The Effectiveness of Testimonials and Reviews in your Content Marketing Strategy
Word-of-mouth is a powerful tactic that every marketer could dream of. Positive word-of-mouth can influence buyers purchasing intentions, build trust, and drive your conversion rate higher. You may be surprised, but it can help your search engine optimisation (SEO) efforts too.
Reviews and testimonials are one of the ways customers help build the trust and credibility that is needed for those all-important conversions. But many businesses will not realise the potential of reviews or testimonials, leaving them out of their content marketing strategy despite how effective they are.
What are reviews?
You may not realise it, but online reviews are very impactful and have a big influence on your online presence. As e-commerce sites and online shopping continues to grow year on year, the importance of reviews will continue to grow too.
But what are reviews? A review is feedback that a customer will give on the experience they received from using a product or service. A review can be positive or negative and are usually publicly available for all to see. Reviews can include a rating (or star) system, as well as short comments, outlining the customer’s experience.
It’s estimated that around 90% of customers will look at reviews before visiting a business or making a purchase. While reviews can improve trust and credibility, leading to potentially higher conversion rates, a lack of reviews or negative reviews can have the opposite effect.
Reviews are mainly hosted on third-party sites, such as Google, review sites, or listings on business directories. However, businesses can also host their own reviews on their own website or e-commerce platform. We’ve all looked at the Amazon reviews before buying an item, haven’t we? The same goes for any other e-commerce store.
Reviews help other potential customers to get an insight into whether the solution you are offering for a particular problem or pain point resolved such issues. They can also be used by businesses to measure customer satisfaction. Where negative feedback is given, it provides a business with a chance to improve its service or product.
What are testimonials?
A testimonial is similar to a review, providing much more detail and insight. As testimonials are longer, there is much more scope for outlining an experience using a product or service as a story.
Unlike reviews, a testimonial is directly collected and managed by the business. Despite this, testimonials are still very effective in a B2B environment, unlike reviews that are more suited for B2C. A testimonial usually includes the company the person works for, their name, and a profile picture.
Even though businesses collect and manage testimonials, they are still effective in influencing potential buyers. Testimonials’ strength is in their length. Testimonials that provide as much detail as possible are much more effective than shorter testimonials.
Testimonials can take different forms, including:
- Video testimonials
- Case studies
- Social media
- Peer and press review
Reviews work much better as shorter items, but in greater quantities. The opposite is true for testimonials. However, testimonials that go beyond 3 paragraphs are typically less effective. As potential buyers can relate to the problems outlined in a testimonial, it allows an emotional connection to be made, which helps alter buying intentions.
Testimonials are typically given by customers or clients that have used a product or service. While the person giving the testimonial will be unknown to potential buyers, the experience they have using a product/service and their pain points help form a connection with potential buyers.
Recommendations from influencers with strong followings don’t class as testimonials. That’s influencer marketing. While influencer marketing is an effective way to generate and amplify word-of-mouth and alter buying intentions, the two are different techniques entirely.
The importance of reviews and testimonials
Reviews and testimonials have a strong impact on potential customers. Just take a look at these 2 statistics to see how:
- 88% of customers trust reviews as much as a personal recommendation from friends or family.
- A business or product with excellent reviews (typically 5 stars) is likely to increase customer spending by 31%.
Here are more reasons why reviews and testimonials are important:
- It helps to build trust and credibility for your business and brand
- You can build a stronger connection with your customers
- Letting customers express their experiences helps develop brand advocates
- Helps increase brand awareness
- Increases lead generation and conversion rates
- Higher click-through rates
- Influences buyers’ decisions toward your brand, product, or service offering
The power of word-of-mouth
So, we’ve mentioned word-of-mouth being a powerful marketing tactic, but just how powerful is word-of-mouth? Word-of-mouth is considered to be much more effective at driving 5x more sales and generating leads than any form of paid marketing. Not only is word-of-mouth free but it’s also organic.
Long before the days of social media, reviews and testimonials, word-of-mouth was a powerful promotional technique. However, as it is now much easier to share and express opinions online, the power of word-of-mouth has only amplified and grown stronger.
Word-of-mouth is so powerful and impactful as customer trust is factored above all other forms of marketing. While 92% of people believe recommendations made from friends and family have the strongest ability to alter purchasing intentions, recommendations from others can still be very strong.
Word-of-mouth has the power to both attract and convert customers. Word-of-mouth is very good at raising brand awareness, and when used in the right places, can lead to a customer converting and taking that all-important action at the end of the buyer’s journey.
Customer reviews and testimonials are just one of the many ways a business can generate word-of-mouth. But remember, word-of-mouth isn’t just spreading positive experiences. Negative word-of-mouth can be just as influential for all the wrong reasons!
