The best way to build trust quickly with your target audience is through genuine testimonials and customer success stories.
(Updated October 2021)
Because of the internet and today’s easy-to-use website platforms, even small businesses can reach a potential audience far outside our traditional marketplace.
But there’s one huge disadvantage—it’s hard to establish trust with those who don’t know us. Especially when the only way to know us is online.
We can overcome peoples’ natural skepticism, though, and quickly build trust with our audience. Two of the very best ways to do that are through the testimonials and success stories of current customers.
Build Trust through Genuine Testimonials
There’s nothing better than the word-of-mouth referral from a satisfied customer. No matter what your product or service, those referrals are absolutely golden.
Of course the most trusted testimonials come from a prospect’s friends or family. But even if they’re from strangers, testimonials are still ultra effective.
How to Build Testimonials into Your Marketing Strategy
- If you know a recent customer was happy with his purchase, ask for a testimonial directly. I’ve never had a client refuse.
- If you’re not sure how satisfied she was, ask her! Send a quick survey or short questionnaire.
- Include your customer’s full name and where she’s from, if possible. If she represents an organization, its name. If you have a photo or can produce a short video, even better.
- Use the testimonials everywhere—your website, emails, direct mail, brochures. Even if you have a Testimonials page on your website, sprinkle them around other pages of your site liberally, too.
- Get as many as you can, but never invent them!
- That said, it’s fairly common practice to suggest or even write out a sample testimonial for your customers to read and agree to put their name to, especially if you’re a B2B business. Personally, I’d rather use my clients’ own words, but some just won’t take the time and would rather you do it.
Build Trust Further with Customer Success Stories
Also known as a case study, the customer success story is simply a long-form testimonial. It’s a bit more formal, too. You’ll set up an interview with your customer, add a photo or two, and write 800-1,200 words.
These are great for more complex or expensive products or services. They offer much more detail than the basic testimonial, and can go a long way in establishing trust with those just learning about you.
How to Develop Effective Customer Success Stories
- Give your customer a heads-up on the questions you’ll ask and a little time to think of his/her answers.
- Some sample questions: What problem did you have? Why did you choose us? How did it solve your problem? What are the results?
- Use a photo or two. Maybe a before-and-after, or the customer with you, your product or some of your team.
- Use their full name, where they’re from and business name (if B2B). The more details here, the better.
- Use the story as an article, blog post, newsletter feature or pdf download. You can even put several together in a pdf document and offer it as a lead magnet or bait piece.
- Pull out a short quote from the full story to use as a testimonial, too.
- Don’t like to write? Use video!
Don’t let another day go by without building your collection of testimonials and customer success stories. Make it a habit to add one at the end of every happy customer’s buying process.
It’s the next best thing to direct word-of-mouth in building trust with your future customers. It’ll bring them one step closer to doing business with you.
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