The Importance of Testimonials

Andrew Neitlich
Andrew Neitlich

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!!!!!