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  1. #1
    SitePoint Addict palgrave's Avatar
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    Testimonials - good or bad?

    Hi folks,

    This isn't a forum I find myself in alot, but after posting a website for review here:

    http://www.sitepoint.com/forums/showthread.php?t=508280

    a couple of reviewers opined against testimonials. As I said in the thread, I thought testimonials were all good as long as they are genuine.

    What's the story???

  2. #2
    phpLD Fanatic bronze trophy dvduval's Avatar
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    Well, I think in the right situation they can be great both for the webmaster (more content), and the consumer (feedback about their potential purchase).

  3. #3
    SitePoint Guru bronze trophy
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    As far as I can tell, two people mentioned testimonials. Only one was against them, instead mentioning the color and contrast of the text.

    Testimonials have been tested over-and-over ....they boost response.

    That said, almost everyone can improve on testimonials. The most common problem is not using last names. If you have testimonials from Tony J. or Patricia W. it's like they don't even exist because there is no credibility.

    Second, if the testimonials are weak. It the people aren't really saying anything particularly worth mentioning, you won't see as much benefit.

    This is a factor for you, if people can't see the testimonial it will have no effect on response. Set in small type, off the flow of the body copy, testimonials must be readable.

    Testimonials are better at multiplying the effectiveness of copy. If you have weak copy, don't expect the testimonials to make up for it. You can't multiply zeros, as copywriters say. And the copy on your site is weak.

    Testimonials aren't magic. There are effective ones and ineffective, specific, explicit and business building just as there are tepid, pseudo endorsements that aren't worth using.

  4. #4
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    You have to view testimonials in the consumer or client perspective. Like what DCrux mentioned, the absence of last names and lack of worth in response wouldn't really inspire confidence in your company.

    Consumers are smart. Play honest and give the best but real testimonials, with names, positions and the company following it. Put yourself in the shoes of your buyer.

  5. #5
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    I like testimonials, especially if they tell how you helped a specific issue.

  6. #6
    SitePoint Addict palgrave's Avatar
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    Thanks for those replies folks. For the record, here's what was said in the review regarding testimonials:

    'a lot of professionals do not like testimonials, due to the fact and question of; "what are you trying to hide"'

    'Personally I do not like testimonials'

    maybe I'm taking this second one as a general statement, when it was meant specific to my design, but is the first one a common argument?

  7. #7
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    I generally do not like them, as they normally feel like they have be written by the company/freelancer not the customer! Although I have recently seen testimonials on freelance web designer site that seamed on the face of it, real testimonials – including obviously positive and amazingly some negative feedback. Although interesting thing was the way in which they dealt with the negative, very open stating that these areas in which they fall down in are things they are trying to address blah blah. Very open and honest… although I’m not sure how many people would warm to this approach?

    Si

  8. #8
    SitePoint Guru wii's Avatar
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    I do read some testimonials from time to time, but I don´t take them too seriously as I can never know whether they are real or written by the author of the site.

  9. #9
    PHP/Rails Developer Czaries's Avatar
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    I think they can be very effective, in the right context. If they're just sitting on the page in a side column somewhere, they are not likely to be very effective. If, however, they are presented along with a screenshot of the client's website in your portfolio with a link and all, they gain a wealth of credibility. I would highly recommend using testimonials in this context, in your portfolio.

  10. #10
    Barefoot on the Moon! silver trophy Force Flow's Avatar
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    As a person who surfs the web, I've never paid much attention to testimonials on a company's website. I see it as PR, and if I want to hear how people like/dislike the company's products/services, I always look elsewhere.

    As a web developer, I've always found doing PR stuff like that a bit tacky.

    On the other hand, not everybody on the web is likely to actually read testimonials pushed out by a company (the people who do read them are most likely the same people who click on ads with consistency)

  11. #11
    SitePoint Wizard jimbo_dk's Avatar
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    I can agree with most replies in this thread. I don't give much heed to testimonials as well, unless of course the person giving the testimonial is familiar to me. This could be great in a niche, or locality.

    I was thinking about getting some testimonials to put up on my site, but in the end decided to go against it because I didn't want to go around asking for testimonials. (You can tell I'm not a business person)
    Winners Respond. Losers React.
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  12. #12
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    My full name on your website?!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Wilks_eye View Post
    You have to view testimonials in the consumer or client perspective. Like what DCrux mentioned, the absence of last names and lack of worth in response wouldn't really inspire confidence in your company.

    Consumers are smart. Play honest and give the best but real testimonials, with names, positions and the company following it. Put yourself in the shoes of your buyer.
    I don't disagree with Wilkes Eye on this but, I have had hesitation from clients who are willing to provide testimonials.
    People are hesitant to agree to posting quite that much information (full name, position, company). Concerns over security and identity theft are valid and often raised.
    I would add that I, too, have questioned the validity of testimonials. But - just like an unbelievable story being related to you by a coworker - consider the integrity of the source (company/site) when testing the truth in a testimonial.
    Don't be yourself. Be someone a little nicer. -Mignon McLaughlin, journalist and author (1913-1983)


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  13. #13
    SitePoint Addict palgrave's Avatar
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    A common theme here is "I don't really believe testimonials".

