How to Effectively Use Testimonials

testimonial

Testimonials. They can do wonders for your business as long as they are used the right way.

The main reason for using them is to help establish credibility. Testimonials give you the opportunity to prove claims about your product or service. The end result is that they can help you convert more of your visitors into customers if they are used correctly.

Before we get into how to use testimonials correctly, let’s review first what not to do.

Don’t create fake testimonials!

The biggest mistake you can make is create fake testimonials. Why? It’s not just because they aren’t believable. It’s because if you get caught, it will ruin your credibility.

You are better off not having any testimonials at all than creating fake ones. And if you truly have a great product or service, sooner or later your customers will start giving you real testimonials.

All right, here is how you can use testimonials effectively:

Know your customers

When I was trying to sell informational marketing products to small businesses, I decided to get a few testimonials from some big names:

Neil has advised TechCrunch for more than two years and been an important part of the growth of the TechCrunch Network by helping us implement SEO best practices. Search engines have grown to be responsible for 1/3 of all TechCrunch traffic, so Neil’s ongoing support is critical to our business.

– Michael Arrington, founder of TechCrunch

Neil’s expertise was instrumental in helping the Cheezburger network to grow from an odd little cat blog to the largest humor network on the Web – serving more than 190 million page-views a month.

- Ben Huh, owner of I Can Has Cheezburger

Neil is a real SEO guru. His knowledge is stellar and he’s truly a standout in an industry cluttered with self-proclaimed experts.

– Alex Algard, founder of White Pages

Do you see what’s wrong with them?

The people who were buying my informational marketing material weren’t able to relate to the larger companies listed above. Yes, it is good to use testimonials from big names, but they have to be in addition to the testimonials from average Joes to match your target audience.

Go web 2.0

This is the new-age web. Your testimonials don’t just have to be text-based anymore. Consider asking your customers for video or audio testimonials. The advantage of using different types of media is that they allow you to leverage channels like YouTube to gain customers.

Don’t forget the basics

What’s the problem with most testimonials? They don’t include the person’s full name, his/her company, location or age. Now, granted, it may not be appropriate to put all that information in the signature of a testimonial, but it will look a lot more realistic than having only “J. Smith” as a caption.

In addition to that, consider adding a picture of your customer next to the testimonial. Nothing beats having a picture of a smiling customer.

Don’t be vague

A good testimonial says something nice about you or your company, but a great one explains the benefits of your product or service. So, instead of just trying to get short testimonials that don’t contain much substance, try to get ones that contain facts and hard data.

If they start becoming too long, you can do two things:

  1. Italicize and bold the important parts – not everyone enjoys reading. Italicizing and bolding will allow skimmers to get the main points without having to read every single word.
  2. Make them a case study – you can always link a short testimonial to a case study. This way, if people are skeptical and want to read more, they can.

Testimonials can be meaningful

The best way to use testimonials is in a meaningful way. You can post small snippets to support your company’s claims.

For example, if you have a paragraph that talks about the durability of the Maytag washer you are selling, put a testimonial supporting that fact nearby. When people see Mary’s testimonial that reads “my Maytag washer is still running strong after 10 years… which is pretty darn good considering that my husband accidentally crashed into it with his car”, it gives a lot of credibility to the washer you are selling.

Location, location, location

Having great testimonials isn’t enough. Depending on where you place them can drastically affect your conversions.

Chances are you’ll end up placing testimonials on your homepage or your sale’s page. But if you place them in multiple locations, you may see an increase in conversions.

For example, with my old Quick Sprout membership program, the check-out page that included a testimonial in the sidebar converted 6.38% better than the check-out page that didn’t include a testimonial.

Try placing your testimonials in different positions and on different pages. Make sure you split test them so that you can figure out if which placements impacted your bottom line.

Conclusion

Testimonials can convert window shoppers into buyers as long as you use them the right way. Don’t just copy what your competition is doing or base your decisions on what I am telling you. Try things out for yourself!

Do you have any other recommendations on how you can use testimonials effectively?

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Comments

  1. Really great article. I like like the explanation with the A/B test. But my biggest question is, how do I get testimonial ?

  2. I’ve always loved the way people use testimonials on sales pages. Thanks for a great post, Neil !

  3. Neil, one thing that I’ve always heard that I didn’t see here was the structure of a testimonial (problems before > purchased your product > this is what it did > how I feel now). I can see how you lose genuineness when you ask someone for a template testimonial. Do you think this is something that’s outdated?

  4. Its funny that you wrote this today. I put a series of testimonials on my site last night. What do you think of them Neil?

  5. The way I ask for my clients testimonials is when i follow up with them to see if they have used the services yet. If they did, I just simply asked them if they were happy, if they are, they’ll be more than happy to allow you to use their testimonials. They love the recognition, I love to share their testimonials, the prospects are delighted when they read or hear the testimonials…..it’s a win win situation!

  6. sell textbooks :

    I tend to ignore testimonials because they all seem so fake. Even if you have a valid testimonial because it has been so miss-used in the past I don’t see them as being credible.

