How to use testimonial advertising in your marketing strategy

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Clients keep calling you up to say how thrilled they are with your services. Customers are dropping 5-star reviews all over the place. It feels pretty great.

But how are you planning to capitalize on all of these glowing reviews and attract even more happy customers?

Here’s everything you need to know about gathering and creating great testimonials and using testimonial advertising to fuel your marketing strategy.

Testimonial advertising can work as social proof for your target audience

Social proof is a pretty powerful phenomenon. When you see someone else is having a great time with a new product — or experiencing amazing success thanks to a new service — you want in, right?

via GIPHY

As a marketer, you might believe your offerings are the best out there. But you also know your customers won’t always take your word for it. This is where compelling testimonials from satisfied customers help fill the gaps.

With any new purchasing decision, the consumer has some risks and uncertainty to overcome. They need to know:

  • Is what you’re selling any good?
  • Does it live up to the promises made in your marketing materials?
  • Were previous customers happy?
  • Did others get the type of results this new buyer is hoping for?
  • Or is this partnership simply a recipe for disaster?

A good testimonial can answer all of these questions and more by offering the social proof and reassurance a prospective customer is looking for. The information provided in positive testimonials can help those who are new to the brand make more informed purchasing decisions.

That’s a great way to begin the customer journey, and it can boost the bottom line, as well.

An industry study conducted with Northwestern University found that conversion rates can increase significantly when product offerings are presented alongside customer feedback. This is especially true for higher value purchases, which can experience up to a 380% increase in conversions.

Gather testimonials from a variety of voices

After following up with recent buyers and asking nicely for quotes, remember that you aren’t limited to customer testimonials. Words of praise from other influential people can be just as impactful.

Here are some sources to seek out testimonials from:

  • Your target audience’s peers: Show prospective clients that people with similar characteristics (like industry, job title, age, etc.) have seen positive results through working with you.
  • Your employees: Employee testimonials can help prospective applicants visualize how great it is to work for your company.
  • Influencers: Having influential figures and brand ambassadors speak highly of your brand can get potential buyers excited about your offerings.

Each type of review can work well in different applications. For instance, you might use peer customer testimonials on product listings and save employee testimonials for your careers page. Influencer testimonials might take center stage on your social media platform.

However you go about it, wielding the social currency of several groups can paint a more detailed picture of your brand and business as a whole.

Experiment with these 7 types of testimonials

Testimonials come in all shapes and sizes. Now that you have an idea of who to speak to, consider all the different formats and how they could work alongside your other marketing efforts:

1. Consumer ratings

Since roughly 9 out of 10 visitors don’t make purchasing decisions without first consulting consumer reviews and ratings, customer reviews are small but mighty forms of testimonial advertising.

Customer ratings can include a simple 5-star rating, or reviewers can add written testimonials to provide more detail about their experience with the brand. In some cases, they can also include additional details about their own background, as shown in this 5-star review of Brafton’s services on Clutch:

These short and sweet reviews are most common in the B2C space for ecommerce companies where customers are relying on other people’s real-world experiences to decide whether a product they see online is the right choice. Ratings are also important for local businesses like restaurants, shops, personal care service providers and any other company someone might look up on a review site like Yelp.

Ratings are most often shared voluntarily, but brands can also nudge customers into reviewing their business or products.

Tip: Remind customers via email to leave reviews after they’ve had some time with their new product. Consider adding an additional incentive such as a discount or an entry in a giveaway to gather a lot of responses in a short amount of time.

2. Quote testimonials

Not all businesses have a reliable source of customer ratings, especially those in the B2B space. That’s where quick quote testimonials come in handy.

These are bite-sized forms of testimonial advertising, usually ranging from one sentence to a short paragraph. Quote testimonials are highly versatile and can add an extra dose of credibility to any form of marketing collateral.

Here’s one from our case study with Genworth Australia:

This example demonstrates a few best practices. First, we’ve attributed the quote to a real person — and, more specifically, someone who is a peer of our target audience members. Next, we added a photo of our client to show the reader there’s a real person speaking. When choosing the quote itself, we picked something specific that demonstrates the value in our reporting. Finally, we used a little formatting to separate this piece of text from the rest of our copy to attract the reader’s eye.

All of this adds up to provide social proof and an added level of reassurance to someone considering our services.

Tip: Choose quotes that deliver the right message in the right place and time. General praise about your product might work for top-of-funnel customers, but potential buyers will be more impressed by hearing positive feedback on your company’s return on investment (ROI).

3. Social media shout-outs

Social media shoutouts can be a dynamic and compelling form of testimonial marketing, especially for B2C businesses.

The key is finding them and making the most of them. Although the customer’s network will see their positive review of your brand, customers searching for your product or service online probably won’t.

If you screenshot the posts or save the direct links, you can seamlessly weave them into other marketing materials. For instance, Canva embeds Twitter posts on their about page as a form of social proof:

Similarly, product-based businesses often include carousels of user-generated Instagram posts to show new customers how to use their wares.

