Earning the trust of new visitors is key to driving more conversions, if someone trusts you, they’re more likely to buy from you. A customer testimonial is one of the most effective types of tool for generating trust. This article is going to give you some tips and examples to help you learn how to use customer testimonials as a social proof tool.
When you started offering a product or service onine, you did it because you though you had something to offer. You trust your products and service – you know that there is something about it that makes it special, a differentiator. I could be the product itself, if you hand pick and curate them for your customers. It could be that your site is easier to navigate or use than others, it could be your desigs – or if you provide a service, you know that you can do it better than others.
On the front page of your website, you likely have marketing copy that boast about your product or service advantages. You lay-out a convincing argument, replete with eye-catching copy, effective shots, and stunning videos.
It’s compelling stuff, but still not enough.
In today’s world, the internet provides anonymity, and as a buyer, you are inheritently cautious with new sellers. So, it’s crucial to turn the focus away from ourselves, the sellers, and onto the buyers, the consumer.
We’ve entered an era where consumers only trust the marketing content created by brands so much. While they will accept the validity of a good value proposition, they want confirmation from someone who they relate to more closely—a fellow customer.
We’ve alk about the importance of customer reviews in this context. A prospect vetting your brand will check your reviews.
You can, however, get a jump on the reviews by placing actionable testimonial content within your site. These are basically consumer voices whispering in your visitors’ ears, saying, “Yes, this is good stuff!”
Testimonials — Should You Use Them?
Most marketers prefer using testimonials; they are the perfect cross between reviews and case studies.
Like reviews, they are customer driven, short and relatively easy to gather. But like case studies, you are generally talking to the person providing the testimonial, so you can work with them to craft the testimonial to your liking. This allows you to provide an honest but specific message or highlight a specific benefit that might not come across in more generic reviews.
In fact, many websites these days collect testimonials to boost their leads. Regardless of the popularity of testimonials, the questions still remain: Do they help? If so, by how much? What will make them most actionable?
Trust is earned with two crucial elements: integrity and effectiveness, both of which demand marketers (you!) put the interest of the consumer first.
Customers today are aware of unsubstantiated and exaggerated claims, and when the quality of information is in question, they’ll look to the quality of the source. As such, it’s far better to have someone else do the bragging on behalf of you—consumers, trade press, partners, etc.
Testimonials are a great social proof tool that offers candid human touch as opposed to marketing jargon. Customer confidence gets a boost whenever they see others like them have used a service or product and have actually benefited.
Here’s why testimonials are a must for websites:
• They are highly relatable: People tend to relate to their peers, and studies show that the more you can relate to someone, the more likely you are to trust them. Use testimonials from an individual who your target audience identifies with. For instance, if you’re selling to pet owners, ask if your consumer can mention what type of pet they have, or show a photo of them with the pet.
• They endorse the product: People want products that bring tangible benefits, and testimonials can showcase how a product worked in the real world.
• They back up your brand claims: If you boast about your brand being great or having the best offers, testimonials can substantiate this by saying how their own experience lived up or even exceeded your claims.
• They offer comparisons: Your customer may have tried several products before they found yours. With testimonials, you can show them how your products set you apart from your competition.
The Basics of Using Testimonials
Social proof notifications capture the attention of your visitors while creating urgency to purchase your products. Similarly, testimonials on websites can be just as effective—that is if done right. If you simply copy-paste a few vague statements from random people, they may seem valueless—this hurts your cause.
The key factor with testimonials is that they need to be credible. People realize that a customer testimonial, unlike a review on some third-party platform, is something you published with intent. When it sounds like a vague re-hashing of someone’s sales pitch, people don’t see it as legitimate.
Below are five essential testimonial tips you should consider.
• Be Specific: Your testimonials should be specific - “These guys are awesome” won’t have much of an impact as “Their social proof software boosted our ‘add to cart’ conversions by 25%”
• Short and Simple: Keep your testimonials short and simple. People won’t read through long blocks of text or watch 5-minute videos. For example, “When I installed ProofFactor’s social proof app on my pet shop, I started showing real user activity on my site and immediately saw that new visitors were more engaged – now I’m selling more than ever.” However, if you want to include more details, consider developing a full case study instead.
• Be Plausible: Testimonial statements should be plausible. For example, “pop up sales notifications helped me earn billions!” is the kind of statement that comes across as fake and will destroy the credibility of your whole site, actually decreasing converions.
• Edit the Testimonial: Inform customers that when they submit their testimonial, it will likely be edited for use as site content, but that you will not alter their opinion or feedback – just edit it for brevity and specificity. We also recommend giving the customer final approval of the testimonial before you publish it – you don’t want to be putting words in their mouth!
• Sound Natural: Everyone has a specific writing style, or “voice” – use the real voice of those providing the testimonial. Don’t over edit it to sound robotic or very formal. Remember, the consumer reading the testimonial has to be able to relate to the person who wrote it, and have a natural sounding writing or “voice” is a key part of that.
