With even a handful of eloquent, praising testimonials, your business will have a much better chance of capturing new customers – and building initial trust. And if you’re an established brand with a few thousand (or more) loyal customers, it shouldn’t be hard to collect the testimonials you need to accomplish this.
However, if your company is just starting out, or if your customer base is small, testimonials are harder problem to solve. How can you get better testimonials at this stage of development?
Why Testimonials Are So Important
Let’s start with a briefer on why testimonials are so important for new companies.
- Social proof. Testimonials serve as a way to achieve social proof. In other words, you can use testimonials as a tool of persuasion, convincing someone new that your brand is worth working with. Social proof is powerful because it’s authentic; people are naturally distrustful of advertising and promotional material because it’s seen as inherently manipulative. On the other hand, a testimonial from a real customer is without motivation, and is seen as sincere.
- Customer dependence. The majority of modern consumers rely on testimonials and reviews to make purchasing decisions. Before they’re willing to part with their hard-earned money, they want some kind of reliable evidence that their purchase will be worth it. Testimonials fit the bill – and they’re so common that they’ve become expected.
- Conversion utility. Testimonials are especially powerful because, when featured and built on your website, they almost always increase your conversion rate. Including them at the bottom of an important landing page or in line with a call to action (CTA) on one of your core pages can drastically increase your conversion ratio.
The Early Stage Problem
As we’ve demonstrated, testimonials are a reliable way to get more customers. If every testimonial you receive leads to the acquisition of 100 new customers, and even 1 percent of those customers leave new testimonials, you’ll have a self-sustaining engine that can provide you with new testimonial content indefinitely.
But in the earliest stages of your company’s development, you can’t bootstrap this. You’ll have few, if any customers, and no preexisting testimonials to work with.
To address this problem, you’ll need to specifically cultivate testimonials from your early-stage customer base.
Can You Write Testimonials Yourself?
At this point, you may wonder whether it’s worth trying to write the testimonials yourself. You can make up the name of a customer and say whatever you want about your own business.
However, this approach isn’t advisable. The whole point of attracting and showcasing testimonials is to build consumer trust. If your testimonial looks suspicious, or if it’s demonstrably proven false, you’ll have the opposite result; people will trust you less.
It’s much more impactful and less risky to get testimonials from real customers. So how can you do it during the earliest stages of your business’s growth?
Provide Excellent Service to Your Earliest Customers
Your most important strategy is to provide excellent service to your earliest customers. If you exceed expectations, your customers will likely go out of their way to give you praise – and help you find more customers in the future.
The first phase of addressing this problem is finding initial customers. If you’re having trouble building trust with new prospective clients, consider offering your services for a discount, or even for free. You can professionally network to find people in your target demographics who might be interested in being guinea pigs for your startup.
Once you’ve onboarded them, go out of your way to make sure they have the best possible experience. Don’t worry about profit margins or turnaround time at this point; just deliver exceptional results and ensure the customer gets what they need.
If you do this consistently with your earliest customers, you should have no trouble getting the testimonials you need to continue growing.
Once you’ve worked with several customers and you’ve started to establish a digital footprint for your brand, you might get some testimonials naturally. But it’s more likely that you’ll have to ask for them.
The best way to do this is by being direct, especially if you already have an established relationship with the client in question. Write an email or have a conversation over a phone call with three important elements:
- The recap. Make sure you briefly recap the nature of your relationship. How did you work together? What were the results?
- The positive reminder. Make sure to frame the situation in a positive light. Remind them about how much money you were able to save them, or how much they complimented your product.
- The ask. Finally, be succinct and direct when asking for a testimonial. Something like, “We’re hoping to grow our customer base in the next several months, and to do that, we need testimonials from our previous clients. Would you be willing to provide one? Thanks in advance,” works perfectly.
There’s a small chance you’ll receive negative feedback or no feedback at all. If this is the case, handle the situation gracefully.
Get Active on Social Media
Next, get active on social media. Your brand should be working to attract new followers and engage your existing audience with ongoing content posts, discussion threads, and general responsiveness. Once you reach critical mass, you’ll be able to reach out to your followers in a way that helps you attract more testimonials.
