Do website testimonials work? Can they still harness the power of influencing potential customers to buy from a company or organisation?
Absolutely, but like with most things in business, in order for it to work in the most effective and efficient way possible, it needs to have a strategy and a plan behind it.
Why are website testimonials important?
Authentic website testimonials give potential customers a truthful insight into what experience, product or service they will get from you. A real customer testimonial is a way that a potential customer can hear about your business, from a consumer point of view. It humanises your business and highlights what you do best. We emphasise “authentic” and “real” because some businesses do fake their feedback. However, fake testimonials often reek of insincerity, and therefore do more damage, than good, to a business.
Let’s be honest, most of us at some point have changed our minds about a business or service, because we read a number of bad reviews, and the same applies the other way. A local customer review survey, conducted by Bright Local showed that “88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations”. That should be a pretty convincing argument, if you were still not sure that testimonials are worth the web they are written on.
Why does it work?
As social creatures, we are highly influenced by those around us, often needing approval or validation before we consider trying or buying a new product. In marketing, we call this social proof, we want to know someone is trustworthy and will deliver on their promise before we commit. Testimonials, reviews and ratings from people who represent your target market, are a great way to entice potential customers to purchase from you. They will find out from like-minded people, just how you helped them. This gives a new customer a sense of security and allows them to trust in your product or service.
In this tech-savvy era, we are encouraged to “compare” everything, so customers will often look for website testimonials, reviews and social media likes because they can relate to them. Essentially, user-generated website testimonials are highly influential in persuading customers to buy.
How do you get them?
They certainly don’t happen by magic. Most customers only speak up when there is a problem, in fact, around 75% of customers never give feedback at all. This is why you need to create a feedback strategy to encourage happy customers to provide feedback and even better, share what you do.
There are two types of customer testimonials:
- Internal – displayed on your business website
- External – displayed on third party websites
You should actively seek testimonials for each. Of course, you have more control over internal testimonials, but customers will be aware of that, so external testimonials hold quite a lot of weight in terms of your social proof. Depending on your business and industry, make sure you are signed up for any relevant review websites (e.g. yelp) and monitor them for external feedback.
The best strategy is to ask for website testimonials from the kind of companies you love working with, that way you are likely to attract similar companies to work with you.
You should make it easy for customers to supply a testimonial, and timing is key – you must do it as soon as possible after you have worked with them. That way it is fresh in their minds, and they will be more likely to help you.
Get on the phone, or create a simple email template such as “thanks for working with us” that links them to your testimonial web page. Say you would love their feedback, and keep it simple, so they can provide something quickly and easily. Too many questions or asking for an essay will put people off.
The format of website testimonials are usually written, but there are other formats such as video testimonials. These could be collected when you are out amongst your customers, at a conference or event. Videos are incredibly popular right now. Seeing someone speak positively about your business, rather than just reading it, will have a much greater impact on your reputation, especially if that person is influential in their industry.
How should you display them?
You should display them on your homepage, and also on a dedicated testimonials page on your website. Also, make sure to include them on your sales or landing pages. If you have many products or services, adding categories and tags to website testimonials will give potential customers a chance to just focus on the ones that relate to them.
Depending on your website set up – especially if you use an e-commerce platform – enabling a rating system on website testimonials is a great way to see what kind of feedback resonates the most with potential customers.
Many business websites display testimonials in chronological order, which of course will have positive SEO benefits. This isn’t always the most efficient way, as you don’t have much control over what the customer will see. Ordering by category, rating, or topic could be a better option.
What about negative website testimonials?
Negative testimonials should be seen as a learning opportunity. On your own website, there is no harm in displaying some testimonials from customers who stated that something needed work, as long as the majority of the feedback was positive. This will also help in humanising your business as nothing is perfect, therefore it gives more credibility to your website testimonials as they have not been censored.
On external websites, it is really important that your business has written a reply, so it is clear that you are dealing with the problem. The most powerful negative feedback is one where the business chooses to ignore the issue, as this can escalate the problem.
The amazing power of website testimonials is pretty clear. They positively influence purchasing decisions, give your business credibility within your industry, increase your conversion rates and encourage your target market to buy from you.
Want to know more about the amazing power of website testimonials? Contact the experts at Media Heroes today on 1800 464 376.