We think we are independent thinkers and unique individuals, but we have the need to fit and belong. We look at others how they behave and what they say. That’s where testimonials come in.
We’ve all heard about testimonial marketing. The examples we have seen frequently are landing page testimonials and testimonials by famous people. We have also heard that writing testimonials is good for your business. But why are testimonials important? Continue reading to find out all about testimonials and how to use them for your business!
Short intro - Social proof & testimonials
Canned laughter in TV shows - a simple example of social proof. You can say you hate it, but the study shows an amazing effect. Audience actually laughs longer and more often. They also rate the material as funnier. Same is true when you’re surrounded by people who are laughing.
But social proof is stronger than that. In the study mentioned in Influence by Cialdini, they conducted a research with children who were afraid of dogs. Those children were then exposed to watching other children play with the dogs. Of those children, 67% of them weren’t afraid of dogs afterwards.
Interesting to note, it wasn’t necessary to watch the children play with dogs live. Video clips of other kids playing had the same effect.
So, how does that translate to testimonials? Keep reading to find out about the importance of testimonials! If you want to have a persuasive website, you’ll need to include this type of social proof.
First, in short, what are testimonials? An official testimonial definition: a statement about the character or qualities of someone or something. In short, they’re just very persuasive reviews.
Are testimonial pages necessary on a website? Depends on what the objective of your website is, but as a rule - YES, they are important.
In this article you will also learn how to write a testimonial for a business and about a person. But also, how to write a testimonial for a friend.
Get ready to learn about the power of testimonials!
Purpose & goals of testimonials
What is the goal of a testimonial anyway? The goal is to build trust in your prospects. People usually have fears, uncertainties and doubts (FUD-s in short).
Testimonials are a persuasive technique used to remove friction in buyers' subconsciousness. The importance of testimonials and its purpose is to make the buying process easier for the customer.
Numerous studies show that we trust complete strangers when we have to make certain decisions. Especially if we are uncertain and we know nothing of the product or service we’re buying. In that case, we tend to trust anybody who is saying anything even remotely relevant.
Data from 2 relevant studies:
- 70% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust their friends and family.
- 78% of consumers in the United States read reviews before making a purchase decision.
That’s the answer to the “Why use testimonials”. You can’t afford not to use them.
The pros and cons of using testimonials
You’re thinking about using testimonial statements to make your website more persuasive. All said so far goes in favor of using testimonials. But are there any bad sides of using testimonials? There aren’t really any cons of using testimonials as a technique of persuasion. If done right that is.
There are just two risks of using testimonials:
- Backlash if you are faking the customer reviews and are caught.
- In case you anger a customer (and stubbornly not apologize), they could gather their friends and swarm you with negative reviews.
But if you are putting the customer first, you shouldn’t really have any bad consequences for using testimonials.
- Don’t fake your reviews. Make sure they are genuine.
- Make sure you apologize to the customer as soon as possible if you get a negative review (or ideally before they post a review). Apologize even if you are right and your customer is wrong.
Testimonials and web design
Testimonials are an important element you can put on a website for business. Deciding on the form they will have is a job for web designers as they should know more about user behavior. The first step is to add them without delay, as your business could greatly benefit from them. In the case of testimonials, done is better than perfect.
Adding testimonials to websites really works! For WikiJob, it increased conversion by 34%. Even though they didn't really apply great web design for testimonials. Their testimonials look pretty minimalist, but they do work!
In this section, we’ll find out:
- How to organize customer testimonials
- How many testimonials to include on website
- Where to put testimonials on website
- How to add testimonials to a website
How to organize customer testimonials
Once you have the testimonial statements from your satisfied customers, it’s time to organize them a bit. As is the example with BrightLocal - a local marketing platform. They did a nice job in organizing customer testimonials.
They have decided to show the 3 most prominent testimonials at the same time. Included are: picture, quote, name, company and title. They also did a smart thing with the button below the testimonials. Clicking the button leads to the testimonial page which features different types of social proof. Keep reading to find out about the explanation for the testimonial page with examples!
You can add reviews to websites using many different types of designs. Like with MediaToolkit. They designed testimonials as a slider.
Their testimonial section using the slider switches automatically between individual reviews every couple seconds. A little too fast if you ask me. I’d switch it over to manual. Or leave it on automatic, but if somebody interacts with the buttons below, make it switch to manual. As people want to have the time and control to read those reviews.
There are many different ways to organize the testimonials. As we have seen, the 3 part testimonial does the job. So does the one with the slider. To help us answer that question, we need to find out how many to include and where to put them.
