Reviews and testimonials are an important part of advertising for every business. Customers in this day and age are more discerning than they have been in the past, more educated and with the benefits of having access to a wealth of information at their fingertips at all times; so self-made claims generally aren’t considered as trustworthy as validation from third parties.
Proving Your Results
Brands are identified not just by the promises they make, but the customer experience and perception of how those promises are met, to what degree of quality. Visible feedback, through channels such as industry or product awards, is one way of ensuring that perception remains positive and that promises of quality can be relied upon by future customers. Testimonials and reviews are also an incredibly valuable part of content marketing, and give incredibly high returns compared to some more aggressive marketing strategies.
It is important that the feedback is genuine. Fake testimonials can damage perception of a company’s trustworthiness, and that trust is difficult to rebuild, making it much easier to be consistent from the start.
Keep It Relevant
Ensure that the feedback suits your company and what it is you’re selling. You may do this by directing questions at customers about their experience, or simply picking them most relevant responses to be promoted. Quick, short reviews can work well for a smaller purchase of a product or dining experience; for more long-term purchases or other types of services, it may be important for customers to be able to seek out more nuanced feedback in order to help with their decision making, to find specific information relating to common concerns of customers.
Portray Your Feedback Honestly
When seeking feedback to promote your business, there are many ways that you can do this. It is important when asking customers for feedback directly to also ask if they are happy for their words to be used in the context of promotion, and that when you do, the quote isn’t taken too far out of context to portray a false positive. You may also want to ask your client how they want to be attributed. Some clients may feel more comfortable giving permission for their words to be quoted anonymously, while others are happy putting their names behind endorsements, or even their age, photos or other personal details, which will give them more of a trustworthy touch.
Third-party websites also come in handy for doing this. Many such as Yelp, Google+ and Facebook have tools to vet reviews and reviewers to ensure that they are genuine and add credibility to them. It adds to the structure of having third-party confirmation of your business’ promises being fulfilled. Some websites Terms of Service will vary and not all will allow content to be shared elsewhere, or will have conditions upon sharing, such as linking back to the website; so it is important to follow the correct procedure if going through one of those websites. Linking back to the site, or referencing it in the case of print, also has the benefit of allowing customers to verify the quote for themselves. For this reason, it is also important to avoid using reviews that are hidden, filtered or ‘not recommended’ on the website as this reduces the perceived trustworthiness of the review.
Be Active, Not Reactive
As with many marketing decisions, you may choose not to engage with these tactics, but that choice does not mean that public feedback becomes irrelevant – merely that it occurs outside of your influence. If you do not decide for yourself how it goes, decisions will be made for you automatically. Feedback is unavoidable for any business. It can be affected though by the actions you make within the feedback process; customers can give harsher reviews if they feel that it’s the only way to be heard, but if you are seen to be an active participant in dialogue with your customers, more room is made for positive perceptions of your care for your customers and business to flourish.
Word of mouth brings clients to your door, and it can turn them away. Choosing to place testimonials and reviews as visible portions of your marketing does not change this, but it gives you greater levels of control over that process and its results, and a greater chance to have your business defined by your successes.