Testimonials can be one of the most important weapons in the marketer’s armoury, but they can also be difficult to get right.
In a recent issue of PR Matters, the roundtable column by members of the UK International Public Relations Association (Ipra), former chair Millie Dizon was asked for advice on how to come up with inspirational testimonial campaigns that had the ability to enhance the brands being serviced.
She answered: “Testimonials are important marketing tools, and have a way of touching the hearts and minds of the public. This is because these are often viewed to be authentic and very relatable. But you are right when you say that this is not an easy task.”
The effectiveness of a well-delivered testimonial campaign is widely recognised. A recent WebDAM survey revealed that testimonials outperformed all other forms of content marketing for their effectiveness. Nearly four-fifths (78%) of survey respondents said that they put as much trust in a review as they did recommendations from people they knew.
Interestingly, the survey also found that using both positive and negative reviews could be more effective than pushing positive feedback alone. Nearly a third (30%) of people suspected dishonesty or some sort of censorship when confronted with nothing but positive reviews, with a mixture of positive and negative being perceived as more trustworthy.
In an article on marketingprofs.com, marketing executive Ella Patenall said that testimonials can help to build trust between an organisation and its users or customers.
She added that a good testimonial “outlines key benefits, makes comparisons with other products, and backs up the claims you’ve made about your product or service. That’s why many businesses choose to include a form of testimonial in their marketing. But some are more effective than the others.”
According to Patenall, there are at least three important types of testimonial that marketers should consider – quotes, case studies and video testimonies.
Quotes are the simplest format and you’re all familiar with seeing customer quotes in all sorts of circumstances. “In the age of short attention spans, such quotes should be succinct and snappy to catch attention immediately,” she said.
She added that areas covered in this sort of quote would typically include information on how the customer found the process, how effective they found the service or product to be, and whether they would recommend it to others. Authenticity was particularly important for quotes, and including the person’s name, company and other corroborating information could help engender trust.
Case studies are a powerful tool for marketers as they can use them to demonstrate the positive results delivered to a previous client in a more in-depth way than brief quotes. They can also use visual elements, such as infographics and graphs.
Videos can have a great impact and be very relatable. However, they should be well-executed. Otherwise, they could look amateurish and off-putting. At the same time, authenticity is key throughout, so there’s a need to strike a balance to make sure your testimonials don’t look like they are pre-prepared or supplied lines being delivered by actors.