Other forms of generating word-of-mouth include:
- User-generated content
- Affiliate marketing
- Influencer marketing
- Referral marketing
- Partner programs
- Brand ambassadors
- Social media
Using reviews and testimonials in content marketing
Now we’ve covered how impactful reviews and testimonials can be as a form of word-of-mouth, how can you implement them into your content marketing strategy? Here are a few ways you can:
Include on your website
One of the first places many businesses will add reviews and testimonials is on their website. Whether it be a separate page dedicated to customer testimonials or reviews on individual product/service pages.
You could also include them on your homepage, which is the page that will see the most traffic. You even have the opportunity of embedding reviews into your site from third-party sources, such as Google. If you have great reviews, why let them sit idle when they can be used to highlight the value and benefits your product brings for solving a problem?
Add to your blog
Including testimonials in your blog posts can be a tricky one as you don’t want them to overshadow your content or distract the user from digesting your message. Yet when placed correctly, testimonials can be a welcome addition to your blog posts. Consider including testimonials in the sidebar to prevent any distractions and increase the chances of a customer becoming more interested in your brand or product.
With so many users and the ease of sharing content, using testimonials and reviews on your social media pages is a sure way of influencing potential customers. When many will form an opinion about your brand based on what you post on social media, social media is an ideal platform for sharing your testimonials. Combine with your optimal posting times for maximum effect.
Case studies are very similar to testimonials but written from a business perspective. For that reason, case studies don’t have as much influence on buyers. But there’s nothing to stop you from including testimonials in your case studies, especially in the results or outcome section.
If you’re sending out regular emails to your subscribers, consider including reviews and testimonials to help drive conversions. Emails that are sent to leads can have a much stronger and more meaningful impact when paired with testimonials that highlight the benefits or strengths of your product. Just make sure the reviews and testimonials are relevant.
What better place to include reviews and testimonials than near to where a customer is going to act? Placing reviews and testimonials in a strategic location near your call-to-actions will help increase the likelihood a user will act and make that all-important click.
How to get reviews and testimonials
You can’t use reviews and testimonials in your content marketing if you don’t have any to start with. So, here are some ways you can start building up your reviews and gathering testimonials.
- Ask your customers or clients after making a purchase, it’s estimated that around 70% who are asked to leave a review will.
- Exchange testimonials with your clients
- Encourage customers to leave reviews by offering an incentive. Be careful about this though as you could be breaking the conditions of some platforms, such as Google.
- Use the reviews on your Google Business Profile alongside business directory and listing sites, such as Trustpilot, TripAdvisor, and Yell.
- Conduct marketing research, such as surveys, to find out customers’ opinions
- Use your existing praise from customers, but ask permission first
- Set up Google Alerts to track mentions of your site and reviews on third-party sites, such as news reports or testimonials on other blogs.
- Improve your customer service and reduce friction by using customer service software such as Zendesk or search for Zendesk competitors that best match your needs. When you provide a solution to your customers' complaints, it can result in positive reviews and valuable insights for improvement.
Responding to reviews
It’s not enough just to get reviews. You need to take the time to reply and respond to reviews, whether they be positive (and especially) or negative. If you don’t take the time to respond to reviews, it may seem to your potential customers that you don’t care once they’ve purchased from you.
When responding to reviews, there are some tips you should consider to help develop a positive experience and build relationships with your customers. Whether you are responding to a positive review or a negative review, consider these tips:
- Try to respond to the review as quickly as possible
- Thank the customer for their custom and for leaving a review
- Use the customer’s first name
- Keep your reply short and sweet
- For bad reviews, apologise and sympathise with the customer and acknowledge a mistake was made. Avoiding responsibility or denial only makes the situation worse.
- Address the problem and try to provide a solution (where possible)
- If there’s an issue, take the conversion to a private form of communication, such as email, chat, or phone)
Righting any wrongs is a chance to turn a negative into a positive. It also means you may not have lost that customer either. Correcting any mistakes and admitting responsibility shows you are open and honest.
You also can respond to reviews with your targeted keywords, such as your business name or products. Not only will you be building better relationships with your customers, but your SEO efforts will get a little boost too.
By dealing with the problem, a customer who left a negative review may be more inclined to stay with you in future. After all, it’s 7 times cheaper to retain your existing customers than to acquire a new one. Why not give customers a second chance?
Reviews and testimonials are powerful marketing tools that every business should consider making use of. Not only does it help in building trust and credibility, but the influence word-of-mouth has on altering buying intentions shows just how effective reviews and testimonials can be in your content marketing. So, why not get started?
Featured image by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash