Use Testimonials to Harness the Power of Social Proof

Nothing you can say for yourself is as valuable as what customers have to say about you. That’s because people find the endorsements of actual customers more persuasive than the hype of faceless copywriters.

Every marketer has the same problem: overcoming a prospect’s fear of making a mistake. Faced with a buying decision prospects will often sit on their hands. They need to “think about it”. It’s safer to do nothing than risk making the wrong choice. In this situation smart marketers use psychology to overcome the prospect’s inertia.

You see, we are all “social creatures” with a fundamental need to be connected to others. And as social creatures we are highly susceptible to being influenced by “the herd”.

Lead the herd
“Social proof” is a psychological phenomenon described by Robert Cialdini in his bookInfluence. When people are unsure what to do in a certain situation they will often make the assumption that surrounding people possess more knowledge about the situation, and do what they do.

Customer testimonials are a very powerful form of social proof. A testimonial is proof your company satisfies its customers. A testimonial says, “See! Other people like you have tried it and liked it.” They dissolve scepticism and can turn a fence-sitter into a paying customer.

Where to use testimonials
There are few marketing materials that can’t benefit from the addition of a glowing testimonial. Testimonials can make attention grabbing headlines. They can be used to support and prove your marketing claims in the body copy of brochures, print ads, media releases and direct mail. They are excellent for adding credibility to your website.

How to get great testimonials
If a customer pays you a compliment – verbally or in writing – ask if you can quote them. (Always get permission to use a testimonial.) Unfortunately customers are not always forthcoming with their praise and appreciation.

So the best way to get testimonials is to simply ask for them. Ask every customer for a testimonial. Become a proud collector of testimonials and put your best ones on display.

The best time to ask for a testimonial is immediately after you’ve delivered your product or service and your customer’s satisfaction is high. If your customer agrees send a brief but specific set of open-ended questions via email. Then follow up and get the answers by phone. A dictaphone is useful for recording their answers (but ask permission first). Once you write up the testimonial email it back to the customer for their approval.

Before and after works best
The best testimonials include a problem that has been overcome. So be sure to ask about the “before” as well as the “after”. It’s also good to highlight initial scepticism.

For example, here’s an excerpt from a testimonial from one of my clients: “I thought the copywriting process would’ve been a lot more drawn out and there would be a lot of hand-holding, but Charles quickly grasped my requirements.”

Questions to ask:
Here are some good questions to ask when getting a testimonial:

  • “What do you like most about working with us/using the product?”
  • Ask about their previous perceptions about using the type of service/product you offer. For example, I ask: “What were your perceptions about working with a copywriter before we started?”
  • “How has that perception changed?”
  • “What are the three biggest benefits of working with us/using the product?” (Do some digging here for quantifiable results e.g. are they doing things faster, easier, making more money, etc.)
  • “Would you recommend our services/products?”
  • “Is there anything else you’d like to add?”

Don’t DIY
Customers are sometimes hesitant to give a testimonial because they perceive writing one to be too much of a hassle. That’s why I recommend doing them on the phone. It only takes five minutes of your customer’s time and they don’t have to worry about writing perfect prose. Besides, on the phone it’s easier to capture a natural, conversational tone, which adds believability.

Never write customers’ testimonials for them, even if they ask you to (which they often do). If you write their testimonial it will sound phoney. Also, customers will often say nicer things about you than you’d ever say about yourself – if you ask the right questions.

Things to do

  • Ask every satisfied customer for a testimonial.
  • Create a pro forma email with your testimonial questions.
  • Brainstorm where you can include testimonials in your marketing materials.

The easiest way to get great testimonials

Getting an experienced copywriter to interview your satisfied customers and write your testimonials for you is a good idea. It’s less awkward for you and your customer. Also, customers are often more comfortable communicating their praise through a third party.

Use Testimonials to Harness the Power of Social Proof

socialproof1Nothing you can say for yourself is as valuable as what customers have to say about you. That’s because people find the endorsements of actual customers more persuasive than the hype of faceless copywriters.

Every marketer has the same problem: overcoming a prospect’s fear of making a mistake. Faced with a buying decision prospects will often sit on their hands. They need to “think about it”. It’s safer to do nothing than risk making the wrong choice. In this situation smart marketers use psychology to overcome the prospect’s inertia.

You see, we are all “social creatures” with a fundamental need to be connected to others. And as social creatures we are highly susceptible to being influenced by “the herd”.

Lead the herd
“Social proof” is a psychological phenomenon described by Robert Cialdini in his book Influence. When people are unsure what to do in a certain situation they will often make the assumption that surrounding people possess more knowledge about the situation, and do what they do.

Customer testimonials are a very powerful form of social proof. A testimonial is proof your company satisfies its customers. A testimonial says, “See! Other people like you have tried it and liked it.” They dissolve scepticism and can turn a fence-sitter into a paying customer.

Where to use testimonials
There are few marketing materials that can’t benefit from the addition of a glowing testimonial. Testimonials can make attention grabbing headlines. They can be used to support and prove your marketing claims in the body copy of brochures, print ads, media releases and direct mail. They are excellent for adding credibility to your website.

How to get great testimonials
If a customer pays you a compliment – verbally or in writing – ask if you can quote them. (Always get permission to use a testimonial.) Unfortunately customers are not always forthcoming with their praise and appreciation.

So the best way to get testimonials is to simply ask for them. Ask every customer for a testimonial. Become a proud collector of testimonials and put your best ones on display.

The best time to ask for a testimonial is immediately after you’ve delivered your product or service and your customer’s satisfaction is high. If your customer agrees send a brief but specific set of open-ended questions via email. Then follow up and get the answers by phone. A dictaphone is useful for recording their answers (but ask permission first). Once you write up the testimonial email it back to the customer for their approval.

Before and after works best
The best testimonials include a problem that has been overcome. So be sure to ask about the “before” as well as the “after”. It’s also good to highlight initial scepticism.

For example, here’s an excerpt from a testimonial from one of my clients: “I thought the copywriting process would’ve been a lot more drawn out and there would be a lot of hand-holding, but Charles quickly grasped my requirements.”

Questions to ask:
Here are some good questions to ask when getting a testimonial:

  • “What do you like most about working with us/using the product?”
  • Ask about their previous perceptions about using the type of service/product you offer. For example, I ask: “What were your perceptions about working with a copywriter before we started?”
  • “How has that perception changed?”
  • “What are the three biggest benefits of working with us/using the product?” (Do some digging here for quantifiable results e.g. are they doing things faster, easier, making more money, etc.)
  • “Would you recommend our services/products?”
  • “Is there anything else you’d like to add?”

Don’t DIY
Customers are sometimes hesitant to give a testimonial because they perceive writing one to be too much of a hassle. That’s why I recommend doing them on the phone. It only takes five minutes of your customer’s time and they don’t have to worry about writing perfect prose. Besides, on the phone it’s easier to capture a natural, conversational tone, which adds believability.

Never write customers’ testimonials for them, even if they ask you to (which they often do). If you write their testimonial it will sound phoney. Also, customers will often say nicer things about you than you’d ever say about yourself – if you ask the right questions.

Things to do

  • Ask every satisfied customer for a testimonial.
  • Create a pro forma email with your testimonial questions.
  • Brainstorm where you can include testimonials in your marketing materials.

The easiest way to get great testimonials

Getting an experienced copywriter to interview your satisfied customers and write your testimonials for you is a good idea. It’s less awkward for you and your customer. Also, customers are often more comfortable communicating their praise through a third party.

Write Your Website Content for “Scanners”

scannersTo create good website content you first have to understand how people read on the web.

People don’t read websites word for word – they scan the page looking for the information they want. Therefore your website content should be written for scanners:

  • Online text should have roughly 50% of the words you would use for print
  • Include lots of bullets, lists and meaningful sub-headings
  • Use links to break longer information up into parts.

Charles CuninghameWebsite Copywriter

Related posts:

  1. How To Take Your Website Content To The Bank
  2. How To Get More Of Your Website Content Read
  3. Who’s Going to Write the Content for Your Website Relaunch?
  4. Content Templates: The Paint by Numbers Solution to Creating Quality Website Content
  5. Better Website Content in 10 Easy Steps

SEO Myths & Blog Launches: The Web Content Roundup

WebContentRoundup21 (1)Here are this week’s top seven stories on web content and online marketing as voted by my Twitter followers:

1). The Ultimate 11-Step Plan to Launching a Successful Business Blog in 6 Monthshttp://buff.ly/UH0RmV

2). How to Optimize Your Landing Pages for Long-Term Lead Generation http://buff.ly/YTE0Iq

3). Did you know email still whips social media as marketing tool? http://buff.ly/WN88jR

4). The Business Blog Editorial Calendar Every Marketer Needs [Free Template] http://buff.ly/TaCLQ2

5). 7 Common SEO Myths to Throw Out the Window Immediately http://buff.ly/R6TxB7 Myth #1: We Must Rank Number One

6). How to lose visitors on your website [Video] http://buff.ly/WN9gEe

7). Why You Should Paint Your Business with Smaller Brush Strokes http://buff.ly/WNacIN

For more of the freshest tips and tactics on web copywriting, SEO, social media and online marketing be sure to follow me on Twitter.

Most Business Websites Fail to Make a Profit

Here are some alarming statistics for every business owner and marketing manager who is responsible for building or managing a business website:

A report released by Sensis in August 2007 stated that:

  • Only 10.4% of business websites delivered additional sales, orders, bookings and customers, and
  • Only 8.45% of business websites produced an increase in enquiries.

Source: Sensis e-Business Report – The Online Experience of Small and Medium Enterprises

What this means is only one in 10 websites delivers a profit-generating benefit to the business. In other words, 90% of websites just sit there and do nothing! That’s right… no sales leads, no new customers, nothing.