Testimonials for Your Business — Recipe for a 4x conversion increase

In the memory of Stanley Milgram (1933–1984) — Photo © Alexandra Milgram

Planning

Knowing your products and services

This might seem incredibly basic, but many professionals do not have a basic grasp of their own company’s products. Try this exercise from the book “Content Inc” by Joe Pulizzi:

Try to ask yourself 40 questions directly related to your products or services. This might not be easy. If you can’t ask yourself 40 questions on a subject, you are not even close to being an expert of it.

Make sure you understand your existing customer base and their behavior. Identify your customers, and understand why they bought your product in the first place. Make sure you are covering every single category or type of products and services you’re offering.

Identifying content types

Once you have clearly mapped your existing customers, the next step is to identify what type of content (and which channels) you should use based on where your target audience is most active. Some examples are:

  • YouTube Videos
  • Blog Posts
  • One-Pagers (short, written content pieces)
  • Two Liners (Tweetable, “sticky” quotes)
  • Social Media Posts
  • Printed Materials
  • Conventional Media Materials (TVs, Radios, Newspapers)

Production

Now we have identified our target audience and what type of content we need to produce. Before you produce any content, I strongly suggest you read “Made to Stick” and “Content Inc”. Both of these books have profoundly impacted the way I look at how I create meaningful, attractive content.

Heather Aholt generously built a concrete presentation on the best-known methods of testimonial video production for marketing; feel free to grab your copy here.

Listening to customers in an organized way

Back to Crossover’s initiative for a moment: our goal was to attract more talent from Eastern Europe and Latin America, but we wanted to start by understanding why our existing talent had decided to join Crossover in the first place. To this end, we ran a storytelling contest among our existing partners. We awarded $10K for the most profound story and collected hundreds of real stories about why people had chosen to join Crossover.

  1. What were you doing before joining Crossover? What were you looking for personally or professionally when you decided to join Crossover?
  2. What are you learning at Crossover?
  3. Tell me about a specific project you are working on/have worked on at Crossover that you thought was interesting.
  4. Has Crossover enabled you to do anything personally / professionally that you weren’t able to do before joining Crossover?
  5. What are your goals for the next couple of years at Crossover?
  6. Anything else? (miscellaneous / open-ended…)
Filming in Bucharest and Moscow
Filming in Budapest — Briefing in Lviv — Pizza & Sushi Time in Moscow

Organizing and repurposing raw material

Pre-interviews and filming should be approached with utmost intentionality; collecting the right raw material are critically important. But the real magic begins during post-production.

We’re happy to share our testimonial video transcription and time management framework file; feel free to grab your copy here.
Jozsef C — SVP of Engineering and Operations for Crossover

Distribution

Building ready-to-use testimonial material inventory

After the production stage, we used Google Sheets and Airtable to collect all of our ready-to-use material in one place. We tagged them with keywords and categorized them. If your business has more than one product or service, you may find this practice useful.

Defining the distribution channels

First, we listed customer-facing communication channels;

  1. Homepage — Index of Crossover.com
  2. Social networks — Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, and Glassdoor
  3. Follow-up emails — Emails our candidates (customers) start to receive after they apply to any of our positions
  4. Automated emails — Informative emails being sent by our platform informing customers regarding their application process.
  5. Product-specific landing pages — We had about 50 landing pages for every single product (position) we have to offer.
  6. Index page for social proof material — A homepage for all of the testimonial material you just created, the place where testimonials live. Currently, we have about 9 high-quality video testimonials, 39 long-form one-pager stories, and 167 short-form two-liner stories published.

Integrating social proof material into your business flow

Once we’re done with mapping all the possible integration channels, we started integrating one by one. First, we added the highest quality testimonial material to our website home page.

Homepage of Crossover Website — Enriched with social proof content

Every day, we strive to improve in ways that enrich our teams, our products, our services, and ourselves. Innovation is the fabric of Crossover’s culture. Hear more, directly from our Partners.

We also integrated our messages into the signatures of the emails going out from our candidate experience team, who are working in the front-line of our business engaging with our customers:

Our mission is to connect the most talented professionals in the world with unprecedented access to high-impact, high-paying roles. What is it like to work at Crossover? Hear more, directly from our Partners.

Then we used our two-liners for our product-specific landing pages:

Monitoring and Improvement

After starting distribution, the simplest approach would be running A/B tests, comparing the metric performance of landing pages with social proof content with the ones that don’t have it. Because we have so many landing pages and so many moving parts in our landing pages, we started with a broader approach.

Mastering Google Analytics

After ensuring that we pushed content at every stage and every channel available to Crossover, we created three simple goals on Google Analytics, based on customer (i.e. candidate) behavior in our sales (i.e. application) process:

  1. Application for the role (equivalent to adding a product to a cart for most businesses, or expressing an intent to purchase)
  2. Completing mandatory tests (filling in required information)
  3. Making it to the marketplace (equivalent to purchasing a product for most businesses)
  • Cohort 1 — Customers who saw our testimonials
  • Cohort 2 — Customers who didn’t see our testimonials
Some of the data we’ve used on a daily basis to track distribution performance
  1. Customers engaged with our social proof material experienced a 30% lower bounce rate.
  2. Customers engaged with our social proof material were 3.6 times more likely to apply to our jobs.
  3. Customers engaged with our social proof material were 2.5 times more likely to complete their testing process.
  4. Customers engaged with our social proof material were 4.8 times more likely to successfully complete the testing process and get into the marketplace.
Graph 1 and 2: Week over week behavioral difference of Cohort 1 and Cohort 2 — Graph 3: Conversion deltas between two cohorts

What’s Next?

Crossover is handling up to 100K unique users and tens of thousands of applicants every single week. Our next challenges are to increase the number of customers engaged with our social proof content and push our coverage from 5% to 30% in the Q2 of 2019. The data already indicates that testimonials are highly effective in driving the behavior we want; now, we want to spread their impact.

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Sinan Ata

Sinan Ata

Founder at Exceptionly. Software talent problem solver https://exceptionly.com