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3 Easy Steps To Turbo-Charge Testimonials For a Lift in Web Conversions

by Russ Henneberry

Why do you do what you do?

One of the ways we decide what to do is to find out what others are doing.

You know, like when you’re in a restaurant and you don’t know what to order. It’s easy to say, “I’ll have what he’s having.”

It’s called “social proof.”  Social proof is one of Dr. Robert Cialdini’s five laws of influence.

And it’s a powerful one.

Dr. Cialdini reminds us that advertisers incessantly remind us that their products are the “best selling” or “fastest growing” to imply that “others are doing it, so why aren’t you?”

Bartenders “salt” their tip jar with a $10 bill to increase tips. Sitcoms provide laugh tracks to activate our deep-rooted instincts to do what others are doing — in this case, laughing.

On the web, customer testimonials have proven to be a high-impact method for increasing web conversions.

But all testimonials are not created equal.

Sure, putting any authentic testimonial on your website is likely to lift conversions. But if you apply the three tips below, testimonials can provide a tremendous lift in web conversions.

Step 1: Gather testimonials that overcome sales objections

Make a list of every reason a prospect would not purchase your product or service.

Now, gather at least one testimonial that overcomes each objection.

For instance, Jane sells website design services. She often hears from customers that they don’t want to rebuild their website because they aren’t sure if they will ever recover the cost of redesigning.

A testimonial like this ought to do the trick:

“I redesigned my website with Jane and recovered my money the first six months of having my new website. Now, it’s all positive ROI. It was the best investment I made this year.

And, Jane also receives sales objections from prospects who think redesigning a web site will be too time-intensive. Gathering a testimonial like this one should calm their nerves:

“Jane’s website design process was so simple. She was very considerate of my time and I came away with a professional, new website with none of the hassle.”

Every prospect that hasn’t converted is held up by some objection. The right testimonial will provide the social proof needed to convert the prospect.

Step 2: Place testimonials strategically

Sure, Jane could place the above testimonials on the home page. Or, in a rotating area in the sidebar, header or footer.

But, there is a better way.

Great marketers and sales people seem to know just the right time to say something. They can anticipate the next question in the mind of the prospect.

The difficulty in writing good sales copy is anticipating the prospect’s next question without being with them physically.

Put some thought into the placement of your testimonials. If you do, you’ll likely find a strategic area to place each testimonial.

For instance, on the sales page for Jane’s website design services there will be (or should be) an area where Jane addresses the issue of price. Some testing would be in order, but for those without the time or the volume of traffic needed to test, it would make sense to place this testimonial next to your discussion about pricing.

In general, don’t just place testimonials without thinking. Take a minute to place the testimonial in a location where it has the best chance of overcoming the objection that is on the prospect’s mind.

Step 3: Add meat, not cheese to your testimonials

Unfortunately, we have grown skeptical of testimonials.

Too many scammers out there writing testimonials that range from clearly fake to slightly cheesy. As a result, testimonials have to have meat on their bones.

Consider adding the following to your testimonials to boost their credibility:

  • Head shot
  • Full name
  • Company name
  • Title
  • Website URL
  • Blood type

Of course I’m kidding about the blood type, but the point is that testimonials that provide more detail will convert better. They’re simply more believable.

For instance, the testimonial written for Jane’s website design services will be much more credible if it looked like this.

“Jane’s website design process was so simple. She was very considerate of my time and I came away with a professional, new website with none of the hassle.”
Russ Henneberry, Director of Marketing
Acme Manufacturing
O – (Universal Donor)

How to effectively gather testimonials

First, don’t be afraid to ask for testimonials. A happy customer is usually willing to provide a testimonial for you. After all, you solved their problem.

Be ready to pop the question at any point throughout your relationship with a customer. The best time to ask is when they praise you. Customers will often say things like:

“Wow, Jane! You really saved my life here. I really appreciate you being so responsive on this problem. My boss was breathing down my neck.”

A logical follow-up from Jane would be:

“It was my pleasure. I have really enjoyed working on this project. Would you mind providing me a short testimonial for my marketing materials?”

How can they say no to that?

Some customers don’t go out of their way to compliment you, but if you know they’re happy with your services, ask for the testimonial.

Phrase your requests for testimonials carefully

And when you ask, the way you phrase the question is critical. Remember you’re trying to address objections that prospects have while they’re reading the sales copy on your website.

For example, if Jane knows she needs a testimonial that will overcome the price objection on her website, she could phrase the request for testimonial this way:

“It was my pleasure. I have really enjoyed working on this project. Would you mind providing me a short testimonial for my marketing materials? Perhaps you could answer this question: ‘Why do you think working with Jane on your website redesign was a good value for your business?'”

By phrasing the request for testimonial in this way, you make it very likely that the customer will provide you with the testimonial you need to overcome the price objection.

Take advantage of these tips and provide the powerful social proof needed to increases conversions.

It’s true.  All testimonials are not created equally.

Image courtesy of Mario Pleitez



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Russ Henneberry

Russ Henneberry is the Editorial Director at Digital Marketer. He's worked on digital marketing projects for companies like CrazyEgg, and Network Solutions. You can connect with Russ on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or on his blog.


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  1. Kain Tietzel says:
    March 20, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    You often hear/read that landing pages need testimonials but your post goes one further and perfectly explains how-to make the most of them. Am going to take your advice immediate. Thanks!

    • Russ Henneberry says:
      March 20, 2012 at 8:25 pm

      Thanks Kain! Glad you find this post useful!

  2. Lene Leadbeater says:
    January 9, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Thanks for the great advise – very usefull

  3. Mich says:
    October 11, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    Great read! I find this very useful as part of the process!

    • Russ Henneberry says:
      October 11, 2011 at 3:23 pm

      Thanks Mich! I have found it to be a very powerful method!

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