In this, the first of a short series about testimonials, I shall describe sources of testimonials. All these sources have value and drawbacks.
- As you build a regular readership, blog comments can can be an excellent source of feedback. I’ve found it difficult to do this. There are a number of barriers. Relevance of the blog is obviously a reason but the blog also has to be found and there needs to be a relationship between the author and readers. This is normally built up over time. (Whilst occasionally someone starts a thread and the word spreads rapidly, most people report a steady growth as their blog becomes established.) There may be issues about confidence with the technology, can people work out how to comment? And do visitors have time to devote to reading and commenting? Comments once established make a massive difference to a blog, if only because the blog author can respond to them.
- Blog posts – may seem to be an odd thing to include. However, it is possible to run blogs with a team who can converse with one another. Another possibility is guest posts, allowing friends or critics space to develop their ideas.
- It is easy to underestimate emails – they can be an effective way to hold conversations. The technology is better known than blog comments and so emails may encourage more responses. There are three main types of email: broadcasts, sequences and RSS feeds. All of these go to your email list and recipients simply hit reply to make their comment. The disadvantage over blog comments is replies to emails are shared only with the author. If an interesting conversation takes place, the author can report it on their blog or the email can contain a link to a website page with a comments facility.
- Social media – permits followers, friends, etc to comment in various ways. The advantage is that with any application you are likely to be talking to a group distinct from those on your website or in any other social media application. The task is to build a lasting relationship with some of these people and encourage them to read your blog or visit your site.
- Questionnaires – can be circulated to people on your email list. If you have a url for the questionnaire then it can be made available to social media followers as well. For testimonials you really want discursive answers and not tick-boxes. So, you need a few stimulating questions.
- Requests – you can of course simply ask people for testimonials. There are disadvantages as many people need help to respond constructively. A questionnaire or proforma might help but capturing what they really see as a priority may be difficult if they follow a set format.
- Interviews – may be a better way to draw out the real issues. This is the theme I shall follow-up in more detail next time.
How have you gathered helpful information from followers online?
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