As I already wrote dozens of times on this blog, today’s customers don’t like being sold to. Most of them hate all types of advertisements. Pop-ups, Search, Display, YouTube ads – it doesn’t really matter, they hate them all. A lot of people I frequently work with actually have a physical reaction when an ad pops up on their screen.
Why is that? – Well, because, no one wants to be constantly interrupted by third party publishers while browsing the Web for specific information. A lot of sites these days are more ads than anything else. Their services and products have taken a backseat to all other email signups and pop-ups that actually drive people away.
Before we expand on this subject, I feel the need to mention that people actually don’t hate ads, in general. What they do hate is bad advertisements.
Bad advertisements are terrible for business, but most brands don’t really get that.
A good ad should be unobtrusive and relevant. I don’t need ads on female clothes because I’m simply not in the market for them. Too many vendors or site-builders still believe in the buckshot-technique of blasting millions of ads onto the web in the hope of hitting the right customer.
Nine times out of ten, this sort of setups will drive customers away and make them despise everything your brand stands for. They’ll immediately start to see you as the enemy, and trust me, as a businessman who is looking to expand his customer base – you don’t want that.
When coming up with their advertising strategy, most businesses don’t take into account that this sort of behavior where they’re blasting all sorts of messages on almost every possible front is quite bad for them. Apart from that, it can even be pointless at times.
Many people now have ad-blockers installed in their browsers. The days of spamming your customers for money are gone my friend. You won’t earn a single click this way, no matter how much cash you burn on your advertisements.
So, How Do I Get People To Acknowledge My Brand And Services?
A lot of people don’t like targeted ads because they see them as nothing more than an invasion of their privacy. They do not like their online behavior being tracked and analyzed and then used by marketers who only want to rob them out of their hard earned money.
As I already wrote on this blog, most decision makers, especially in the B2B world, have already been marketed and remarketed thousands of times by hundreds of different salesmen from all over the globe. As you can imagine, they’re immune to every possible sales trick out there.
But, on the other hand, even though they don’t want to be sold to, they definitely still need to buy stuff.
So, what do they do? They search the Web and analyze all the content online in order to figure out what’s the best deal out there for them.
Just like these decision makers, I can certainly appreciate a well-placed prop for a product if the person or company offering it to me has invested at least some effort in finding out what’s in my interest.
That’s why these days a lot of companies are investing a whole lot of money into content marketing. Knowing that most customers today make data-driven decisions, they’re doing all that they can to produce valuable information that helps influence the judgment of their current and future leads when reviewing whether they should do business with them or their direct competitors.
Although data-driven and well-written brand-produced content can certainly help companies increase their conversion in every part of their marketing funnel, nothing really stimulates people to choose one product or service over the other like a compelling and detailed user review (testimonial).
The Promise And Perils Of Customer Testimonials
After talking to many entrepreneurs who make their bread and butter from selling their products and services online, I came to an understanding that nothing really drives sales and conversions as well as great customer testimonials.
Especially in B2B world.
In my industry, customer testimonials can make or break a company. Why? – Well, because web hosting is a pretty saturated niche. There are just too many brands out there going head-to-head for a single customer. In such a scenario, even a single bad review could cost you more than a few potential customers.
That’s why most web hosting companies, including AltusHost, go out of their way to ensure that their customers are fully satisfied with their service.
Although they may not even be based on real facts or intelligent insights, somehow most people tend to trust user testimonials far more than they do brand-produced content.
Why? – Well, because they’re candid. They are written in plain language by regular people, who don’t collect a salary from the owners for reviewing certain products and services. They’re just satisfied or unsatisfied customers who are willing to share their two cents on the matter with anyone who’s interested in conducting business with a certain party.
Knowing this, most brands often ask themselves the same question:
How To Stimulate Our Customers To Produce Great Testimonials For Us?
Now that’s a great question. Although insanely valuable, great and compelling customer testimonials are nothing short of a complete nightmare to get.
