A mainstay of positive marketing online is the customer testimonial. It might sound like something easy to plonk in, but a badly presented testimonial can be as bad as none at all. Here are some pointers about what makes a good testimonial, and how you can use them.

Why use testimonials?

A testimonial is like getting a recommendation from a someone about a business.     Presented well, testimonials add value to your website. They:

  • increase trust, because you obviously have happy customers
  • help the sales process, on the basis of increased trust
  • reassure customers that they’re making the right decision.

You should never write fake testimonials, though. If they are badly done, or are obviously fake, then that is like making yourself look bigger than you are. That sort of thing tends to drive customers away.

What makes a good testimonial

Good testimonials will look like real feedback from your customers. They will sound authentic, will not always be overly polished and perfect, and will be qualified by the testifier’s name, company, etc.

A good testimonial is also specific and quantifiable. We all get great feedback, that is a little bit vague. You need to avoid generic statements like ‘I saved a lot of time’, because it doesn’t tell your customers anything concrete. Better is ‘I saved [x] hours because of [y] and [z]’.

People put greater trust in a specific, reasoned statement because it points out where the benefits in using your business are.

How to use testimonials

There are many ways to use your testimonials. You can:

  • place them in your text wherever they are appropriate or relevant
  • display them in sidebars, pull-quotes, mast-heads (and so on), and have them cycle randomly
  • place them at key points in your sales or conversion process. This last is great for providing reassurance on your easy returns policy, or your fast shipping.

If you have a lot of testimonials, you can also display them on their own page. If you do this, keep in mind that people will have to actively view the page. The three points above ensure your potential customers will see them while browsing your site.

Don’t be afraid to get testimonials. Just ask!

Most of your happy customers will be pleased to give you permission to use their comments. And you do need permission. Make sure that you let your customer know how you would like to attribute the testimonial, and be prepared to tell them exactly how it will be used.

Other ways of gaining testimonials are to:

  • look through customer emails, or comments you’ve received
  • run a survey
  • offer a freebie, or bonus in exchange for comments

If you have the time or inclination, you can add a bit of sparkle. How? You could:

  • get audio testimonials
  • get video testimonials
  • add a photo of your customer
  • add a customer’s company logo
  • add links to the testimonials – and that helps them as well as you.

Changing the text is sometimes essential. But be careful!

When you get testimonials from your customers, don’t be afraid to ask for more detail. If you tell your customers exactly what you are after, they will very often be happy to help.

On the other hand, don’t be afraid to edit down very long testimonials. But it is vital that you don’t change the meaning. What you don’t want to do is risk getting complaints!

It is often essential to fix spelling and grammar in testimonials you gain. Again, be careful: changing the phrasing, or the terms used, risks damaging the text’s authenticity.