Think about it. Amidst all the communication on a web page, when you see an obvious quote - set apart in italics or quotation marks - your eye is drawn to this brief yet telling piece of information about the company or person whose page you're on.
A testimonial makes business personal. It validates the credibility of the product, service and company. It entices the reader in with a personal experience that has a better chance of resonating; the challenge or problem they had solved may be the same one the user is having.
A testimonial also adds flavor to business content. Not all companies or offerings are unique or even particularly interesting for the reader. But stories sell. And people like to know that there are other "real" people using this company's products or services.
So how do you get a good business testimonial?
The last thing you want is for one of your clients to give you some bland recommendation about providing "great customer service" or being a "true professional." So what?
But most of your clients don't know how to craft a compelling testimonial - which is why you need to guide them and give them thought-provoking questions that will elicit a more specific, and therefore, engaging response.
I learned this from Peter Bowerman, author of The Well-Fed Writer, a fantastic resource for anyone who's interested in generating good income in the world of business writing. Bowerman suggests this type of prompt for client testimonials:
* Why do you choose to do business with Company XYZ?
* Any examples of service above and beyond with Company XYZ?
* Why do you choose to do business with Company XYZ over the competition?
* Why would recommend people work with Company XYZ?
If possible, get the client on the phone and personally interview them for a few minutes, using these questions as a starting point. A client will often reveal more in conversation than in short, written responses. In the interest of time, however, it's sometimes hard to nail the client down and it's easier for them to respond to a well-crafted email request. The email request should be preceded by a quick phone call and heads-up that the request is coming.
How to make a business testimonial more effective
Now, in order for the responses to these questions to be sufficiently meaty, ask the client to be as specific and detailed as possible in their responses. Ask them to put some thought into it. If you remind them, they generally will and you'll get at least one or two detailed responses from the 3-4 questions you pose.
You can also splice together a response from one question if it works nicely with another. You have creative liberties to do that and you do not need to ask the client for permission.
To help elicit a good business testimonial, you should also let the client know they don't need to worry about wordsmithing. They can just jot down bullet points and phrases and you - or your content writer - can make it sound pretty.
When you ask for the testimonial, of course let them know that their testimonial may be featured on your website and in other marketing collateral materials. Ideally, you want permission to use a full name followed by their position/title and company they work for. This lends greater credibility to your business testimonial.
If someone feels strongly about just using a first name, last initial or vice versa, then you have to honor their request. In business, however, most people are comfortable with being transparent. As long as they are happy clients, they're generally willing to share that fact with the public.
Need help gathering business testimonials? Sometimes it's more effective to have a third-party collecting that information on your behalf. Get in touch with us if you're too busy to round up your own testimonials or you simply prefer someone else to do it.
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If your website's not getting much traction, it could be you've got no call to action. Get your free, customized, content analysis at http://www.eclecticcontent.com/free-web-content-analysis.html
No Call to Action (CTA). Take it from me, the content writer whose own website sat stagnating for years. Back in the day we built sites that were just online "brochures" for our businesses. Our websites matched our marketing materials and we really did believe that "if you build it they will come." Nowadays, it's just downright lazy to have a website that's not working for you, and by that I mean lead generation. People signing up on your site for something you're giving away for free whether it's a newsletter or a report or a 15-minute consultation.
We're all guilty of building our pretty websites and taking such pride in putting it all out there only to fail to attract any "real" potential business. So here's a simple fix for you. First, figure out what you're going to give away. (Check out Ian Brodie's "5 Simple Marketing Tweaks That Will Get You More Clients" for some ideas.) Then come up with a clear and insanely concise "call to action" or CTA. No wimpy "Read Mores" or "Learn Mores" or "Click Heres." What you want is juicy, specific instructions. My CTA button reads "Get Your FREE Website Content Analysis." That's the main thing I want you to do, is click that button and sign up for my personalized content assessment.
So what's your main thing? And how do you make that enticing for the user?
No Attention. Give your website some love! If you're not paying attention to your site, nobody else is either. Granted, once you're cranking in thousands of unique visitors every month, maybe you don't have to baby your site quite so much. But there's a reason why people visit websites and stick around. They see something interesting. Isn't that what we all do? We skim the words, something catches our eye, we click a link, we scan some more, and then we're gone. That's what they're doing on your site too.
So give people something to participate in whether it's watching a 2-minute video you just uploaded, or reading a blog post -- something that's current and relevant, not just your tired old services and offerings.
No Intention. Piggy backing on the call to action point, you want to guide the user to the next thing. If you have a lot of good content on your site, make sure you're linking to other pages within your site to keep your audience with you as long as possible. Get a handle on your website analytics to understand what people are looking for when they get to your website, what pages they're coming in on and which pages they're leaving from. It's often not our main page that makes the first impression so don't neglect your other pages. Put your call to action anywhere it seems appropriate and relevant.
Same goes for links within your site to other pages. Once the user is gone, they're gone. If you didn't grab their name and email address by offering them a goodie in return, then your website didn't do you any favors. Again, get clear about what you want your website to do and guide the user to fulfill on that.
For more on making your website more "sticky" and other tools of the content writing trade, follow @killertaglines on Twitter.
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Kennerly Clay loves language in any form. She's been a writer through years of technological change and appreciates the ways that intention and meaning can now be expressed through so many forms of media, more efficiently than ever.