One of the interesting phenomena of the Internet is the return of the testimonials. Back in the day, testimonials were so overused that they lost their effectiveness and believability. Now with all the review sites and reliance on reviews when making buying decisions, testimonials have regained significance.
The WOM factor (word of mouth) has been a significant force in marketing since the beginning of commerce. Testimonials are a part of the WOM factor. They are positive endorsements from REAL customers letting others know that you can be trusted.
Testimonials should not be confused with reviews. While they read and sound the same, it’s the way they are gathered makes them different. Testimonials are gathered by the company about which they are written and usually appear on the company’s website or marketing materials. Reviews on the other hand are posted on review sites by a customer on their own. This gives reviews an edge when it comes to the search engines. Testimonials are typically only seen by customers once they come to your website and have value by adding credibility to your marketing message further down the buying cycle. Reviews often show up on the search results page and can have an impact on the buying cycle very early on. Both have important roles to play, but they are different.
The best way to gather testimonials is to simply ask. Be organized and have specific questions that make it easier for the customer to offer a meaningful testimonial. Two or three word platitudes are often discarded as fake. Take the time to work with your customer for a more robust testimonial. The best testimonials address the specific benefits they received in some detail. Also, including first and last name along with title and company adds credence to the testimonial.
Testimonials are an important part of the mix, but don’t rely solely on them. Make sure to build your reviews as well. Both have important roles to play. It is best to use these SEO tools in conjunction with others to get the most out of your marketing efforts.