Testimonials, Case Studies and User Generated Content: What, Where & When!
Testimonials, case studies, reviews and user generated content (USG) are an important part of your sales funnel, but surprisingly aren’t used by some of the businesses I work with.
If you’re guilty of this yourself with your business, keep reading because in this blog post I explain why they are an essential part of your marketing, what they are and how and when to use them to help generate leads and sales.
What’s the difference between testimonials, case studies, reviews and User Generated Content?
Let’s be honest you could have a great website, written the best ad copy and talked endlessly about the benefits of your product or service, but actually the potential customer just needs to hear that information from someone else and not you, the business owner. This is where testimonials etc feature.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a service or a product-based business. This type of content marketing is a great way to demonstrate your ability to deliver either a service or a product, because there is no better endorsement than the people using your product or service.
These are more popular with service-based businesses. After working with a client for a period of time or at the end of a project, a business should ask the client for a testimonial, which are usually sent via email. The best ones include an explanation about why they started working with you, how you helped and a recommendation. It’s also great if you can use their name and business name with the testimonial.
Testimonials can be used on social media and on your website. I have a section on the front page of my website towards the bottom specially for testimonials. Don’t hide them away on a page that people don’t go to, people need to able to see this information easily and not have to hunt for it.
These work for service and product-based businesses. They are similar to testimonials in that people write about the benefits of using your product or service etc but they are submitted in a different way i.e. via Trustpilot, Google, TripAdvisor etc. This type of review is particularly important for product-based businesses. If someone is faced with purchasing from two websites, the reviews from Google, Trustpilot etc can often be the deciding decision.
But how do you get the reviews? You need to make the process as easy as possible and give people the choice of where to leave a review. The reason for this is that if someone doesn’t have a Google account, they can’t leave a Google review, so you need to offer an alternative. Usually after a customer makes a purchase, ask them for feedback via the receipt email.
If you’re a new business, reviews are really important so you could offer an incentive to customers to leave one. A monthly draw, perhaps?
For someone to submit a Google review, head to your Google Business Profile page and in the Home section there’s a “Get More Reviews” section. Simply send people the link. It’s a similar process for other sites.
Obviously the one downside to review sites is that you have no control over the reviews that are left and a negative review may have an effect on business. But if you do receive a negative review always respond with courtesy.
More in depth than reviews and testimonials, case studies take time to gather information and write. They tend to focus on a particular service or product that you offer and how it has helped a client address a specific problem. They work best when you can include quantitative and qualitative outcomes.
Case studies usually follow a format:
2. Brief intro about the client
3. The Challenge or Opportunity the client was facing
4. How your company responded
5. The results
6. Call to action
However, you don’t have to follow this format. OH Partner, a marketing & comms agency take a very different approach. Bitly do things slightly differently in that you can download their case studies as PDFs. Both are much more visual and less text heavy than the format used above. And of course, video case studies are very effective and easy to consume, particularly on social media.
The key thing here is working out what would appeal to your potential customer and the type of product or service you are selling.
User Generated Content
User-generated content is really popular on Instagram and there’s no better testimonial than people using your product and posting a picture of it themselves. A great example of this is @GoProUK - they request that people tag them when posting pictures taken with their Go Pro's and they use the best content in their own feed. This not only provides Go Pro with a rich source of free interesting content, but also provides brand credibility, builds consumer trust, and allows them to connect with their audience and build a community.
Make sure you ask for permission to share and always tag and credit the original creator; USG works both ways.
If your business has never used this type of content before, the first step is to create a simple statement telling users what kind of content you’re most likely to feature and request it. Make sure you share this message on your profiles along with a specific hashtag that people can use.
Whether you choose testimonials, case studies, reviews, USG on their own or any in combination, it’s important to use what works best for your audience. If you’re selling make-up, for example, a long text-based case study won’t work. USG and reviews will work best, whereas for my business, case studies and testimonials work really well as I can explain how I solve a particular problem for a client.
Don’t hide your testimonials etc away, get them on the front page of your website, feature on social media and make sure you always get permission to share.
Don’t underestimate the power a good review or testimonial can have; they succinctly tell a user why the product or service works. Happy customers are one of your greatest marketing assets, so use their positive comments to attract new ones.