  7. Very good points, especially the part about including the average individual (as compared to the grand poobahs).

    I always like showcasing testimonials graphically as well (ie, framing them with a drop-shadow and the like). It makes them stand out far more effectively.

  8. Your customers will have more power and influence over new prospects than any marketing you could ever pay for. In other words, what people say about your company is worth more than anything you can say about it!

  9. Testimonials posted on LinkedIn profile is the best for me as it has transparency on both giver and receiver that anyone can verify.

  10. The most important thing for me when it comes to testimonials is to use them at problem points.

    Most people just whack them on a testimonials page like you say, but they should be placed at the points where people encounter some friction or might not want to proceed on. The typical ones are when you first show them the price, ask them to check out, itemize the product, etc.

    Great article.

    Tyrant

  11. Software Reviews :

    I think testimonials are a good marketing tool. But sometimes I am a little skeptical about a lot of them especially when they seem to overrate the product!

  12. Excellent advice, testimonials, case studies that include testimonials, quotes placed stratigically in text, video testimonials, LinkedIn, etc. I love LinkedIn, give one, get one, is my mantra. Never ask for one. All kinds of way to encourage folks to give one. Surveys, postcards asking for feedback, are great ways to find people willing to share their positive stories. The best time to ask for a testimonial is immediately after a successful transaction. Always be focused on the process of fostering testimonials. That sets the tone for positive expectations for and from all parties.

  13. Neil,

    This is great. Testimonials are a great way to gain credibility.

    One way to improve them is to coach the testimony givers. This helps with getting more hard data (facts) into the testimonial. Most people don’t know what to talk about so they ramble. If you coach them, you can get more data in each testimonial.

    The video idea for testimonials is great. I hadn’t thought about videos before, but it’s a great way to get a more dynamic video in front of people. I will definitely use this in the future.

    Thanks for the great post.

    Joseph

    • Joseph, do you mean coaching them to always give positive testimonials? I think a testimonial in the end-user’s own words appears more genuine than a testimonials with jargons and words that the reader would need a dictionary to decode. You can always leave out negative testimonials from being published live.

    • I know what you mean… sometimes people don’t know where to begin so its best to ask them question to help along in the process.

  14. I heard FTC were going to require that equal prominence to testimonials be given to a statement saying something like “This (insert your metric here) is the result that the average user of this product can expect” or some other kind of disclaimer like that. Do you know FTC they went ahead with this?

  15. Awesome post Neil. Testimonials are HUGE when growing a business and you’ve made some really great points about how to effectively use them.

    There seem to be a few questions about how to get them and some great feedback from others on how to do that.

    In addition to what was already said (asking for them right after you provide the product/service, coaching customers on how to give testimonials etc) I would say that you might also want to create a “template” for a testimonial. I’m not talking about creating a fake testimonial but actually making it easier for your customers to give you the proper praise that you deserve. Everyone is busy these days. Even if a customer loves the product or service you have provided them, they still have to take valuable time out of their busy schedule to write up a testimonial for you.

    What I do in most cases is call the customer after I have provided the service and everything is complete. I call them and ask them what was the main reason they hired me, what did they like about my service and what were the main benefits they achieved by using my service. Then I ask them if it is ok to write this up as a testimonial for them and send it to them for their approval. They can change it however they like or keep it the same. It’s up to them. But the bottom line is, I just captured the information my prospects want to know and I saved myself and my customer a lot of time.

  16. Video is more engaging and with the technology like Flip Video, there’s no reason why you can’t do a video testimonial from your customer(s).

  17. I’ve seen a lot of ecommerce sites offer a monthly prize for the best review that month. Seems like a good way to get both quality and quantity.

  18. I agree with you Niel, testimonials if used effectively could change the game. Placing it at the right place is again the second most important thing after having testimonials from your clients.

  19. I have a special place for testimonials on my website. Neil or anyone.Can you check them out and tell me what you would do different . Thanks Bill

  20. Fly Kingfisher :

    Yeah.. I think if we need to make a trust with customers then I need to get good testimonials. This is very effective way to get popularity of product and services.

  21. Hi Neal,

    Most important thing as where locate your testimonial, used testimonial right way then people know you. Some time testimonial decides how and where you are best.

    Thanks for sharing best Article

  22. Getting comments like that from Micheal Arrington is already worth millions of dollars. If you have any services page offering SEO services right here, I’m sure you will get some good high profile client base.

  23. I don’t really trust testimonials… I don’t even read them, in exchange I read user reviews on different eCommerce sites, there I believe aren’t lies and are written by real customers.

  24. Personally I just think most people view testimonials with skepticism, UNLESS it it’s from someone with built up with trust, like a celeb or popular online personality.

  25. Testimonials for me is like a bunch of Actors. You dunno if you believe or not. I think its more credible if the testimonials came from a well known celebrity.

