It’s a question that confounds many new and young startups, and even big, established businesses these days: “With all the competition and noise out there, how can I gain the attention of new, potential buyers?
You have a great product. You’ve developed a stellar website. Even your packaging looks sexy. But new clients these days are also looking for one more thing before making a commitment to spend money on you — what other people are saying about you or your product.
It’s no secret that online retailers and brands like Amazon are increasingly pushing reviews for the products on their site. People need to see that others also enjoy that product. It’s what we call social proof: the idea that buyers are influenced by the decisions and actions of others around them.
Why is social proof so important?
I find a lot of small business websites that aren’t leveraging the power of testimonials on their site, and that’s a missed opportunity for them. One of the first things I advise all my new clients on is gathering social proof to place on their web page.
Here are some of the reasons why they’re so important on your site:
- Testimonials add credibility for the products and services you offer.
- People tend to trust online reviews when making purchases.
- Social proof earns better SEO: Adds more favorable language surrounding your brand online.
- When sourcing opinions from your client base, you show that you care about their experience with your brand, thus strengthening the relationship you have with your clients.
What types of testimonials should I collect?
There are a variety of ways you can gather testimonials and a variety of ways to display them on your site. You don’t have to rely on simple one-liners from clients (although they are still helpful). Here are some ideas for getting the social proof you need:
- Send a survey to new clients: After your customer receives the product, give them some time to try it out and reach back out to them later (via email or direct mail) and ask them to provide with their feedback. To encourage more responses, offer to send them back a coupon or a free gift for their efforts.
- Encourage them to post on social media: Use a hashtag to track customers’ responses to your products so you can find and respond to them easily. You should definitely consider Instagram a big part of this strategy, so you can use their post on your site as social proof. Testimonials with images are better than text alone. Note: Before using someone’s social post on your site, you’ll need to reach out to them to get permission.
- Send your products for free to people with large followings: Whether you want to call them social media influencers, bloggers, or local celebrities, consider getting “meatier” testimonials from people who have already gained some amount of trust online. Some may ask for a small fee to review your product, but the return you get from their article, video post, Instagram picture, or even just their words and name listed on your site will likely be tremendous. Note: This is a very similar strategy to getting media and publishers to review your products, but having a testimonial from an actual human being is far more effective.
- Get them while they’re fresh out of the oven: If you host events, then you have the prime opportunity to gather testimonials from attendees right on the spot. For one of my clients, we set up a camera right outside the event space and asked participants to provide their opinions on the spot. You can check out an example here.
- Feature reviews from other sites on your site: If you have a Yelp listing or distribute your products through a site like eBay, then you can embed or feature those reviews on your site as well. Some sites may have rules on how you can use testimonials that they’ve collected, so be sure to check those terms and conditions before moving forward.
The main thing to keep in mind here is that if you don’t ask, you won’t get them. Many people are more than willing to give you their opinion on your products and services. Many won’t be amazing, but at least they will be insightful, and you can use that feedback to generate better business later.