It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand the correlation between testimonials and higher conversions.
As humans, we’re wired to seek feedback from others.
But testimonials may carry even more weight than you may have thought.
Research found that
customer testimonials are considered to be one of the most effective content marketing techniques, identified by 89% of B2B marketers.
And there’s one particular A/B test involving testimonials I really like.
It compared different variations of a landing page for Seiko Watches.
Here’s the first version, containing no testimonials:
And here’s the second version, containing a widget featuring positive customer reviews:
Guess by how much the conversions improved.
Not too shabby.
But I have a bone to pick with the way most brands approach testimonials.
I feel the majority stick to a conventional format and aren’t fully harnessing the true power of testimonials.
In this post, I break down what I think the ultimate blueprint for creating a super persuasive testimonial is.
I’ll briefly touch on the fundamentals and throw in some other angles you might not have thought of.
Here we go.
I won’t bore you with a long-winded explanation of the importance of images.
This is usually one of the first bits of advice you’ll hear.
But they really are a critical element of a strong testimonial.
65% of senior marketing executives believe that visual assets are core to how their brand story is communicated.
Not only do images make testimonials look more professional, they increase “truthiness,” defined as a subjective feeling of truth.
This is what you’re looking for when attempting to create a connection and persuade leads to buy.
You probably know I’m a stat guy.
I love stats!
For me, data is the perfect way to help prospects connect the dots and understand why your brand is worth doing business with.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to include concrete numbers in your testimonials.
Don’t just feature testimonials that say your product “is good.”
Give prospects real data.
Here are a couple of examples of testimonials I use on NeilPatel.com.
There’s one reason I use these specific testimonials.
Seeing that Timothy earned $15 million in revenue and received 26% more traffic is much better than saying something like, “Neil really helped my company and you should work with him.”
It’s the same story here with Gawker Media:
Here’s how Freshbooks uses this technique:
The point here is to make it crystal clear what results your prospects can expect.
Show them how you can help them in a tangible way.
And here’s another quick tip.
Try to stay away from round numbers, like 20% and 30%.
Consumers tend to prefer exactness, and using only perfect numbers may raise suspicion.
Show the good and bad
If there’s one mistake I see brands making time and time again, it’s using only rosy testimonials.
Don’t get me wrong: you obviously want to sell yourself and ensure that prospects view you in a positive light.
But you don’t want to go overboard and feature testimonials that offer nothing but praise without any negatives whatsoever.
This can kill your credibility, and it tends to make visitors more skeptical.
After all, any charlatan can slap up some bogus reviews and make themselves look like a saint.
What people are looking for is authenticity.
They want to see your brand for what it really is, flaws and all.
In fact, studies suggest that bad reviews can actually be good for business.
Research from social commerce company Reevoo found that
68% consumers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad scores, while 30% suspect censorship or faked reviews when they don’t see anything negative at all.
Just think about it.
Have you ever done research on a product and seen nothing but rave reviews, with every single testimonial giving it 10 out of 10?
To me, that’s a red flag. I feel something is definitely up.
This isn’t to say you should include testimonials that bash your company.
That would be foolish.
But showing a flaw or two can actually work to your advantage.
Make testimonials traceable
Anyone can say a testimonial was written by “Jack W. from Orlando.”
But how do your prospects know it’s legit?
I’ve realized one of the best ways to quell skepticism is to make your testimonials “traceable.”
By this I mean including a link to the person’s website, portfolio, Twitter page, etc.
It doesn’t really matter as long as you can prove that the person giving the review actually exists and that the testimonial isn’t fabricated.
And here’s another idea.
Create an entire page that thoroughly explains how your product/service helped the person and contributed to their success.
Here’s a nice example from Kissmetrics:
By clicking on the link, prospects are taken to this page where they can learn more about the company (Mention) and how Kissmetrics helped it improve its performance.
They’ll instantly know the testimonial is genuine, and it can provide even more incentive to purchase.
I took full advantage of this tactic on NeilPatel.com, where I feature a case study of Timothy Sykes.
Here are a couple of screenshots:
I’ve found this to be a tremendous help, and it’s helped me reel in several big name clients.
Target heavy hitters
I’m going to preface this by saying this isn’t applicable to every brand.
If you’re coming from relative obscurity, it may not be feasible to get testimonials from big name celebrities and industry experts.
But if you can land even one “heavy hitter,” the rewards should be plentiful.
Here’s a good example from Help Scout:
It’s safe to say Gary Vaynerchuk is a pretty big deal.
Here’s another one, featuring Seth Godin:
Just imagine the impact of having someone prominent giving your brand a nod of approval.
It could make all the difference.
Check out this resource for some pointers on landing this type of testimonial.
Experiment with a long-form format
If you listen to standard advice on testimonials, you’ll probably hear that you should keep them short and sweet.
However, this isn’t always the best route to go.
In fact, longer testimonials are often more persuasive than standard, short ones.
Think about it.
Long-form testimonials allow you to explain the ins and outs of your product and provide specific examples of how it has helped your customers.
You can effectively cover multiple aspects of your product and address any concerns your prospects may have.
One of the best examples I’ve seen of long-form testimonials is Noah Kagan’s landing page for Make Your First Dollar course.
Here’s what I’m talking about:
It’s incredibly in-depth, and I’m sure many of the people reading this testimonial could put themselves in Bryan’s shoes.
Now, I’m not saying long-form is the right approach for every single brand, but it’s definitely something to consider.
If you zig when your competitors zag, this could be your ticket to making your brand stand out.
Experiment with video
Who says a testimonial has to be a conventional text-based snippet?
There are no rules.
I’m a fan of experimenting with different mediums, especially video.
And quite frankly, video has never been hotter than it is right now.
Here are just a few interesting video marketing stats:
- “45% of people watch more than an hour of Facebook or YouTube videos a week.”
- “85% of the US Internet audience watches videos online.”
- “51% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI.”
- “Marketers who use video grow revenue 49% faster than non-video users.”
If you’re crushing it with video in other areas of marketing, why not incorporate it into your testimonials?
One company in particular that pulls this off flawlessly is Codecademy:
They provide a great real-life example of how one of their users elevated his career and created one of the top 50 websites in 2013.
It’s very compelling, and I’m sure it’s motivated many “iffy” prospects to go ahead and sign up for Codecademy.
Unbounce did A/B testing on their homepage to see what impact video testimonials would have.
Here’s page A, featuring traditional text testimonials:
It looks good enough.
But here’s page B, featuring a video:
This led to a 25% conversion lift!
If you’re looking for inspiration and ideas for creating video testimonials, check out this post from HubSpot.
There’s a bunch of great examples.
At its core, a testimonial is a very simple thing.
a formal statement testifying to someone’s or a brand’s character and qualifications.
But the way you go about creating a testimonial and the elements you incorporate can make or break it.
The more tried-and-true tactics are okay, and I’m sure they will have some impact.
But the tactics I explained in this post should maximize that impact.
Following this blueprint should enable you to create a highly persuasive testimonial your prospects will eat up.
This should make it possible to quickly gain their trust, squash any skepticism they may have, and ultimately motivate them to buy.
What do you think the most important element of a testimonial is?
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