6 Types of Customer Testimonials and How to Use Them to Boost Your Sales

June 18, 2018
by Pieter Moens

Customer testimonials are the bread and butter of true marketing experts. In a nutshell, they are someone else's word that your products and services do what they are advertised to do. They are also one of the oldest tricks in the book - newspaper ads from a 100 years ago feature them prominently because of one thing and one thing alone - they really work!

Cancer can be cured


A hundred years ago, this snake oil peddler used customer testimonials to sell his (extremely) shady books to sick people. Despicable and low it may be, but I’m willing to bet that he made a killing.

Unfortunately, a lot of contemporary businesses seem to have forgotten the power of good customer testimonials. It’s time to change that. This post will teach you why and how testimonials work, and what are the things that good testimonials have in common. In the end, you will learn how to easily collect them using Ambassify platform.

Let’s dig in!

Customer Testimonials Work On All of Us - And Here’s Why

Customer testimonials work because we’re human - we crave social proof and validation.

Yes, it really is as simple as that!


The last time I bought something that was influenced by a testimonial was last Monday.

It was baby food.

That’s right - carrot, beans, and brussel sprouts, all mashed up in a glass jar. It was not the brand I usually get, but I went wild that morning.

Why?

There was a cardboard cut-out of a dad holding a smiling baby propped up in the store.

The copy on it said:

 

‘We both love carrots now! As long as our fridge is stocked with Yummies, my wife hardly has to cook at all.

The Johnsons, Anvers’.


Just like that, I was sold. And, no - this isn’t the real name of the brand!


The new baby food is delicious (I had to try it) and my son gobbles it up in an instant - pretty much like he did the old brand. But, the testimonial worked its magic on me and now that brand has a new tiny human as a customer.

B2B Decision-Makers Rely On Customer Testimonials

B2B decision-makers rely on customer testimonials

 

89% of B2B marketers consider testimonials the best marketing tool at their disposal. And, as much as they love to use testimonials, B2B decision-makers also trust them - 62% say that peer recommendations are a very strong purchasing trigger. These can be in the form of social media testimonials, legitimate quote testimonials, or long case studies where their peers explain how they are using a new B2B product to ensure their company’s growth.

2016 B2B Buyer's survey report


Before I move on to different types of customer testimonials, let’s expand on the reasons
WHY they work:

  • They provide social proof - they say: ‘Hey, don’t take our word for it - look how many people are saying that we’re awesome!’ Your business gets a big credibility boost and also gets to borrow street cred associated with the testimonial provider.

  • They appeal to emotions - they bypass our brain and speak directly to our hearts. Good customer testimonials talk about problems solved, time gained, and better quality of life - you know, the things we all want.

  • Testimonials are story-driven - they weave a good story that has elements of our own stories - that’s why we’re more likely to ‘buy’ whatever message they’re selling.

  • They give your company a face - with a handful of good testimonials, you’re no longer an ABC company - you’re Tom from London, or Anna from Stockholm and people are much more likely to trust you and do business with you.

All of this combined will work wonders for your brand image, lead generation, and, ultimately sales. Think of it this way - if you’re now making $100,000 per month, you could be making $118,000 if you apply the magic of customer testimonials the right way (according to Reevoo, the average uplift in sales that can be traced back to customer testimonials is 18%). And, that’s just the average! Who is to say that your conversions won’t go up by 50%? You won’t know until you try and measure the results.

6 Different Types of Customer Testimonials

6 different types of customer testimonials


The types that I feature here are not clean-cut ‘types’ - most are written (short or long-form) and others are video. Some of them are a distinct type just because a specific person (a peer) is featured in them. Regardless, they are all different and deserve to be separately analyzed.

Quote Testimonials

Quotes are the most common type of customer testimonials and have been in use for more than a century (at least, that’s how far back we can track the written examples).

Where do you use them: I usually recommend plugging quote testimonials wherever it makes sense. This can be your homepage, special offer emails, and newsletter, but you definitely want them on product/service pages so they lend a bit of credibility to that salesy verbiage.

