Do different testimonial formats affect trust and conversions in different ways?
There is a small mountain of published research on the trustworthiness of reviews to indicate that customers place a heavy emphasis on testimonials.
G2 recently conducted a survey that confirms this fact. Their research states that 85% of online buyers read up to 10 customer reviews before making a purchasing decision.
But which testimonial format works best? Does it matter?
Ideally, your testimonial design should convince a buyer to purchase your product or service, but this only happens when you implement a strategic approach to their use.
If you look at the variety of testimonial formats online, you'll notice that business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) reviews are markedly different in several ways.
If you're curious about how to harness the power of testimonials in your B2B business, then read on.
We'll show you which testimonial formats are the most credible, trustworthy, and compelling for your business.
A Bit of Background: Testimonials Increase Brand Trust
It takes a lot of hard work to gain trust online.
And there is a significant trust gap between B2B buyers and the resources that vendors provide.
It may surprise you that buyers rank vendor-provided resources at the bottom in terms of trustworthiness during the purchase process.
But a mere 14% of buyers stated that the vendor had provided those reviews.
As a result, there's a substantial opportunity for you to include testimonials in all your B2B marketing materials. These will aid in driving conversions to your email list, your product demos, and your free trials.
There's no doubt that the ability to gain increased trust impacts your conversions and your ability to generate revenue.
But only if you're using the right testimonial in the right format, in the right place and at the right time.
Testimonials Help Drive Conversions at Every Stage of the Sales Funnel
Every online conversion starts with a visitor and a click.
A click on your website, a click to signup for your list, or a click to purchase your product or service, testimonials can have a positive impact whether your prospective customer is seeing your brand name for the first time or renewing their contract.
But the effectiveness of your testimonials, will depend on your prospective customer's problems, who they are, and where they are in the sales funnel — all of which translates to different testimonial formats being required at different points.
Many vendors still place testimonials only at the bottom of their sales funnel when there's strong evidence to suggest that testimonials drive conversions at all stages of the sales cycle.
One great example comes from KeyScouts.
They added an SEO-optimized testimonial page to their website, which increased their click-through-rate by 350% and their conversion rate by nearly 20%.
Clearly, their testimonial format is a winner in terms of driving conversions.
Why not reach your potential customers earlier and encourage their interest through your social media posts, by offering free resources, and by using testimonial videos?
Top Tip: Use a quote testimonial next to your CTAs to drive signups, leads, and sales.
4 Testimonial Formats Which Increase Trust & Drive Conversions
Let's move on and review four testimonial formats that increase trust in your brand and how they help to drive conversions.
Testimonial Format #1: Case Study
Buyers enjoy short quotes or comments from your clients, but what they really want to see are results.
Your prospects want solid proof that your product or service will do what you say it does.
And they want to be confident that what you're offering will work for them (which is why it's so important to provide case studies which represent every one of your business' target personas).
Case studies are the perfect in-depth testimonial format in which to present proof you can deliver on your promises.
They may be time-consuming to produce, but 79% of B2B buyers will use them to research their next purchase.
In another recent survey on the highest converting content types, case studies ranked second in terms of converting leads.
The subject of your case study isn't just rave about how wonderful you are and how great your product or service is.
They're describing their journey towards success.
Their story is focused more on their business and the positive effect that they gained from the solution you provided.
It covers a broad view of their entire experience with you — often from the first contact with your business to the results they've achieved by aligning with you.
It's praise, but in a different format.
The case study testimonial format works well if you're a B2B service provider trying to convince an entire business to buy from you.
When you document an entire buyer's journey, it provides your prospect with valuable, independent information to include in their decision-making process.
Top Tip: Use snippets from your case studies and post them to your social media channels. This helps drive traffic back to the stories on your website.
Testimonial Format #2: Social Media Testimonials
Just because you're a B2B professional, doesn't mean you should ignore the effect of social proof.
Since many great social media testimonials occur organically - by advocates of your brand - you may believe that you lack control over them.
The option to repurpose organic mentions or to create your unique testimonial format is limited only by your imagination.
Here are a few ideas:
- Head to Twitter and post the latest praise you received
- Re-tweet reviews from your peers or current clients
- Post testimonial snippets on your Facebook page
- Monitor your clients' pages for mentions. Better yet, ask them (nicely) to share one of your posts. (For maximum impact, this should link back to your website)
- Don't limit yourself to text. Video is widely enjoyed and consumed on social platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn
- If you see other people promoting your brand, then save these posts or take screenshots for use at a later date
Authenticity Reigns on Social Channels
Social testimonials are perfect for brand awareness and increased trust because they're public and undeniably authentic.
