The Complete Guide to the Psychology of Testimonials (and How They Drive B2B Sales)
People seek physical and emotional security.
We all like to feel safe, and we like to know what to expect.
In fact, we are more likely to stick to what we already know than risk making a change that might not work.
While trying a new product or service might not have the same impact as, say, finding a safe cave to sleep in, it still disrupts our feeling of security.
From a psychological standpoint, testimonials provide customers with a feeling of security, giving them the confidence to take a risk and try a new product or service.
When it comes to B2B, this feeling of security is even more important. Most businesses are risk-averse. Even well-funded startups have to explain to someone where the money is going. And established companies need buy-in from executives, team leaders, a board, etc.
Testimonials provide the security and confidence decision-makers need to dive in. But how can you leverage testimonials and ensure your brand stays on top in an ultra-competitive market?
Here is what you need to know to successfully employ the psychology of testimonials and increase sales for your B2B company.
The Psychology of Testimonials and the Benefits of Adding Testimonials To Your B2B Marketing Strategy
A testimonial is any type of content written or spoken by a customer about a brand or product they have used. This might include Google reviews, online product reviews, or testimonials listed on websites like this one on Content Stack's site (an online content management tool):
Testimonials can take many formats, including written testimonials, hero image and text, and even videos.
B2B businesses can use the psychology of testimonials to encourage sales and help prospects overcome skepticism. Here are several more benefits your company may enjoy by leveraging the power of testimonials in your B2B marketing strategy.
Build Trust With Prospects
For businesses, trust can be hard to come by these days.
According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, there has been a steady decrease in the trust people place in government, media, and businesses.
When you talk about the benefits of your company people may not put much stock in what you have to say. After all, you are trying to get them to buy something.
Testimonials from people who used a product or service, on the other hand, are not seen as marketing, but as social proof that can be trusted.
When current customers talk about how your business helped them, they are telling prospective customers your company can be trusted, you are reliable, and that their investment is sound.
As a company, you believe in the products or services you provide. But your potential clients may be a bit skeptical. They may not be sure if you can help with their unique challenges.
A good testimonial has the power to convince even "tough sell" visitors that you can make a difference and help them overcome the challenges they face.
For example, Housecall Pros, a software program designed to help home service companies like electricians and plumbers, overcomes skepticism through testimonials like this one.
A customer who is skeptical that the cost is worth the benefits is reassured by someone they can relate to finding success with the company.
Also, because testimonials aren't written in marketing-speak, they stand out as candid and unbiased accounts of how well your product or service works for real companies.
Rank Better in Search Engines
In its infancy, SEO was all about key terms. Today, SEO is far more complex, due in part to the 200 different ranking factors Google uses to decide who makes it to the top of search results.
However, key terms still matter a great deal, and reviews and testimonials naturally include terms related to your industry.
Even better, reviews on specific products can drive search traffic and keyword rankings. According to BigCommerce, businesses with ten or more reviews see a 15 to 20% increase in search traffic.
While testimonials (or reviews) shouldn't be the entirety of your SEO strategy, they can definitely help your website rank better.
4 Types of B2B Testimonials (and when to use them)
When it comes to testimonials, there are a variety of different formats you can use. The easiest method is to embed Google reviews on your website. However, this doesn't give you any way to adjust design elements — such as adding photos or shortening long testimonials. You are also limited to the format Google uses (which is text), and you're not able to include video.
For more engaging testimonials, we recommend using one of the formats below to fully utilize the psychology of testimonials.
Text only testimonials are not as visually appealing as other formats, but they can be quite effective. For example, take a look at the text-only testimonial on mHelpDesk, a field service management platform.
The testimonial addresses specific pain points and lists the location, which helps customers relate to the reviewer and inspires trust that the review is real. It also links to a longer review, so prospects can choose to read.
Use this format when: Maximizing space or when you want to include short snippets of longer testimonials.
Quote with Hero Image
To make testimonials even more trustworthy, consider using the quote with hero image format. This includes a quote and an appealing photo of the reviewer, often of their face.
The design elements (such as the image border or text background) can use brand colors to increase cohesion. Do not use stock photos; this can make your testimonial look faked.
Shopify, an ecommerce software platform, uses this format on their website:
The photo shows the unique personality of the reviewer and helps inspire trust that the review is real.
Use this format when: You want to increase trustworthiness and help short testimonials stand out. Very useful for making shorter quotes look professional.
