Before purchasing a new product, consumers are used to checking what existing customers are saying about this particular item. That makes sense: customer feedback seems more trustworthy than a pitch from a salesperson. And prospects are unlikely to choose a company that has no appreciation posted on the web.
Customer feedback is a powerful sales and marketing weapon to maintain business growth. Testimonials and reviews are two forms of this weapon. Some people use these terms interchangeably, but testimonials and reviews differ in the ways they are gathered and used in marketing.
Before we discover which one your business will benefit from, let’s examine the difference between them.
Reviews: specificity and examples
You’ve seen them many times. Websites and social platforms are full of reviews. From choosing an apartment on Booking.com to searching for a company on Google: millions of people have already expressed their experiences and opinions.
Also, reviews are often hosted on dedicated third-party platforms (like G2 or Clutch), where the brand can only reply to comments, but not able to moderate them. The reviews give you an overall score for the business.
The fundamental things you should know about reviews are:
- Reviews are hosted on third-party websites. There is an ocean of independent resources that feature reviews: Gartner, TripAdvisor, Google, Facebook, Yelp, etc.
The good news is that third-party review sites drive traffic to your business and provide you with high-quality backlinks which enhance SEO.
- Businesses being reviewed can’t delete critical reviews. The only thing they can do is to respond to the negative review and try to fix the situation.
As a result, it can be a bit scary opening yourself up to reviews. There is always a chance that you can’t stop a negative review from going online for prospective customers to see.
And this is why customers like reviews: they give an honest opinion about a brand. Let’s face the truth, all of us seek independent information about a company before doing business with them. As a result, 56 percent of consumers read at least four reviews before buying a product.
- Reviews can be biased. And you can do nothing about that.
Consumers perceive reviews as being objective. However, reviews are actually highly personal and subjective. The fact is that very few people write reviews. It’s about 1,5 percent, or 1 person out of 100. In addition, businesses often pay their clients for reviews posted on third-party resources.
As a result, an average score of businesses is based on an unrepresentative sample of reviews. What’s more, customers who have an unpleasant experience are three times more likely to leave a review than customers who had a great experience.
Also, reviews can be ignorant or ill-informed. Usually, people generally describe one particular interaction or a general overview of their feelings towards a company. Thus, the review may be a word or two long and drag the ratings down, anyway. And at the end of the day, reviews can be fake.
Anyway, every business should deal with negative reviews responding to them and offering ways to put things right. This shows other prospects that you’re always trying to be helpful to your customers. If you don’t react, it looks like you don’t care what people think. On the other hand, businesses should gather positive reviews to reduce the harm of negative ones.
- Reviews about your competitors are close too.
If we take a look at review platforms, your business rivals will be shown alongside your reviews. As a result, prospective customers can just switch to another option and forget about your business. What’s more, some of your competitors advertise their products on review platforms (including your product listings) and steal your clients.
Testimonials: specificity and examples
Testimonials are collected by companies from their clients who’ve had a enjoyable experience with the products or services. Businesses often hand-pick the most satisfied clients for testimonials, because they know they’ll get positive testimonials and showcase the best of a company.
How do testimonials differ from reviews? There are a few major differences you need to know:
- Businesses manage testimonials.
If you collect a negative testimonial, you can filter that from your marketing activities and simply not show it. Nobody features a bad testimonial on their business’s website.
- Businesses control where testimonials appear.
Reviews are generally given to a third-party site. Brands rarely impact this process. The usage of testimonials is fully controlled by companies and used in promotional materials, commercials, brochures, on the corporate website, etc.
- Testimonials are often more in-depth than reviews.
One of the biggest differences between testimonials and reviews is that testimonials are more in-depth. In a nutshell, testimonials are brief success stories where customers explain their experience with the product or service, why they chose it, and how it has improved their lives.
- Testimonials are perceived as less trustworthy than reviews.
Businesses enjoy using testimonials because they show off the best of them. What’s more, testimonials are easy to host on the site. On the other hand, prospective customers know that the companies edit that information. As a result, there’s no chance for a negative testimonial to appear on a corporate website. Even you’re totally honest, your prospects will always suspect that you polish up testimonials or even make them up completely.
As a result, making testimonials as trustworthy as possible is a big deal for every business. Luckily, there are a few tested-and-tried ways to make testimonials more credible. You can post more authentic video testimonials, add customers’ names and pictures to their testimonials, make sure the comments are specific and highlight a particular aspect of your service, and many more.
- Testimonials boost the website’s click-through rate.
If your website pages feature testimonials, their CTR will increase up to 10 percent, both for organic and paid traffic. How does it work? The answer is simple: search results with 5 stars are more eye-catching and spiced up with social proof.
All you need to do is to use schema markups or rich snippets to help Google sort and make sense of testimonials, and share relevant information on search result pages. It’s also a good idea to use longer testimonials to make them more attractive to Google.
- Testimonials help your business grow.
There are a few business benefits of testimonials that are often overlooked. They include investigating new business opportunities and cross-marketing opportunities, as well as building client loyalty. For instance, you can ask clients to post their testimonials on their websites. And last but not least, positive testimonials inspire more good work.
How the usage of reviews and testimonials differs
The main difference between a review and a testimonial is how and where to use them. That will help you understand which one is better for your business needs. So, let’s dive deeper into the best practices of using reviews and testimonials.
