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.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.