  26. We use hard copy “reference letters” as testimonials. We ask ALL our clients for them, and promise that we’ll never copy, reproduce, scan…. to give clients a measure of security. I have them all in a book that I take with me to show clients on sales calls. Most are very impressed.

    We’ve asked for digital testimonials, and people are reluctant to do this. (we’re based in Beijing)

    What about Linked In recommendations though…. is is legal to take “public domain” testimonials and put them onto a website, away from the Linked In page where they were first posted? I have many recommendations, but they aren’t connected to our service. I doubt that clients ever go to my Linked In page to read the recommendations, but I know they look at our website. What’s the convention?

  27. I love how you mention don’t create fake testimonials. I just love when I see the same image and testimonials on different sites. Gotta love that!

  28. Spicejet Booking :

    A number of bloggers have reached out to me with free copies of their products, and I’m usually happy to provide a testimonial.

  29. I currently use Collision Testimonials, which is a free WordPress Plugin that gives you a shortcode to put on a Testimonials page that you create on your blog. The reason I like it is because it allows visitors to easily leave a testimonial which is then submitted to the author of the website for approval. Once approved it automatically gets featured on the testimonial page.

    Does anyone else know of a better testimonial plugin than Collision testimonials for WordPress?

  30. Sometimes a client doesn’t want to show his/her face in any website. Then I try to use their logo company and to link it to their company, giving consistency and more confidence to the testimonial.

    Such a great way to promote your bussiness is something that everybody should be taking advantage of.

  31. Testimonials is a Clever Weapon as you described only need to use smartly to enhance work with proper presentation so it helpful to create good impact on visitors.

  32. Testimonials Our like sweet candies to a baby. People get attracted to it unconditionally.
    Thanks

  33. Really…I didn’t know that testimonial can make such a difference in internet business.I believe it also needs creativity with your language to succeed in this.

  34. wow neil, it sounds great that testimonialscan be used in a meaningful way..i liked your tip that we can post small snippets in our testimonials so that they will support our company’s claim.
    nice tip…

  35. While you make some great points here. I just don’t trust testimonials any more. I had a friend who wanted to try the acia berry stuff and ended up getting duped. She showed me the site she went on and it looked really legit I couldn’t tell off the bat it was a bogus news site until I searched it. People are very easily tricked and people out there are making good money off that fact.

  36. Using real testimonials for a genuine product on the squeeze page is a biggest pre-sell factor. If someone use consumer’s comment and feedback on the sales page it will definitely useful to get more sale.

  37. I am glad you wrote this article. I usually just ignore most testimonials. I guess you would say I have been jaded by past experiences. After reading this I think I may give them a second go around but I think I will always be sort of skeptical.

  38. I’ve often thought about trying to do better than my crappy salary by starting my own business, but what are the chances of success? I tend to be a bit of a coaster the office, perhaps having a stake in the business would give me the motivation I need.
    Any tips for what you need to do/not do in order to be successful.

  39. I as a personal preference, just ignore testimonials unless they are coming from an absolute true blue respected establishment.

  40. Very nice article. It all boils down to moderation and how tastefully something is done. Overdose of anything is likely to turn off readers and possible customers, so in this case as with many other things quantity is yet again > quality.

  41. It has never crossed my mind not to collect the big names, when I started my company this is what I started collecting. I never thought about getting more average ones. But it totally makes sense. Thank you for the great advice.

    • It is always nice to have a few big names to back your company up. However using only big names can make people skeptical and question whether the company just bought it’s testimonials. Throw in a good number of regular names and it will show that not big name people back you up, but also everyday people too.

  42. Interesting post, Neil. I’m a bit skeptical about testimonials, even if they imply famous names. And this is because nowadays many things are done just for money, to the detriment of quality.

  43. Neil, thanks for the great tips! I’ve been sprinkling testimonials throughout my blog and in the description for my upcoming e-book. We’ll see how it works.

    I have to ask, where did you get that great RSS/email subscribe plugin at the bottom of your post?

  44. I read an article recently where a guy in California who runs an auto repair shop has to turn business away because he is overloaded with leads from his Yelp reviews. I think he has about 160+

  45. hey neil,
    great post. that is really effective for me. i liked it very much.

    Thanks.

    Matt

  46. If you don’t have any existing customers, consider giving away your product for free to a couple of influential people who can review it.

  47. Great tips and strategies to start using on even personal blogs. I think the very first image you have used at the beginning of the article would be great when people use that kind of design rather using a boring testimonial

  48. Very informative article. I have a ton of great testimonials from my customers, I just need to find a good location on my web pages to put them.

    I have read in a few different places of where to put them, but your advice here of split testing different locations, makes more sense.

    What I also liked about this post is the realization that not all testimonials are created equal. For example in my business someone writing “I love your seeds” is a good testimonial, but one that reads “I used your seeds in my garden and I am getting near 100% germination rates, where other seeds I have used from other companies did not fair well in the hot sun of Texas”, sounds a whole lot better.

    You get the point. Thanks for the info.

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