How to Get More Testimonials from Your Customers?
To collect more testimonials, you can start by making a list of your best customers. Consider the following:
• The consumers you pick must love what you do. These are your repeat clients. Clients who you delivered excellent results for. You have a good relationship with them.
• You know there’s a specific, detailed result your customers got – ideally it includes concrete data and numbers. You should basically already know what the customer is going to say before they say it – it will help you get you message across and you won’t have to guide the customer much
You may have plenty of satisfied customers, but you don’t want to keep asking for testimonials from those who just “like” you. Choose someone you know can make a specific claim, and only then ask them to do so when they provide you with the testimonial.
Note that there’s a difference between testimonials and case studies. A testimonial is a specific, shorter statement about the benefit your customer derived from your offer. The main purpose of a testimonial is to serve as social proof and create trust.
On the other hand, a case study is a complete story which shows how you helped an individual or business overcome a big problem. It is longer and more detailed. Case studies require more time to develop for both you and your customer. They work well when you need to elaborate on the relationship with the customer and explain more complex solutions.
To get testimonials, you should simply ask your customers – that’s it. If they know and ideally love what you do for them, they’ll gladly work with you on putting the testimonial together. Think about how you communicate with your customer regularly, and ask them that way (likely email). A simple 1 or 2 paragraph email will do. It should include:
- Thanking them for being a great customer
- “The ask”
- Where and how you’re going to use it + what’s in it for them
- An example so they know what to expect.
If they don’t reply the first time you email them, we recommend following-up 2 times, 3 days apart (this is what we do – sometimes ppl miss the emails or want to reply and forget – give them a chance to reply by following up!).
Here’s an example email that we sent. Feel free to use it as a template for your own email:
Subject Line: Hi from Val at ProofFactor – a 6% increase for AdLibertas? A thought + ask
Hope all is well! I was going through our customer list and wanted to thank you for being one of our longest customers! I noticed that since you installed ProofFactor, you’ve seen at 6% increase in email sign-ups for AdLibertas – congrats!
I wanted to ask if you’d be willing to provide a testimonial about how ProofFactor has impacted your conversions? We’ll use it on the front page of our website and we’ll link to you to drive you more visitors to your website too!
Here’s an example testimonial – would you be willing to write something like this?:
“I installed ProofFactor on Walmart.com. We used the “Live Visitor Count” and “Recent User Activity” notifications on our site. I was blown away by the customer response, we saw a 12% increase in conversions in just the first month. And I’m super impressed with ProofFactor’s customer service – Ann at Proof Factor has been helping us tweet the notifications to get even more conversions! I recommend them to my e-commerce friends!”
On screen, testimonials look simple. However, remember that most users aren’t used to writing, at least not for publication. Also, they may feel a little intimidated or assume it’ll be a time-consuming process.
Therefore, try to make it easier for them by providing some useful guidelines or example testimonials indicating what others may have written.
Always try to post a photo, full name, and site address or business name (if applicable). This gives your customer exposure and you more credibility.
Also, think locally, especially if most of your customers are nearby. By assuring readers the testimonial is from a local resident, you’re showing that your business is trustworthy and preferred by the locals.
Publishing Testimonials on Your Site
There are two ways you can use testimonials content on your site, and we recommend doing both!
So, the first is to create a page specifically for testimonials where you have a collection of them together. Add this page in the main navigation. For this type of web page, assemble a series of testimonials which cover the key benefits you offer and create a compelling case for the value provided by your offer.
For instance, this Florida roofing contractor has a series of video testimonials on their page.
Also, this Northern Colorado Gym has an amazing testimonial page that uses before and after photos, Facebook posts, video testimonials, and reviews copied from Google Places. There’s a strong Call-to-Action (CTA) and contact form on their page. Here’s a perfect Facebook testimonial:
The second is to take individual testimonials, then weave them into the content throughout your site. These can display on your homepage, product pages, About Us page, or Contact Us page.
It’s good to have them near CTA or alongside the description or a product/service. For instance, accounting software service FreeAgent utilizes short testimonials as they detail the benefits of their software on the homepage.
This is why we highly recommend using testimonials on the homepage, even if you have a dedicated web page in your main navigation.
An engaging and authentic testimonial is like a golden ticket. So, whenever you receive some good ones, consider using them. Maybe put them in emails, business cards, brochures, or on your marketing materials. This shows off how you’ve helped others transform their lifestyle.
You may even consider making good testimonials as part of your future marketing campaigns. They offer assurance to potential clients as a reliable, unbiased review. Therefore, make sure to collect them as often as possible to keep them fresh and relevant.
Avoid keeping the same old 3/4 quotes sitting on your website until doomsday. Each time you try something new, whether it is a new product or service, consider asking for feedback. Let your customers know they’re in good company.
Remember, you trust in what you’re selling, and you have several fact-filled and appealing testimonials on your website. As a result, your potential consumers will trust in your business and product too.
So, what are you waiting for? Get collecting today!