There is a quietly growing trend in the online sales world: customer testimonials. Businesses have been increasing their use of enhanced testimonials that provide validation beyond the more standard, and less believed, anonymously written tributes.
You’ve seen the sites that have written testimonials such as “Loved the service. Thanks for helping me succeed. John D.” Sometimes they come with a picture attached, but mostly they are just attributed to some anonymous person that you can’t be sure ever said that or was even a customer of that company.
LinkedIn, the business social network, started changing this with its recommendations from real people. You are only one click away from seeing how a real person’s testimonial connects to the person or company he or she is recommending. This creates trust and assurance that the testimonial is real.
Video testimonials are increasing in popularity because they are now easy to do, and early research supports their value. Companies such as Infusionsoft, a marketing automation software provider, serve up customer testimonials that are tied to the customer’s own Web site so you can validate their testimonial. For example, well-known marketing guru John Jantsch, who runs Duct Tape Marketing, gives a testimonial on the Infusionsoft site.
Leading marketing research firm MarketingExperiments conducted an experiment on using testimonials effectively and found video to be very effective in creating trust. The study addresses testimonials in general but offers data points on how video pulls higher responses than just text, depending on where the testimonial is placed on a Web site. According to MarketingExperiments, one of the reasons video testimonials are more effective is because they help prospects relate to real customers and see their own problems being solved.
MarketingExperiments cites transparent marketing as a growing trend and says that whether viewing text or video testimonials, prospects are spending more time looking for answers from people they trust and believe.
Vocus, an on-demand public relations company, offers a series of customer success stories with a mix of written and video testimonials designed to enhance credibility. Informatica, a data integration firm, uses customer videos to support its software solution.
Trust and authenticity are the factors driving real testimonials. Social media tools available now are creating tremendous transparency, and as social media gains acceptance, you’ll find more of your customers are leaning on referrals from friends.