Reviews are collected by third parties like Google and Facebook; testimonials are gathered directly by a business itself. You shouldn’t focus on one at the expense of the other. Your search rankings, reputation and business growth are all based on how well you can manage collecting both.
Hungry? Toilet overflowing? Getting sued? It’s unlikely you’ll choose a restaurant, plumber or lawyer without first checking how many positive Google or Facebook reviews they each have. That applies to insurance agents too.
Nearly 95% of shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase (Spiegel Research Center).
This might convince you to focus solely on a reviews-only strategy as the best way to grow and sustain your business. Bad idea. You’re missing out big time because they’re both essential parts of the modern referral strategy.
You’ve got to be an active steward of your online reputation to maintain growth. And you can’t build a positive-review empire without a solid bedrock of testimonials.
I know some people probably use the words “testimonial” and “review” interchangeably, but they’re not the same thing. So, let’s examine the difference between them, then take a look at how they work in tandem:
How testimonials and reviews can work together.
As you can see from the last item in the chart, each does one particular job particularly well: testimonials improve retention; reviews increase leads. How?
Testimonials are about the relationship with existing clients. The audience is the business itself rather than prospective customers. What’s more, the commitment involved in leaving a testimonial means the client is more likely to stay long term.
Research backs this up. Dr. Robert Cialdini, author of Influence, cites one study where health centers were able to reduce missed appointments by 18% “simply by asking the patients rather than the staff to write down appointment details on the future appointment card.”
For every testimonial written, you’ll likely see a boost in retention.
Reviews, on the other hand, are more outward-facing. They’re meant to let a larger audience know if the business is good or bad and why. They attract (or dissuade) potential clients and can be completely inaccurate and unfair due to their anonymity.
Those who write testimonials follow through with word-of-mouth referrals, which includes leaving positive online reviews—if you ask them just right. Activating these MVPs means better SEO and therefore tons of visitors to your site. Once those prospects are converted, you can start the whole ball rolling again because…
Testimonials lead to more positive reviews—and reviews lead to more testimonials. They’re your north and south poles. Planet Growth can’t spin if you only have one.
Let’s play out a scenario.
Someone does a Google search for “insurance agents near me” and finds you. They’re happy with the number and quality of the reviews you have (and they like that you’re writing review responses).
Next, they head over to your site to see if you’re a good fit for them. They read the client testimonials you’ve placed front and center on your site. Boom! It’s the social proof they needed, so they decide to give you a shot. Prospect conversion complete.
Soon it’ll be their turn to leave a testimonial and review and the whole cycle starts again for someone else.