Like this one from Podia's Facebook page:
A social media testimonial increases trust because they're the client's own words.
No one else is capable of providing such honest, credible (and sometimes off the cuff) endorsement for your people, your products, and your services.
Like this one from the LinkedIn profile of Sam Shepler at Testimonial Hero:
Another benefit of social media testimonials is that you get the chance to engage on a more personal level. It's a chance to show off your problem-solving capacity and your ability to meet a visitor's needs.
Intelligent use of these customer testimonial examples will not only enhance your reputation but also increase traffic to your website and offers.
B2B marketers know that social media is perfect for building brand awareness and nurturing leads.
B2B marketers know that social media is perfect for building brand awareness and nurturing leads.
Top Tip: Remember to publish your testimonials where your ideal client spends their time. For B2B, you'll find LinkedIn and Facebook are the best channels.
Testimonial Format #3: Quotes
Quote testimonials have appeared in advertising and sales messages for at least 150 years, and there's a reason that they're still a valid tactic.
The following examples might seem comical now, but in the 1880's they provided the same social proof that buyers search for today.
One quote reads:
"...The Safe came to hand all "O.K." and am well pleased with it. I have never seen a nicer Safe in the city."
Back then, prospective buyers had similar questions and objections to address as they do today. These quotes were widely used in marketing to help allay buyers' fears regarding delivery, value, and functionality.
Recognized Names With Authority
When one of your clients - especially a recognized name - is willing to endorse you, their own words are more influential than what you say about your product or service.
Your objective with a quote testimonial format is to gain reviews from people who represent your ideal client, i.e., those in your target market.
They may be in the same industry to yourself or a closely related market vertical.
Of course, it's even better if these people are an authority in their field.
Testimonials from someone trustworthy show your audience that you, too, may be trusted.
A greater sector of your leads recognizes these authority figures. Due to this fact, they will likely align with your ideal client.
Leadpages use their homepage to show several quote testimonials from satisfied clients. Right below those, they feature an expert who uses their tools.
It's important to keep in mind that demographics are impacting trends.
The majority of B2B technology buyers are now millennials.
Over 45% of buyers are in the 25-34-years-old range, followed by 30% in the 35-44 age range.
Numerous studies have shown that millennials are less trusting of brands and advertising, and more likely to turn to their peers for buying recommendations.
If you have clients who fit the criteria of being trustworthy sources with recognizable names or brands, reach out to them and request a testimonial.
Quote testimonials are a strong endorsement of trust, which is why they frequently appear on sales pages.
Feel free to feature them on all your most visited website pages.
- Top Tip: If possible, include a quantifiable result in these quote testimonials, e.g., "Using ABC software has increased our website conversions by X%."
Testimonial Format #4: Videos
While some people enjoy reading testimonials on a page designed for that purpose,¬†others want the credibility that video provides.
Let's face it. It's still somewhat difficult to fake a customer testimonial video.
Video is on the rise as a testimonial format and as the preferred content media online.
The latest Cisco Internet Report notes that by 2021, video content will account for an astounding 82% of internet traffic.
SageFrog's recent survey also tagged video as one of the leading B2B trends for 2020.
Their results state that 41% of B2B marketing professionals will implement video into their strategy this year.
The magic of video is that humans are attracted to images and the voices of real people.
We form a stronger emotional connection when we observe a person's body language and tone of voice - something that text-only cannot offer.
We enjoy hearing good stories.¬†
Customer Experiences and Success Stories
Stories from your customers' experiences. These people searched for an answer to a particular challenge in their business and found the solution by partnering with someone like you.
When your clients speak about your products or services, their integrity and reputation are at stake. It's a serious business.
On camera, they're representing your business as much as their own, and this increases trust levels.
Because video testimonials carry weight in terms of assuring others that your products and services are worthy of consideration, they are an excellent means to boost conversions.
Place your videos in an eye-catching position on your website or landing pages, and feature your largest clients there.
- Top Tip: Try a compilation video. Select the best bites from your testimonial videos and combine them into a single short video testimonial. You could also invite your top fans and exceptional clients to participate in a mashup video about why they use your brand.
You've just seen four testimonial formats that convey credibility and encourage your target clients to take action.
When executed correctly, testimonials are a robust method to increase trust in your brand and to drive conversions.
There's no doubt that specific formats are more attractive to particular audiences and demographics, so keep that in mind for your ideal customer.
Also, your testimonials are a strong link with the clients who use your products and services.
The careful creation and placement of these testimonial formats will strengthen your connection to them - and to those with whom you'd like to do business.
Are you considering a video testimonial format?