From a consumer standpoint, the decision on whether or not to purchase a product or service is largely emotional, with the question:
“Will this purchase meet or exceed my needs?” at its core.
We feel more confident choosing a particular product if we know that those before us have done the same and had a good outcome.
This phenomenon is called social proof, and it’s particularly effective when it involves storytelling.
While statistics are effective, they don’t cater to individuals’ emotional sensibilities in the same way as an engaging story.
When trying to relate to your clients, testimonials can be a powerful tool.
What do the people who’ve actually purchased your product or service think?
If consumers have a positive response, that’s great for business – which is why it’s so worth sharing. Placing these consumer responses on your website can help.
Unfortunately, a poorly executed testimonials page on your business’s website can do more harm than good.
3 Tips: What Does a Good Testimonials Page Do?
According to BrightLocal’s 2013 Local Consumer Review Survey, 79 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as they do individual recommendations from friends or family, and 85 percent read online reviews before purchasing from a local business.
With so many consumers seeking out this kind of feedback, it’s foolish not to capitalize on the human desire to know precisely what you’re getting for your money.
A good testimonials page will:
1. Showcase the specific value of your product or service
It’s not enough for a review to say, “This product is great!” Instead, include testimonials that talk about why your product is great.
Tip: When soliciting testimonials, ask specific questions rather than expecting users to provide information unprompted. It’ll help the reviewer not to have to work so hard, which means a more thorough testimonial for you.
Make sure the key benefits are front and center, while additional perks still get a feature. It’s great to know that your granite cleaning product smells fresh and that the bottle doesn’t leak, but make sure to choose reviews that also establish how well it actually cleans granite.
2. Prove you right
Claiming your company can solve a particular pain point is all well and good, but to get an edge on your competitors, you need to substantiate that claim. A solid testimonial will back up your assertions about your product – preferably with tangible facts to back it up.
Tip: Ask yourself, “What should my product do for consumers?” With this question front and center, you can choose the reviews that best answer it. For example, how much money did your client save using your product? How much time?
3. Be relatable
You know your target audience. Your readers should be able to identify with your reviewers – it helps form an emotional connection to your brand.
Tip: When you want to publish a testimonial, include a photo of the reviewer. It’s also a great idea to include relatable identifying information. For example, if you market to pet owners, ask them how many pets they have, and what kinds. If your product is geared toward seniors, ask if you can include their age. These small, simple additions to your page add credibility, so anyone who visits your page knows that your endorsements come from real people.
4 Mistakes to Avoid
Now that we’ve talked about some of the dos for a great testimonials page, let’s talk about some of the don’ts.
- Don’t edit testimonials! It’s OK to proofread for things like spelling errors, but you shouldn’t change the message. It’s definitely not okay to add information you wish the client had included. Content posted on the Internet has a tendency to spread, so if a client sees that you’ve changed their message, they probably won’t be pleased – which is bad for business.
- Don’t invent testimonials. Lying is bad business practice. Plus, it’s more obvious than you might think. Good – and real – testimonials are organic and individual to each respondent. Review sites like Yelp are always on the lookout for fake testimonials and deems as many as 20 percent of reviews suspicious.
- On that note, don’t make your testimonials page too salesy. If a customer produces an original testimonial, it shouldn’t sound anything like your brand’s voice. A review that doesn’t sound candid or unbiased won’t reflect well on your company’s reputation.
- When soliciting reviews, don’t ask for testimonials. Instead, ask for feedback. Consumers are more likely to respond to surveys and specific questions than they are to a request for a testimonial – which, for most, sounds formal and uncomfortable. Make sure consumers know that feedback they give may be used in promotional material for your business.
Case Study #1: Webpage FX
I came across one of WebpageFX’s blog posts on inspiring testimonial pages a while back, so naturally I had to check out theirs. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. The Internet marketing, design, and Web development company has a client testimonials page that features both written and video responses. It starts off by showing, in numbers, just how far-reaching the company’s services are.
By including video, this testimonials page places the clients’ words front and center. There’s no question that these happy customers mean exactly what they say, because their reviews are documented both visually and audibly. Notice how this video testimonial is paired with links to samples and statistics, as well as a bright and visible CTA button to request more information.
Did you know that 100 million Internet users watch videos online every day? Visitors to your site will gravitate toward video reviews. After all, they want to see an honest account of previous customers’ experiences. It’s an excellent tactic for establishing an emotional connection with an audience. When people can see the authentic expressions on someone’s face and hear the excitement in their voice, they’re more likely to trust what that person is saying – which makes video a great way to build trust in your brand.
Case Study #2: BCA Study Abroad
Another site I stumbled across recently as part of research, a study abroad nonprofit, BCA Study Abroad showcases a unique testimonials page that frames its reviews as advice. I was struck by its cleverness and simplicity. The ‘testimonials’ double as resources, and are less obvious endorsements of your brand.
When readers follows region-specific links, they’re taken to a page that showcases the experiences of alumni who participated in a BCA program.
This link features all the dos of a good testimonials page: a positive, specific, verbatim and human reaction to her experience with BCA’s program in India. The reviewer is named, along with the institution where she studied and the period of time she used this service.
What’s unique about these testimonial links is that they not only highlight the experience of the people who participated in these programs, but they also offer the reader a way to interact. BCA solicited reviewers who would be willing to share their experience one-on-one with interested parties. While it’s not necessarily in the nature of all companies to have this option available, it’s certainly a nice touch here.
A testimonials page is a useful tool, but it depends on how it’s structured and presented. Testimonials worth using are personal and genuine, not vague or cliché.
Ultimately, your testimonials should represent your brand – not just your product or service. If you want visitors to trust your brand, they should trust your reviewers.