At least once in your life, you must have experienced buying a product over the internet, from an online store or marketplace. After receiving the goods you ordered, you may have received an email or a message from the online store you made your purchase from, asking for your thoughts on your experience transacting with them, or what you thought of the product you bought from them. You may have responded positively, providing your opinions and thoughts.

You just provided them a testimonial on their product, which was their objective for sending you that message.

Ultimate Guide to Getting Testimonials for Your Product

© Shutterstock | Mathias Rosenthal

This article will 1) provide an introduction to product testimonials, 2) how product testimonials can help your business drive sales, 3) ingredients of an effective product testimonial, and 4) how to get product testimonials.

AN INTRODUCTION TO PRODUCT TESTIMONIALS

If a buying customer is satisfied with a product or service – as a whole, or on certain aspects such as quality, performance, or appearance – he may end up writing a positive review, followed by a recommendation for other prospective buyers or shoppers to buy it.

This is a product testimonial.

Testimonials are seen by marketers and entrepreneurs as one of the most effective marketing tools out there. We have often heard how word-of-mouth is still the best form of advertising. Well, that “word of mouth” is pretty much what you would get in a testimonial.

However, as the process of selling and buying has gone online, with more and more people doing their shopping over the internet, “testimonials” seem to have undertaken a new spin. No worries, though, since it is just a variation of the same concept, in that the testimonials we know of today are in written form.

Go to any online store, and you are most likely going to find a separate section solely for testimonials. In sites such as Amazon, each product page has a dedicated space for customer testimonials. You will also find websites that are established purposely for gathering testimonials, from real people, on brands and businesses. Examples of these review and testimonial sites are Google+, TripAdvisor and Yelp.

HOW PRODUCT TESTIMONIALS CAN HELP YOUR BUSINESS

What makes testimonials excellent marketing tools is the fact that they are provided by customers who have actual experience with the product.  It’s a case of hearing “directly from the horse’s mouth”. Trust will definitely be high, as prospective buyers find more credibility in people who have firsthand experience buying and using a product.

A testimonial is basically the same as an endorsement. The only difference lies in who delivers or provides them. A testimonial comes from an ordinary citizen or customer, a regular Joe – just like you and me – who is buying a product or a service. It becomes an endorsement when the person providing the written review and recommendation is a celebrity or a prominent personality.

In the same vein, a testimonial is not to be confused with a standard review. A review looks at the good and bad points of a product or service from a company. A testimonial, meanwhile, extols the good things about the product or service, with an express recommendation tacked on.

So how can you use these product testimonials from your customers to your advantage? What can your business get out of these testimonials?

  • Testimonials will help create and build trust for your brand. Imagine yourself contemplating whether to purchase a specific product from a seller. You have never purchased anything from that brand or from that company before, so you are naturally filled with skepticism and uncertainty. However, when you read the testimonials from other customers talking about their positive experience with the brand, you probably feel more at ease, and develop some trust, enough for you to make the final purchase.
  • Testimonials improve your sales pitch for your product. The problem with straightforward sales pitches is that they are obviously written to generate sales. Buyers often approach sales pitches with caution, knowing for a fact that these pitches came from the sellers or manufacturers, so they may not be completely objective about it. Since testimonials come from customers, and not from the company, they sound more genuine and less of a sales pitch.
  • Testimonials have strong convincing power. They are written by real people, who have real experience with the product and with the same needs as your prospective buyers. Therefore, they are the ones in the best position to recommend whether to buy the product or steer clear from it. Such is the power of a testimonial; it can convince even the toughest sell to make a purchase, depending on how well-written it is.

INGREDIENTS OF AN EFFECTIVE PRODUCT TESTIMONIAL

Just as the power and importance of testimonials has become more pronounced and consequently recognized by businesses, the arguments against it have also increased. The main issue against testimonials is how businesses have started to look for ways to manufacture product testimonials from their customers. Even the established review sites such as Yelp have faced suits over this issue, as this is seen as a form of fraud.

The responsibility of obtaining testimonials from customers is entirely on the shoulders of the sellers, manufacturers or distributors. They are the ones who should take the steps to get testimonials from customers and choose those that they deem to be most beneficial to their campaign.

What makes a product testimonial effective?

  • Positive feedback on the product. Testimonials are supposed to express the thoughts of satisfied customers. It is not a good testimonial if the response to the product is negative, or even lukewarm.
  • Detailed feedback, with focus on the benefits of the product. Saying “I love it!” or “I’m glad I bought this product!” is certainly favorable to the product and the brand. However, it lacks the details or information that readers may be looking for, such as the exact reason why the person giving the testimonial wrote or said those words. They want to know exactly what they can get from the product, so the testimonial should be specific, providing details on the good points about the product, probably zeroing in on its performance, reliability, aesthetic value, or overall quality.
  • Consistency with company claims on the product. If you marketed a product to be high-performance, the testimonial should agree with that claim. To give it more water, the testimonial should also have some actual facts and figures to back it up.
  • Relatable source. The testimonial should be written by someone that the prospective customers can identify with. This is a given, since customers want to know whether they, too, can get the same benefits as others. Basic information on the provider of the testimonial, such as age, location, occupation, and maybe even photographs would help in increasing the credibility of the testimonial.
  • Indicates comparisons. If the testimonial points out comparisons with other brands or similar products and your product comes out as the best among them, this will make the recommendation even more convincing and tempting.

If possible, you can also include videos and audio about the product. This is not really a requirement, but they will surely boost the effectiveness of the testimonial. Adding visuals to a testimonial will certainly make it more noticeable by other customers and make it more believable.