Video is exploding in popularity. In fact, the average person spends around 6 hours a day watching videos. Video testimonials let prospective customers see other customers speak honestly about your offerings in their own words, which lends your brand a strong sense of credibility.
NewStore, an omnichannel system for stores selling across multiple platforms, uses video testimonials to share how their platform helps real business owners provide a better sales experience for everyone. This format lets prospects better relate to the testimonials and is more persuasive.
Use this format when: You want to leverage the power of video or include more detailed information from a reviewer.
Case studies are long-form, detailed reviews that cover the exact process used and statistics to back up benefits. They may also offer more of a story-telling vibe, which can make the reviews more appealing and more persuasive.
Salesforce, for example, uses a case study format to share in-depth details about how their software helped a label manufacturer streamline its global operations, resulting in better communication and more effective reporting.
Use this format when: You want to include a wide breadth of information or highlight benefits such as stats or detailed processes.
What Makes a Good B2B Testimonial?
While any type of testimonial can inspire trust, you'll want to use a few features that fully uses the psychology of testimonials to make your B2B testimonial really stand out. For starters, a great testimonial should avoid being fluffy and instead be clear and to the point. Make sure you don't coach reviewers and let them talk about your business in their own words.
Here are a few other features you should include in your high-quality testimonials to drive conversions.
Focus on Key Benefits of Your Product or Service: What challenges did the reviewer have and how did your product help solve those? What specific benefits make your company stand out from your competition?
Back up Claims with Data: The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. When possible, share stats on how your product helped a customer to increase sales, drive profit margins, or reduce time spent on tasks. Hard numbers provide the proof potential customers need to overcome skepticism.
From a Person Your Audience Can Relate To: People are more likely to be persuaded by someone who looks like them or faces similar challenges. For example, a small business owner wants to know how your product helps small businesses, not just large corporations.
Capture Objections: Objections hold customers back. For example, a customer considering a billing software might think "Oh, but doing it on paper is simpler, plus, it will take too long to set up!" A testimonial can address those objections, "We were hesitant to change our process, but this software helped reduce the time we spend on billing by 40%!" which is far more effective than your copy saying "We will save you time!"¬†
3 Tips to Get More B2B Testimonials
It should be clear by now that testimonials are one of the most powerful marketing tools available to B2B businesses. While asking for referrals might feel uncomfortable at first, work to make it part of your process and it will feel more natural over time.
Here are a few tips to use the psychology of testimonials to get more high-quality testimonials from your customers.
1. Ask Immediately After the Job is Done
Don't wait for weeks to ask for a review, instead ask customers as soon as your job is complete when the benefits are still fresh in their minds. Consider sending out an email reminder right after the job is done and another a week later if they still have not responded.
If you can automate the process by creating a trigger email, even better! TradeGecko, for example, sends out this email to encourage reviews.
2. Make it Easy
Your customers are busy running their own business. They don't have time to spend 30 minutes answering questions about your product, no matter how useful it might be. So, make it easy for them to give you a review, and provide a time estimate when you can.
For example, Clear lets customers know that taking a survey will only take one minute.
Even if your survey takes 5 to 10 minutes, providing this information makes it more likely that customers complete the task because there is a definitive end time.
3. Ask the Right Questions
The key to getting great reviews starts with asking the right questions, but how do you know what the right questions are? It starts by understanding your customer's pain points and objections. What holds them back? What tasks do they struggle with the most every day? Then ask your customers how your company solved those problems.
For example, say the main objection you hear from prospects is that your software system will be too complex to launch. You can ask reviewers about the setup process--was it easier or more complex than they expected?
Consider including one or more of the following questions in your review requests:
What problems were you looking to solve and how did we help you solve that problem?
What was your biggest objection when looking to purchase an X solution?
How would you explain this product (and what it does) to a friend?
Would you recommend this product? If so, why?
Did our product help you <task that your audience struggles with>?
Use questions to guide reviews, but don't overly manage the process. To be believable and trusted, reviews need to sound authentic and be in each customer's own words.
Final Thoughts on the Psychology of Testimonials for B2B Companies
As a B2B company, it is important to keep in mind that people are still the ones making the decisions, not faceless organizations. And, those people are susceptible to the same psychological triggers as all humans. So use the psychology of testimonials to your advantage.
Testimonials inspire trust because we assume the reviewer has no reason to lie or mislead us. They feel authentic, which is refreshing in our 24/7 connected social media world.
Despite understanding the power of testimonials, many companies struggle to get high-quality reviews.