For example, you can ask a broad question like, “what do you think of our [product]? Let us know in the comments below!” At least some of your customers will respond with praise or compliments. If and when they do, ask them for permission to use these statements as testimonials on your website.
Take things a step further by setting up automatic alerts, so you’re notified every time your brand is mentioned on social media. Some of these comments and responses will inevitably be negative, but some will be positive – and they could be valuable opportunities to cultivate testimonials.
Respond to Reviews
Online reviews and testimonials are two sides of the same coin, so it’s important to pay attention to both in the early days of your business’s development. Pay attention to new reviews that emerge for your business (and automate this if possible) and respond to them.
When you receive negative reviews, reach out to see if there’s anything you can do to make the situation better. Sometimes, a simple apology and an offer to make things right is all it takes to turn a scorned customer into a grateful one.
When you see positive reviews, consider reaching out and asking if the writer is willing to provide you with a testimonial. Depending on how the review is structured and phrased, you might even be able to use the review as a testimonial directly.
Work for Video Testimonials
At this point, you should have at least one or two strong written testimonials that you can use in your marketing materials (as well as your website). Periodically adding new written testimonials to your rotation can help you improve over time.
But written testimonials aren’t quite as impactful as video testimonials. Once you build a strong relationship with at least one client, consider asking them to work with you on a video testimonial. The best course of action here is to offer to film the testimonial yourself – that way, the client doesn’t feel the pressure to put together a polished, professional video on their own.
There are many strategies that can increase your likelihood of receiving testimonials from loyal customers and a few strategies that can get you testimonials directly – no matter how many or how few customers you have. Once those testimonials are in place and working on your business’s behalf, you’ll be in a position to multiply your customer base and never worry about this type of early-stage growth problem again.
Fintech Kennek raises $12.5M seed round to digitize lending
London-based fintech startup Kennek has raised $12.5 million in seed funding to expand its lending operating system.
According to an Oct. 10 tech.eu report, the round was led by HV Capital and included participation from Dutch Founders Fund, AlbionVC, FFVC, Plug & Play Ventures, and Syndicate One. Kennek offers software-as-a-service tools to help non-bank lenders streamline their operations using open banking, open finance, and payments.
The platform aims to automate time-consuming manual tasks and consolidate fragmented data to simplify lending. Xavier De Pauw, founder of Kennek said:
“Until kennek, lenders had to devote countless hours to menial operational tasks and deal with jumbled and hard-coded data – which makes every other part of lending a headache. As former lenders ourselves, we lived and breathed these frustrations, and built kennek to make them a thing of the past.”
The company said the latest funding round was oversubscribed and closed quickly despite the challenging fundraising environment. The new capital will be used to expand Kennek’s engineering team and strengthen its market position in the UK while exploring expansion into other European markets. Barbod Namini, Partner at lead investor HV Capital, commented on the investment:
“Kennek has developed an ambitious and genuinely unique proposition which we think can be the foundation of the entire alternative lending space. […] It is a complicated market and a solution that brings together all information and stakeholders onto a single platform is highly compelling for both lenders & the ecosystem as a whole.”
The fintech lending space has grown rapidly in recent years, but many lenders still rely on legacy systems and manual processes that limit efficiency and scalability. Kennek aims to leverage open banking and data integration to provide lenders with a more streamlined, automated lending experience.
The seed funding will allow the London-based startup to continue developing its platform and expanding its team to meet demand from non-bank lenders looking to digitize operations. Kennek’s focus on the UK and Europe also comes amid rising adoption of open banking and open finance in the regions.
Featured Image Credit: Photo from Kennek.io; Thank you!
Fortune 500’s race for generative AI breakthroughs
As excitement around generative AI grows, Fortune 500 companies, including Goldman Sachs, are carefully examining the possible applications of this technology. A recent survey of U.S. executives indicated that 60% believe generative AI will substantially impact their businesses in the long term. However, they anticipate a one to two-year timeframe before implementing their initial solutions. This optimism stems from the potential of generative AI to revolutionize various aspects of businesses, from enhancing customer experiences to optimizing internal processes. In the short term, companies will likely focus on pilot projects and experimentation, gradually integrating generative AI into their operations as they witness its positive influence on efficiency and profitability.
