Driving traffic is everything. Without it, your company is dead in the water. And although social media is a great way to build brand awareness and encourage conversation about your products and services, when it comes to driving traffic to B2B sites, research shows that fully 80% comes through search*, compared with less than 5% from social media.**
User testimonials are an ideal way to help drive that traffic, particularly if you involve your front-line staff or sales force in gathering them. They usually have the best rapport with your market, and they’re intimately familiar with how your customers use your offerings and benefit from them. Make achieving testimonials a major company priority by offering recognition and some type of reward for the best testimonial of the month. Here are 7 good reasons to do so:
Reason #1: User Testimonials are Better than Case Studies
Case studies have previously been widely considered an effective inbound marketing tool, but testimonials are increasingly recognized as being even better. Case studies are expensive and have a limited shelf-life. It’s not unusual to spend $2000 – $5000 of internal resource time to complete one. A legal review is often required, and that can be slow. Some companies prohibit participation in them. As a result, it’s hard to produce an ongoing stream of case studies, and difficult to keep them up-to-date even if you have marketing consultants working on the project. That’s a problem when dealing with rapidly changing technologies.
In addition, case studies suffer from a lack of trust—they are produced by the vendor, after all. A 2013 report by DemandGen found that less than 30 percent of B2B decision makers place strong trust in vendor-created content. Buyers tend to see them as exercises in chest-beating—lots of attention on the bragging points, but none on the possible drawbacks of a product.
Reason #2: Reviewers Can Relate
For the search-driven buyer, user testimonials are the single most persuasive form of website content. This is because:
a) they have much higher street cred,
b) they are viewed as an objective and straightforward source of information, and
c) they are valued by buyers because they come from peers who share their world and understand their needs.
Reason #3: It’s Great for SEO
Search engines place high value on visibility on customer review sites, so they incorporate those in the algorithms that assess your search relevance in the local market. Customer testimonials strongly support your online presence, which means online reviews can dramatically improve your search engine results—beginning with your local search placement.
Reason #4: They Cover Concrete Situations
To compellingly demonstrate the value of your product or service, the best kind of user testimonials spell out specific measurable results, as expressed in dollars, numbers or percentages. And they discuss concrete situations that your offering has been used in, and so may cover the same kinds of needs and challenges that the consumer faces.
Reason #5: Comes Up in Comparative Searches
Buyers are increasingly using comparative discovery terms like “Product A vs. Product B.” As this trend continues and more in-depth review content is posted, marketing consultants believe websites containing user testimonials are likely to rank even higher on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Reason #6: Brilliant for Boosting Traffic
Customer reviews also increase the click-through rate to your website. They are used to substantiate your geographic listing, which is the main reason why they improve your local search placement. And that’s a big part of generating B2B leads from prospective clients in your area.
On the other hand, in-depth user reviews are a much more trusted alternative. They contain the stories that case studies are valued for, but they also give a frank assessment, including some of the cons as well as the pros.
Reason #7: Provides Unbiased Information
It used to be that sellers controlled the buying cycle by feeding consumers with exactly the information they wanted them to see. But today, buyers have powerful research tools at their disposal, and they use them. Research shows that B2B consumers find three pieces of content about a seller for every one piece that is published or otherwise presented by sales or advertising.
The solution is to proactively enter into the consumer research cycle and to provide buyers with information they are seeking, from the voices that are the most credible to them—those of fellow buyers.
*2013 State of Demand Generation study, Pardot
** Optify 2012 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report