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November 29, 2018 (Updated: March 2, 2020)
Customer stories show other potential customers and people in your industry what your business has to offer. They also highlight your business’s strong points in a more understandable and relatable way than almost any other form of advertising. If you are interested in how customer stories can promote your business and brand, take a look at the key reasons to adopt this marketing strategy.
Customer stories are simply when customers provide their take on your business or share something related to it. It should be seen as an umbrella term, including things like testimonials, blog posts on a customer’s website, social posts, and reviews. It is not a particular type of content, but rather a genre of people sharing opinions on what they buy and use.
While other businesses waste time describing some small, new feature they’re introduced, a business using customer stories keeps their audience centered on what really matters to that brand and why they should be trusted.
So why are customer stories so effective at promoting brands?
Image via Flickr by Danoontjepower
Sometimes it’s difficult to communicate how your business is different. Sure, you can state it outright, but when another customer guarantees that it’s true, social proof dissolves any concern would-be customers might face. Customers are great marketers for their favorite businesses. Through their stories, they will do a great job of outlining their concerns and how your business dealt with them, which will encourage other potential customers who feel the same and haven’t purchased from you yet.
Think about times that you have gone to a sales page for a product or service. Often those pages have a group of testimonial quotes clumped together. Chances are, more than any other part of those pages, you focused on what those people said. Let other people get the same experience from your business.
We live in a hectic world, and it’s easy to forget about even great businesses that did everything right if we aren’t reminded of them. By reaching out to customers and asking for them to share their opinions and experiences, you not only remind them of your brand but also let them know that you care about what they have to say. Naturally, customers feel more loyal to businesses that treat them like actual people who should be heard.
The best thing about customer loyalty is that it builds upon itself and becomes grassroots support. Once you’ve used customer stories and encouraged them among your followers, this will form stronger impressions than what your competition can manage. In turn, any future requests, such as checking out a sale, will give yield better results when your loyal customers share what you post and spread your message by word of mouth.
Keep in mind that customer stories don’t just have to be about why they’re happy with your business. For example, a gym could post a video made by a happy customer that deals with how they stood up to bullying and got more self-respect, ending with a small mention of their membership at the gym. Even though it might seem tangentially related, exercise meshes naturally with self-improvement, positivity, and overcoming challenges, so other customers will find the story authentic and inspiring.
With so many products being pushed in front of our eyes every day, people are accustomed to being skeptical and cynical. Everyone is busy, so we don’t have the time to consider most of the marketing they see. That means there is a “yeah right, prove it” attitude that you’ll need to climb over in your lead pages, social media, and other content. By far, the most powerful and efficient way to do that is through customer stories.
Let’s say you receive an email about a course on making passive income, and it’s titled “How the X Method Can Help You Retire Early With Passive Income.” This is a perfectly fine headline for an email, but because it’s directed straight at the recipient, it triggers cynicism. If the email instead said “Meet Jill and Learn How She Retired Early With Passive Income,” suddenly the email is more interesting. Jill’s story of how the product did work for her is more solid and impressive that the claim that it could work for you.
As an extra tip, note that in the example, we actually removed the mention of the course being sold. If you have customer stories you want to use outside of your website and other clearly branded places, present them just as interesting stories, without throwing what you sell into the title. “How This 70-Year-Old Lost 100 Pounds” is interesting and will draw viewers, while “How This 70-Year-Old Lost 100 Pounds With Product X” dredges up the cynical mindset again. Put the story first, and reveal the product naturally in the content itself.
Because customer stories aren’t a singular thing to ask of your loyal customers, they become a lot easier to ask for. Imagine a business that wants to get more attention. They decide that what matters most is Google reviews. Thus, whenever they hear from a happy customer, they encourage them to post a review. This is all well and good, and a conventional strategy, but wouldn’t the results be better if that business encouraged them to post however they like? This way, someone who doesn’t know how to post a Google business review has no resistance.
Offer suggestions beyond a standard Google or Yelp review. Encourage customers to post on social media, email you a testimonial, or tell their story any other way they’d like. They’ll do whatever is easiest for them, and you’ll get far more results spread across multiple venues. Treat customer stories in general as the thing that matters, rather than pushing for any particular form. It might take a little more time to rack up one specific type, but the end result will look more natural and reach more people organically.
Just like influencers, customers will convince others whether your brand is legitimate and your product or service is valuable. The key difference, however, is that influencer marketing takes quite a bit of time and effort, while any business with regular new customers can encourage them to share their stories. Any business not employing customer stories as part of their online marketing is missing out on a major advantage, so if you haven’t tried it yet, reach out to your loyal buyers soon.
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