Case Studies vs. Testimonials vs. Customer Reviews
Do they work? What to pick?
First, what is the difference? Case studies are actually a qualitative research technique and consist of in-depth, detailed descriptions of a customer situation, the problem and the process by which the problem was addressed. Testimonials can be any type of accolade exclaiming your service or product and may take the form of text, audio or video. Customer reviews are independent customer opinions captured by social media sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor, to name a few. The following chart outlines the differences:
|Case Study||Several pages with analysis and details||More complex, higher investment products and services such as consulting, IT systems, expensive equipment||Analysis with numbers, independent industry analysts|
|Testimonial||Usually paragraph||Any||Customer names and company names (if B2B)|
|Customer Review||Phrases or even “star” ratings||Usually consumer products and services such as restaurants, hotels, personal services||Highly trusted due to independence and mix of positive/negative reviews|
But specifically what should you use, and how, for your website or sales letter? The power of a testimonial, case study or review depends on the following factors:
Fit with Target. Prospects and customers are thinking about themselves – their concerns and burning issues. They need to see themselves in a situation. If they get too much detail they can dismiss the example (“that’s not my industry” or “but I have this product problem”); however if the praise is too general “great service!” it can be seen as insincere.
Trust. Prospects are looking for indicators to ensure they can trust your company, your claims and your experience. Indicators of independence (as noted in the trust column above) can add credibility.
- Timeliness. In our fast past instant world, reviews given more than a year ago are usually dismissed. Keep them fresh and varied.
Has a case study, testimonial or client review brought you business? Share your experience in the comments below.