When using a testimonial, you should always – list the customer’s first and last name, Include their photo, avoid unbelievable, over-the-top praise. Those are all fine tips to follow, but they’re really just starting points. Optimizing your social proof requires just as much strategy and testing as improving a headline, hero image or call-to-action button. Because if you just stick to blindly following ‘best practices,’ you could be missing out on a huge opportunity to squeeze more conversions out of your website or landing page.
Social proof affects different audiences in different ways. The complexity of your offer, the demographics of your visitors and a host of other factors all influence how persuasive your testimonials will be. And that means you may want to try optimizing them in ways that seem counterintuitive at first. Or even just plain strange. Use testimonials only when you are following some major instructions about them. Include a photo and other details. Providing the customer’s first and last name, location or any other relevant details makes testimonials more realistic. But an even bigger factor is including a (real) photo of the testimonial-giver. There’s plenty of research to back this up.
Now, let’s take a look on some of the lesser known tactics for getting more persuasive testimonials:
Short, specific quotes from customers may work fine in certain situations. But sometimes a big, juicy testimonial can provide the exact dose of social proof that your page needs. For the same reasons that long copy can sometimes be more persuasive than short copy. Long-form sales messages often work great when your product is complicated, your audience has loads of objections or the price-tag is high. The trick is to ensure your long-form copy — or long-form testimonial — is interesting and relevant to your audience.
Now, these long-form testimonials work like sales copy in a number of different ways. But there is one specific technique that makes them so effective: storytelling. Several testimonials tell raw, human stories about a problem the person was up against and how they discovered a life-changing solution. In fact, some of the most effective long-form testimonials start with an emotional problem. Some testimonials follow the tried-and-true problem-agitate-solve copywriting formula. Now, a customer probably isn’t going to just hand you over a problem-agitate-solve testimonial by fluke. You may need to give them some guidance first.
So ask specific questions when requesting a testimonial. Things like – what made you seek out our product/service? What was the exact problem you needed to solve? How did it impact your life? How did our product/service solve this problem? But even if you don’t take a problem-focused approach, the key to using effective long-form testimonials is to make sure they tell a gripping story. One that will resonate with your target audience in a powerful way.
Invite Some Negatives, Too
Don’t get a wrong idea here – it doesn’t mean you should post a testimonial that outright bashes your company. That’d be weird. And, well, kind of dumb. In fact, that just means – by leaving some minor negatives in your testimonials you can convey trust and credibility — if you do it the right way. One study found that 68% of consumers trust reviews more when they see both positive and negative scores. Showing the negative sides of your company, can be an effective marketing technique provided if you – demonstrate why your product’s weakness isn’t important or show how you’ve designed your product to overcome the weakness This tactic works because arguing against your own self-interest builds credibility.
The beauty of taking an approach like telling people who your product isn’t right for sends the message you want happy, long-term customers; not just quicks sales for short-term gain. Some brands have used not-so-shiny testimonials in more creative ways to reinforce a key message. The point is that people are skeptical of both online reviews and testimonials. But by slipping in a few negatives, of course, in a strategic way, you can give your social proof a shot of credibility.
Emphasize The Good Ones
Got a beauty of a testimonial? One that’s credible, relatable and aligns perfectly with the goal of your page? Then don’t bury it way below the fold! Instead, play that sucker up big time in the hero section for every visitor to see. Emphasizing the right testimonial immediately sends the message to prospects that your product solves problems for people who are just like them. But again, having the right testimonials is key here. You can’t just pick one at random. If you know headlines focused on “saving time” convert well, playing up a testimonial about how a customer “saved money” isn’t going to cut it. Consider your goals and strategy for the page. Then select your social proof accordingly.
Use testimonials from people your customers can relate to. We generally trust people who are either like us or who we aspire to be like. And that means strong testimonials are often from folks who reflect how your prospects see themselves. The most powerful testimonials come from people your audience sees as an expert or otherwise having authority. In essence, you’re ‘borrowing’ the positive feelings people have toward these individuals when you get their endorsement. Reinforce a specific benefit. Emphasis on specific. Vague testimonials that say things like “great experience” or “tremendous value” won’t connect with anyone. And it might even hurt your conversion rate. Instead, testimonials should be used strategically as ‘proof’ to support specific claims you’re making on your pages.
It doesn’t matter if you’re dealing with testimonials, user-reviews or client logos — the bottom line is the same. Social proof affects different audiences in different ways. Following best practices is a great starting point. But to squeeze the most persuasive value out of your testimonials, you need to consider things like your audience’s level of awareness and their thought sequence as they hit your page. Now, maybe the 3 tactics outlined here aren’t a great fit for your prospects. That’s fine. But it is important that you make an informed, strategic decision about how you use any type of social proof. Because just tossing testimonials randomly on a page isn’t doing your visitors — or your conversion rates — any good.