So, how to use reviews? There are a few ways you can start benefiting from reviews.
- Сhoose a review platform that suits your business best. This will depend largely on what type of business you operate. The best place for your clients to leave reviews is where the maximum number of prospective customers will see them. For instance, if your business is offline, consider Google My Business listings. If you sell products on Amazon, ask your customer to review your products there. And so on.
- Be aware of businesses using or selling fake reviews on review platforms.
- Encourage clients to leave reviews on certain platforms and even give them incentives for that (like a $15 Amazon gift card).
- Use review widgets on your website to increase a conversion rate.
How to use testimonials?
You get testimonials from your best clients. As a result, you demonstrate that you have happy customers who are satisfied with your products or services. At the same time, prospects realize you’ve filtered and the comments. This fact may reduce the influence of testimonials. For this reason, you need to develop a strategy to make most of the testimonials. Best practices include:
- Place testimonials on a dedicated testimonials page. In addition, consider featuring testimonials on your landing page, product and feature pages, near call-to-action buttons and forms, and anywhere your prospective clients might need convincing.
- Feature testimonials in your online or print marketing pieces like product brochures.
- Reuse video testimonials as YouTube video advertisements.
- Testimonials are invaluable for email marketing. You can add text or video testimonials to your emails to encourage customers to make a purchase or to purchase again.
Reviews vs testimonials: What is better?
When it comes to deciding between testimonials and reviews, the ideal scenario is to use both. At the end of the day, you shouldn’t miss any opportunity to win new customers. Both are crucial marketing tools: reviews are fantastic for getting discovered online, testimonials are great for converting website visitors into paying customers at the last phase of selling.
The truth is that testimonials and reviews can work together. Each does one particular job well: testimonials boost conversions; reviews increase the number of potential leads. Imagine the situation where your website lacks testimonials. Or what if there’s not a single review about your company on review platforms? In both cases, this is a disaster.
Considering that, both testimonials and reviews should be part of your marketing strategy. Let’s paint a picture of a common user journey. Okay, suppose you sell a SaaS product, a website builder, for instance. Someone does a Google search for ‘website builder’ and finds a review platform G2. They’re impressed by the number and quality of the reviews you’ve received.
Next, users may google your company name and land on your website to check out if you’re a good fit for them. And what do potential clients see here? They see testimonials you’ve placed on your landing page! Prospects read testimonials and say, ‘Wow, I want to achieve the same results!’ And voila — the desired conversion is completed.
Long story short, you shouldn’t focus on one at the expense of the other. Your conversion rate, search rankings, business growth, and brand reputation are all based on how well you can manage both.
But we all know why we’re here: we want a real battle between reviews and testimonials. We want a simple answer to the question, ‘Who is the best?’ So let’s compare reviews and testimonials and try to figure out what is better for your business.
|Control||You can’t control reviews entirely as they are published on third-party platforms.||You can fully manage the content and design of testimonials.|
|Place||Reviews are placed on third-party websites and generate useful backlinks for your company.||Testimonials are featured on your website and boost your SEO.|
|Credibility||Although reviews are posted on independent resources, consumers understand that reviews don’t always reflect the real situation.||Detailed testimonials in a form of a brief success story are a powerful social proof tool that increases conversions dramatically.|
|Usage||Review platforms often forbid using their content for free.||You can use testimonials anywhere you want: on your website, in your emails, in your marketing brochures, etc.|
If you don’t collect testimonials from your clients yet, now’s the time!
Although you can’t control collecting reviews, testimonials are still a powerful marketing weapon you can fully manage. And if you don’t gather testimonials yet, it’s the best time to start doing that. Because today your brand is no longer what you say about yourself, it’s what clients say about you.
What’s more, testimonials can mean a 5 percent increase in conversion rates. Featuring testimonials is even more crucial if your products are expensive: showcasing positive customer feedback for more expensive products increases conversion rates by 380 percent.
And when it comes to video testimonials, prospects are 64 percent more likely to buy after watching a video.
Considering that, embrace the power of testimonials so they work in your favor. But to tell the truth, collecting customer feedback can be quite challenging and time-consuming. Luckily, Trust is here to help if you’re already tired of chasing customers and manually displaying their testimonials on your website. Trust allows you to do the following amazing things to collect testimonials:
- On-brand web surveys. Trust lets you create customized, white-labeled testimonial forms or rating (5 Stars & NPS) surveys and share links to get feedback from customers. All you need is to just approve collected feedback, and boom, they are on your website!
- Built-in email services. Using Trust, you don’t need to switch back and forth between your website, Google Docs, and inbox to get things done. Just add customers’ emails to Trust, pick the day and time, personalize your message, and send it directly from the Trust dashboard.
- eSigning contracts. Trust allows you to sign online agreements with customers regarding publishing their testimonials on your website to establish a GDPR compliant relationship with them.
- Comprehensive video testimonial solution. With the help of built-in Trust surveys, you can ask your customers to record or upload their video testimonials as well as make use of existing videos from Facebook, YouTube, etc. As a result, your website is spiced up with eye-catching video reviews.
- Customized & ready-made templates. With the help of Trust, you can fully customize testimonials and ratings to match your website look and feel or choose one of the beautiful pre-defined templates to save time.
In addition to Trust, delivering an experience that inspires customers to leave a testimonial is another trick to get positive feedback. Happy and satisfied users are enthusiastic recommenders of your business.