There’s no doubt that word-of-mouth marketing is effective. According to a Nielsen report from 2012, “Ninety-two percent of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth or recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.”
In this 24/7 digital age in which we live, sharing our recommendations is easier than ever, and they can travel much farther than just between our family and friends, thanks to sites like Yelp and Angie’s List. But are these online review sites as powerful as traditional “verbal” word-of-mouth? The answer is yes.
Marketing Land cites a survey from Dimensional Research that concludes, “90 percent of respondents who recalled reading online reviews claimed that positive online reviews influenced buying decisions, while 86 percent said buying decisions were influenced by negative online reviews.”
And don’t forget about social media. An article from Social Media Today states, “New research indicates that Facebook is now the most trusted online source people use to get recommendations for products and services.”
OK, so maybe you’re now convinced asking for customer reviews and testimonials should be part of your overall marketing strategy. But how should you leverage these reviews and testimonials once you have them? Here are eight ideas.
1. Give them prime location on your website. Since a company’s website often serves as its main storefront, it’s important to add credibility to each page by sharing quotes from customer reviews. Look at your most trafficked pages on your site (start with the top 20) and add snippets of reviews to these pages, and link to the original source (such as a review site, like Yelp) when applicable.
Another idea? Create a banner on your home page with “scrolling” testimonials. The movement will catch people’s eyes, and the rotating reviews will help avoid the “staleness” issue. Refresh the reviews every couple of months with new ones.
You should also have one main page that serves as a repository for all your testimonials/reviews. If you have a lot (a good problem to have!), you can categorize and bookmark them for easier navigation (e.g. customer service reviews, product reviews, company reviews, and so forth).
2. Share them on social media. Posting a line or two from a new review or testimonial makes a great status update for Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ or a tweet on Twitter. Of course, don’t go overboard. You don’t want people accusing you of shameless and incessant promotion, so make sure you space them out.
3. Include them in email signatures. Having employees include a line from a review at the bottom of their signature is another way to get more mileage out of customer reviews and testimonials. Encourage your staff to change the line every few weeks. And, yes, everyone in the office should use snippets from different reviews.
4. Don’t overlook automated systems. If your company uses automated email alerts or sales confirmations, consider adding a testimonial to them. These forms of communication are also a great way to request reviews. You could share a line from a happy customer and add a call-to-action, such as, “If you’d like to leave a review, simply go to X.”
5. Add them to regular customer communications. For example, if you send a monthly newsletter, consider having a section that’s devoted entirely to quotes from customers. Change it every month.
6. Include them in advertising. Earlier this year, the film studio behind Inside Llewyn Davis ran a full-page ad in The New York Times with a tweet from a respected movie critic who praised the film. It was the only content in the ad, minus a line running along the bottom about the movie being the best picture of the year. This, of course, is an extreme example, but it goes to show that using a quote or two from a satisfied customer can be a compelling component to your advertisement (especially if the person quoted is well known).
7. Use them in marketing programs to prospects and past customers. You know that direct mail piece you’re sending to prospects? Some winning words from satisfied clients (and that stand out in a nice design) can help. Ditto for programs geared towards re-engaging past customers. Reading some affirmative words from people might be enough to trigger positive memories from the time they worked with you.
8. Imprint them on promotional products. A killer phrase that sums up your company’s awesomeness can be the perfect addition to promotional items like custom mugs, tote bags, T-shirts, and more. The sky’s the limit (if you need help with this one, just reach out to our friendly customer reps at Amsterdam Printing).
How do you leverage your customer reviews? Share in the comments.