Prove it! Why testimonials can drive your on-page conversion

Time to read: 4 minutes

People buy from brands they trust, on sites they trust. Whether we are buying our weekly vegetables, looking for a plumber or planning a holiday success in the online world fundamentally comes down to reputation and trust. Building this ‘social proof’ comes from the reviews, ratings,  testimonials and case studies of happy customers who have had their expectations met, or better still – exceeded!

Whether we are building a website, creating a landing page or producing an email, social proof becomes the fundamental mainstay of our web design process, and usually, the one area where our clients are stumbling around knowing it is important, but not know how to capture testimonials and reviews from happy customers.

(Reviews are a whole topic of their own, so we will leave for another day. This feature focuses on the longer format testimonials that provide some of the proof your visitors will be looking for.)

Are testimonials really that important?

Six facts that are hard to ignore

#1: Customer testimonials have the highest effectiveness rating for content marketing at 89%. (Social Fresh)

#2: 88% of people trust online reviews written by other consumers as much as they trust recommendations from personal contacts. (BrightLocal)

#3: Customer testimonials and case studies are considered the most effective content marketing tactics, identified by 89% and 88%, respectively, of B2B marketers. (2013 B2B Content Marketing Trends Report)

#4: 90% of respondents who recalled reading online reviews claimed that positive online reviews influenced buying decisions (Dimensional Research)

#5: 85% of consumers said they read up to 10 reviews before feeling they can trust a business. (Search Engine Land)

#6: Testimonials are the second highest form of trust content, only preceded by “Recommendations from people I know”. (Nielsen’s Global AdView Pulse report)

With stats like that, I know you’re eager to find out how to get some testimonials for yourself. But before we delve into how to get testimonials, here are a few tips for what separates great testimonials from so-so ones.

Ten essential elements of a great testimonial

  1. It’s from a real person – 99.9% of you don’t need to be told this, but just in case one of you was tempted to write a fake testimonial, (because you heard on some forum it was okay), let me remind you: It’s not okay.
  2. It’s not perfect – The person giving the testimonial doesn’t have to sound like an advertisement or look like a model. They don’t have to say things that perfectly align with your marketing strategy. Your production values don’t have to be Hollywood material. Keep it real to keep it believable.
  3. It’s specific – “I got 20 more leads this month – all of them great opportunities” is actually going to sound more useful information that “My business is booming”.
  4. It’s authentic – Don’t force people to give testimonials. Don’t make them read a script, or do anything they wouldn’t naturally do.
  5. It’s comparative – While you shouldn’t force people to say things, you can give them some helpful guidelines. Asking them to describe what their experience of something was like before and after using your product is a good way to frame a testimonial.
  6. It hasn’t been edited – Just like you don’t want it to sound like an advertisement, you also don’t want to put words into people’s mouths. It’s the easiest way to lose the interest of a great client.  Give them a guide and then let them go for it.
  7. It’s been given with permission – What’s the single best way to take a customer who used to love your brand and turn them into someone who will never trust it again? It would be to use their words without their permission.
  8. It describes benefits, not features – This is ideal and you might need to work on your framing question to stay on the “benefit” story.
  9. Get video testimonials when you can – 1 video testimonial will do the work 10 text-based ones. Just seeing a real person talking will create that emotional connection straight away.
  10. Make sure you display your testimonials in the place where they are going to add the most value – Remember you are telling stories, each piece of information you present brings the visitor one step closer to buying. It’s also a great idea to have testimonials sprinkled through the site when they are in the context of benefits on a specific page.

So now you can see what you are looking to achieve let’s get back to how to actually get great testimonials.

It’s all about the timing! This applies to any testimonial, but with video testimonials, when you ask is especially important. Hitting them up when they are energised, excited and basically blown away by the experience will surely boost your hit rate. If you get them when they are on a high – less-than-perfect production values won’t really matter.

Have a publishing plan! So its all gone well and you’ve got a great 20 seconds of content … know where it is going to go, and how to get it published straight away. Also, think about preparing in advance some thought thank you gestures to follow your brand advocates.

Look for the early signs of a potential testimonial. Any form of positive feedback coming back to you and your team should be waving the flag to say ‘Would this be a good testimonial?’ Nothing bad can come from asking in a sincere and on-brand manner.

Give people a choice about how you will reference them. There are loads of options so be ready to prompt. It could be full name and employer, or first name and suburb or even just initials. Just remember to be flexible.

Make it easy. There are infinite ways to capture feedback, so work out what is the easiest addition to your normal processes. We use a survey tool that can deliver a few simple questions and deliver results into a Slack feed so we can respond immediately.

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