When it comes to choosing a business, many people look first at the reviews posted online. Yelp, Google, and other websites give reviews from former customers and these shape the views of thousands of other potential clients.

But there’s another way that customers’ opinions can be influenced: testimonials. Let’s talk about these and why your company needs them to help grow your small business.

Reviews vs. Testimonials

A review is a simple summary of an experience someone has had on a website. Many people choose a star-rating (such as four out of five) to evaluate the business. But customers are discerning and for the serious consumer, this may not be enough. That’s why more are turning towards testimonials. This is where you actively ask clients to provide you with a public review of your business.

Why Testimonials Work

Testimonials are great on two big fronts. First, they don’t allow the reviewer to hide behind anonymity. Too often, Internet “trolls” will slam a business online because no one knows who they are. This allows people with an ax to grind (whether deserved or not) to post without repercussions to their own reputation.

With testimonials, you are placing a name and a face to the comments which gives it more credence. It also shows your potential customers that you have a personal relationship with them. These customers don’t view you as just a business. You are someone they want to help out by putting their reputations on the line to support.

How to Get Testimonials and How to Use Them

In order to have an effective testimonial campaign, you are going to have to approach customers and ask for their assistance. One way to do this is with follow-up surveys and phone calls. If you have a customer who raves about how great their experience was on a survey, you can follow-up with them to see if they would be willing to offer a testimonial. (Many will be happy to do this.)

Once you have the testimonial, feature it prominently on your website. You can have a separate section of the site for testimonials and you can also record video testimonials helping to add an even more personal touch.

Many consumers today are savvy shoppers who can’t be fooled by simple short reviews. They are looking for more information than just star ratings. Instead, you should use testimonials as a tool to bring in their business.