Monday, February 22, 2010

Use Customer Testimonials to Increase Web Sales

by Karen Scharf

I've got to warn you - you're about to read about the pot calling the kettle black. That's because with each and every coaching client I have, I always discuss the creation of a testimonial capturing system. And yet I am woefully inept at using testimonials myself. Because I have non-disclosure agreements with most of my clients, I'm often hesitant to ask for testimonials. But I'm leaving a huge opportunity on the table.

That's because using testimonials can help ease your prospect's mind and reduce her buying resistance. Because testimonials are so tremendously influential, as marketers, you and I should never produce one single piece of marketing collateral without including testimonials.

But I believe testimonials are even more essential on your web pages.

That's because the web can be such an impersonal selling environment. Your web visitors have their "scam radar" at high alert. They don't trust much of what you say - but they will trust what others say. So start adding testimonials to each and every one of your web pages today.

If you don't have any customer testimonials yet, just follow these easy steps to start using them as soon as possible:

1. Develop a system for collecting testimonials. A simple web form should work well in most situations. Don't forget to ask for your customer's full name and get permission to publish the testimonial.

2. Request a testimonial immediately after the sale. This will have two benefits. First, the details of your service will still be fresh in your customer's mind. Second, buyer's remorse and refund requests will be reduced once the client has "taken a stand" for your service.

3. Be specific with your request. Instead of simply asking, "What did you think of our service?" you should say, "Brenda can you write down a quick sentence or two about how we cleaned your carpet and put all the furniture back in place when we were done?"

4. Ask your customer to provide a description of his problem before he used your product or service. This helps your prospect identify with the customer giving a testimonial, and also helps aggravate the pain the prospect is experiencing.

5. Use a picture of your customer whenever possible. Either snap the photo yourself with your digital camera or ask your client to email you a digital image. This will make it easy for you to incorporate the photo in your web page.

Once you've collected your customer testimonials, be sure to include them on as many web pages as possible. After that, you can also:

1. Put all your testimonials into a free report and use it as a lead generator.

2. Put audio versions of the testimonials onto a CD that you can send to new prospects.

3. Put your clients' testimonials on a DVD and play the video in your waiting room. This is especially effective if you have testimonials about products or services that many of your customers aren't aware that you offer. This makes great covert "advertising".

4. Add a corresponding testimonial to all of your advertising. If you are creating a coupon for a free piece of pie with any meal, include a testimonial praising you for your fresh, home baked pies.

5. Instead of a corresponding testimonial, try a complimentary testimonial in your advertising. If you're advertising an oil change special, include testimonials about your tire rotation service.

And remember, the clients who give you testimonials are your best and most loyal customers, so be sure to reward them properly. You might need to get creative with your reward system so it doesn't appear as if you're buying testimonials, but a little extra special treatment will definitely be worth it.

About the Author

Karen Scharf is an Indianapolis marketing consultant who works with small business owners and entrepreneurs. She offers several whitepapers, free reports and checklists, including her FREE Can-Spam checklist and FREE email pre-flight checklist to ensure your emails get delivered, get opened and get read. Download your copies at http://www.ModernImage.com.