Testimonials are powerful endorsements that weave a narrative of satisfaction and success that resonates deeply with potential customers. They're the cornerstone of effective customer marketing, but what steps do you need to take to get the most out of them? 

In this article we’ll cover these five steps: 

  1. Identify your ideal testimonial candidates
  2. Make the testimonial process easy and appealing
  3. Guide customers in crafting authentic testimonials
  4. Leverage testimonials across marketing channels
  5. Measure and iterate for continuous improvement

Step one: Identify your ideal testimonial candidates

When gathering testimonials, you don’t want to ask anyone and everyone within your customer base. Testimonials should represent the best of your business, so it won’t do much good asking a one-time buyer or a flakey customer to advocate for your brand

So what kind of customer do you want to provide a testimonial? 

Step one is to define the characteristics of customers who are most likely to provide compelling testimonials.

Look for customers who’ve experienced significant benefits from your product or service. 

  • Are they already raving about you on social media
  • Do they interact with you regularly? 

Some of the best customers to work with for testimonials (and long-form case studies) are those with a story to tell. 

  • Did they have an issue you solved so well they’ve done a 180 in terms of sentiment toward you? 
  • Did they have a big problem and your product was key to the solution? 

Also, remember to consider factors such as industry, role, and specific pain points solved by your offering. 

Testimonials, like other marketing tactics, work best when they’re segmented and specialized to key characteristics that make up your customer base. Doing so will make each testimonial more relatable to a specific customer segment. 

Step two: Make the testimonial process easy and appealing

Now you know who you want to get to submit a testimonial, how do you go about convincing them to do so? Remember, these people should already be in the right place to want to submit a testimonial, but there are a few ways to help this process along.

Step two is to make the act of submitting a testimonial quick and easy. Streamline the process for customers to share their experiences.

This’ll begin with understanding the ways customers like to interact with you. 

  • Do they prefer email? Phone? Face-to-face? Social media? 

Offering multiple channels for submitting testimonials will increase the likelihood of customers submitting of their own volition. To sweeten the deal, you can also offer incentives or rewards for customers who provide testimonials, such as discounts or exclusive access to new features.

Step three: Guide customers in crafting authentic testimonials

Even with these two steps done and dusted, testimonials may not stand up to the quality you’re looking for to support your campaigns. So how do you ask for testimonials without the testimonials themselves seeming forced or sales-y? 

Step three is to offer tips and support for those submitting testimonials. Provide prompts or questions to guide customers in structuring their testimonials. Make sure to encourage specificity by asking about concrete results or examples of how your product or service has made a difference.

A short and simple reminder to your customers about the importance of honesty and authenticity. This’ll ensure credibility. You want your testimonial to come across as natural and authentic as possible.

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Step four: Leverage testimonials across marketing channels

Now we’re moving onto how to use these testimonials effectively. The first port of call for this section is to get the testimonials in front of the right eyes. 

Step four is about purposefully incorporating your testimonials into your wider marketing strategy. Begin by putting them into various marketing sites, including your company website, social media, email campaigns, and sales collateral.

Customers are quickly going to get bored of the testimonial being published “as is.” To appeal to different audience preferences, vary your presentation formats to include things like videos, written quotes, infographics, statistics, gifs, memes, or case studies.

As with your outreach, make sure to highlight testimonials in their relevant contexts, such as specific product pages or stages of the buyer's journey. 

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Step five: Measure and iterate for continuous improvement

To conclude our list, let's talk about longevity in your testimonials. Testimonials follow the same rules as other marketing strategies. They should be set up in a flexible way to shift and grow with the people you're marketing to: Your customers. 

Step five is to monitor, review, and adjust your way of using and promoting these testimonials. Begin by picking metrics to track the impact of your testimonials. These can be things like conversion rates or brand perception, but they should reflect your and your team's goals and objectives. 

Make sure you get feedback from customers and internal stakeholders to point out areas for improvement in the testimonial collection and usage process. Offer comparisons, and show drafts of other styles of testimonial formats to help direct your creative ideas. 

To wrap up

Testimonials are not just a one-and-done deal but should continue to evolve as your customer's preferences change and grow. They’re powerful tools when produced and used correctly that harness both the Voice of the Customer and advocacy to support your team's success. 

They're a part of the vital cornerstone of effective customer marketing, and go a long way to building trust, credibility, and compelling reasons to choose your brand.