Forget advertising and celebrity endorsements: according to research, customers make up to 50% of buying decisions based on word of mouth and other people’s opinions.

More often than not, there’s a direct correlation between how many testimonials and case studies you can cite to support your claims… and the revenue you can generate.

But what makes a great customer testimonial – and how do you spot a bad one?

Are two sentences written by your elderly aunt about what a good boy or girl you are as impactful as a product-specific testimonial from a long-time customer?

More importantly, how do you leverage amazing testimonials to grow your business? In today’s post, we’ll examine all of this – so let’s dig in!

Relationship Business

Part 1. What makes a perfect testimonial

Here’s the sad, uncomfortable truth: most business owners feature testimonials that are straight-up horrible for their bottom line.

You know the type: “Alice has tremendous knowledge about her industry, and I always learn something new while reading her blog posts,” – or something like that.

Sure, it’s very flattering to you as a business owner. But it communicates zero about the value of your product or service to a potential customer. And therein lies the problem.

A great testimonial has one goal: alleviate your prospect’s fears about buying.

They aren’t interested in hearing what a visionary entrepreneur you are, or how much of your piercing wit shines through in the content you create. They want one thing: to figure out whether or not your offer will work for them.

If we look at all testimonials through this unambiguous lens, it becomes pretty obvious what attributes are important. Let’s put together a short list:

  • They identify an existing problem. A great testimonial talks about the situation your customer used to be in before they met you. That way, potential buyers can recognize their current situation as they are reading through it. It’s the first step towards closing the sale.
  • They hint at the possible solution without fully revealing it. Your past customer could talk about a framework or system they applied, or how they used your product – and you’d never have to worry about giving away too much.
  • They highlight the result, not the experience. Sure, your potential customers would love to have a good time with your product or service – but it’s not the priority for them. Results matter most of all. If you can show what’s possible, it will take your testimonials from “interesting” to “irresistible”.

These are the three critical elements that separate the best testimonials from good or mediocre ones. Every time you ask a customer to give feedback on your product or service, you have to think about the problem, the solution, and the result.

Otherwise your testimonials will underperform by a long shot!

Now that you know what you’re looking for in customer testimonials, let’s figure out how to make the most of them…

Part 2. Using customer testimonials to grow your business

We could spend hours, even days, talking about every possible application of customer testimonials in marketing… but we won’t do that.

Instead, let’s focus on a few critical rules of thumb that will create disproportionate results for your business – deal?

  1. Be proactive and methodical about collecting testimonials

Like any investment worth making, the perfect testimonials aren’t easy to collect. e prepared to interview people on the phone, or craft in-depth surveys they could fill out, or even meeting them face-to-face for a cup of coffee.

The more work you do, the more honest feedback you accumulate, the better your testimonials will perform once the push comes to shove. As a side benefit, you might even get insights into your value proposition and customer experience that will help you create a better, more compelling marketing message.

  1. Focus on getting at least one testimonial per type of customer

If your customers fall into more than one category (we bet they do), it’s useful to secure at least one great testimonial for each specific subset of customer you wish to target.

When people encounter something that practically screams, “This is you!” – they become more likely to buy. And vice versa, if they come across a message that’s the least bit misaligned with their vision of themselves, excuses and objections come pouring in.

  1. Feature them prominently in your marketing materials

As obvious as it might seem, if you have a nice battery of testimonials, you will want to display them above the fold in any sales copy you have, and any marketing materials you’ve put together.

That way, not only will the testimonials enhance your credibility, they will also influence the perception of your brand by your target customers (thanks to the anchoring effect).

Now you know: it’s not enough to have regular, run-of-the-mill testimonials promoting your product. No – what you want is the perfect testimonial: the kind that could persuade potential customers to buy all by itself.

Only now you know it’s not unattainable and mysterious – you can engineer one for your business, and use it to great effect! From now on, you can make sure that any testimonials you use check all the boxes we’ve talked about.

And if you don’t have any customer testimonials that fit, you can always obtain them. Trust us – any time you will spend doing that will pay off tenfold in increased revenue!

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