The Importance of Testimonials

http://www.sitepoint.com/blog-post-view.php?id=170248

The above blog had a great stream of discussion going about the importance of testimonials. Some of you indicated that in your experience testimonials actually DECREASE credibility.

I was very surprised to read those two responses, because test after test shows that testimonials — correctly executed — increase response for a variety of professionals, including web designers/developers.

So this blog aims to make a few points to clarify the role of testimonials:

1. The concept of “social proof” is incredibly important in marketing. Social proof, simply stated, means that people tend to believe what other people believe, especially people they respect. So if you can assemble a group of people, especially opinion leaders, who rave about you, you build credibility. Unfortunately, that’s how we humans work. So why not take advantage of social proof in your marketing efforts?

2. There are lots of ways to use social proof to build credibility: testimonials, case studies, reprints of articles by/about you or interviews of you in local papers, and referral systems. In a different industry, believe it or not, the “As Seen on TV” decal has been shown to increase retail sales of certain products significantly.

3. Testimonials are not an either/or proposition. You still want to show your portfolio. However, lots of prospects (myself included) can’t tell a good portfolio from a bad one. That’s why we need web designers, right? Portfolios are often more about you than the client — especially if they don’t include some details about what the client was trying to achieve, the specific results you got for them, and a quote in the client’s own words testifying to how great you are to work with. So why not take advantage of all of these marketing features to optimize your message?

4. A testimonial on the top of your home page, done right, immediately draws the reader in, especially if:

- They are a recognized opinion leader;
– You include a thumbnail photo of them;
– You give their quote a headline that captures the essence of what they are saying;
– You include their full name, title, and company;
– You set the quote apart so that people can’t miss it (e.g. a nice border); and
– You link to the web site you designed for them.

In fact, my testing has shown that testimonials sprinkled throughout a professional’s web site get better results than a single page that says, “What people are saying about us” and isolates testimonials there.

Recent tests show that including audio and even video feeds (where they don’t ruin your page downloads) of people raving about you increases response even more!

5. I know some very successful marketers who literally have designed their sites with hundreds of testimonials (there are some creative ways to get tons of testimonials quickly). This tactic works wonders for them.

6. Even if you don’t post testimonials on your web site (for whatever reason), you should still collect them. They make a great piece of marketing collateral to show prospects when you meet with them.

7. Having said all of the above, thanks to the individuals who raised this key issue. In the end, you have to test what works and doesn’t on your own site. So keep challenging, and keep testing!!!!!

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  • http://www.dimensionmedia.com dimensionmedia

    The degree of the need for testimonials can vary from one company to another. Since the majority of Dimension Media’s work comes from referrals, we appreciate having testimonials on our site. Many “referred” clients have commented to us that “we must be good” because “others have said it”. That’s an interesting statement, because they don’t mention anything about portfolios or samples. Testimonials don’t replace a decent portfolio, but for us they are AS important…

  • http://www.revmedia.com dhecker

    I am starting to collect testimonials from clients, but I’m having a hard time getting them. Clients always agree to do it, but then I need to pester them to actually submit a testimonial. You mentioned that there were ways to ‘get tons of testimonials quickly’. Can you give us some insight on this??? thanks, dh

  • http://www.rolywalter.com/ rolywalter

    What has worked for me is giving clients some examples of other testimonials – this can sometimes fire their imagination. Perhaps we should have a ‘best testimonial’ competition?! And you’re not allowed to quote your mum, dad or imaginary friend!

  • http://www.dimensionmedia.com dimensionmedia

    Well, not sure how good mine are but feel free to tell me if any stand out:
    http://www.dimensionmedia.com/testimonials.htm

    As for how to GET testimonials, here are some tips i’ve picked up over the years:

    1. Try not to ask for testimonials BEFORE the job is fully complete. Clients anxious to get their project completed will usually think that giving you a testimonial will speed up the process.
    2. Ask for a testimonial at a time when the client is really happy, usually near the end of the job after a major “milestone” has been reached.
    3. Mention that by giving a testimonial to you, that’s one MORE way his/her URL will be available to the public (on your website or in your advertising). Some clients like the fact that you use their name and URL, especially if you advertising locally.
    4. Once in a great while, for clients that are too busy (or past clients we go back to that are just as busy) we write the testimonials for them – and they have to approve them (in writting). Leave this option for last (we rarely do this) – you also have to know how to write a testimonial that isn’t “over the top”.
    5. I know some small website companies that offer a “favor” (in writting or verbal agreement) if they get a testimonial. Unless it’s a bigname company (like Amazon, IBM, or Walmart) – we don’t bother. We get plenty of work and don’t have to “beg” or “barter” for testimonials.
    6. One thing you might want to think of is getting testimonials from different people in your cilent’s company that you’ve worked with (if the company was large enough) – a quote from the president and one from the marketing director, for example. Play it by ear, but two quotes are better than one.

  • http://www.dimensionmedia.com dimensionmedia

    Made a mistake with #1 above. Should read:

    1. Try to ask for testimonials BEFORE the job is fully complete. Clients anxious to get their project completed will usually think that giving you a testimonial will speed up the process.

  • Ric Moxley

    Another way to get good testimonials is to hire out the process to a 3rd party. Many feel uncomfortable asking a client, effectively,

  • http://www.creativearc.com creativearc

    I concur! My business writer calls my clients for me. Not only does this hand it off to a third party, they can tweak the discussion so you get the type of testimonial you need.

    If you blindly ask for a testimonial you’ll get responses like ‘XYZ Company is great. They made a great Web Site.’ Nice comments, but they don’t really say anything.

    A 3rd party can be instructed to ask a client how your company dealt with a complicated situation and still made the project come together smoothly. With a targeted testimonial, you’d get something like:

    “XYZ company delivered on time, even when A, B, C happened. We’re very pleased!”

  • Editor

    I have found I have gotten the best testimonials by maintaining a good rapport with my readers.

    Editor, ADVENTURE FICTION MAGAZINE
    http://adventurefictiononline.com/adventure

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