How many testimonials to include on website
There isn’t a rule for the number of testimonials you should have. There is a rule however to go for quality over quantity. It’s better to have fewer testimonials, but to make them more impactful, believable and persuasive. That means adding the picture of the customer, their name, job title and preferably contact information. That also means they should be genuine. To give you a range, you should have somewhere between 3 and 6 testimonials.
How long should a testimonial be
It depends on the form of testimonial. And the form depends on the product or service you’re selling. Usually, the more expensive the product you’re selling, the more persuasive you’ll need to be (i.e. using a longer testimonial).
In the case of a cheaper product, a couple testimonials with a paragraph for each one is usually long enough. Around 50-100 words. But if you’re selling an expensive product, it would be wise to make a longer testimonial page with elaborate case studies and user stories. Around 200-500 words. But it’s important to connect those to the other parts of your website and use it in the appropriate stage of the buyer's journey.
Nothing sells as good as decent storytelling! Add a narrative and improve how much people remember the facts by up to 22 times. It’s a bit hyperbolic and depends on the context, but it proves a point.
Where to put testimonials on website (Testimonial page vs. testimonial section)
Testimonials usually have two places where they can be:
- Dedicated testimonial page
- Testimonial section or module at an existing page (usually a landing page testimonial)
Testimonials pages are not necessary on a website. If you’re a strong enough brand and doing proper inbound marketing. Because in that case, word of mouth is doing the majority of the work. But testimonials are a great persuasive technique you can use to piggyback off of.
Both BrightLocal and Mediatoolkit use both types of testimonials. The module type of testimonial is used at the homepage. For BrightLocal, you can find the other type of testimonial (dedicated testimonial pages with standalone URL) at this URL. It has the complex form of providing more individual testimonials, case studies and list of companies which use their service.
If dedicated testimonial pages are not necessary on a website, what to put on a website? There are multiple ways to add reviews to a website. Examples are testimonial modules with a few customer reviews (like examples from BrightLocal or Mediatoolkit). They can include additional information and pictures. But they can also be simple stories. In any case, some kind of testimonial on a website is preferred.
How to add testimonials to a website?
If you have a website builder, you can easily add testimonials to your website. It’s like building lego blocks. However, in most cases, the developer will have to add a testimonial section for you. Same is true for building and designing a dedicated testimonial page. Somebody with designer and front-end skills will have to help you.
You do have some options to do everything yourself if you’re using open source CMS like WordPress. If you are annoyed with limited capabilities in editing your website by yourself, you might want to consider website redesign or refresh.
You want to use the power of testimonials and really learn how to use testimonials? You’ll need to learn about testimonial persuasion.
To make your reviews more persuasive, you’ll have to conquer the skill of writing a testimonial.
In this chapter, you’ll find out:
- How to write a testimonial
- What do you write in a testimonial
- Differences between writing for your website and social testimonials
Continue reading and learn more about the psychology aspect of testimonials and the strength of social proof.
How to write & what do you write in a testimonial
If you want to know what to write in a testimonial, first you need to understand your own business and your customers.
4 steps for how to write a good testimonial:
1. Human biases & psychology
First step in learning how to write testimonials is learning about human psychology. Social proof works best with the conditions of uncertainty and similarity. Also, the number of people providing social proof is important.
This describes the situation when we are unsure of ourselves, or the situation is unclear. In those conditions, we are most likely to accept the actions of others as correct.
- Similarity effect
Social proof is stronger when we are observing the behavior of people just like us. In one study, people were being observed if they would return a lost wallet. In the wallet, there was a photograph of the owner. The results? When the people who found the wallet thought they were similar to the owner, 70% people returned the wallet. When not, then only 33% returned the wallet.
- Number of people
The greater the number of people who find the idea correct, the more the idea will be correct.
Similarity is not just about the mutual physical appearance. But also about the background story of the customer. Using a buyer persona in making the testimonial is important. Try making it as similar to your target customer as you can. If your ideal customer is a 40 year old male entrepreneur owning a small business, perhaps that’s the person whose identity should be associated with a testimonial.
2. More realistic & genuine
If people think your customer reviews are fake, that could do you more harm than good. How to make your testimonials appear more genuine?
- Real people
Use real people in your testimonials! To make that appearance, use their photograph, full name, company name and job title.
- Mix of positive and negative reviews
In the study, when there were only positive reviews, 30% of visitors had suspicions the reviews were fake. But when there was a mix of positive and negative reviews, 68% of visitors actually trusted the reviews more. Don’t be afraid of negative reviews. Just don’t let them go out of control.