There were numerous attempts in the past by various of online businessmen to automate the process. A couple of entrepreneurs I know tried setting up auto messages that request from their customer to complete a particular survey for them or write a review for them. So far, they had no genuine success with their efforts.
This kind of approach doesn’t work here. In order to help you stimulate your users to leave great and compelling comments about your products and services, we decided to dig a bit deeper and come up with a plan that actually stimulates actions from your targeted audience:
Before you go ahead and chase your star customers to write amazing user testimonials for you, I strongly suggest that you first take a look what’s already coming your way. A few companies that I worked for before used to have a carefully designed space on their website where customers could leave their reviews of the products and services they were currently using.
As you can imagine, a lot of nonsense came through there, but, every once in awhile, great comments pop in which they could be later on reuse as a cool customer testimonial.
Make Your Testimonials Part of Your Sales Cycle
This is a great tactic. As soon as you complete an action with your customer, ask him or her, right there on the spot to complete a short survey for you. This will work every time if you present your query to the user before they actually fully finish their business with you.
Find a Customer With a Story
As we’ve learned from experience, people just won’t do stuff if you actually don’t reach out and ask them to. That’s why it’s important that you know, right here and now, that most users won’t just write reviews about your business on their own. At least not those that you’re looking for.
If people somehow feel agitate by the way you operate – be sure that they’ll trash your work online in a heartbeat. In any other scenario, things tend to move a lot slower.
Of course, there are exceptions, but you get the drift.
Just like any other piece of content, customer testimonials can be useless if there’s no story behind them. So, having this in mind, when reaching out to people to go ahead and write about their experiences with your products and services, make sure that they actually have a story to tell.
Before you even design a survey that you’re targeted users need to fill for you, talk to your internal team to figure out which one of your current customers is doing exceptional work, and how do they use your tool or service.
If you want your customer testimonials to convert, they have to come from a party that actually has seen some real benefit from using your products or services. The entire goal of a customer testimonial is to show your potential buyer that someone out there, with similar story and goals, has found success thanks to your business. That’s it.
Sure, if you correctly design your customer avatars, you can actually fake this sort of stories. The only problem is that 6 out of 10 people will see right through them. Nothing sells as good as the truth.
Make It Worth Their While
Before you go out and bomb your customer’s inbox with all sort of emails, make sure that you really have your head in the game. If you don’t have anything to offer to your targeted customer that you’re eyeballing to write great reviews for you – you probably won’t get what you really want. That’s why it’s of crucial importance that, before you go on and send that email asking a certain party to do a favor for you, sit down and answer the following question: “What’s in it for him or her?”
Coupon, discount, free service, free upgrade, giveaway – it all depends on the type of business you run.
Design a Template
It would be wise to prepare a list of questions that you want to ask your customers in advance. Make your questions short, sweet and don’t forget to ask about the specifics. If you send out broad questions, the chances are you’ll receive broad answers. You don’t want that. Those kind of things are useless.
This part you can automate. Why? – Well, because you need the same type of data from everyone you contact to write a great customer testimonial for you.
In order to create a user review that will really work for you, I suggest that you fill your survey with questions that cover all three stages of their journey: before, during and after they got familiar with your product and started using it on a daily basis.
This sort of format will help register some of the more common pain points that your potential users are facing, and it will serve as a hook to reel them in, at least, to download a free trial or something else from you.
Never Ask For A Testimonial
This puts a lot of pressure on your customers. Most of them tend to get nervous and start to weasel their way out of the deal. It doesn’t really matter if they promised you they’ll write one for you and then abandoned ship – in the end, you cannot really force them to fill in your questionnaire.
So, what to do here?
Ask for feedback instead and then turn it into a testimonial. It just feels lean and natural. It will loosen your customers up a bit. Once you get what you want and you design their answer to look like a real testimonial, send a follow-up email asking your customer for permission to post their comment on your site. Nine out of ten will say yes.