Tip: Encourage customers to rally around a branded hashtag and you’ll have a gallery of customer testimonials at your fingertips.

4. Q&A interviews

When you want to get one client’s story out into the world, following a question-and-answer format is a quick and simple way to do it.

Q&A and interview-style testimonials can work great for blog or video content. And, depending on how you conduct the interview, it can be more subtle than purely promotional testimonial advertising formats like case studies. You could frame the conversation around the industry at large or a celebration of your client’s major accomplishments before prompting them to talk about their experience working with your company.

The example below comes from a Q&A testimonial featuring the founder of Pregnancy Magazine, in which we talk about how our businesses and relationship evolved over the years:

Tip: Presenting a fuller picture of your customer’s journey from problem to solution will help you illustrate just how well your offerings fit into that bigger picture.

5. Case studies

Although they often begin with client interviews, case studies are packaged differently. A case study provides a detailed look at how a customer found success through a partnership with your company.

These will usually be more highly structured, with sections discussing:

  • The client.
  • The problem.
  • The solution.
  • The results.

The most compelling case studies combine qualitative and quantitative results. For instance, they can highlight how satisfied the customer is, in their own words, while also identifying numerical improvements in the key performance indicators described in the “problem” section.

At the start of this case study showing how we helped Agile Education Marketing boost its MQL close rate by 108%, the statistics are front and center.

Tip: When producing a case study, your objective is to demonstrate a real and measurable transformation that’s just too compelling for a prospective customer to ignore.

6. Success stories

Success stories are similar to case studies, and the terms are often used interchangeably. However, this type of testimonial advertising is called a “story” rather than a “study” for good reason.

Following a narrative format, a success story is an opportunity to more vividly illustrate the customer experience. Success stories typically start by introducing the client and fleshing out their problem before diving into the solution and the final results.

Below is a snippet from one of our recent success stories, “How content helped an online grocery store increase site traffic by 56%.”

The author, Dom Sorrentino, puts a page-turning twist on the facts and figures presented in the accompanying graphic, ultimately capturing the massive scope of this ambitious project as well as the meaningful results it generated for our client.

Tip: When crafting written testimonials as success stories, let the creative juices flow a little more freely and find ways to make quantifiable results leap off the page in a more dynamic way.

7. Video testimonials

Bringing your customer experience to life through video content can make for highly authentic and engaging testimonials. It’s a big commitment for a busy client to sit through an afternoon of filming and open up about their business challenges. Any prospective customer will be able to see that this client is truly happy with the partnership and the results they’ve seen.

Videos capture a customer’s positive emotions in a way others can see, hear, feel and more easily relate to. Plus, it’s possible to weave in examples of the actual work done. This gives viewers something more immediate to react to.

For instance, we shot this customer testimonial video remotely with The TM Group. The final cut not only shows our client Ken speaking about our partnership, but it also features snippets of the digital content and seasonal videos we produced for them:

Tip: Testimonial videos can work well in a variety of ways. Whether you opt for a more traditional interview or go all-in with documentary-style footage, choose whatever casts your product or service in the best light.

Promote those powerful testimonials across different channels

Exciting testimonials can be great resources for your content marketing efforts. So, once you have some sizzling testimonials for your business, it’s time to sprinkle them around.

Here are a few ideas of how to amplify your customers’ kind words and make sure your target audience sees what they had to say:

  • Case study hub: Publish long-form case studies in a testimonial resource hub on your website.
  • Blog: Repurpose case studies and Q&A interviews as individual blog posts.
  • Landing pages: Add quote testimonials, customer ratings or social media shout-outs to each product listing or service landing page.
  • Social media: Turn a video testimonial into a Facebook ad or share short quotes on Twitter.
  • Email marketing: Share the latest influencer testimonial in your email newsletter or paste social media shoutouts in your drip campaigns.
  • Advertisements: Add quote testimonials to your ads and other promotional materials.
  • Testimonial-driven campaign: Center your next marketing campaign around the great testimonials you’ve collected

Measure the impact of your testimonial advertising efforts

Sometimes, you may never know how much a particular testimonial influenced a new customer. For instance, a few quotes embedded in a powerful landing page might help add momentum to drive your audience to take action. But was it the testimonials that really grabbed their attention, or the clever marketing copy? It might be hard to say.

Certain ways of sharing customer testimonials are more measurable than others. By taking a more systematic approach, you may be able to:

  • Analyze the level of engagement with a particular social media post.
  • See the increase in leads generated through an advertisement.
  • Count the number of views on a case study, success story or video testimonial.

To really gauge the effectiveness of your testimonial advertising, create some testimonial-only content and track its performance. You can also try conducting A/B testing with and without testimonials, to see what difference they make.

Chances are, adding testimonial advertising to your content strategy will make a pretty positive impact. But don’t take it from us — see what our clients have to say! 😉

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