People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.
These guiding words by Mark, could not be any more accurate and vital in today’s competitive marketplace. This is especially true for private schools.
Testimonials from current parents of your students are the quickest and most inexpensive way to promote your school in the community and online. Prospective students and parents can rapidly dig them up by speaking or browsing social networking websites like Facebook or seeing them on your Google My Business listing.
As a result, online testimonials are a vital resource that you and your school administrators should use since they will affect and influence prospective students and their parents.
Testimonials vs. Reviews
Merriam-Webster defines a testimonial as a character reference and a statement that testifies to the benefits received by those giving it. It also states that it is “evidence” or written proof of the product. It also defines a testimonial as “a statement testifying to benefits received or a character reference, while a review is defined as “to give a critical evaluation of.” This means that you must deliver an exceptional educational experience for your school.
This begs the question, is there a distinction between a review and a testimonial when people write about their excellent experience with your school?
The short answer is yes! Reviews should be fair and unbiased, and any evidence that they aren’t will make them lose their credibility or, even worse, hurt yours.
Testimonials are what your students and parents say about you, which you desire to be positive, and as such, you get to choose which ones are published or posted. In contrast to reviews, testimonials are naturally biased because they are from delighted clients you have chosen to discuss your institution.
When it comes to a testimonial, you will want to highlight your best ones. However, a word of caution when it comes to influencer-type marketing or sponsored testimonials, you need to tread carefully as it can be a slippery slope in which the credibility of your word-of-mouth marketing can be undermined.
You will, of course, highlight the finest. They may appear to be sponsored advertising, but they are not.
Remember that before enrolling a child in your school, parents want to know if they are making the proper selection.
Therefore, can testimonies be believed, and how reliable are they?
It should go without saying, but yes, your testimonial should be believable and reliable.
Social proof underpins the impact of a parent testimonial. Social proof is a psychological and sociological phenomenon in which people mimic the acts and behavior of others in order to make the "right" decision. It's a form of conformity that validates our choices if we see others making that choice. Social proof is also similar to "herd mentality," in which one's decisions are frequently significantly affected by their peers.
If a prospective parent reads another parent's testimonial about your school on your website, they will likely create a similarly favorable image of the school.
Prospects will often project their children or themselves onto the testimony. They want to see students who are similar to them attend the school and have a great experience.
Bright Local says, "90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business." In addition, users will seek reviews across many different channels, whether online or offline.
79% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends or family. These days, word of mouth can come from outside a consumer’s social circle, with an online review having a ripple outside of a happy (or unhappy!) customer’s peers.
According to Animoto, 56% of people find people's testimonials helpful. To prove this point, WikiJob and VWO performed an A/B test in which they listed three testimonials from their clients and their impact on sales. As a result, they reported an increase in conversions of as much as 34%.
3 Types of Parent Testimonials
Here are three types of parent testimonials that will help you and your school to attract more prospective parents:
A good quote or excerpt of a longer testimonial will go a long way in helping your marketing efforts. In addition, if you can include a picture of the parent, student, or both, it will add additional validity to the quote.
- Depending on the space, the layout you provide, and the style, you may want to consider just a snippet and link to the complete original.
- Make sure their images are bright and represent them in a positive and successful light. In other words, don’t use their personal Facebook profile image with the car selfie.
Capturing, editing, and posting video testimonials of parents can seem like a lot of work, but studies have shown that testimonials far outperform merely still photographs and text. In a 2019 survey, Wyzowl found the following:
- 8 out of 10 people have watched a video testimonial to learn more about a company, product, or service.
- Over 4 out of 10 people say testimonial videos are compelling because they showcase an actual person and help the viewer understand their story.
- 9 out of 10 people say they trust what a person says about a business more than what that business says about itself.
- Nearly 8 out of 10 people who have watched a brand testimonial video say it has convinced them to buy their product or service.
- 2 out of 3 people say they’d be more likely to purchase after watching a testimonial video demonstrating how a business, product, or service had helped someone like them.
- Nearly 4 out of 10 people believe testimonial videos are effective because they’re more authentic than a business’ own pitch.
Thanks to improved internet and streaming technology, videos are quickly becoming a must-have for any website, especially for schools. The ability for parents to observe and listen to other parents talk about the school and their child’s education builds trust and influence.
Social Media Posts
Your website isn’t the only place to use testimonials; you may also leverage parents' testimonials on social media. This can happen in various ways:
- A testimonial provided by a parent will often be shared on their own social media pages. This gives your school added exposure and may be linked back to and/or shared from the school's account.
- Happy parents are probably the most powerful marketing tool you have at your disposal. Encouraging them to leave reviews on your Facebook page and your Google Business Profile listing is huge as it leverages both the parent’s influence and that of the internet, thus creating a win-win for your school.
While we encourage both approaches to posting, do your best to ensure their postings are visible to the public so that everyone may read, appreciate, and share. Promote your school’s website whenever possible.
Location Is Key
Determine beforehand how you will solicit testimonies from your parents. There are no qualms about it; there will be work involved to gather these, but most likely, asking students and parents to write a testimonial is the most successful approach.
You can also utilize online tools and methods to help you gather them quickly and easily.
A survey-type form can be used and promoted through website links, email, and your social media pages. Here are eight things to think about when utilizing parent testimonials on your private school website:
- You can create one page on your school’s website to highlight all your testimonials. Your testimonial page is the perfect place to communicate and tell stories of the numerous benefits that children and parents have experienced.
- If you want to display testimonials on your site, place them front and center for maximum impact. Including a photograph of the parent who provided the testimonial can also be helpful.
- Include testimonials on your landing pages where visitors are asked to fill out a form. Whether prospects are filling out a form to download an e-book or checklist or enrolling for an Open House, worry and skepticism are readily dispelled when they can read a testimonial from a comparable parent who took the step and their child benefited.
- Individual testimonials or snippets may also be placed on the sides or even the header of your website pages, and when clicked, will take you to the main Testimonials page.
- You can have a simple form on your site to direct parents to leave a testimonial. This makes it easy for both you and them.
- Consider adding your current testimonials on the same page, thus allowing parents to see what others have written.
- Ensure you promote both the Testimonials page and the form on your social media pages and/or your email newsletter to parents.
- You can provide text links to your website and the testimonials form when responding to parent emails.
Always remember the value of testimonials: they build trust and credibility, especially when written by parents and students. Unfortunately, testimonials published by your teachers and staff may be misconstrued as a "sales pitch."
Testimonials also help dispel parents' mistrust of your institution since they come from people they can connect with or relate to.
Statistics show that 90% of consumers read online reviews, and positive testimonials can increase conversions. Using convincing parent testimonials on your private school's website and social media pages ensures you leverage one of the most potent marketing tactics.
When prospective parents decide whether to enroll their children, real-life stories and examples build trust through social proof. Knowing what compelling testimonials to highlight will undoubtedly increase your school's chances of enrollment success.
If you need assistance improving your testimonial strategy or other private school marketing efforts, reach out. I offer a free consultation and would be happy to help!