In the age of social media, I think we can all agree that customer testimonials are crucial to the success of our business. On social media platforms, people are looking for “social proof.” This is a new way of saying, “If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me.”
Social proof, a term coined by Robert Cialdini in his 1984 book, Influence, is also known as informational social influence. It describes a psychological and social phenomenon wherein people copy the actions of others in an attempt to undertake behavior in a given situation.
We also need to generate testimonials from our customers to build trust and goodwill in the community. This leads to more customers in the same way as social proof does, as long as you do it legally and ethically.
The statistics of the use of online reviews keeps going up. They now say that 92% of online purchasers read the reviews before making a purchase as opposed to 88% in 2014. If you can use your customer testimonials effectively in your business, it will most certainly influence the buying decision of customers.
For this to work best, you need a way to ensure that you receive testimonials that show you can deliver on your promise. For instance, if you service seniors and you list specific things you do in your marketing, back it up with reviews that state these specifics. This is the best way to get your prospects to shake their head in agreement, moving them closer to making their decision. This is covered in detail in The Referral Marketing Machine.
When designing a process to generate testimonials for your business, you need to stay within the law and make sure you are using truthful and not misleading statements.
Here’s what you need to know:
Have People Endorse Your Service
Anyone who is an “ambassador” for your business must disclose any special relationship they have with you. For example, if another business you network with or one of your employees promotes your business, they must disclose that they have a business relationship with you. This is especially important on social media platforms and is easily solved by including tags (or hashtags) for your business and those used to identify ads.
You can be held liable for not disclosing your connections with your endorsers.
Make sure all disclaimers and disclosures used can be easily understood by everyone. You could have them use something like, “I am currently doing business with [this company],” or “I am an employee of [company].”
Make Sure All Testimonials Are Accurate
This is one of the most important rules of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Federal law says that ad must be truthful, not misleading, and, when appropriate, backed by scientific evidence. The FTC looks especially closely at advertising claims that can affect consumers’ health or their pocketbooks.
Any claims made by you about your green cleaning products must be backed up by scientific evidence, so make sure you have those facts before making claims on your website, social media platforms, or in your advertising.
Also important to the FTC is that the testimonials provided must reflect typical experiences. In other words, if one customer states a benefit, it must be something that any customer can have.
Get Written Permission from Your Customers
You must keep a file of all the testimonials you received and the endorsements you have arranged. If a customer sends you a glowing review, you must first get their approval in writing before you can use it in your marketing. I also like to get approval for using their name or initials. Not everyone wants their name used in your advertising, so get their approval on how their name should appear.
Having your approvals in writing is important in case one of your customers objects months or years in the future. If they didn’t set a time limit, then you merely have to take the testimonial down.
Don’t Make Up Testimonials or Steal From Review Websites
Since I already stated that your reviews must have approval from the submitter, this should be obvious. Even if your customer has submitted a review on another website or social media website, you must have their permission to use it in your marketing.
Just as I suggest you add a clause on the legal pages on your website about user-generated content, these websites have their own disclaimers and disclosures which means that content is owned by the website. An alternative is to use links on your website or social media platforms to the review site. You can also install a plugin on your site to stream your reviews from sites like Yelp.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement of receiving a glowing review and forget about the laws that govern the use of customer testimonials. Don’t be that guy (or gal) – follow the FTC guidelines and validate all testimonials before you decide to use them in your business.
If you want to learn more about starting a house cleaning business, check out our comprehensive guide on starting a successful house cleaning business. We cover everything you need to know to start and run a thriving cleaning service.