Word of mouth has always been an incredibly powerful marketing tool. We’re far likelier to trust a product recommendation from a friend, neighbour, loved one, or even acquaintance than we are from even the slickest sales associate.
There are a few reasons for that, but it’s primarily because we know deep down that other consumers probably aren’t trying to sell us anything. As a result, we’re far likelier to take their testimony at face value. Thing is, until recently there wasn’t really any reliable way to tap into word of mouth.
Sure, we had product testimonials in magazines and on TV, but those always came across as sort of fake. We had no way of knowing whether or not the people ranting and raving about their brand were paid actors; ultimately, the people giving out those testimonials were little different from salespeople or billboard ads.
They were talking at us rather than to us.
A New Era Of Marketing
Social media and the Internet changed that. Suddenly, even the most unassuming consumer had a voice. Anyone could write a review of a product, knowing that they’d influence the purchasing decision of at least a few others.
Savvy businesses almost immediately understood that there was power in these reviews. They realized that the culture of the social network had given them a never-before-seen business opportunity: the ability to directly and reliably utilize word of mouth to sell their products. They realized that their most enthusiastic consumers could be transformed into walking sales platforms, at no cost to the brand.
And all they had to do in return was continue to provide great service.
The Best Sales Pitch You’ll Ever See
“Adding testimonials is probably one of the easiest ways to improve your website,” writes Derek Gehl, CEO of The Internet Marketing Sector. “A good one can generate more selling power than some of the best sales copy out there.”
According to Gehl, this is because testimonials are one of the best ways to foster trust in prospective customers. Consumers who go on at length about the greatness of your products are telling everyone who will listen that they had a positive experience with your brand. That, in turn, is going to make others likelier to try it for themselves.
It helps, of course, that these testimonials are incredibly authentic. They aren’t written like a sales pitch. They’re simply a communique from one consumer to another; a candid, unbiased product recommendation that most anyone can feel secure in listening to.
Of course, a testimonial is only great if it actually has substance, continues Gehl. Just putting up a review where someone bellows to all the Internet that they love your brand isn’t enough – they need to explain why. The best reviews are those that are written from a credible, relatable standpoint, and describe exactly how and why a product is great, particularly in regards to the competition.
Finding The Perfect Review
As for how you can gather testimonials?
Aside from simply creating awesome stuff, Gehl explains, simply ask people to relate how your product changed their lives. Have a link on your site which urges them to submit a review, or an autoresponder that encourages them to share their thoughts. From there, it’s a simple matter of asking the most enthusiastic folks if you can use their words to market your products.
Chances are, they’ll probably say yes.
Word of mouth has always been an incredibly powerful marketing tool. With the consumer-driven culture of the Internet, it may be one of the most powerful in any brand’s arsenal, especially in the case of small businesses. Your best testimonials should be featured front-and-center on your website, letting the whole world know what people think of your brand – and of you.
Image credit: Jenn Durfey