August 13, 2015
The power of the Internet gives us the ability to connect with thousands of potential buyers and clients around the world.
But in a world where “know, like, and trust” leads to sales, how does one begin to build that rapport with strangers?
The answer is testimonials.
It’s only natural for prospects to question when we toot our own horn. But testimonials have the power to dissolve doubt and create credibility.
So what makes a good testimonial and more importantly how do you get them? Keep reading this article and once you’re done, you’ll have a script you can follow to garner effective testimonials from your customers.
But Why Testimonials?
Clients often ask me if they should bother with testimonials. Understandably there is a healthy amount of skepticism surrounding them where they can often not be trusted to be real. Indeed, there are services that will do a testimonial for you for a small fee.
However, I still feel testimonials are an excellent way to build your credibility if done right. What others say is always more powerful than anything you can say about yourself.
Plus prospective buyers seek out the opinions of others before they buy. That’s one reason for the popularity of online product reviews and sites like YELP.
People love hearing first hand what the experience of trying a product or service is like. Did it work? How good was it? What kind of results did it get? Were you surprised about anything while using it? Would you recommend it to others?
12 Components of a Strong Testimonial
To offset the concern that the testimonials you post on your website could be considered fake, here’s 12 tips on creating persuasive (and believable) testimonials:
- Keep it Real – A testimonial should be real comments from actual customers about what they thought about their buying experience. Fake testimonials can be spotted a mile away. Rather than BUILD trust, it can ruin it.
People can sense truth. So it’s truly important that the testimonial be in the natural language with the original intent of the customer. NEVER hire someone to create a testimonial for you.
- OK to Edit – Sometimes a customer can ramble on during a testimonial. It’s OK to edit a testimonial to shorten it and to correct the spelling and grammar as needed.
Just make sure that the final edited piece preserves the core essence the customer intended. The original conversational flow will create a stronger emotional connection.
- Use A Full Name – Including the first and last name always boosts credibility. In cases where more anonymity is needed, first name and last initials can work. Like Joe S.
- Location – Adding the city that a customer is in makes it more believable as well. Especially if it’s for a local service like accounting or legal work. It helps a prospect to emotionally identify by seeing that individuals near where they live were satisfied with a service.
- Add A Photo – Placing a photo next to the testimonial helps prospects put a face to the name. It deepens the emotional connection and credibility with the message of the testimonial.
- Use Video – Video testimonials have more impact than written ones BUT only if it’s high quality. Doing video for the sake of video won’t boost your sales. Video testimonials are more powerful when what is being said is spoken from the heart than if it’s read.
Sometimes it can take two or three takes to get a good one that really nails it. You can consider posting one feature video testimonial and then include several written ones underneath with: “Here’s what more customers had to say”.
- Don’t Add Live Links – While it’s OK to list the company name of the person giving the testimonial, don’t include a live hyperlink to their website. Having a clickable link is a distraction and will reduce sales conversions.
- Include Both Regular and Expert Testimonials – Prospects do get excited to see big names endorsing a product; however, if you ONLY have celebrity endorsements, it can cause doubt. It creates a question in the customer’s mind if these are “real” endorsements.
While flashy guru testimonials are nice to draw attention, also include several “everyday Joe” kind of testimonials. People want to see that ordinary people like themselves are getting results too.
- Share Specific Results – While comments like “Elaine is an incredible coach” are nice, specific comments that share results achieved are more powerful. For instance if Jane says “working with Elaine as a business coach helped me double my income within 90 days”, it really strikes a chord with potential buyers.
Use measurable terms like percentage increases, money gained, time saved, pounds lost etc. all within a certain time frame.
- Quality Is Better Than Quantity – Sharing 100 testimonials on a product can feel overwhelming and cause someone to lose interest. Instead share a few really compelling testimonials from your biggest champions.
- Emphasize The Positive With Formatting – Use bold or italicized keywords that emphasize measurable results. This helps when people are scanning a page to draw their eye to the most persuasive elements of the testimonial.
- Kick Doubt To The Curb – Every buyer has objections that must be overcome before making a purchase. Do I need this? Will it work? Is it worth the cost? Here’s an example of a testimonial statement that dissolves doubt. “When I first tried “Fitness Magic, I really doubted if it could work for me, but after 30 days I saw 10 lbs come off and it stayed off. I am a believer!”
How To Get Testimonials
What is the best way to get testimonials? Just ask!
One of the best times is after a customer makes a purchase. Amazon.com is an expert at this. After you make a purchase on their site they ask you immediately what you thought of the item you purchased and include a link to make a review.
However, sometimes when you ask a customer if they could write you a testimonial, it makes them draw a blank. Instead try asking for feedback; everyone loves to share their opinions. Then when you get the feedback, ask if you can use it as a testimonial. Tell them it will give them free exposure for their business.
Often you’ll get better testimonials if you prompt customers with pre-defined questions that they can answer and share feedback about. For instance, here’s a sample of what you might want to send them:
Thank you for shopping with us.
I was wondering if you could do me a favour by sharing feedback about your experience of using our product/service? All you need to do is quickly answer these questions and send them back to me:
– What prompted you to try our product?
– What were you surprised about once you tried it?
– How was the experience of using it?
– What specific results did you see as a result of using it?
– How do you feel about the outcome of using this product?
– Would you recommend it to others?
Thanks, I appreciate your input.
Naturally, you will need to modify this to suit your business and the type of experience the customer may have had with your product or service.
Testimonials can be one of the most important tools in your marketing arsenal. You should include them in all your marketing materials from promotional emails to newsletters, product sales pages, brochures, your website, on social media and more.
Let your satisfied customers do the talking for you and you’ll be on the way to greater sales!
Do you use testimonials to help build social credibility?
As the founder, Susan Friesen brings a unique advantage to eVision Media clients by having earned a Bachelor in Business Administration degree with a concentration in Computer Information Systems through the Thompson River's University. Her experience in the Web development industry since 1999 has gained her much insight and knowledge in how to effectively brand a business and then translate that to a user-friendly, search-engine friendly, custom designed website. She is a graduate of the Vancouver Film School multi-media program and also earned several certificates in technology through the University of Victoria and Athabasca University. She won the 2003-2004 Governor General's Bronze Academic Award for achieving the highest academic standing in a diploma-level post secondary program. http://evisionmedia.ca