Times are changing in B2B sales and marketing. More than ever, great brands are being built on happy customers—not "me, me, me" content where brands talk about themselves.
In fact, according to a recent Gartner study, Only 9% of B2B buyers find vendor content trustworthy. So what's the answer? Real, authentic, human customer stories.
In the very same study, Gartner determined "70% of Buyers agree that customer stories are the best way that providers can communicate differentiation that is trustworthy."
It's now becoming clear that B2B companies are catching on. In fact, 62% of B2B companies use testimonials as one of their primary marketing efforts. The good news is testimonials are working. However, you can be sure your competitors will be doing their best to leverage them as well.
So how do you make the most of testimonials and customer stories to engage prospects when competition for attention is fierce?
We'll examine five things you may be missing from your B2B testimonials, and how to fix improve them to build trust, increase conversions, and accelerate sales.
First of All - What Makes a Great B2B Testimonial?
Great brands are driven by happy customers who rave about what you and how you've helped them achieve their goals.
Let's look at a few commonalities.
Creating Stellar B2B testimonials
Great B2B testimonials provide:
- Specific details - powerful testimonials that move the marketing needle are clear-cut. They drill into details of how exactly your brand helps customers. This showcases the benefits of working with your company better than generic praise.
- Contrast between the" before and after" - impactful testimonials clearly show the before (struggle) and after (success) of partnering with your brand.
- Alignment with your ideal buyer or target persona- a good testimonial makes prospects see themselves in the story. Using a customer who perfectly fits your ideal customer persona and asking the right questions that guide them to address issues customers with similar profiles instantly identify with.
- Evidence and show real results - effective B2B testimonials are based on concrete evidence (like stats) which validate a company's offer. Anything less is nothing but empty talk.
Having covered the qualities of a good testimonial, let's identify the spoilers that can lessen the impact of your testimonials, if you forget or are unable to include them.
What's Missing from Your B2B Testimonials #1: Data, Facts, and Statistics
B2B buyers are knowledgeable and sophisticated.
Unlike their B2C counterparts, they're less moved by surface level claims or raw emotion. Because the B2B buyer journey is often long, complicated, and purchasing often needs approval from multiple parties, it requires serious justification. So, how do you win their hearts?
Data Levels-Up B2B Testimonials
Data (proven results) is the only way to satisfy your target customer's exact demands and get them interested in your offer.
Specific statistics (rather than broad statements) make your message concrete, so it sticks better in your prospects' minds. Above all, data proves you are not making empty claims about your product or service. Even if your testimonial is positive, if it's vague—it's simply not nearly as credible or impressive as talking about real, measurable results.
In a perfect example of effective use of data and metrics that they know will resonate with their target audience, HubSpot lures prospects to check out their testimonials by teasing them with data-filled headlines.
These impressive numbers prove the company's ability to produce tangible ROI for their clients. This moves prospects incredibly excited to look at the rest of the story, engage further with the brand, and ultimately convert as a lead.
What's Missing from Your B2B Testimonials #2: Authentic and Sincere Stories
Let's face it...
When you market your business, you're making claims that have a natural and understandable bias— at least that's what your prospects think. If your customer shares their results of working with your brand however, they're presenting neutral, validated facts.
That being said, only genuine and 100% real stories build trust and benefit your brand.
Sadly, these days, testimonials are often anything but genuine.
Recent studies reveal 92% of B2B buyers are more likely to purchase after reading a review. That's a huge impact, but it also results in companies desperately pushing for fake reviews to tap into the power of testimonials, or over incentivizing customers with rewards, when they might not have written a review otherwise.
So how do you take advantage of user generated content (UGC), in addition to written testimonials your request? Watch your inbox and social media feeds and pounce on moments where excited customers lavish your brand with praise naturally.
Such stories are genuine and spontaneous: pure marketing gold.
Dribble features raw, unedited reviews on their testimonials page:
How can you produce sincere, authentic customer stories?
- Let customers speak genuinely from their hearts instead of giving the a script or putting words into their mouths.
- Present the account as it is without over editing it and applying too much gloss on it. Prospects have a good BS detector and can tell when a review is over-edited.
- Make sure you are asking the right questions that elicit the response you desire - good questions lead to good, authentic answers.
- Develop a system for collecting customer feedback regularly, rather than an ad-hoc approach that only happens occasionally, when you think of it.
No marketing material can build credibility better than a genuine, niche-specific customer success story told by someone similar to your target customer.
What's Missing from Your B2B Testimonials #3: Video
Too many B2B companies come across as faceless corporations.
Video testimonials change all that.
They make your business more human. Your brand becomes relatable, approachable, and memorable.
Marketing Studies Confirm the Power of On-site Video
- It grows traffic by 200-300%. (Marketing Sherpa)
- It boosts lead conversion rates by 80%. (Eyeview Digital)
- It increases email open rates by 19%. (Syndacast)
By skipping video in your testimonials, you lose all these benefits.
