by Steve Edwards, Evergreen Direct's Creative Director
Customer testimonials, client endorsements, and customer stories are essential sales and marketing tools because – very simply -- they increase sales. But WHY do they?
Sea Eagle Boats says…
“Customer testimonials give us more sales from search traffic.”
“Testimonial blog posts help SEO, so we're getting more sales from search traffic than we would otherwise. We also gain branding benefits that help out with wholesale marketing.” Visit Sea Eagle's blog.
A testimonial is a third-party endorsement. It’s an existing customer telling would-be customers they like and trust your company. Call them customer testimonials, client endorsements, great customer stories, articles, third-party comments, or whatever, they’re praise for you from an objective party who knows what they’re talking about.
"Testimonials produced $100,000 in sales in just 6 months"
"We closely measure the effectiveness of all our marketing efforts and customer testimonials are the top performers. We use testimonials to generate qualified leads and to get leads to take action – in our case, to schedule a consultation. Testimonials generated over $100,000 in sales within 6 months. That's about 1,000% ROI." — Shane O'Quinn, Marketing Director
TESTIMONIALS INCREASE YOUR CREDIBILITY
When YOU say great things about your business, consumers automatically discount your claims. But when your PAST CUSTOMERS sing your praises, would-be customers believe them.
TESTIMONIALS ADD THIRD-PARTY OBJECTIVITY
Those who give testimonials have nothing to gain, no vested interest, so they can be objective and truthful about your company. People reading their testimonial stories know they’re telling the truth.
TESTIMONIALS INCREASE READERSHIP
Testimonial stories, posts, and articles are of extreme interest to would-be customers. New customers really want to know what current customers have experienced. They depend on testimonials to help them avoid bad purchases. The testimonial page on a website often has the highest readership. Reading builds interest; interest creates desire; desire sparks action; action means buying!
TESTIMONIALS TELL YOUR VALUE STORY
A testimonial that says only, “I like it,” is not worth posting. In a great testimonial, your customer tells your VALUE STORY. Your customer tells about all the things that make your product or service unique, different, and a better value than your competitors’ offering.
TESTIMONIALS COMMUNICATE YOUR UNIQUE SELLING POINTS
What makes your product or service uniquely different and better than competitors’? These are your “unique selling points” or USPs. A great testimonial will hit squarely on your USPs.
And the net result is…
TESTIMONIALS ADD SELLING POWER
Some of the essential keys to selling are overcoming objections, solving problems, giving positive evidence, and demonstrating benefits. Great testimonials do ALL these things and more…and are a critical support in any selling scenario!
Want to learn more about increasing your sales with long-form testimonials? Email Steve
One of the easiest and most profitable ways to improve your profit picture is the one that is often overlooked.
You do not have to travel any further than your front door to find this n0-cost, ready-to-be-tapped source of new and highly profitable sales. It resides right under your own roof. It is your house list—those people who have purchased or used your product or service in the past.
You can call them customers, buyers, owners, subscribers, members or past guests. It doesn’t matter. Your existing buyers are your most likely NEW buyers. They're also potential advocates of your business, and (Bonus!) they all have “friends” with similar interests, too.
Your existing customers are a ready source of new business that’s just waiting to be reached.
Strangely enough, most of us spend most of their marketing and advertising dollars trying to attract new customers and we ignore the very people who got us where we are. But, it’s relatively simple to reap profits from this market segment -- your customers.
You have already done the hard, expensive work. You’ve successfully converted what were once “ordinary” people, a segment of the “general public”, into a special group. They are now your customers. You’ve captured their attention. Convinced them of the benefits, the dream(s) you've promised them. You have, to some degree, allayed their fears and cast their doubts aside.
You have convinced them to believe in you. To trust you enough to become one of your family.
Hopefully, they are satisfied customers. It should go without saying that you should always be working to be sure they remain satisfied customers so that they will have nothing but praise when mentioning your company.
Indeed, a large part of marketing to your customer list is reinforcing and building upon that bond, building on that goodwill, and having them become a bigger part of your profit picture...as YOU become a bigger and bigger part of their PURCHASE picture..
All of your customers should be treated differently and BETTER than the “general public”. You must break out the best customers from the so-sos or the one-time buyers and treat each segment differently. A few examples:
Build strong customer relationships -- then cash in on them
You’ve cultivated goodwill and encouraged a continuing conversation. You must never let them forget that he or she is a valued customer. You should develop a separate marketing communications program just for the differing segments of your customer base.
Never take their trust for granted and always find ways of deepening your relationship with them, and their friends, too. It will be very satisfactory AND will produce the best ROI in your marketing, too—guaranteed!
Want more info on Marketing to Your Customer List? Email Bob
I recently asked online marketers (see my post, "REAL Connections With Your Customers and Their Friends", LinkedIn) a key question: "How do your digital/computerized marketing efforts stand in the way of your company TRULY knowing and connecting with your customers? And what about their friends (who may have similar interests)?"
How does today's online marketing venue HURT your ability to develop REAL and meaningful relationships with your customers?
Some digital marketers confess that they fail in this very important effort by actually trying to filter out customer comments. They make it as difficult as possible (instead of as easy as possible) for customers to provide relevant feedback.
Other marketers flatly state that digital/computerized marketing actually stops many companies from getting to know their customers...and they feel this is a GOOD thing.. They seem to believe this lack of communication is somehow helpful to all parties concerned. (How could this possibly be true, I wonder...)
Online marketing depends on relationships - building and maintaining
The fact of the matter: most online marketers forget that earning market share and improving profits is based on building customer relationships, period! And let's never forget that in a perfect world, people want to do business with people, NOT companies.
Several recent studies and blogs have found that more than 80% or so of businesses thought that more and better customer data would be very helpful in building stronger and longer-lasting relationships with customers. I think this realization is like "discovering" that a light bulb goes on when you flip the switch.
And, all you online marketers, I might also suggest that some “old-fashioned”, face-to-face meet-ups, video meetings, or phone calls with customers could be extremely helpful relationship-builders, too!
How to improve your customer engagement
Here are some principles Evergreen Direct has found very effective for a small and medium-sized companies as they work on improving customer-engagement:
Want more info on Building Customer Relationships? Email Bob
Retaining Customers Starts With Knowing Who They Are!
Bottom line: Test, test, test. Until you try variations on each marketing tactic in a systematic way, you won’t know what to do with the demographic information you’ve gathered. You need the demographics to segment your tactics, and you need the tests to impact your ROI.
Want more info on Customer Retention? Email Bob
Bob Kesner, Evergreen Direct's Marketing Rainmaker, has worked for almost 35 years in national and international marketing including start-ups, small- and mid-cap firms, and Fortune 500 companies in the U.S., Canada, Japan and Mexico.