We’ve all seen web sites with obviously fake testimonials. And sometimes even legitimate testimonials can make the product sound too good to be true. But experienced marketers know that the best advocate for your business is a satisfied customer willing to tell the world about it. And when done well, customer testimonials add legitimacy to your website and build trust with prospects who are contemplating buying your product or service.
The Right Way to Use Testimonials
The best testimonials share four important characteristics. They are:
- Concise. Online readers generally won’t take the time to read long-winded comments about your product or your business. Use short, crisp testimonials that say what they need to say in a couple of sentences.
- Credible. Testimonials should contain high, but reasonable, praise. Never use them to make false claims or promises, and don’t just make them up. Readers can tell when a business fabricates its own testimonials.
- Specific. Don’t try to cover everything about your product in one testimonial. Instead, focus on one or two attributes or benefits of using your product or service. Avoid vague or unclear testimonials, no matter how enthusiastic about your company or your product they may be.
- Outcome oriented. Strive for testimonials that describe specific outcomes, such as saving time, lowering costs, solving a problem, or doing things more efficiently. These give prospects a clear idea of what your product can do for them.
Keep in mind that not all testimonials are created equal. If you can get testimonials from high profile clients, by all means use them! These show that you are large enough and legitimate enough to gain the trust and business of well-respected companies.
Even with lower-profile testimonials, try to include the customer’s full name, or at least a company name, as these add to the credibility of the comments. Always get permission from clients to use their testimonials, and be aware that some industries may require you to maintain client privacy.
Placing Your Testimonials
Even the best testimonials won’t do any good if visitors to your site can’t find them. So always put your testimonials where prospects and customers can easily see them. The obvious choice is to place them in close proximity to the description of your product or service. It also helps to put them in areas where you ask customers to take action, such as shopping cart checkouts. A well-placed testimonial can offer the final bit of assurance before someone decides to buy your product or service.
If you have enough credible testimonials, consider creating a separate testimonial section or page. Again, make it easy for readers to find them by including menu headings and “Read More” links attached to the testimonials placed near your product offerings.
Depending on the nature of your product or service, you may want to consider posting audio and/or video testimonials on your website. High-ticket items, complex products or services, and those that require a long sales cycle can often benefit from a compelling video testimonial from a satisfied customer. The same rules apply as with written testimonials: concise, credible, and outcome oriented. In addition, make sure they are professionally produced so they don’t look cheesy.
Cheese is good on pizza, crackers and nachos, not on websites. Follow these guidelines for using testimonials on your website and you’ll build trust with prospects while enhancing the credibility of your product or service.