Quote testimonials

Peer Testimonials

Written, verbal, or video, peer testimonials are your best friend if you’re a B2B marketer. The reason, again, is psychology - they work because of implicit egotism. It’s a scientific term that simply means that we believe those people who resemble us more closely. The above quote testimonial is a good show & tell example: Frederic is an accomplished marketing manager who works in a large company and other B2B managers will be more likely to trust what he has to say.

Where do you use them: same as with quote testimonials, you can use these in different places. I recommend some caution though - you want to make sure that they are featured on the pages of your website that are visited by the people similar to those in the testimonials.

Social Testimonials

The biggest difference between social and other testimonials is that you don’t have to ask for them - your customers will volunteer them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or somewhere else. You’re just required to pluck them and ask for permission to use them for marketing.

Where do you use them: you can use these on your website, preferably on product/service pages or your ‘Our Clients’ page. I wouldn’t use them on the homepage because they can look a tiny bit out of place there, especially if the formatting remains the same (as in, it’s blatantly a Facebook post that has been pulled there with a plugin).

Social testimonials

Video testimonials

Nothing beats a good video customer testimonial. It’s difficult to fake, but also difficult to get just right - that’s why it’s the Porsche of the testimonial world. Video testimonials drip with authenticity and trust, and demonstrate something far more intangible: that your brand is so special that people are willing to take hours out of their day to help you convince others of that!



Where do you use them: video testimonials will work great on your homepage, especially if they are professionally shot and edited. If that’s the case, they can easily outdo your USP and hero shot in terms of getting people to buy. Alternatively, if you have a lot of them, you can use them on your product/services pages (carefully tailored to specific things) and share them on your social media channels.

Long-form Testimonials

Longform testimonials are usually 1,000+ word articles that are either good interviews or useful case studies featuring your best clients. I say usually, but they don’t have to be: AWeber does them in a video interview format. Long-form testimonials should not focus on hard-selling your brand - they should focus on the benefits the client experienced after working with you. As with every long post, the key here is not to bore the reader. If you do, you’ll probably lose them for good.

Long-form testimonials

Where do you use them: There aren’t that many placement options when it comes to long-form testimonials so you will end up publishing them on your blog and promoting them heavily on social. The Holy Grail of long-form testimonials, however, are publications such as The Huffington Post, The Economist, or The New York Times - these will do wonders not just for your conversion rates, but for lead gen and organic SERP rankings.

Mashup Testimonials

Basically, mashups are a string of either written testimonials (short) set to a background image and music, or a string of short video testimonials featuring several people. They are great for sharing on social media sites, especially if you’re trying to cover several buyer personas in a one-minute video. This Benevita mashup is a good example of the concept (although, the execution leaves a bit to be desired).



Where do you use them: I’d recommend this type of customer testimonials for social media pages, including YouTube. I wouldn’t recommend putting them on your website because a) they are not very targeted, and b) most end up looking a little slapdash, regardless of how much effort was put into creating them.

8 Hallmarks of Great Customer Testimonials

Regardless of what type of customer testimonials you decide to go with, you will need to keep an eye on a few things. Sometimes, this will require you to work with your clients, preparing questions, or polishing up their answers, and that’s fine - you need these to really shine.

Here are 8 things you need to aim for when doing a testimonials campaign:

  • Get the real deal or nothing at all - it’s really tempting to sit down and write your own customer testimonials, without relying on other peoples’ jumbled up words and ideas. Tempting, but not very wise. Most fake testimonials can be spotted a mile away and, if that happens, you’re risking the loss of credibility, as well as potential legal sanctions. The testimonial is either straight from the horse’s mouth, or you don’t use it at all. A bit of light editing is acceptable, especially if a testimonial is too long or full of grammar mistakes.

  • Use video and images - add images to your quote testimonials or, better yet, invest a bit and shoot a couple of video testimonials. People are much more likely to remember images and sounds than blocks of text.



  • Align your testimonials with your target audience - as I mentioned, people want to believe others who are similar to them. Dig deep and create a buyer persona for each of your products and services, and then work hard to find those people in your pool of clients and get their testimonials.

  • Talk about transformation - good testimonials don’t talk about how ‘awesome’ your brand is. Instead, they talk about the small details, often addressing just how your brand was able to help the testimonial provider.

  • Acknowledge obstacle and provide assurances - customers are fearful and that fear keeps them from spending their money. A good testimonial will acknowledge that, but will also highlight how that fear is unjustified when it comes to your brand.

  • Use testimonials where they make the most sense - don’t be conservative with testimonials (meaning, don’t have a ‘Testimonials’ page on your website with four quotes). Instead, plug them in where they make sense (even your homepage) but make sure to tailor them to specific products/services offered on that page.

  • Videos should be professional - whenever possible, try to organize a group shooting with a couple of your best clients and hire a professional editor. Homemade videos are fine if you have no other option, but a real shoot gives you some gravitas.

  • Longform testimonials are not about you - well, they are, but they are not ALL about you. When creating these, strive to make them interesting and full of details, show how your products do the things you claim they do, instead of just telling people about it. If applicable, your client’s numbers and graphs will do wonders here.

How To Collect Testimonials with Ambassify Platform

Now that you understand the importance of customer testimonials, I bet you’re anxious to see them working their magic for your brand as well. Ambassify can help with that in two ways:

  1. by allowing you to ask for reviews on third-party sites (such as G2Crowd, GetApp or Capterra)

  2. by letting you easily solicit testimonials directly from your customers via a form. You can then use these in your social media campaigns and on your website.

The process is pretty straightforward:

  1. Log into your Ambassify account and click on the ‘Create Campaign’ button.

    Create campaign


  2. Choose campaign type - for third-party review sites, click ‘Reviews’ and follow the steps. If you want your clients to send you a testimonial that you can use on your site (which is rather the point here), click on ‘Forms’.

    Choose campaign


  3. Choose the channels through which you want to share this. Click on ‘Community’ if you want to share it with predefined, segmented communities you have on Ambassify. Clicking on ‘Landing Page’ will create a simple landing page, the URL of which you can share on your social media pages (and with your email contacts that are not a part of your Ambassify communities).

    Choose channels

  4. Think about the info you want to collect in addition to the testimonial. I would encourage you to keep it simple - add text boxes for your questions and ask for their full name, email, their position in the company (essential if you’re using a landing page, otherwise those responses will be anonymous). You can always reach out to people whose testimonials you love and ask for something in addition to all of that, like their photo.


    Add content


  5. Writing the perfect CTA to accompany your request will differ from audience to audience. Still, you want to make sure that you:

    * Call it a ‘tip’ - don’t tell them you’re asking for a ‘testimonial’. You’re asking for a ‘business tip’ that you will share with their colleagues and peers.

    * Make it personal - emphasize exactly how much they would be helping you by simply answering a couple of short questions. Sign off with a name - people love to help other people.

    * It’s about them - ask for their personal experience with everything related to your brand - features, how it helped their business, customer support interactions - you need believable details, not generalities.

    * Provide guidance in the form of questions - two or three are enough, just make sure to ask about a problem they feared they might have when working with your brand, but it turned out to be a non-issue.

    * Offer alternatives - some people are not comfortable filling out forms. Give them an option to contact you for a call.


  6. Send your request for testimonials out into the world. Choose an audience to share it with within the platform and grab that URL (if you opted for the landing page as well) so you can share it over social media and email.

That’s it - you’re done! This shouldn’t take you more than an hour, at worst (even if you sit down to write killer copy), but can boost your sales significantly. Once the responses start coming in, you have two options: a) you can use them as they are, or b) you can contact the people who responded and ask for more details.

Start Using Customer Testimonials Today - With Ambassify, It’s Super Easy

Moaning about your company’s bottom line is easy (and unproductive) but creating a testimonials campaign is way easier.

Go on, try it.

It takes an hour to create a campaign on Amabssify, another hour to do some light cosmetic changes to your website, and additional 30 minutes to promote it all on social. Half a day’s work with potentially amazing results.

If you decide to invest that time in testimonials, you will notice:

  • An uptick in leads
  • Increased social buzz
  • Conversions going up

When you do, please come back and share your results with us. We want brands investing in this because it’s one of those neglected marketing things that actually works!

What’s your experience with customer testimonials? Do you use them or are you just now thinking about it? Share your insights, stories, and questions in the comment section below!

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