Leveraging testimonials to build brand trust
I am fortunate to work with some tremendous clients. Clients that are marketing savvy and engaged. It’s part of what makes my job so enjoyable. Last week I had a client ask a great question about how to leverage testimonials and what their approach should be for incorporating it into their content. It’s great to see folks out there looking to improve their content and potential engagement with their audience. And I happen to be a big fan of testimonial content.
Now portions of this post are an opinion piece from yours truly. IMO every single page on your website has the potential to be an intersection or point of contact for your audience. In fact every piece of content that you produce, whether it is a web page, a video, a tweet has the opportunity to be an intersection point with your audience. So it becomes somewhat obvious in the value of having testimonials dispersed through your web properties. Having your customers share their success stories can go a long way in building brand trust. Yes, I know that you cannot please everybody all of the time and I know that you are bound to have some negative feedback about your brand or service offering. It is going to happen; it just means that you are human.
Testimonials are the original form of user generated content. That is they are the oldest form of users providing feedback about a given product, service or brand. Remember the old Faberge Organic Shampoo commercials where they’ll tell two friends and they’ll tell two friends?
Word of mouth can still be the best form of advertising. Testimonials, in digital form, can act as good old fashioned word of mouth advertising. In fact, what better way is there to build brand trust? They say that good marketing is about psychology. It is about understanding your audience and being able to address their needs. The perception of your business may not be what you think it is. Consumers may have a different opinion about your brand, your products and the level of service that you provide. Let’s look at an example. When it comes to trusted brands, how many of you think of Kentucky Fried Chicken? My guess is none of you. However did you know that KFC was recently named the “Most Trusted Quick-Service Restaurant Brand in India? It’s true, The Brand Trust Report 2015 study, which is one of the most in-depth studies conducted about brand trust around the world, named KFC as the top “fast food” brand in India. The report is a result of “13,000 hours of research with sociologists, communication experts and behavioral scientists. Issued annually the 2015 study assessed 19,000 brands from which the top 1,000 were selected for the report.” Who knew that KFC was one of the most trusted brands in a country that is predicted to become the largest consumer market in the world by 2030? There is no question that trust in your brand is important… a good testimonial will help you build brand trust.
10 ways to leverage testimonials on your website
Have you ever stopped and thought about just how many forms of testimonial options are available out there? There are a number of different ways to include testimonials on your website and in your marketing materials. Here are some of the common methods for leveraging testimonials on your webs properties:
- Dedicated testimonial landing page – or series of pages featuring client testimonials. This is the traditional approach that you see on many websites. There is still some value in this especially if you do a great job in promoting and communicating your testimonial page.
- Customer Reviews– there are a variety of options for presenting reviews on your web properties. This form of User-Generated Content (UGC) must be managed carefully so that it is not faked or contains hyper negative reviews that can be damaging to your brand. Amazon is a great example of being one of the leaders in leveraging reviews on their web properties and Apps. Reviews are quite easy to integrate into your content. Common software options include:
- Case Studies / Client Success Stories – depending on the nature of your business, case studies can be a powerful sales tool that can increase engagement with your brand.
- Video Testimonials – another form of testimonial that can be promoted on your social platforms (including YouTube) in addition to being featured on your website is the video testimonial. Videos testimonials can be great especially if they go viral or become shared through social channels like Facebook. SalesForce is an example that comes to mind of a brand that includes video testimonials on their website.
- Customer Snippets – aka customer quotes which are simply documented cases of customer feedback that you are allowed to share on your web properties, are another form of testimonial. These snippets may have come from surveys, call center feedback, tradeshow feedback or simple feedback that you have solicited from your clients directly. It is important that you get permission where necessary, especially if you will be incorporating their full name.
- Photos – displaying images of your customers using your product or service can also build trust with your audience and can be easily promoted through your social channels.
- Feeds – you can share customer feedback via a feed from your blog comments or from your latest tweets. This can be a simple plugin or widget that can display this form of testimonial on your website. Of course you have to be prepared to share the good and the bad so this option may need to be monitored regularly. 4 Ways to Embed your Twitter Feed.
- Customer Reviews on third party sites – ask your customers to review you on third party sites such as Google+ or Yelp. You can link to this material or even feature some of this commentary within your own testimonials on your website.
- Blog Comments – allow blog comments on your posts and be sure to reply to both the good and the bad. Eliminate spam comments and focus on the positive to help build trust with your audience.
- Forums – this is a format of testimonials that we advise to proceed with caution. Hosting a forum can be a great avenue for soliciting customer feedback on your brand and service offering. However, you cannot please everybody all of the time. So you will need to moderate. Due to this level of resourcing, forums are not a viable option for all sites.
As you can see there is a wide array of testimonial formats that you can incorporate on your web properties. Of course you will want to use your discretion of where, when and how often to display testimonials.
In closing, testimonials are one of the most cost friendly and easiest ways to promote your business and your brand. Ensure that you have a means of compiling and taking inventory of your testimonials. Use different types of testimonial content throughout your website. Experiment with video, case studies and twitter feeds to see which content users most engage with and contribute to. Chances are you have had a content strategy for quite some time, but have you included testimonial content as part of your content marketing efforts? If not, there is no better time to start.