How do people make purchasing decisions?

You read about a product/service, you watch/read reviews online, perhaps you even get a free trial, if the nature of the product allows. But, most importantly, you want to be sure the product delivers what the company promises, and you want to hear it from people who used it.

This is what makes customer testimonials such a powerful marketing tool – and, on top of it, a free and easy to access one. However, using testimonials effectively is not as simple as it seems. If you want to make the most of their persuasive power, here is everything you need to know about testimonials and using them effectively.

Why Testimonials Work

The right testimonials can be more effective in persuading your customer to buy than the best copy you can write. Why?

They Provide Proof of Your Claims

What you say about your product’s features and benefits sounds much more trustworthy when supported by an unbiased opinion from a real customer.

They Stand Out of the Sales Copy

Unlike your copy, testimonials are written in plain, non-salesy language. Therefore, they build trust easier.

Testimonials Are Convincing

Sometimes your potential customer is hesitant and needs an extra something to be convinced. Testimonials often act as this last step in the decision-making process.

What Makes a Good Testimonial?

Not all testimonials are created equal, and the mistake many business owners make is not knowing a positive testimonial from an effective one. Just the fact that the customer says your product is awesome doesn’t make it convincing. What does then?

A Focus on Benefits

Instead of ‘this product is great’ go for ‘this product helped me get rid of the joint pain I have had for years’.

Supporting Your Claims

Make sure the testimonials you use support what you say in your copy – even better if they do it using numbers and data. For example, if you say you create effective offline advertising, show how much business your client has generated from the billboard you designed for them.

The Customer Persona

Make sure the testimonial is from someone just like your target audience (age, sex, social group, job position, etc.). Do your best to show it’s a real person: include their name, age, location, a photo – anything that will make a difference (of course, you should ask for the client’s permission first).

Comparison with Other Products

Ideally, the testimonial will show the benefits of your product in comparison with the competition. You want to show your website visitors the product is unique and better than other similar products.

How to Collect Great Testimonials

Sometimes you don’t have any testimonials yet – because the business is new, or the specifics of your industry doesn’t imply a lot of customer response. In that case, you’ll need to make an extra effort to collect good testimonials:

  • place a form on your website that encourages your customers to share their experience with the product;
  • set up an autoresponder, asking your new customers what they think about the product;
  • every time you get good feedback from a customer by email or in social media, ask if you can use it on your website;
  • create a card that you hand out at your store asking them to write a positive review for you online.

How to Use Your Testimonials Effectively

So, now you have several effective testimonials that can persuade your leads to become clients. The trick is using them the right way. Here are a few tips on maximizing the effectiveness of social proof on your website:

  • include the best testimonials on your homepage – front and center;
  • place some of them in the middle of each page, where they support the sales copy;
  • set up a testimonials page and link to it from your other pages.

How NOT to Use Your Testimonials

And finally, here are basic rules on how you should never, ever use testimonials.

Don’t Edit Them

It is not fair to exclude something from what the client really said or add something to it. If the testimonial doesn’t work for you as it is, use a different one.

Don’t Write Them Yourself

Writing your own testimonials is plain lying, and that is not the way you want to be doing business.

Testimonials are so effective because we all trust other people’s judgement. You definitely have happy customers, who have a lot to say about your product, so why not make their opinions do marketing magic for you?