How Marie Forleo Leverages Testimonials in Her Multi-Million Online Business
Marie Forleo is a fitness/dance instructor turned online entrepreneur. She's the creator of B-School, an 8 weeks online business training program.
Subscriptions to the program are only open once a year, and each time thousands of students invest in her course. This makes B-School a multi-million online business and the program has been going strong for over 5 years now.
Recently, when looking at the website, I noticed she was doing some very smart things with testimonials.
When somebody with that kind of success does something interesting, you pay attention and try to learn... And that's exactly what we'll do in this post.
You'll discover how Marie uses testimonials to achieve different business objectives and how she goes about getting as many, high quality testimonials as possible.
Testimonials to Accomplish Strategic Objectives
Take a look at the homepage of the B-School website.
Because subscriptions for B-School are currently closed the main goal of this page is lead generation.
You can see the 2 opt-in forms on the top and the bottom and the rest of the homepage is almost exclusively about social proof and building trust.
The colorful testimonial slider grabs the attention, but what's even more interesting are the three links above the testimonial slider...
Each one of these links goes to a separate page, full of testimonials.
"Wow, three pages with only testimonials? Isn't that a bit overkill?"
That's what I was thinking too, until I discovered that these three pages had very different objectives...
Testimonial Page 1: What's a reason NOT to buy?
When you go to the first link you'll discover a page full of short testimonials.
What's interesting about this page is how the testimonials are grouped.
They are grouped to answer specific objections somebody might have before investing in B-School.
Rather than tooting her own horn, Marie let's B-School grads answer the questions and diffuse the objections.
You might not trust the creator to give you an honest answer to your objections (in the end they want to sell you something) but if students tell you they had the same objections but the program helped them overcome them you'll listen.
Testimonial Page 2: If She Can Do It, So Can I...
The second link goes to the "In their own words"-page.
The look and feel of this page is completely different from the first testimonial page.
This page is not meant to diffuse specific objections, but to show real and relatable B-Schoolers.
No matter what age or what country you live in, you'll find somebody just like you who's already gone through the program.
It also does a terrific job in painting an attractive "future vision".
This is one thing you can easily forget when writing a sales page:
Your future client is not looking to buy your product or service, they are looking to buy the OUTCOME your product or service will bring.
Marie Forleo understands this very well, she knows her students don't buy B-School to learn about creating an online business. They buy the life an online business allows them to have. For example:
- Having kids and a business: "Before B-School, I thought the birth of my child meant the death of my dreams. I couldn’t see how building a business AND raising a child could coexist."
- Having more confidence and knowing the business is going to succeed: "My new clients valued me and truly appreciated my craft and that was an incredible feeling. Soon money was no longer an issue and I felt free to enjoy life."
- Freedom: "I can work from wherever and on my own terms."
Testimonial Page 3: Once Upon a Time...
Most online content is short form because of the limited attention span we have while browsing a website. But there is a time and a place for long stories.
On this third testimonial page, you'll find longform video and written testimonials that will dive deep into the student's life story.
Marie and her team actually did a worldtour to capture these experiences on camera. Doing this is very expensive, so I'm guessing they wouldn't be doing it if they weren't sure this would bring in more sales.
Be Consistent and Deliberate in Asking for Testimonials
By now, you might be thinking:
"This is cool stuff but I don't have thousands of testimonials like Marie to choose from..."
While it is true that she now has tons of testimonials and can cherry pick the best ones, this didn't happen overnight, nor on accident.
It's the fruit of a well thought out strategy to get as many testimonials as possible because to state it in her own words:
Let's take a look at the emails she sends - consistently - to all B-School grads.
Email 1: Fancy a Bonus?
Marie Forleo is doing something very smart here, she gives a bonus for those who leave a testimonial.
Testimonials are typically the thing everybody plans on doing one-day-maybe.
By giving a special bonus and a specific time limit, she taps into the natural fear of missing out.
She even says it herself "A little incentive never hurts :)"
This tactic is guaranteed to bring in more testimonials.
Email 2: Did You Have Time Yet?
The second email is send out 4 days later. This is simply a reminder about the survey and the bonus.
Email 3: Don't Miss Out!
Finally, 6 days later the third and last email arrives.
This email is the final reminder about the survey, the day before it disappears.
Ask the Right Questions
To be able to get testimonials that address specific objections, show off tangible benefits and tell interesting stories, you'll need to ask the right questions.
Marie Forleo sends her B-School students to a feedback form with 6 questions:
- How did you feel before joining Marie Forleo’s B-School?
- Why did you feel that way?
- How did B-School help you change your business and life?
- What are some big wins that you produced after B-School?
- How do you feel now?
- Describe your life after B-School.
As you can see, these questions invite the student to tell a story. They can't just answer yes or no.
Chances you'll get a good testimonial, or at least a good snippet, will increase dramatically with the right type of questions.
Now It's Your Turn
By now, I'm guessing your head is filled with ideas on how to use testimonials on your website. I know mine is!
The good news is, you can implement all these strategies today in your own business with our all-in-one testimonial plugin: Thrive Ovation.
With Thrive Ovation, you'll be able to:
- Create testimonial capture pages on which you can ask specific questions to gather better testimonials.
- Manage all your testimonials from within the WordPress Dashboard. You'll be able to create snippets with the click of a button.
- Display the testimonials and snippets anywhere on your website. Simply select one of the professionally designed templates and customize them to fit your brand.
So don't let technology be an excuse for not asking and leveraging testimonials.
Now I want to hear from you!
Did you find this analysis interesting? Did you find anything surprising? What technique are you going to implement in your business?
Let us know in the comments below.