One of the most powerful trust signals you can use on your website and in your marketing campaigns is from customer testimonials. This includes “landing pages, product and pricing pages, and even your AdWords ads. Persuasive testimonials from satisfied customers can sway even the most hesitant prospect, making them a potent weapon in your marketing arsenal,” writes Dan Shewan of WordStream. “When it comes to establishing and maintaining relationships with customers, tiny mom-and-pop businesses are on a level playing field with huge corporations with near-limitless marketing budgets.”

Why? As we said in previous posts about testimonials, trust cannot be bought. It has to be earned.

Shewan continues, “Building and maintaining customer trust is about far more than increasing sales. A company’s trustworthiness is a fundamental part of its identity. Even today, when reputation management firms craft carefully constructed public relations campaigns for the most disreputable companies, trust is one of the few commodities that is not for sale.”

Take a look at this graph showing some big name companies and how they rate in customer trust:

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USAA, the financial services giant, rates highest in the top three categories: Banks, Credit Cards and Insurance Carriers. They have a great consumer trust ratings of 80-85%. Lexus, Trader Joe’s and Costco also scored well in consumer trust. On the other end of the ratings, another company stood out. Comcast, one of the most hated companies in the United States, ranks with the least-trusted brands in two categories – TV Service and Internet Service – their two main offered products! That does not bode well. You don’t need a fortune teller to see what is coming for that company if they maintain the status quo Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications, HSBC, and US Airways also fail to earn consumers’ trust.

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Your business, no matter how big, needs to show you are made of real people (hopefully with some personality). You need to have authenticity. Your business needs to have lots of positive relationships with customers who are verifiable. What do I mean by verifiable? They need to be from trusted and unique sources. Let’s start with why social media fits the bill.

100% Verified

Shewen advises, “Social trust signals are incredibly powerful for two reasons. Firstly, the authenticity that social proof offers is almost invaluable to marketers. Simply using real responses from real people in your marketing materials can go a long way toward not just persuading prospective customers of your product or service’s value, but demonstrates that your company has actual, flesh-and-blood fans that are ready and willing to say great things about you – not falsified testimonials from imaginary customers.”

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Social proof is also a powerful marketing tool because this is where people already are. A vast amount of people’s interaction with a brand takes place here. “Today’s consumers live and breathe social media, making the inclusion of social proof a logical choice for brands hoping to attract followers (and ultimately, brand evangelists) from an environment with which they’re already comfortable and intimately familiar. The fact that brands can also easily demonstrate that they’re aware of and actively responding to fans’ social interactions at the same time is a major bonus, and further contributes to positive perceptions of the brand.” (Shewan)

Go Get ‘Em!

Most customers won’t just shower you with positive feedback. If you have built your business to be known for high quality resulting in happy customers, then that experience will be expected. That’s a good thing. But not one where customers are going to send you lots of feedback. So how do you get it? You ask for it.

  1. Ask

Aaron Orendorf explains how it works: “The mechanics are fairly simple. If you run an online business, create a simple template in your email provider (an autoresponder) that includes a link to your page on the most relevant review site listed below. A week or so after every new sale, send a confirmation email. If your business takes place in person, then you can integrate a request-for-review email into your point-of-sale system itself.”

Orendorf adds, “Get proactive. Include links to the sites you’re listed at on your business cards, bills, invoices, and in all emails that touch your customers or prospects. To go beyond quantitative data, such as simple ratings, and really crawl inside your customers’ heads you can also try qualitative data, such as surveys.”

(Click for more about why surveys are important for your business.)

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  1. Search

Do you know the review sites that feature your business? If not, you should. Talk about valuable information for your business. I mean both the positive and the negative comments. Glean whatever insight you can from them. Take a step back and look at your business from a new perspective. Improve wherever possible. Address any problems with good PR and more.

Then notice you have a gold mine in positive reviews. Pull out all that great commentary and put it to work for you.

“Once you’ve identified the sites most relevant to your business (check the categories above) create a simple profile page that lists your business, products, and services. Be sure to enter your location for local searches,” advises Orendorf.

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  1. Contests and Incentives

So you are asking, but you have little or no response. Don’t worry. You can increase participation in feedback by offering incentives. Also a great way to boost up branding and marketing, add the bonus of everyone having fun while doing it.

NETFLIX COUPON IDEA

“By using the incentive of a Netflix coupon with a customer survey, a software company saw a 77 per cent increase in click rate and a 326 per cent increase in response rate,” shared Orendorf. And Netflix isn’t the only company out there offering coupons. Take the opportunity to partner with some business-complimentaries. Many businesses are seeing great benefits from sharing marketing dollars and getting greater visibility. You might find a business that is next door, and increased foot traffic benefits both of you. Maybe your businesses support each other. However you do it, think of what the customer will be happiest with.

Remember that if one particular incentive isn’t working, to move on to another.

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MULTIPLE INCENTIVES

In fact, one reward doesn’t hold the same value to everybody. Offer many different types of incentives to reach and appeal to as many people as possible. “Rule of thumb: Offer multiple prizes. The mentality is that multiple smaller prizes increase the odds of winning versus one big prize,” says Orendorf, “which increases the incentive to participate and also the number of responses.”

  1. Get Both Offline and Online Reviews

It works well to get reviews from people online who are already on their computer, laptop or mobile device. But what do you do with people who walk into your store and buy your products. The best time and place for offline review gathering is at the point of sale (POS).

“To do this, you’ll need a POS system integrated with customer relationship management (CRM) system,” advises Orendorf. “With this kind of combined service, the POS process and review looks like this:

  • The customer makes a purchase on location.
  • The clerk is prompted to ask for their email.*
  • The transaction occurs and a “thank you plus request for feedback” email is sent automatically with a link to the appropriate review site.

“*Remember, just asking for an email during POS (without informing a customer what they will be emailed) may not be considered consent according to CASL. Include disclosures when asking for consent—an opt-in needs to be an action that the consumer must take. Include clear steps for unsubscribing in any emails sent and remind customers how their address was acquired. Automation is key, because the sooner the email is sent after the interaction occurs, the higher the likelihood the customer will complete the survey.”

  1. Dream Come True Experience

Most reviews you get will be from the very happy people and the very not-happy people. The “fringes” at both ends, are the most motivated to speak up. But you want to show feedback from a broad spectrum of your customers. How can you get more of them to share?

Orendorf shares an idea that many businesses use, create a dream-come-true-experience. “To create a dream-come-true experience, tell yourself a story. Start with the end in mind: If I were one of my customers, what is the best possible outcome? What would be an amazing payoff? What would make me want to share my experience with my friends? What would make me say “wow!”?

He continues, “Then, think of all the ingredients that add up to that ending. For instance:

  • The product does exactly what it says it does.
  • Any trouble with the product was dealt with by a real person who I could contact immediately.
  • The product arrived on time and undamaged.
  • The product was shipped and tracked automatically.
  • The product shipped free.

The point isn’t to create satisfied customers, but rather, raving fans.” (Orendorf)

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Focus on a different Selling point in each testimonial. Show several reasons why your customers are happy. Think about the different customers you are trying to reach and what appeals to each of them. Also, think about the different things you want your company to be known for, highlight those points.

 

Image and Content Sources: http://www.helpscout.net/blog/customer-testimonials/, https://www.salesforce.com/ca/blog/2015/03/customer-reviews.html, http://help.idevaffiliate.com/what-is-coupon-code-commissioning/ and http://churchillbrook.co.uk/making-dreams-come-true/

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