3. Unique Value Proposition (UVP) & pain points.
Writing good testimonials means using UVP-s and pain points. Your product or service reviews should include characteristics of your business which make you unique. They should also include a solution to the biggest problems of your customers. Mailchimp did this well.
Mailchimp is focusing on communicating how it helps with automation (saving time) and conversions (making money).
Also, if you want to make great reviews, you need to communicate different UVP-s and pain points with different testimonials.
Testimonials are more powerful if using narratives and storytelling. Tell the people about a scenario in which one of your customers had a problem, and you helped them to solve it. Describe that in as much detail as needed in your customer review.
It’s an especially effective way to write a testimonial for a business or about a person. Those usually require more space and more images to really tell the story in a meaningful way. Using testimonial pages is perfect as they have enough space to tell the story in a very descriptive way.
Using emotions while telling a story has a very powerful effect as well. You can find out more in the emotional persuasion guide.
Social testimonials (Google, Facebook etc.)
Writing a Google and Facebook review is very powerful because those platforms are reliable. Prospects are 71% more likely to purchase based on social media referrals.
They make completing two of the steps for writing a good review easier: making the review more realistic and genuine. Because they already feature the image and name of the customer. They also have the power of numbers. When compared to manually adding the testimonials to your website, social testimonials have unlimited number of reviews that can be left.
How to write a good Google or Facebook review? Just follow the advice already talked about above for writing testimonials. It's that simple!
How to get testimonials from clients
It’s easy if you're a recognized brand and have awesome customer service or product. You will naturally get testimonials for your website or social networks. But in the real world, you will probably have to make some requests for testimonials from your clients yourself.
Below: how to get client testimonials and what questions to ask your clients to make it easier.
How to ask for a testimonial
It’s best to ask the people who love you or your brand for reviews. Your most loyal customers and clients. They are people who are your brand ambassadors and they’d be happy to talk about you. They also have the lowest probability of saying “no” when you ask them for a testimonial.
What are your options for asking for a testimonial? You can:
- Call your customer to ask for a review
- Send a letter or an email
What to say & the tips how to approach asking for reviews:
- Meaning: Explain how it means a lot to you and your business. Be grateful.
- Time: Explain how it’s very short, and won’t take much of their time.
- Examples: Provide them with the examples of how it’s already been done.
- Timing: Ask your customers right after they get an awesome experience using your product or service.
- Deadline: Set a “gentle” deadline. Ask them to fill it out in a set amount of days. The urgency will increase the likelihood of them writing the review.
- More permission: After they write the review, they’re invested a bit more. Ask them if it’s okay to use their name and photograph.
- Help them: If you’re asking them to make a social testimonial (ex. Via Facebook or Google reviews), send them an exact link so they don't have to search for it.
- Be relaxed: If they don’t write you a testimonial, don’t keep asking them and be annoying. There are other people who will fill it out.
You might also offer some incentives or discounts. But usually, happy customers will gladly give you their opinion for free.
Additional tip: If you give your customers some questions to answer, it might be easier for them. Be sure to point out it’s not necessary to answer those questions exactly. They are just for inspiration. For them to get an idea what to write about.
Also, it’s better if they write more than less. You can always make it shorter and only use the parts you want. It’s not necessary to put the entire testimonial on your website.
And now for the questions to ask your clients.
Testimonial questions for clients & customers
Try keeping it simple, not to overwhelm your customer. Up to 3 question should capture the essence of customer experience:
- Would you recommend my product to a friend? Why?
- What changed after you bought and used our product?
- What is the best thing about our product?
There is an added benefit of asking certain questions like “Would you recommend this product?”. When a person replies positively to that question, it invokes a principle of Commitment and consistency. In the context of websites, if we write a positive review, we will then want to stay consistent (as said in book Neuro web design). That means we will take more action to interact with the site, the company, and the organization. In other words, we will buy more and actually recommend the product/service to more friends.
When that statement is public and in written, the effect is even stronger.
Testimonials are not perfect and they are not fair. But they do work. They correctly predict behaviors of others (using collective biases). If you’re a small business owner who is thinking of using a specific service, chances are that reading a testimonial from a similar person will give you a correct prediction of your satisfaction if you were to use that service.
In order to build your brand and have a persuasive website, you need to use testimonial marketing! The importance of testimonials has been highlighted in this blog post.
So get to it, and start writing those testimonials for your website right away. Improve the trust of your customers and get to more sales with this easy method.