    To be honest, neither did I.

    When we met the copywriter to discuss the site I mentioned earlier, she said to include testimonials. I assumed she was going to write them and we would pay clients to include them on the site with their name at the bottom. She seemed quite shocked at my cynicism, but that's just the way I thought these things were done.

    However, the other assumption I had despite this was that there are people out there who do believe them, and they are a valuable marketing tool if used correctly.

  14. #14
    Follow Me On Twitter: @djg gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Grossman's Avatar
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    Testimonials on my sites have led to sales. I know because the customers have told me so.

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    SitePoint Addict dnordstrom's Avatar
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    "Testimonials are great as long as they don't look too good to be true. Don't try to go the extra mile with these things because they'll end up hurting you. Honest results and opinions from real people is the way to go."

    That's what I wrote when a guy asked about them on DP.
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  16. #16
    phpLD Fanatic bronze trophy dvduval's Avatar
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    I think testimonials are also good when you are dealing with a product page that is visited often. If you have hundreds of products, it is a little harder to manage testimonials.

  17. #17
    SitePoint Addict n0other's Avatar
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    I don't like testimonials in general, I read them only if there are names and companies mentioned as the authors, otherwise, it's just some made up text in my view.

  18. #18
    SitePoint Guru rageh's Avatar
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    A testimonial cannot persuade me either way. In all honest, I feel cynical about them. how do I know if they are genuine? I am not that trusting really.
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  19. #19
    SitePoint Guru rageh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Grossman View Post
    Testimonials on my sites have led to sales. I know because the customers have told me so.
    Interesting
    ------------------

  20. #20
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    In truth, there are testimonials that suck, even though they are real. Let's face it, not every client we would meet would be a genius in writing convincing copy. so they write what they can, concentrating on their experience as a customer and not how the paragraph will sell.

    There are testimonials that piques interest and there are those that feels fake. It happens. Chances are you wouldnt get a lot of those convincing testimonials, so instead of putting the real but flaky-sounding ones, youre better of without them altogether. But I must admit, a few good testimonials copies could only do you good.

  21. #21
    SitePoint Addict SirAdrian's Avatar
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    I think a better question is whether or not poorly written or too good to be true testimonials actually turn customers away. Neg/Pos or Neut/Pos?

    My view:
    Even if they are hand-picked (or made up) it makes the product look good. I'm unlikely to not buy something if the testimonials are telling me it's the best thing since sliced bread. It means they are trying to market the product, not necessarily rip me off.

    I do agree on focusing on the credibility of the person. Last or company names are a must.
    Adrian Schneider - Web Developer

  22. #22
    SitePoint Wizard ryanhellyer's Avatar
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    I've used a simple guest book for a hockey coaching company I made a website for instead of going down the direct testimonials route. That way there's testimonials available, but it's obvious that they're real, or at least that most of them are as there's typo's everywhere and if you want you can leave your own comment. Seems a little more believable that way. Technically all the guest book posts could be added by the company, but they're not and I don't think any of their visitors think so either. Particularly since they're not all *** kissing, they often just say thank you and/or ask when the next event will be.

  23. #23
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ryanhellyer View Post
    I've used a simple guest book for a hockey coaching company I made a website for instead of going down the direct testimonials route. That way there's testimonials available, but it's obvious that they're real, or at least that most of them are as there's typo's everywhere and if you want you can leave your own comment. Seems a little more believable that way. Technically all the guest book posts could be added by the company, but they're not and I don't think any of their visitors think so either. Particularly since they're not all *** kissing, they often just say thank you and/or ask when the next event will be.
    Off Topic:

    Love your avatar!


    Testimonials can be very effective, but you get out of them what you put into them. On one of our sites, we have a customer gallery that shows the visitor our product in the customer's setting. We ask customers to send us these pictures for use. We offer a link to their site (if they have one) in return for a testimonial with pictures.

    We also have a page of written testimonials. Some use last names, some don't. Again, we offer a link back if the testimonial contains both names and/or a site link.

    Although we don't demand it (of course) we also suggest to customers what we'd like to see in their written testimonial. For instance, what do they like best about our product? How's our customer service? Was their order timely and did shipping go okay?

    We do edit testimonials. Sometimes just for spelling, punctuation, or grammar and sometimes for length. We don't want our customers to appear like dumbos. But we are always careful to keep the meaning and the wording of the content intact.

    The links are not just for the customers... it's so that if our prospects want to, they can contact the customer themselves to get their feedback on our product.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  24. #24
    The Mind's I ® silver trophy Dark Tranquility's Avatar
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    If you are selling something (services, goods etc...) that testimonials will just help you increase your sales!

  25. #25
    SitePoint Evangelist kooshin.com's Avatar
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    Testimonials are good as long as you have the clients that wrote the for you. I mean It is not that good to have the testimonial of a client who is no longer your client because people might ask him why he left even though he made a testimonials etc.


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