Goldman Sachs’ Cautious Approach to Implementing Generative AI
In a recent interview, Goldman Sachs CIO Marco Argenti revealed that the firm has not yet implemented any generative AI use cases. Instead, the company focuses on experimentation and setting high standards before adopting the technology. Argenti recognized the desire for outcomes in areas like developer and operational efficiency but emphasized ensuring precision before putting experimental AI use cases into production.
According to Argenti, striking the right balance between driving innovation and maintaining accuracy is crucial for successfully integrating generative AI within the firm. Goldman Sachs intends to continue exploring this emerging technology’s potential benefits and applications while diligently assessing risks to ensure it meets the company’s stringent quality standards.
One possible application for Goldman Sachs is in software development, where the company has observed a 20-40% productivity increase during its trials. The goal is for 1,000 developers to utilize generative AI tools by year’s end. However, Argenti emphasized that a well-defined expectation of return on investment is necessary before fully integrating generative AI into production.
To achieve this, the company plans to implement a systematic and strategic approach to adopting generative AI, ensuring that it complements and enhances the skills of its developers. Additionally, Goldman Sachs intends to evaluate the long-term impact of generative AI on their software development processes and the overall quality of the applications being developed.
Goldman Sachs’ approach to AI implementation goes beyond merely executing models. The firm has created a platform encompassing technical, legal, and compliance assessments to filter out improper content and keep track of all interactions. This comprehensive system ensures seamless integration of artificial intelligence in operations while adhering to regulatory standards and maintaining client confidentiality. Moreover, the platform continuously improves and adapts its algorithms, allowing Goldman Sachs to stay at the forefront of technology and offer its clients the most efficient and secure services.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Google DeepMind; Pexels; Thank you!
UK seizes web3 opportunity simplifying crypto regulations
As Web3 companies increasingly consider leaving the United States due to regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom must simplify its cryptocurrency regulations to attract these businesses. The conservative think tank Policy Exchange recently released a report detailing ten suggestions for improving Web3 regulation in the country. Among the recommendations are reducing liability for token holders in decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) and encouraging the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to adopt alternative Know Your Customer (KYC) methodologies, such as digital identities and blockchain analytics tools. These suggestions aim to position the UK as a hub for Web3 innovation and attract blockchain-based businesses looking for a more conducive regulatory environment.
Streamlining Cryptocurrency Regulations for Innovation
To make it easier for emerging Web3 companies to navigate existing legal frameworks and contribute to the UK’s digital economy growth, the government must streamline cryptocurrency regulations and adopt forward-looking approaches. By making the regulatory landscape clear and straightforward, the UK can create an environment that fosters innovation, growth, and competitiveness in the global fintech industry.
The Policy Exchange report also recommends not weakening self-hosted wallets or treating proof-of-stake (PoS) services as financial services. This approach aims to protect the fundamental principles of decentralization and user autonomy while strongly emphasizing security and regulatory compliance. By doing so, the UK can nurture an environment that encourages innovation and the continued growth of blockchain technology.
Despite recent strict measures by UK authorities, such as His Majesty’s Treasury and the FCA, toward the digital assets sector, the proposed changes in the Policy Exchange report strive to make the UK a more attractive location for Web3 enterprises. By adopting these suggestions, the UK can demonstrate its commitment to fostering innovation in the rapidly evolving blockchain and cryptocurrency industries while ensuring a robust and transparent regulatory environment.
The ongoing uncertainty surrounding cryptocurrency regulations in various countries has prompted Web3 companies to explore alternative jurisdictions with more precise legal frameworks. As the United States grapples with regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom can position itself as a hub for Web3 innovation by simplifying and streamlining its cryptocurrency regulations.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Jonathan Borba; Pexels; Thank you!