As a business owner, featuring authentic customer experiences can significantly boost your business. Here’s how to collect, select, and display the most compelling reviews on your website.

Why are testimonials so important?

Research proves most people rely on reviews when making purchase decisions. Case in point, a Harvard Business School study found that revenues for restaurants increased by 5 to 9 percent when there was a one-star jump in an eatery’s Yelp ranking.

Isn’t it enough to have my business on TripAdvisor or Yelp?

While positive reviews on the major review sites can be good for your business, these forums have their drawbacks. For example, reviewers typically use pseudonyms, yet testimonials authored by real names have more weight than fake ones. Feedback can be short on details, or worse, simply be a star rating which means the feedback is less memorable. While some reviews include photos, most do not. The brain immediately processes images much more quickly than words.

So testimonials on my website should include actual names, detailed reviews, and photos?

Yes, the most compelling testimonials contain all three. When a customer is willing to attach their name to testimony that includes specifics about their experience along with a picture, you’ve hit the jackpot. Not only does this testimonial ring truer than the average review, but it also serves as a robust business builder. The customer may share their review with their network and become a brand ambassador for you. It might be easier for you to land press because of the buzz around your brand. The testimonial contains many touch points, such as the particulars of the story and the power of an image, so there are more ways for a reader to connect to your business.

How do I go about collecting testimonials that I can feature on my website?

Following a purchase, encourage your customers to give you candid assessments. Be clear that you are eager to hear constructive criticism as well as accolades, and the more detailed the feedback, the better. If you solicit feedback in-person or over the phone, take notes and ask follow-up questions to get a complete understanding of each customer’s experience. Some clients may prefer to submit their thoughts in writing. If so, distribute feedback cards at the register, or email customers an online survey. While not everyone will respond, you will accumulate lots of useful feedback, and some of it will be website-worthy. Sometimes businesses create campaigns enouraging clients to leave testimonials and/or reviews by offering a prize to those who do (“We will randomly pick one winner of participants each month to win – insert a great, big, prize)  and best if the prize relates back to your businesses like a free night in hotel or a free week of camp.

How do I decide whom to feature on my website?

Choose testimonials that tell engaging stories that spotlight your points of difference from competitors. Don’t be afraid to feature the customer who wasn’t a fan at first, but then became an ardent admirer; winning over a doubter is an irresistible read. The reviewers shouldn’t be from the same demographic. Instead, feature critics who represent your core customer base as well as other desirable markets. Aim to include a minimum of three testimonials and don’t exceed nine testimonials. Once you get into the double digits, it’s too much content to consume. Then contact those select customers to see if they are willing to be featured on your website.

Great news! I have customers who have agreed to be on my website. Now what?

You need to confirm several things with each customer. Verify the spelling of their name and, if applicable, their title. Get their approval of their testimonial. When it comes to footage, ask the customer to supply a photo or video that showcases the benefits of your product or service. Finally, make sure you have each client’s permission in writing to be featured on your website.

Where’s the best place to put the testimonials?

Testimonials can be a handy marketing tool. Don’t bury them on your website. Put them on your homepage. If the testimonials are very long, consider featuring excerpts and the photos on the home page and then link to the full testimonials on a secondary page. We often use testimonials on clients social media pages with great success.Research confirms that a positive review can spur sales. Testimonials can have an even greater impact if you have a strategic approach to collecting and featuring feedback. Detailed reviews and photos, as supplied by actual customers, give website visitors more ways to connect with your business. The result is an increase in brand awareness and consumer trust, and ultimately, a better bottom line.

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