Danger is not something we typically want to engage with. Though some people might love bungee jumping or cliff diving, most of us are content with not looking danger quite so squarely in the face. 

What does bungee jumping have to do with the topic of this blog? Not much. But danger does have something to do with the topic of testimonials and user-generated content. It’s not physical danger of course, but there is a sense of danger that always underpins buying decisions.  

Alright, maybe ‘danger’ is a bit of a strong word in this context. But when buying a product or service, every consumer wants to feel safe and confident in the knowledge they are engaging with a trustworthy source. Anything that makes them unsure of this represents a certain form of ‘danger’ that most customers are going to be keen to avoid. 

How retailers and businesses alleviate these concerns? By finding ways to promote and enhance trust. This means having plenty of trust signals. These play a vital role in convincing potential customers to use your services rather than those of your competitors. 

This is where testimonials and user-generated content tie into the equation. Both are strong trust signals that come from people who were previously in the shoes your potential customers are now wearing. If people testify to having been in that same position and going on to have a positive experience, this builds a level of confidence for potential customers about the same outcome happening for them. 

This means testimonials and user-generated content can be of massive benefit to your business. In the latest Williams Commerce blog, we take a look at how to make the most of testimonials and user-generated content. 

What are testimonials? 

The use of testimonials in marketing is all about providing potential customers with the opinions of people that have been through the process they themselves are considering commencing.  

Testimonials typically involve a customer providing a comment, review or reflection on how their experience was. This might include comments on how communication was with the business, and whether or not they would recommend using this business to another person. 

This testimonial could then be posted to your business website and social media channels and act as a positive way of promoting your brand.  

There is also the chance to utilise more dynamic testimonial formats. With mediums like LinkedIn, YouTube and now TikTok starting to have an increasing importance in the world of marketing, business testimonial videos can be used to provide the trust signal that would-be customers want to see.  

What is user-generated content? 

User-generated content plays a similar role to testimonials, but is generally a more in-depth look at why your products or services are great. As the name suggests, this content is created by users, and there are two main types. For the purposes of this blog, we will call them Internal UGC and External UGC. 

Internal UGC is content that is written by a guest, or a client, and is hosted within your own domains. A good example of this is a guest blog. A client may have ideas or suggestions pertinent to your industry, and want to use your blog to promote these. If you agree with their general point and are happy to proceed, you get a relevant blog that you can use to promote your brand, as well as strengthening your relationship with this client. 

External UGC is typically hosted in the domains of the users themselves – be it a YouTube video, Instagram page or TikTok feed. These mediums all have plenty of user-generated content examples that you can browse through and familiarise yourself with. 

What is user-generated content good at doing? Getting your name out there. We live in a world where reviews and recommendations play a vital role in informing customers as to what to purchase and who to engage with. If your product or service is recommended by somebody with a large online reach, the benefits can be very positive indeed.  

How to create user-generated content is something that requires some flexibility on the part of your business. You may be used to having complete control over what you publish and push out when it comes to marketing your products or services. User-generated content is not like that. There is a risk attached in the sense that a negative review could damage your business. But if this is a genuine concern, that should act as extra motivation to raise your standards before using a user-generated content approach.  

How to secure testimonials and user-generated content? 

For user-generated content, we recommend engaging in some outreach work to find influencers or users with a strong platform that is relevant to your business sector. Approaching them about the possibility of working together can be a good first step. Some will look for a fee, but others will happily do a product review free of charge, provided you supply the product to review without cost. These mutually beneficial agreements are a strong way of developing positive user-generated content that can spread the word about what you do in arenas that are difficult for you to penetrate as a business. 

Testimonials can be secured by approaching your customers and simply asking them if they would be kind enough to provide one. This obviously requires some careful selection, as you only want testimonials that show your business in a really positive light. They become easier to secure if your business-customer relationship is strong. So again, this should provide you with a reason to keep your customers happy. 

Where to use testimonials and user-generated content? 

External UGC will be located outside of your site, particularly if you go down the influencer route. Despite this, there is of course a chance to tie it into your own social media streams and channels. So while you might not have full control over the content itself, you do have control over how you use this type of user-generated content within the scope of your own brand. 

For Internal UGC like guest blogs, these can slide seamlessly into your general blog and support your SEO, brand awareness, and engagement efforts. Again, pushing this out via social media can spark conversations and help garner a sense of community. 

Strong testimonials are great things to place in opportune areas of your website, as well as in social media posts. If you are able to gather a few testimonials, then they could even form part of your design approach, with these trust signals appearing across your website in locations where they will be seen and have a positive impact. 

Take your trust signals to a new level 

With a strong approach to testimonials and user-generated content, it is possible to bridge the gap between your business and your customers. Both mediums take the words of people that have already bridged that gap, and encourage people to follow in their footsteps. 

Testimonials and user-generated content can form part of your content marketing plans and your wider digital marketing strategy. To discuss both of these areas with an expert, simply get in touch with the Williams Commerce team. We will be happy to talk about your requirements.