HOW TO GET PRODUCT TESTIMONIALS

We are referring, of course, to authentic product testimonials and reviews, and none of those manufactured and fraudulent ones. You are getting the testimonials from real people who are actual customers that purchased from you, and you did not have to actively offer to “buy” their testimonials from them.

Find Good Sources of Testimonials

We are talking about customers who will provide the testimonials. You may have a hundred customers who purchased your products, but only a small percentage of them are considered to be “ripe” for testimonials. Many may give you generally positive feedback, but none that you can use on your website to effectively convince other customers to buy your product.

Just because a customer bought a product from you and is happy about the purchase does not mean that they are good sources of a product testimonial. You have to search among your pool of customers more actively.

How can you tell if a customer is a potential testimonial provider?

  • If the customer contacted you directly and thanked you for the product or service, expressing their favorable thoughts on the transaction as a whole.
  • If the customer left a positive or glowing review of your product on public sites such as a blog or even a review site. They are willing to air out their opinions on your brand in a public forum; they must have been really satisfied with it.
  • If the customer expressed their satisfaction with your product in their social circles, such as social media accounts and blogs. They may tweet about it to their friends or even share your product page to their networks on Facebook or LinkedIn.
  • If the customer took the time to fill out or answer a customer feedback form from you.

Keep in mind that the first thing you should check is that the customer must have bought your product or paid for your service. If a customer did not buy anything but offers to write a testimonial, this should raise red flags because they are simply out to make a quick buck, writing a testimonial for a product they may not have even tried before.

Ask for the testimonial

This is, by far, the most effective way for you to get a testimonial. Ask for it. Sounds simple enough. The complicated part, however, is on how you are going to ask for them.

Contact them directly and ask them outright.

  • Provide positive responses. This is in the case of customers who reach out to you first or those who are expressing their satisfaction with your product on their social media accounts. They may be thanking you for coming up with such a great product or service, but you should also thank them for purchasing your offering, and for approaching you with their thoughts and opinions. Showing your gratitude will further improve your image in your customers’ minds, so they will have a more favorable outlook should you take the next step, which is asking for their testimonial.
  • You must be ready with options. Aside from written text or narratives, testimonials can also come in the form of videos and audio recording. If they are not confident with their writing skills, maybe you can ask them to record a video instead, or do a voice recording as they recount their experience with your product.
  • Contact them through various channels, such as email, over the phone, or a plug-in or widget embedded on your website.
  • Be polite when asking for testimonials. After all, you are basically asking them to help you out with your marketing. Being rude to them or being condescending when asking for a testimonial will not get you the results you want.
  • When conducting an interview, ask only the relevant questions. What did the product do for them? Why did they like it? Why would they recommend it to others? What made them choose the product over the other products in the market? Get to the heart of the matter, because these are the points that will be included in the testimonial.

Use social media.

Customers may praise your product or service on third party sites and their social media accounts. These are also good sources of testimonials.

  • Set up a notification alerts if your brand, product or company name pops up in these external sites. Google Alerts has this function, alerting you if your business name comes up anywhere on the web.
  • Look up positive tweets on Twitter (make use of the hashtag function to do your search), curate them, compile them, and share them. Other tools you can use to search through Twitter archives are BackTweets and SnapBird.
  • Curate all reviews on Facebook and recommendations on LinkedIn, Instagram and other similar sites, and compile all the positive ones, so you can share them.
  • Look into local search directories and review sites for unsolicited reviews on your product or service.

Conduct a survey.

A customer feedback form is often distributed by physical stores at the cash register. The customers can fill up the form and return it, in exchange for a freebie or a discount on their next purchase.

Similarly, customers buying online may encounter a similar survey form upon checkout, and they have the option to fill it out or not. Another way is for the company to automate the process, so that the buyer will soon receive a survey form a few days after the purchase, giving them ample time to try out the product before giving a testimonial or review.

You may also conduct these surveys directly on your blog, if you have one. Chances are high that customers who liked your product or service will look you up, and are likely to visit your blog, where they will see the blog survey to be filled out.

Now you may wonder if it is not a form of bribery to offer them something in return for filling out a survey form. It’s not. Of course, you have to take a look at the scale. If you are offering something really huge or substantial, it is easy to see why most people would have the impression that it is a form of bribery. Do it tastefully, and it should remain relevant and faithful to your marketing thrust. The small freebie should be a symbol of your appreciation to your customers for taking the time to give feedback about your products. After all, they don’t have to.

Use what you already have.

You may not even have to exert a lot of effort contacting your customers, because they may already have provided you with good testimonials, or source materials for testimonials.

  • Constantly check your email or chat facility. Satisfied customers may have left messages that you can quote in crafting testimonials.
  • Go over the comments left by customers on your blog and product pages. You are bound to find comments that look promising in becoming effective testimonials.

Throughout your efforts in obtaining testimonials from customers, you have to keep this in mind: you always have to ask for their permission. You may conduct an informal interview, or send a form for them to fill up. You may even choose to quote them from the comments they left on your blog.

No matter what method you use, make sure to ask for their permission to use their testimonial for your marketing or advertising purposes. Let them know exactly what you will use their testimonials for. Will you post it in your company blog, or will you put it up on the product page itself?

You also have to respect their choices on the amount and nature of personal information that they are willing to let you use or divulge in the testimonials. Not everyone is comfortable having their full names displayed, so you also have to respect that.

Getting testimonials is not as difficult as most people think. It is getting the right testimonials that is quite tricky. For this, you have to exercise your professional judgment. While you are at it, it’s important to note that manipulating testimonials and crafting testimonials that are untrue may be potential problems in the future for your brand and your business.

38 – Ultimate Guide to Getting Testimonials for Your Product

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