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Customer testimonials: Are you boring your audience with boastful quotes?

Customer testimonials: Are you boring your audience with boastful quotes?

 Or are you adding value by giving away free advice to help other businesses?

When your customers refer new business, it works really well – because they only do it when they’re confident the other person will benefit from your services. This has fuelled the trend for businesses to share lots of testimonials on their website and share them on social media to spread the word.

Great to see the positive approach to marketing. However, with the rise in focus on feedback from users to tell a story, are people really reading them?

How effective are customer testimonials?

Customer testimonials are great when a recognised brand or person has given the feedback. For me, in a local network, that’s as simple as a business I know from Bristol; for you, it may be more credible coming from a FTSE 500 company or so-called blue-chip brand.

Happy testimonials are a common goal for small businesses everywhere, because Google reviews help to improve their rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs). And LinkedIn recommendations appear to have a positive effect too – more people see your posts, from the other person’s network as well as your own.

If you add one simple question, when you gather your testimonials, to ask “How likely are you to recommend us out of ten?” you can begin to build a net promoter score from the results. Which is useful to monitor over time. But if you share too many, without considering how they help others, it can get boring for your audience!

My top tip: spread your customer testimonials across several pages of your website, rather than expecting a web visitor to click that one page!

What’s the difference when you write a case study up in full?

The difference when you write up a full case study is the opportunity to interview the customers in more depth, asking them not only their testimonial and a score but also the reasons for giving that score. By hearing more from their perspective, you can write blogs, eBooks and more helpful content with their needs at the centre of your efforts.

Using a set of pre-planned questions, it’s possible to gain more information about your service delivery – and pass the feedback over to the operations team. Customer comments are gold-dust for improving your services and offering useful information, either via your blogs, news or Frequently Asked Questions. The testimonial comments and happy feedback often surfaces early, but it’s great to get the insight and constructive information from the conversation too. The story itself can offer valuable tips on changes which other businesses can make to address a similar challenge.

The result: instead of boasting about your amazing results with customers, you can tell the story – warts and all – of how you solved their struggle. And who doesn’t want to work with a business who gets results – but also cares enough to take time and listen to their customers’ frank feedback?

Search engines prefer long copy web pages which offer value and answer questions. Your blogs have to pack enough information in them to be useful. A case study is more powerful than snippets from your customer testimonials, because you can frame the challenge and articulate the solution your business offers. Most important of all, you must include the results – whether it involved saving time or making money or removing the problem.

My top tip: include a search-engine friendly keyword phrase in each of the sub-headings in your case studies.

How to structure your case study for greatest impact

Start with the challenge; help the readers instantly recognise whether it’s similar to their own situation.

Describe the solution; your process is important to you, not them – only share the nuggets which will attract them to try it for themselves.

Report results! Make sure the reader knows what’s in it for them after they’ve read to the end of your story – which should be an absolute minimum of 500 words. What outcome did your customer have – has it saved them money, made them money or removed a problem? Anecdotal feedback works well here, if the results are less tangible than time saving or money-making. Often people aren’t looking for a pure monetary difference – the results you’re offering have to appeal to their emotions.

My top tip: spend time listening to your customers about their feelings towards your services before you write down their testimonials – better still, cover the full story in a case study.

Contact me for a Case Study clinic if you want to explore how this would work for your business.