formula you should use.
Testimonials and search marketing
So how can a testimonial help with your SEO and search marketing efforts?
- First off, testimonials are a new source of content. Google loves content. Absolutely loves it. So the more you have, the better.
- If you are a local business or a small business that targets specific geographic locations, testimonials offer a great way to work in location in a genuine way. If you’ve done any SEO work around location keywords, you know how hard it is to get them into your website copy in a way that still leaves your content readable and non-spammy sounding. By adding a location to your testimonials, you are adding these geopgraphic indicators in a very natural way.
- Reviews on online directories add more weight and credibility to your profile not just to potential customers, but to search engines as well. Google definitely takes into account number of reviews when deciding on the order that business show up in their Local listings.
So there you have it… good ol’ word of mouth modern day, internet marketing style! Use the power of reviews all over the web and it will have to power to positively influence potential customers. Make it easy for people to love you!
On to you. Do you use testimonials to market your small business? How do you go about getting them? Share your tips, insights and experiences in the comments!