Testimonials from clients and customers are one of the finest tools a virtual business owner can use to promote a service or product.

Testimonials increase a business owner’s credibility. Period. You can buy your own ad and create your own business card and tell everyone how wonderful your service or product may be but it means so much more if a third party is offering that same message.

A testimonial offers ‘proof’ that what you say about your product or service is really true!

Many business owners have website pages devoted to testimonials while other business owners dot their web pages with quotes from satisfied customers.  Most business owners simply copy in quotes from satisfied customers and include a link back to the clients’ web pages, however, another more interactive means to get the word out is through the use of audio and video testimonials.

We will discuss audio testimonials in today’s post.

I believe that offering both textual and audio testimonials offers a varied experience for the website visitor. While reading a testimonial uses the visual sense; listening to an audio uses another human sense. An audio testimonial allows the listener to hear fluctuations in the voice and if spoken well, an audio can allow the listener to conclude whether the words are pure and honest. Reading a testimonial does not dig quite as deep into the human psyche.  So I recommend using both audio and textual testimonials on your website or blog to allow the listener to have a heightened experience.

Audio testimonials not only help to personalize the individual behind the website but it tends to keep the user parked on a web page much longer than if they were to simply read a text testimonial and then move on.

An audio testimonial is easy to create using Google Voice.  Once the call-in numbers are established, customers simply dial the number and speak into the telephone verbalizing words of praise.  Once recorded in Google Voice, the audio files are then copied, saved and uploaded to a website where they can be heard by anyone who simply clicks the designated blue ‘start button’. Refer to this blog post for how-to set up and use Google Voice to create an audio file.

Once the audio files are created…now is the time to circulate the good news on the social media sites. Placing your audio on your site or blog is wonderful…if someone is perusing your site. But using social media to get the word out will attract many more interested parties.

Facebook: Update the status area with a link to the audio testimonial. Announce your good news to your fans and friends.  In the status area type in, “I am proud to have received an audio testimonial from XYZ. Click on the link to hear my good news!”  Then provide the link where the audio is located.

Twitter: Use similar verbiage as you would for Facebook. You may need to shorten the link to the audio testimonial using an online link shortening program such as bit.ly.

LinkedIn: Update your status and announce to your business associates that you have received an audio testimonial.  Provide the same link back to location of where your audio testimonial is stored.

Quick tips to remember when creating an audio testimonial.

1) Ask your clients early into your relationship to provide an audio testimonial.  Once you have Wow-ed! them with your good work, provide the phone number they can call to leave their good news.  It is important to ask while enthusiasm for working with you is high.

2)  Provide a short outline as to what a client should say in the testimonial.  Have the client state their name, their business name and their relationship with you.  Ask them to provide an example of how you solved a problem for them. An uninteresting example of a testimonial might be, “Janine Gregor is my virtual assistant and her work is wonderful”. A better example of an engaging testimonial might be “Janine Gregor has been my virtual assistant for two years and without her encouragement, I would not have entered the world of social media marketing.” An even better testimonial might be, “Janine Gregor has helped me to grow my customer base by 50%.”

Providing numeric results in a testimonial speaks volumes!

3)  People are busy so offer to write the testimonial for your customer and ask them to call in and just repeat the words into the telephone. Ask permission to use their name and company name along with a photo. Overall, this should take your customer about 2 minutes of their time since most of the work will be done by you!  The results are quite effective.

4) Ask your customer who will be providing the testimonial to include a headshot that can be used alongside the testimonial link. Seeing a real face instead of a company logo will make experience much more personal for the listener.

When posting the audio link on Facebook, include the headshot of the individual using the Facebook link ‘photo’ feature. When you update your status announcing the new audio testimonial the individual’s photo appears alongside the link. Quite effective!!!

5)  Before posting the announcement on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, if you are not already networked with the customers who will be offering the audio testimonial make a point to ‘like’ their pages first then add them to your network and send friend and follow requests.  When the time comes to post the audio testimonials on your social networking pages you can:

Facebook: use the @name within the status update so that your good news appears in the customer’s news feed.

Twitter: use the @twittername in the tweet so that the individual’s followers can receive your tweet

LinkedIn: use the customer’s name in your status update so he/she can view their name if they are in your network

Ask for audio testimonials regularly and update the page where you store them.  Listen to the files when you are having a bad day as surely they can be a great pick-me-up!

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