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The Importance of Customer Testimonials

When companies want to spread the word about their products and services, where do they generally turn?

Social media.

Sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ have proven that they’re worthwhile investments when it comes to sharing information, spreading important news, and encouraging conversations around brands. But in 2012, Optify’s B2B Marketing Benchmark Report dug up some startling findings: social media websites drive only 1.9% of all traffic to B2B websites.

In fact, the same study found that 80% of traffic comes from a combination of organic search and direct traffic…which means, what?

Research. While companies are sinking time and money into their social channels, consumers are conducting Google searches or coming directly to your site via word of mouth — NOT from your various social channels. The findings of this study suggest that B2B companies might want to rethink their priorities when it comes to how they invest their resources.

The Changing Consumer

To understand these findings a little better, it’s important to get some background on the modern-day consumer. In the past, vendors controlled the buying cycle by deciding what consumers would see, when they would see it, and where. This is all changing as consumers become more empowered. In today’s marketing world, consumers might already be a majority of the way through the buying cycle before they even reach out to a company. Forrester Research shows that today’s B2B consumer will find three pieces of content about a vendor for every one piece that is published or delivered by marketing or sales.

So how can you make sure that you are investing your time and money in the right places, when you have no idea where a majority of your consumers are at any given time, or what they’re doing?

The key is to cater to the consumer research cycle. Remember, they’re the ones in control — not you.

The Importance of Customer Testimonials

Think back to the last time you bought a pair of shoes, or researched the next book you wanted to read. Where did your search start? If you’re like any other consumer, it probably began with customer reviews. Why? Because reviews are candid. They’re not published by the company promoting the product; they’re not fluffed up with marketing lingo and meaningless buzzwords; and most importantly, they’re the words of people just like you.

B2B consumers are the same way. When researching products, one of the most persuasive pieces of content that a consumer will view is a testimonial or a review by a another product user. These reviews and testimonials are the pieces of content that consumers are viewing before they’re reaching out to companies, and that’s what makes customer testimonials a worthy investment of your time.

How to Use Them

Now that you know what kinds of content consumers are viewing before they get to your site, how can you take advantage of this information? Take a look at the list below for a few ideas:

1. Talk to your customers or clients about participating in case studies. Case studies show your consumers exactly how others are using your product or service to their benefit, and since they’re conducted with client approval, they carry much more weight than the generic marketing copy that covers your website.

2. Showcase positive customer tweets on your website. While it would appear that social media doesn’t drive the amount of traffic to B2B websites as previously thought, Twitter is still an incredible outlet for collecting client feedback. If someone says something nice about your company or product, don’t let that tweet fade into the past like the millions of others. Embed it on your site for others to see, or even create an entire page devoted to client feedback collected via your social sites.

3. Create customer testimonial videos. If you have the resources, consider approaching a few of your clients or customers to ask if they’d like to participate in a video testimonial. While these require more time to make, videos are one of the most credible forms of customer endorsement because the words are literally coming straight from the customer’s mouth. Not only that, but videos require very little time to watch, as opposed to written testimonials which involve a greater time investment on the part of the consumer.

4. Encourage your customers to write reviews. If you’re confident in your product or service, your customers should be too. Encourage them to write reviews about their experiences with your product and support team. Many of them would probably write these reviews unprompted, but they often need a little push toward the appropriate outlets.

What other ways can you think of to showcase customer testimonials? Do you agree that they’re a worthwhile investment of your time and resources? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!