No one likes a braggart. Before the days of Twitter, Yelp, and photo identification, people and businesses relied on their reputations to do business overseas, conduct trade via letters of introduction, and even to run for president. That’s right– the contenders didn’t actually run for office themselves, but rather, relied on their supporters to campaign for them.
While those days are long gone, people still prefer recommendations and feedback from others as opposed to the “self-praise” of a business or politician. There is an understood lack of credibility that accompanies self-promotion. That’s why we recommend using customer testimonials to tell your story.
To that end, here are 13 hints, tips, and tricks for using testimonials.
1. Consider what type of testimonial is most suitable to your business. Quote testimonials from customers are most common, but consider also those from peers, interviews, or organic social media testimonials.
2. Include a testimonial as part of your main image on your home page. If not done right, viewers may disregard landing page testimonials. Do it right to increase the effectiveness of the message on this prime piece of real estate.
3. Build a customer testimonial page to show off what your raving fans have to say about you. You don’t have to choose between having a dedicated page or integrating content; do both! You will reach different customers with either approach, and a dedicated page allows a more detailed reading of the testimonials and evaluation of those that produced them.
4. Make sure you get permission to post testimonials that come from private communications, such as emails. Those produced from public spheres such as Yelp, Google, or Twitter, are probably fair game, but if a customer chooses to express their gratitude in private correspondence, respect them enough to get their approval before posting it to your site.
5. Position testimonials strategically, such as in close proximity to a CTA or other decision points on your site. Whenever you ask a visitor to make a decision, regarding your site, products, or service, it pays to reinforce your message with social proof; using the words of past customers or peers, for example.
6. Italicize or bold the important points of customer testimony. Draw attention to the most relevant parts of the message.
7. An image of the customer next to their testimonial can significantly boost its credibility. Humans are drawn to imagery, especially those of other human faces. It is part of our hard-wiring. Of course, respect privacy, but if you use screenshots from Twitter or link to public posts and social media accounts, it can radically increase the amount of trust.
8. In spaces (such as sidebars) where viewers are accustomed to seeing ads, provide a testimonial, instead. Rather than selling ad space to promote someone else’s business, use it to highlight valuable comments from peers.
9. Consider asking customers for a video testimonial. People can be skeptical, but a video testimonial from an actual customer, builds trust with potential customers. Word to the wise, don’t fake them and don’t use actors.
10. Prioritize testimonials that use vivid descriptions and hard data. Even an enthusiastic recommendation is of little help if it doesn’t contain specifics. Details not only build credibility, but they help others to evaluate the relevancy of a product and/or service.
11. Use a snippet of a detailed testimonial and if viewers are interested, they can click through to read the full client’s success story. Some of the best feedback you get will be in longform, but most customers won’t actually read through the entire testimonial. Instead, select a line or two that stands out and place it in a prominent space. Be sure to link it to the longform version on your dedicated testimonial page.
12. Split test testimonials in different positions and on different pages to gauge the effectiveness of their deployment. Do testimonials increase the through-rate by your CTA? Do you get different results in different areas using different colors, with or without photos? Only split testing can determine that.
12. Create a sustainable and easy-to-use system in order to collect reviews and testimonials. Specifically, don’t ask for “testimonials”, but, rather, honest feedback. You will receive more genuine answers this way.
Keep Them Legit.
I’ll wrap this short list of tips with one more piece of advice: never fake a review or testimonial.
Not only can it be illegal, but your credibility will be destroyed when customers find out, and they always find out. Trust me.
The efficacy of testimonials depend on how they are used. The content, structure, placement, and type of testimonial can significantly change how the viewer receives the message.
Done incorrectly, consumers may see them as burdensome or useless “fluff”. The ideal testimonial is genuine and sincere, personal, and specific.