How to get case studies and testimonials for your startup — even if you hate asking for feedbackFeatured

Re-frame "asking for feedback" as "process-driven research," and reap the benefits of strong social proof on your website93% of consumers (http://learn.podium.com/rs/841-BRM-380/images/2017-SOOR-Infographic.jpg) say that they take into account online reviews when making a purchasing decision. For B2B, 74% of respondents in this survey (https://www.softwareadvice.com/buyerview/power-of-online-reviews-2014/) looked at online reviews before making a purchase. In this case study (very meta) on VWO, WikiJob got a 34% lift in sales by adding social proof to the landing page.Without multiple reviews on customer review platforms (https://vwo.com/success-stories/wikijob/) or tons of tweets professing love to your awesome product, it's an uphill battle to generate trust in your brand and get new users. Still, for many startups, lining up testimonials and case studies is a task that keeps getting postponed.Raise your hand if thinking of asking for feedback makes you want to hideWhether it's having too many tasks on your plate to find time to run interviews or the anxiety of asking for feedback, ultimately, not adding long-form testimonials or case studies to your startup's website and sales deck is a self-defeating approach.And, strangely enough, in my experience, the answer to both of those challenges is the same — setting up systems and asking the right questions (not the same as self-serving questions) to uncover "opportunities for growth" {{https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_the_power_of_vulnerability}} (both as things that you can do better, and things that can help your business grow faster).By turning case study creation into a process, you can sidestep the "ack I hate feedback" mindset block — and make time for this work, without disrupting your schedule or delaying growth because you're still waiting for that quote approval or for those awesome numbers you really want to put on your homepage.3 steps to gather social proof and create powerful case studiesThe nicest thing about having a system in place is that it breaks a huge, enormous, "how do I even have time to do all this?!" project into manageable steps.Here are the steps you can use to start working on your first case studies.Step 1: set expectations with first users and gather preliminary informationWhether you're onboarding your first customers or opening the doors to beta participants, make sure that your users know in advance that you'd like to (eventually) feature them in a success story. This way, you can set expectations in advance and get the ball rolling earlier.You can ask new users to opt in and offer incentives to do so, or make this a condition for your first users. If you choose the latter approach, make sure you provide a high-level outcome of the process and an overview of the data you'd like to share.This is especially important if your product is helping achieve ROI-related outcomes - and you know you want to feature those numbers later on. Having users opt in (and agree to share the info in a way that they're comfortable with) will save you time on asking and asking and asking for some (any!) KPIs.Step 2: break down the long slog into manageable stepsSometimes you do get amazing results out of the gate (and if that's the case for you — congratulations!). But sometimes, it takes some time to see the impact of your product in your users' businesses. However, in addition to the hard data — the numbers and KPIs — there are also "soft" benefits of your product that can be captured and used earlier.For example, your prospects may have objections or concerns that are related to migrating to your product, implementing it in their business, or growing out of it. This type of feedback is best collected while it's fresh in the minds of your users, and it can be displayed on your website even before those impressive numbers come along.Break down your customer feedback gathering process into 3 steps:Right after onboarding: what was going on in their lives before they found you + the why behind choosing your product + their hesitations and concerns before signing up + their goals and expectations, now that they're working with you.This will help you understand how to shape the narrative for the case study, so that you can address repeating objections and concerns in the case studyRight after achieving a meaningful milestone (or, if there are no specific milestones, after the first check-in): their experience of using the product + the most unexpected benefit of using the product + their favorite feature of the productThese can be used as testimonials on your website — even if the case study is still in the works.Right after the final milestone (or a scheduled check-in): gathering data on KPIs and results, scheduling an interview with team members that'll be the best fit for your target audience (as an authority or as a representative of the audience).Step 3: writing and publishing (finally!)And now you're ready to add case studies to your social proof toolbox! If you're looking for specific tips on how to write case studies, this Elpha post has great tips {{https://elpha.com/posts/p3wme0xb/writing-better-b2b-case-studies}}.But here's a twist: you'll be able to add the past responses from step 2 to the case study, and show how the experience of working with you changed over time and led to amazing results.Once you have approval from your client(s), make sure you find ways to amplify the case study by using it on your website and on social {{https://pinwheeltrans.com/blog/more-oomph-case-studies-for-startups }}.Treat your customer success stories like any other type of content, and invest time and effort in distributing it {{https://www.thecsigroup.com/blog/the-power-of-social-proof-for-brands}}.
brianarani's profile thumbnail
Thank you so much for sharing these great insights Ekaterina!
ekaterinahoward's profile thumbnail
You are very welcome! :)
lirida's profile thumbnail
Thank you so much for these! I'm one of those who wants to hide when it comes to asking for testimonials :)
ekaterinahoward's profile thumbnail
You are very welcome! Hope this post helps :)
joclark's profile thumbnail
Fantastic - thx!
ekaterinahoward's profile thumbnail
:D
mischella's profile thumbnail
This is such a well researched excellent blog! Thank you!
ekaterinahoward's profile thumbnail
Thank you!