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Eight Ways to Use Customer Testimonials for Lead Generation
Do you want to generate more leads through previous customer testimonials? Once your business starts to rock, and you start hitting and exceeding expectations you can begin to ask your customers to help you out. This can be done through customer testimonials, either writing reviews, videos or serving as a case study.
The end goal of working in the service industry is to help your customers achieve their goals and get to the point where they love your brand. You want them to tell their friends and family how happy they were with their experience and by writing a review or publishing a video testimonial, they become a brand ambassador for the 1000’s of other people searching the internet for honest reviews on services like yours. Testimonials and reviews are golden, your potential customers tend to trust the opinion of a previous customer way more than any marketing content you could create or your sales reps themselves.
A relatively recent survey showed 88% of people trust online reviews as much as recommendations from friends and family. To add to that 91% make it a habit to check online reviews before making a purchase. Once people start reading reviews and learning more about your business, they might become interested and become an opportunity. These are gold because they are almost virtually free to generate. We call these ones sales-ready leads because who would be more inclined to hire you than someone that trusts the honesty of your happy, existing customers.
Generate more leads through previous customer testimonials
1. Create profiles on every site related to your business.
If a potential client can find a business like yours on a particular site, you need to be there too. You need to consider places like Facebook, Gooogle My Business, Yelp, BBB, Home Advisor etc. Many of these sites are free to join and use (although most free accounts will either have restrictive features or ads)
There are three critical reasons why you need to have claimed listings on all of these sites. First, it helps with your SEO, although small, the more listings for your business on the web the more search results you’ll have. When these profiles are filled out with content and get reviews search engines may tend to trust this feedback and start to rank your own site higher.
Second, when you have a claimed listing, you would be notified when someone leaves a review. The last thing you want is to find a negative review that someone posted about your business last year that may have not even been your fault.
Lastly when using a feedback tool the more options you give to a client on a place to write a review the better likelihood that they will actually do it. Not every customer wants to set up a profile on Yelp just to write a review, but almost everyone will have a Gmail account or Facebook account to leave one. The easy you make it the better the results.
2. Create and use social proof.
In most industries, there is really nothing more influential than social proof. If you aren’t already doing this with every customer, you need to start doing it, now. Identify your top 10 customers to start. Talk to them and ask them what specifically have been the benefits to them in working with you. From there ask if you can share their story through a case study, through a review or act as a referral for future potential customers. Social proof, leverage the power of the crowd, make sure you have a variety of examples of successful projects and satisfied clients that you can share out on your website, social media and at tradeshows or events.
3. Create and use visual content.
The only thing more engaging than a written review is one via video. This is a bigger ask than writing a review, so only propose this to clients you have had an excellent relationship with. It doesn’t have to be an expensive production or ultra professional to work. In fact the more natural it is, the more authentic it becomes. Using your iPhone to film a quick 30-second spot on what was done for the client and how they feel about the end result brings a written review to life. Remeber share across social channels and your website, with their permission of course.
4. Be consistent or use an automatic feedback tool
Being active with reputation management can be a lot of work. In fact, most companies that try to do it on their own either forget to follow up or wait until it is too late for the customer to bother. Requesting reviews from customers can take time away from working in your business when you are small. Using a feedback tool allows you to connect with all of your customers and follow up with the ones that don’t leave you a review right away. At ConstructingU we have found the success rates for companies that use a survey tool versus the ones that just send emails manually is easily double. You can see our approach to reputation management here
5. Focus on a tangible impact.
Reviews on third-party websites about your company is a fantastic way to validate your business and give it legitimacy. It shows others you know what you’re doing. Make sure the testimonials or reviews aren’t vague, most effective testimonials are specific and refer to the tangible impact the service or product had on the client. Be sure to ask customers direct questions to get the particular answers you want. When a customer writes a review about the specific job you did for them be it a roof repair or a Trex deck installation it also gives you the added benefit of new unique content. When added to your profile it, in turn, benefits your pages/profile when it comes to search engines.
6. Feature your content wherever it is possible.
If you have an especially compelling case study, put a link to it on your blog or in your email signature. Be sure to post it on all of your social media accounts. The more places a potential client can see the results of your work across different media, the better.
7. Make testimonials trustworthy.
The main problem with testimonials is that even if they are great, they rarely can be verified for authenticity. Any business can post glowing reviews on their own website. The reason they cant be verified is there is no backlink to the reviewer’s website or social media profile. Create more trust by making sure that testimonials on your page can be linked back to a real person. Either including the link to a Facebook review or to the website where the consumer posted the review. Let’s be honest, not that many people will actually contact the reviewer, but the thought that they could, if they wanted to, may have a significant impact on making the decision to hire or buy from you.
8. Don’t ignore negative reviews.
Negative reviews can actually work to your advantage in the long run so don’t ignore them. Consumers today know that reviews can be inauthentic, so many go out and specifically seek negative reviews first. No company is perfect, but this is the ideal opportunity to showcase your customer service. Most third party sites will allow you to reply directly to the review. Reach out to the customer but also explain your version of the story (there is always another version of the story) Keep it cool and don’t take it personally. In 2018 arguing on the internet or lashing out in rage can put you out of business faster than you can imagine. If you screwed up own it and outline the steps you have or are willing to take to make it right. This is one of the best opportunities you have to showcase how much your company cares.
In conclusion, make customer references and reviews part of your upfront “sales” process. Let them know how much they mean to your business and that you value the relationship because your business depends on happy customer telling other happy customers. If you are upfront about it early on in the relationship asking them for a testimonial at the end will seem like a no-brainer.