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Testimonials: Power of the People

Whew!! It’s been a busy few weeks!! I finally have a chance to share my new blog post that’s focused on how to ask for, collect and successfully use Testimonials.

It may seem silly, but what better way to market who you are and what you do than with people who love both of those things!

Think about it this way… when a prospect comes to your site they’re looking for a solution. They want to know how what you do is different, and they want to know that what you do has worked for other people.

Testimonials are social proof helping to establish credibility in a way that provides evidence that what you say is true. Tweet This!

 

It’s like when you go shopping for something new. You’re going to ask for recommendations and look at customer reviews before you buy.

For higher ed, it’s hard to have a customer review – we have sites like, Ratemyprofessors.com and others where people can post, but in order to bring that onto your site – you need a different approach. You need the testimonial.



Here are some statistics that show how important this really is:

 

Higher Education - Stats of testimonials

Convinced yet? Your school is your business, and your customers are your students and their parents.

Now, you might be saying, “That’s fine and dandy, but getting testimonials and then showing them is hard. It takes a while and I don’t have the time to do all that.”

It doesn’t have to be! We’ve included a downloadable template at the bottom of the blog for you to use, and we’ll walk you through how to get them and where to use them.



How to Get Testimonials

1 – Decide on a consistent format.

The brain processes a lot of information, especially when surfing the web. You want to make it as easy as you can for your web visitors to read and process the information present there. This means using a consistent format for your testimonials. Inconsistency creates confusion.

Here’s some questions to ask yourself:

– Are you going to use just text? Video?

– How long is it going to be?

– Do you want just one line? Or more like an interview?

The template that we’ve included with this blog post is a great starting point. This will get you the raw information that you need. You can slice and dice it from there. Pull out one line or use the whole thing if you want more of an interview style – or you can even use it as a script to get you started with a video testimonial!


2 – Decide who you want to feature/hear from.

Who are you going to feature? Students? Alumni? Or does it depend on the program that you’re trying to highlight?

Once you know who you want to hear from, you’ll be able to determine more easily how to reach out to them. Here’s a few of ideas that we’ve used with success:

– Reach out to alumni through the alumni association email or send a direct mail flyer asking for submissions

– Provide an incentive, such as a chance to win a $100 gift card to the school book store or Amazon gift card, for incoming students to fill out a form/submit their testimonial of the process

– Call or ask during a live event for students and alumni (think Homecoming or job fairs) to fill out a quick survey/testimonial and have their picture taken


3 – Reach out!

When it comes down to it… The best way to get testimonials is to ask. Just remember that timing does have an impact on the quality of the testimonial you receive, and the number of testimonials you receive will be tied to how easy it is for your target to submit to participate.

Some of the best times to reach out are:

– After some kind of positive experience (school event, job fair, successful work interview/promotion, etc.)

– Before school starts

– During the graduation time period

– When your alumni association sends out their first communication after student’s graduate and become alumni

 

Some suggestions to make testimonial submission easy:

– Use a Survey Monkey form

– Provide a printed form with spaces for answers to prewritten questions – include an envelope already addressed with the return address and stamped if it’s sent via direct mail

– Schedule a 15-minute phone interview

– Coordinate a time for a quick video recording of your subject speaking where you travel to meet them, or appear at an event they’re already attending

– Create a contest where submissions are “send in your 1 minute video of why xyz college was an amazing experience” for a chance to win some type of prize

Need more ideas on how to use testimonials and other forms of social proof? Here’s a great article with 29 suggestions.



Where to Use Testimonials

Great! You have the testimonial and you’ve put it into the format you want… Now what?

Now you need to put it out there!

You want to put these where they’ll do the most good. That means if the testimonials are for a certain program or event, put it on the program page – but be sure to put it where people don’t have to scroll to see it!

When you’re looking at your site ask yourself these questions to determine where it will get the most traction:

– Where is this testimonial most relevant? What are the people talking about?

– How much space do I need to post this?

– Do I have a landing page or other contact page where this testimonial can help to speak to a prospect?

Another thing to consider is including a disclaimer that says it’s up to your discretion how much of the testimonial will be used. That way you have the ability to use all or part of it, if you need to save space somewhere.

Some more ideas for testimonial use.


Bottom line is, you have raving fans – why not utilize that passion and experience? They’re walking on your campus, they’re probably working in administrative or academic roles, and you can catch them when they come back to campus to enjoy a ball game or special event. Every person connected to your institution has a story to tell, a testimony.

Help them help you. Give them a voice and let those testimonies fly.



Ready to start collecting your testimonials?

Download the template now!