Furthermore—Prospects know that real video testimonials are almost impossible to fake or embellish. And they're clue'd in that many written testimonials are at a minimum, embellished.
Sadly, it's common practice for the marketing department at many B2B companies to write the written testimonials, and for customers to simply "sign off" on the quote.
Prospects are aware of this, and for that reason, every written testimonial is taken with a grain of salt. With video however, this challenge of credibility is eliminated. The prospect can see the person giving the testimonial, and there is zero doubt that your customer is a true advocate for your brand.
Furthermore, in today's busy world, B2B buyers' attention spans are ever-shrinking, so it's vital to communicate your message concisely. Video is the perfect medium for packing a lot of info into a short time while still engaging with your prospects' emotions.
Here's an excellent example of this, a testimonial for InsightSquared from Boomtrain:
How can you maximize the power of your video testimonials?
- Show customers using your product and the results it actually allows them to achieve.
- Focus on the transformation, not fancy words. It's the change brought about by your solution that appeals to prospects and nudges them to take the next step.
- Be concise. 90-120 seconds is the ideal length for most videos. You may even want to create shorter versions for social media or landing pages that are in the 30-45 second range.
- Add video testimonials to your sales cadence and email nurture sequences.
- Invest in a specialized video testimonial service to make sure you nail the limited time you have with your customer and create the perfect video—since you only get one shot!
What's missing from Your B2B Testimonials #4: Responsive Web Design
Having a great story is awesome, but it's not enough.
That story has to be packaged in a way that your prospective customers can enjoy it.
And for that, responsive web design is your friend.
It's a mobile-first world, even in B2B. If you don't optimize your site for mobile, you will sideline many future customers and lose out on revenue.
Consider these statistics from a BCG report:
- 80% of B2B buyers are using mobile at work.
- 60% say mobile played a significant role in a recent purchase.
- 50% of B2B queries today are made on smartphones - they expect this figure to grow to 70% by 2020.
While optimizing for mobile puts you in a good position to achieve results, you must find the right format that suits your audience's taste.
- Text for those who prefer to read.
- Audio testimonials for those who would rather listen than read.
- Videos for those who prefer visual content (like Generation Y).
- Case studies for those who like longer stories (like Generation X).
- Short, fast-paced social testimonials for those who love social media.
Here's a responsive testimonials page from mHelpDesk:
On mobile, these three video testimonials stack on top of each other.
This example combines video with tasty quotes to cater for both visual learners and readers in one smooth stroke.
Here are five best practices for testimonial-friendly design:
- Include testimonial snippets, like memorable quotes or statistics, on your homepage and link to the full version of the story, so prospects can dig deeper if they like.
- Make your testimonials visually appealing by packaging them in attractive formats like videos, images, or block quotes. And use visuals as much as possible.
- Keep the design simple, clean, and crisp, so you don't overwhelm users.
- Ensure your site loads quickly by compressing files, limiting unnecessary code, and reducing image sizes.
- Lead with your most recent and most impressive testimonials, so they're seen first for prospects who are only skimming your site.
What's Missing from Your B2B Testimonials #5: New Content and Personas
Testimonials are not a set-and-forget-it strategy. They should evolve as your product and business grows and you move into new market segments.
It's vital to keep your material current. What may have been a great, relevant testimonial three years ago might not cut it today if you've since moved upmarket.
Your target market, product, or customers' tastes may have changed. Or (more likely) you now have better stories at your disposal.
So what can you do here?
- Revisit your buyer personas - Do they still represent the people who are buying right now?
- Examine your testimonials - Are they current or outdated? Do they refer to, (and show) examples of your ideal customers? Wil ideal buyers resonate with them?
- Dissect your best customers - Do your materials target your best customers who bring in the bulk of your revenue?
- Check your funnel - Are you using the right testimonials at the right stage of your funnel? Where could your testimonial have the biggest impact on your prospective customers?
- Pick your prospects' awareness level - Are they aware of their problem but unaware of the solution (your product), or product aware but have bought nothing yet? For higher conversions, craft content based on specific points of the buyer's journey.
ClearSlide has an example of a strongly aligned testimonial page:
Their page is all about high-profile social proof from well known, marquee brands—and in addition, they proudly display awards they've won and showcase compliments from renowned companies like Forrester Group and Gartner. In addition to customer logos, logos from leading industry publications and awards are great badges display to further instill social proof in your prospects.
Go Get Your WOM Rocket Fuel
Word of Mouth (WOM) is still the most potent form of marketing. It spreads fast and builds trust quickly.
Testimonials are WOM rocket fuel. Done right, they can launch your business to new heights.
But, it's critical that your testimonials be genuine, authentic, and human. Prospects can easily detect testimonials that are a little too glossy or overproduced. Focus on capturing and sharing authentic customer stories from the heart.
Happy customers are your best marketers. Are you ready to show off your happy customers?
Reach out to Testimonial Hero and we'll help your B2B business harness your most powerful customer stories to build trust with prospects that increases conversions, reduces friction in the sales cycle, and drives meaningful results for your company.