5 Secrets to Selling More with Testimonials


Few sales techniques are more effective than testimonials. Whenever we come across an interesting new product, we have two conflicting reactions:

  1. Ooh, this looks cool.
  2. Doubt…

The initial thrill is usually met with a push-back of doubt. This is a survival instinct. It kept our caveman ancestors from killing themselves every time they came across a new mouth-watering, but poisonous, berry. In this day and age, we ask ourselves:

  • Does it really work?
  • Will it wear down or break quickly?
  • Will I like it?
  • Who is this scammer, anyway?
  • Will I look dorky wearing it?

There are many ways to reduce customer doubt. One popular way is to give something for free, so that the customer really has nothing to lose (or at least knows that they’ll be getting something for their money):

  • Free trial
  • Free sample
  • Test drive
  • Money-back guarantee

The other popular way to reduce doubt is through testimonials. Simply put, if you see your neighbor using something, it must be good. If your neighbor really raves about it, it must be fantastic, and you just have to have one right now, if only you could find a pen and a dotted line this very minute! This is called “social proof”. People trust what other people have to say.

That’s the power of testimonials.

If your website does not feature testimonials from satisfied customers, stop reading right now and create a page. Then come back to read the rest of this article, because I am going to give you some secrets to get the most from testimonials.

Secret #1: Don’t just lump testimonials all together on one page.
A testimonials page is good for people who want to look for it, so you should have such a page. But that’s a floor, not a ceiling. Put testimonials wherever customers will go.

For instance, I have a page explaining my ghostwriting services, and you’ll see that there are five testimonials on that page. As prospects are considering whether my services are right for them, and more importantly, as their doubts are coming to surface, there are the testimonials.

This case study shows the importance of placement on the page.

If you have a big enough celebrity testimonial, publish it on your home page. In fact, I have seen testimonials on a home page, and that is an effective way to repel doubts before they have a chance to take root.

Secret #2: Make sure testimonials are recognized.
You’ll see on my page how they show up in a quote box.I have seen many websites use quotation marks to show that this is not just your web text, but something somebody is else saying. That is critical for the testimonials to hold value.

Secret #3: Use a photo of the person giving testimony.
On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog. Testimonials could all be written by your staff. How does a reader know the testimonial is real? A photo makes it look more real, more believable, more credible.

Secret #4: Let customers post their own images.
Handing over control to customers makes it very obvious that these are real, credible testimonials. And it is easy to automate this user-generated content (UGC) by giving people a hashtag to use.

You might be tempted to publish testimonials this way through Twitter, but I would advise against text-based UGC. Everybody with a grudge or a complaint will show up on your website…and that is not good for business.

Let them post images instead.

One company increased sales by 24 percent, as this case study details, just by inviting customers to post their images via Instagram with the hashtag #VPbeauty. This approach accomplishes a number of goals:

  • It actively involves customers, improving brand image and making repeat business more likely.
  • It reinforces in customers’ minds, when posting to Instagram, how much they like the product.
  • It shows visitors to the website that others like them have bought the product.
  • It shows visitors to the website that customers are using the product.
  • It shows visitors to the website that customers are enjoying the product (just by the fact that they are posting pics – even a neutral pic carries a positive message of social proof).

Unlike text-based content, negative comments are unlikely. One would have to go to a lot of trouble to create an image that says “This product sucks, I want my money back.”

Secret #5: Use a video of the person giving testimony.
If you can arrange a video, and the person is reasonably articulate, this is a better option than a photo. Although a photo tells people that the testimonial is probably from a real person, the person in the picture, there is still a possibility that the photo was taken from somewhere else.

Not so with video. Sure, you might have hired an actor, but it takes a lot more effort to fake a video, so it’s a lot more likely to be real. Video is most believable.

What about UCG videos? Not a good idea. If there is one medium that lends itself to ranting by dissatisfied customers and other haters, it’s video. When it comes to UCG testimonials, here are the three rules:

  • Filter text.
  • Filter video.
  • Let the pics flow.

Using testimonials is not generally considered a marketing strategy. But without testimonials, most marketing strategies fail to reach their full potential. Make the most of your testimonials with how and where you display them.

Image via Shutterstock

About the Author

David Leonhardt
David Leonhardt runs The Happy Guy Marketing, providing writing services to businesses and individuals, including books, blogs, speeches, and other materials.  THGM also does online promotion, spreading the word about your business, your reputation, and your website.  Read more about David at http://thgmwriters.com/contact/david-leonhardt-biography/.  Visit the website at http://thgmwriters.com.
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