Research from the FCA has found that nearly one in four people trusted investment providers more if they displayed online testimonials. Here’s how to improve testimonials.
That’s good and bad news.
First the good; it shows the importance of including testimonials (and wider social proof) in your marketing. And the bad; it’s unfortunately also a trick being adopted by scammers, who the FCA warned, create “highly professional-looking” websites including reviews designed to dupe investors.
This creates a problem for bona fide advisers and planners. Social proof (testimonials, reviews and so on) are hugely useful to confirm the great job you do for your clients. However, how can advisers and planners build confidence and elevate their social proof above that used by those with nefarious intentions.
1. Avoid (where possible) anonymous testimonials
We’ve said this before. However, in light of the FCA’s intervention, it’s more important than ever to attribute testimonials. Ideally you will display:
- Your client’s name (clients are rightly wary of online fraud and may prefer to use only their first or last name; that’s fine)
- Their general location (this might have an ancillary SEO benefit too)
We also recommend asking your clients if you can include their image. Some will agree, others won’t. But you don’t know until you ask.
Naturally, you should also keep a record of the permission given by the client to use their testimonial.
2. Show longevity
Scammers won’t usually hang around long enough to see the fallout from their actions. On the other hand, you probably have clients you’ve worked with for years, perhaps even decades.
We now recommend including the date someone first became a client alongside their testimonial. It’s tempting to only include testimonials from new clients. That’s fine, but only goes so far. A testimonial from someone who has been a client for many years is significantly more powerful. It shows the long-term benefit of working with you.
That’s something the scammers will never be able to do.
3. Add prominent links to the FCA Register and explain why you are doing that
The other thing scammers can’t do is confirm they are authorised and regulated by the FCA.
We therefore always recommend including prominent links to your firm’s page on the FCA Register. And, while they still appear (hopefully the FCA change their mind on the ludicrous decision to remove these) your individual page.
In our view though you need to go further, by explaining why the link has been added and highlighting the dangers of financial scams.
We’ve spoken to some advisers and planners who are nervous about including what they perceive to be a negative message on their website. We, (politely and respectfully of course) disagree. Explaining how to spot a scam and the importance of checking the register not only helps disseminate an important message, it shows you have the best interests of consumers at heart.
4. Add your Statement of Professional Standing
Adding your SPS to your website achieves much the same effect as a link to the FCA register; it separates you from the scammers and demonstrates to a visitor that you hold the required qualifications and undertake the necessary CPD.
We recommend including it on the site for each adviser, just remember to ensure your latest SPS is displayed!
5. Consider video
Short films of existing clients, who’ve been with you for years and benefited from your advice over the long term, make an excellent addition to written testimonials.
Video is proven to be highly effective in engaging visitors. We also recommend including transcripts of what’s said for those who are hard of hearing, or who don’t want to play the video; perhaps because they are visiting your site at work.
6. Use a recognised platform for collating your reviews
As an alternative to simply asking clients for testimonials you could use a platform such as Google, Trustpilot or Facebook to collect them.
These platforms have several advantages. However, they are not specific to financial advice or planning. The obvious answer therefore is to use VouchedFor as a platform to collate reviews.
Their verification process is robust and significantly more rigorous than simply sending an email to verify the identity of the reviewer. The adviser must confirm the reviewer is a client before seeing the content of the review (stopping them only accepting the positive reviews). Furthermore, if the adviser fails to agree the reviewer is a client, VouchedFor will take steps to confirm the authenticity of the review. If the individual is found to be a client, the review will go live.
VouchedFor also uses a fraud algorithm, including factors such as IP addresses, the frequency of reviews, the email addresses used and the correlation between the number of review invites sent out and the number of reviews received.
Crucially, these checks mean that the consumer can be confident the reviews on VouchedFor are genuine.
For new users we have always recommended that the free subscription is used to collate reviews, with one of the paid for options (Verified and Unlimited, both £45 plus VAT per month) being added at a later stage.
In addition to generating new enquiries, both the Verified and Unlimited options allow use of various ‘reputational tools’, including:
- The rating review widget for use on your website
- Email signatures which include your rating and review count
- A PDF of reviews for use with clients
- Certificates of Excellence
Time to move your social proof up a notch
Sure, scammers could do some of these things. But not all; they aren’t FCA regulated, so can’t include a link to the register. Nor can they get their reviews independently audited by a site such as VouchedFor.
Social proof is becoming an ever more important part of a successful marketing strategy. The proliferation of financial scams, and the regulator’s focus on the area, simply means we need to reconsider how we provide that all important proof.
The prize for successfully doing so is a win, win win:
- More people are alerted to the issues posed by scammers
- You will see an increase in new enquiries from all sources, including recommendations and referrals (as the proof will be evident when people referred to you do their due diligence)
- Your testimonials and social proof probably needed updating anyway!
As always, we hope this blog helps you improve your marketing. If you have any questions, we would be happy to answer them. Please drop me a line to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0115 815 7770
The Yardstick DIY corner
Developing your ‘social proof’ is a project in itself. As always, it’s better to do fewer things well, than more averagely or never!
Therefore, we recommend to improve testimonials, you should:
- Review existing testimonials, adding in (once you have their permission of course) their name, location and date they first became a client
- Adding new testimonials (our newly updated testimonial request template can help you with this. Click here to download it)
- Deciding whether you will approach clients directly for testimonials (if you do here’s our template to help you) or you will use a platform such as VouchedFor
- Considering whether video testimonials are a viable option for you right now
- Add links from your website to the FCA register and your SPS, explaining why they are there