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7 Ways to Make Testimonials Work Harder for You

This post was written by the Web Marketing Ninja—a professional online marketer for a major web brand, who’s sharing his tips undercover here at ProBlogger. Curious? So are we!

While some of us are true trailblazers, the rest of us a’re happy to walk a path previously traveled. Yes, our individual journeys will be unique, but the tracks were already there—we just chose our own route.

This is never more evident when we’re buying stuff. We look for validation, primarily from a trusted source or, if that’s not available, through the words of strangers.

testimonial

Copyright Yuri Arcurs - Fotolia.com

That’s why testimonials can be a powerful addition to the converting power of your site—particularly pages where you’re attempting to persuade readers to do something, such as fill out a form or buy a product. As a case in point, Darren’s sales pages have comments from external sources plastered all over them.

So as a basic starting point, if you’re sales or conversion pages don’t have testimonials, add some! But that’s just the beginning…

As much as people need validation, and see safety in numbers, they’re also getting smarter online, realizing that testimonials are easy to manufacture. This means that the true credibility of a plain, old-style text testimonial is diminishing. We need to get smarter.

Here are seven ways to make your testimonials work harder for you.

1. Steal trust from the famous

Look at the reviews on Darren’s copywriting scorecard. Brian Clark, Leo Babauta, James Chartrand are just a few of the names that appear. The common thread is that these are individuals who have their own audiences. Darren’s leveraging the trust a reader might have with those people, to give the words much more meaning. It’s what I’d call critical acclaim rather than a testimonial—and it works.

2. Show there’s safety in numbers

It’s sometimes easier to simply show your best three reviews, however you can wow your audience with an avalanche of testimonials—this product has over 21 pages of customer reviews! Not only are most of them glowing, they show that hundreds of customers have felt like they’ve got value for money. Amazon takes a similar approach with its review count.

3. Keep it real

We polish and polish our sales pages to perfection, but with testimonials, polishing can actually have the wrong effect. You want to ensure your testimonials are a down-to-Earth as possible. If your reviews contain the odd typo, it’s only going to serve to humanize the message.

4. Validate the authenticity

Reviews from even the average Joe can be given extra impact if you can show the reader that Joe’s a real person. It might be a link to his LinkedIn profile, Twitter page, or website—but if you can, facilitate a person-to-person connection. You want to avoid links to a generic website—that’s faceless and has a low impact. So if the CEO of a company provides you with a juicy quote, link to the About page where the CEO’s name and picture are on display. Amazon’s real name attribution is another approach to validating the authenticity of customers who make comments.

5. Take it off your site

People know you can control what’s on your own site, but they also know you can’t control what’s on others’ sites. If you can show that not only are your testimonials glowing on your own site, they’re glowing all over the Internet, the impact of those comments will go much further.

6. Show the bad and miss-aligned

When I suggest this, I normally get my head bitten off, but hear me out! People accept the fact that not everyone will be happy with your product, so if you don’t show the bad with the good, the reaction might be, “What are you hiding?” If you carefully pick the right negative comments to show, you’ll do more good than harm.

Say you’ve got a beginners’ ebook, and a more advanced reader is critical of the content. A bad review saying, “I felt like I wasted my money, the book wasn’t for me, it’s more for the beginner,” turns a negative comment into a positive for your target market.

7. Turn testimonials into advocates

You can take testimonials to a whole new level by turning your great reviewers into advocates. This might not work for low-priced products, but it’s great for premium products. Take your five best reviewers and ask them if they’d be happy to talk with potential customers. Providing that option to a potential buyer can be a deal-maker. Setting this up can be as simple as asking your best reviewers if they can stop by your forums or comment thread every so often to provide feedback.

Testimonials are a great way to lift conversion rates on your most important pages, but if you’re not making them work hard for you, you might be leaving money on the table. Are you using testimonials to their best advantage on your site?

Stay tuned for more posts by the secretive Web Marketing Ninja — a professional online marketer for a major web brand, who’s sharing his tips undercover here at ProBlogger.

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Comments

  1. Jamie Harrop says:

    Excellent post.

    I’ve been using testimonials on my blog for a long time, and not just to promote my products. I’ve used testimonials to convince readers to subscribe to my blog.

    Most of us receive positive comments in response to the words we write, and these can easily be used (at the commentators permission) as a testimonial. I have a bunch of testimonials on a specific page of my blog that showcase what others have said about my writing and the tips I share. The visitor to subscriber rate from that page is higher than any other page on my blog.

    Jamie

  2. Graham Lutz says:

    So what do you do with a new product with no sales and no customer reviews? Any ideas there?

    • Anna says:

      Graham,

      Send a review copy to your friends and business associates in advance. Then ask them to write a few kind words and remind them that you’ll return the favor.

      That’s it :)

      • Graham,

        I could not agree with Anna more.

        Another option (which I have done) is to hold a contest and say you are giving out X number of your product to X number of readers for free and all they have to do is send a testiomonial.

        If anyone is willing to send you a video testimonial – JUMP on that opportunity!

