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The Importance of Testimonials

A lot of websites have customer testimonials that talk about how satisfied they are with the service or product they received. Do they work? Yes, says David Lavinsky of Growthink, who writes that testimonials should be part of the conversion formula along with guarantees, contact information, and trust signs like BBB membership and web-security emblems.

Let your customers help with marketing. Buying is emotional, and solid testimonials give customers validation before they buy.

testimonials

Get the Customer’s Permission

Before you even consider testimonials, scout your faithful fans and see if they are willing to be quoted on your site. Ask them to sign a release form; get one from a reputable source, such as an attorney with whom you’ve done business. Social Triggers’ David Halpern says all testimonials should be reviewed by an attorney before you use them.

If any customers seem really eager to let you use their testimonials online, ask if you can include their photos too.

There are many WordPress plugins that collect and organize customer testimonials, which can help you keep them in a standard format. Just be sure the one you choose includes release language and if it doesn’t, be sure to provide one. Contact people whose testimonials you want to use and ask them to sign the release before you post anything.

Use Real Names

According to the marketing firm Unbounce, anonymous testimonials can backfire. At the very least, use a first name and last initial. And yes, you still need to get the customer to sign a release form.

Full names are the gold standard but there are exceptions where this is inappropriate. The security company, Lifelock, protects people from identity theft, so understandably, long-time customers Gene Z. and Kristina E. are already security-conscious and don’t want their names out there. (Chances are, Lifelock would advise them against this!) But their comments are compelling and the length of time they have used the service impressive. Of course, some customers will be happy to talk about sensitive issues, while others will prefer semi-anonymity.

Testimonials Can Rock Your Sales

One of the goals for online marketing is to include a call to action. Testimonials have proven to help potential customers do just that: fill out the web form, make a phone call or text to get more information.

Writing for Copyblogger, Joanna Wiebe, who has written extensively on such “click triggers,” says testimonials are part of the effort to prove trustworthiness, along with security assurances and guarantees. She helped the customer referral company FriendBuy increase signups by 15 percent when she added testimonials to its landing page.

Testimonials seem to do best on payment pages, the last stop before a sale is finalized:

Wiebe helped increased candy sales at Gumball.com by 20 percent when she added testimonials to the payment page. Content expert Neil Patel says that adding testimonials to his checkout page increased his sales by more than 6 percent. Social Triggers founder Derek Halpern says testimonials helped him earn “hundreds of thousands of dollars in direct revenue.” Most sites, though, have “horrible testimonials.” The perfect testimonial, he says, come from interviewing customers.

Why do they work? Testimonials build trust, says Entrepreneur, and can help potential customers overcome reluctance to give your service or products a try. Because you didn’t write them (just edit them to correct grammar), they stand out from the rest of your content. Typically, testimonials come from people who appreciate the product or service they received and want to help out the vendor or consultant.

Entrepreneur says a good testimonial will include these factors:

  • Describes the benefits in some detail
  • Backs up your own claims
  • Comes from a source potential customers trust (such as a Fortune-listed company)
  • Compares to other named products/services

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