The Power of Testimonials

What other people say about your products or services can help build your sales or could just as easily send potential customers to a competitor. Encouraging people to post positive reviews and provide testimonials takes effort and resources, but it’s well worth your time. According to a 2013 survey by Bright Local, more than 80% of consumers use online reviews to evaluate a business and this behaviour has been increasing sharply over the past several years. Testimonials build your visibility, engage new audiences and ultimately increase your website’s conversion rate.

So, what makes a great testimonial?

Authenticity

When real people share their experience others will often listen. Yet, in a recent survey by Bazaarvoice, 1 out of 2 people feel that at least one of the reviews that they read online was a fake. This is well worth considering because fake testimonials that seem promotional and insincere can lead to a loss of credibility and inhibit sales. Maintaining your authenticity in reviews is a key part of managing your online reputation.

Credibility

The more available information about the author of a review or testimonial, the more credible it will be to your audience. Consider a review by “anonymous” versus a review containing the person’s full name, job title, company name, location and head shot. Which would you be more likely to believe? Don’t forget that credibility can also be established based on the reviewer’s reputation if they are from a well-known company, or have a recognizable name that others already trust.

Reverse Testimonials are Powerful

Consumers ideally want a quality product or service at a fair price. We know that not every business delivers those results. So, it’s reasonable to expect a little healthy scepticism as customers begin their buying journey for a product or service. Testimonials that acknowledge a specific doubt that a customer may have, and then share how the doubt was overcome reassure other potential customers that they too will have a positive experience. This is called a “reverse testimonial”.

Consider the following comments from a dental patient… “I was so afraid that the treatment for my chipped tooth was going to hurt that I hung up the phone four times before I actually scheduled my appointment. I can’t believe how easy and pain free the entire procedure was. I actually left with a huge smile on my face.”

How to Get Testimonials

The best method of getting testimonials will vary a lot on your business’ specific product or service. But one thing is for sure; if you don’t ask customers for testimonials, it’s likely you won’t get them.

The simplest way is to select a number of happy clients and email or call them asking them if they would be willing to write a testimonial. Some will and some won’t. They key here is to make it as easy for them as possible. I have found that when you say that they only need to write a sentence or two you will get a much higher return rate. And they will often write more anyway.

Another good strategy is to have your staff alert to customers who have recently had a great experience. Oftentimes a client will voluntarily email a sincere thank you to one of your staff and that is a great opportunity to request a testimonial.

Testimonials Drive Conversions

Once you have successfully generated great testimonials you need to make sure that your website visitors see them. It’s of limited value if people can’t find your testimonials. It’s important to have a testimonials page on your website, but even more importantly is adding testimonials clearly on every page. Your testimonials are going to increase website conversions and sales so it’s important that they are very visible.

Adding quality testimonials on your website is like having a 3rd party endorsement of your products and services. A 2013 study on Search Engine Land reported that more than 90% of customers use online reviews as part of their purchase decision making, and 79% trust online reviews. Given the power of testimonials to establish trust it’s pretty easy to understand why generating positive testimonials needs to be a key part of your marketing efforts.

For more information on the key elements of a great website check out this article: The 11 Essentials of a Successful Website Design.

Ian-MillsOver the last 8 years Ian has founded two companies and helped thousands of business owners start theirs. He is the Managing Director of Magicdust, a Sydney website design company that has created over 7000 websites for small businesses since 2006 and in 2011 was the 76th fastest growing business in Australia.
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