        Krizia
        Women Entrepreneurs HQ Show

        • WebMarketingNinja says:

          I’ve taken a similar approach. I always aim to have 5-10 people who you’ve got an agreeement in place you’ll give them free products in turn for a review/testimonal. It takes a while to have a list of people that will a) actually will review and b) will give an honest review — but it’s a great way to kick things off.

  3. Lori Meyer says:

    Sweet!

    Most people take testimonials for granted by doing nothing with them!

    Your testimonials are a sign post to future visitors that there are others who enjoy and appreciate what you have to offer. They help your reader to feel that there is “community” on your blog.

    Have you ever felt a sense of “alone” when visiting someone’s blog? Like walking into a big department store, and you’re the only one there?

    Well, testimonials put the “presence” of others on your site. They are the footprints of happy customers….use testimonials to their full potential. Future visitors will take note!

    • @LauraICL says:

      Really nice comment ;)

      I liked the idea “Have you ever felt a sense of “alone” when visiting someone’s blog? Like walking into a big department store, and you’re the only one there?”

      It a great way to describe how one feels!

      Have a nice day!

  4. I really need to start working on an ebook lol.

  5. Web Marketing Ninja,

    I love ths post!

    Since I now have an online video show, I have started using video testimonials. Some of my students had reached out to me on facebook and I have asked if there were willing to do a video testiomonial.

    That is such a powerful way to communicate the effectiveness of your product.

    Thanks for sharing these great tips.

    Krizia
    Women Entrepreneurs HQ Show

    • WebMarketingNinja says:

      Video’s are a great one — and could have been included in this post. When using video reviews they can be quite destracting, so it’s a balancing act to have the validation without dragging your readers attention in other directions.

      Normally I’ll have one video on my page that’s a collection of reviews, and put them on youtube individually.

      This way it’s one video to watch on your sales page, without sacrificicing the traffic pulling power of multiple vids on youtube,

  6. Annie Sisk says:

    Dude, show yourself! I am the most curious cat on the planet. That aside, I’m so grateful for the timing of this post. I’m trying to work up the nerve to put my testimonial page up on my site. But that’s a whole ‘nother set of problems. This works for the other set. ;)

  7. Mushfique says:

    Well, never knew the power of testimonials until now! Just thought these were some comments on the site about the product being sold. Thanks to your post, you have outlined its great importance! it will be useful if I ever sell any product through my blog!

  8. Kim Herbel says:

    I love this advice! I recently wrote an e-book regarding proper tenant screening for landlords and asked the President of the Landlord Protection Agency to review it for me. He runs an educational site and forum for landlords and his review was so great, I asked him if he would write a forward and he agreed!

    I published his forward on my ebook sales page, but after reading this blog post I edited it to include his photo and a link to his facebook page. I think it looks good. If it makes a huge impact, I will write an update!

    Thanks!

    • WebMarketingNinja says:

      Kim — look forward to hearing if it’s had an impact.

  9. This is something that I’m working with my clients to produce some testimonials. Not just written emails but videos on YouTube that I can link to.

    Great Post!,

    David Edwards

  10. E-books might soon be the thing of the past with the influx of people who are basically shooting them out for the sake of doing it.. But what is the next great source of monetizing income, I’m sure Darren will be writing about it within the next year or too.

  11. Daniel says:

    Some good advice, Ninja.

    I think that having a few glowing testimonies from respected( re-known ) Sources is a great idea.
    Though, as you hint at, testimonies can be manufactured, or dare I say, bought.

    Number(2) would throw a lot of weight behind it. Though, it would would be even better to have a few”Heavy hitters” (Authority figures in that niche, or other related niches) also included in the testimonials.

    Your Number(6) is interesting. How a not so satisfied customer can actually direct “the right type of(More suited) customer” to your product

  12. John B. says:

    Web Marketing Ninja,

    I absolutely awesome post!

    I never thought of taking the testimonials off my site.

    Also, how do you know you are turning testimonials into advocates?

  13. Nice post and good content. Yes, its hard to put negative comments on your site but I do try to show them when I get them. I have added the customers photos to their comments, here is my customer review page, http://dolphinworld.org/customer-comments.htm. I am hoping the photos will help give credibility to the customer comments I get.

    • WebMarketingNinja says:

      That’s a really good page — but it’s more than just the pictures that matters. You’ve got a nice balance of large families, small families, young families, old families, mother/daughters, father/sons, sisters/brothers and everything in between.

      You’re allowing just about anyone to connect with a similar demographic.

      Really well done.

  14. Tikyd says:

    I think that testimonials can be important. Personally, I know that I have visited a particular forum to get information on certain IM products. However, when I see testimonials from certain people who I recognize has personalities in IM, I don’t think that I generally trust in their testimonials. Perhaps because I think that there exists a relationship between them and the product creator.

  15. Great post – very informative. I understand why No. 6 is contentious, but I do agree. Carefully picking the right negative comments as testimonials, shows you’re hiding nothing and are a more secure option than businesses that only show positive comments.

  16. Brilliant tips. Thank you for sharing these tips about testimonials. We really have to act on the fact about the thinning value or credibility of testimonials.