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Writing better testimonials that are more persuasive and helps convince users to take action

Testimonials

Social proof is powerful. We all know that, but how powerful? Well, if it is used right, it can increase conversions.

Conversion optimization expert, Talia Wolf says,

Over the past 7 years I’ve ran thousands of A/B test and have seen time and time again that social proof is one of the most important elements of a landing page or a website. So, instead of just planting social proof randomly on your page with a few logos, it should actually be part of your entire conversion optimization strategy and act as one of the most important (and successful) “sales people” on the page.”

The importance of social proof cannot be neglected. If you follow Talia’s advice, it becomes part of the entire conversion strategy.

Today, I want to focus on writing better testimonials. Often, they suck. I hate to say it that way, but the add little to the conversation.

My goal is to get you to think about your testimonials and move a step closer to getting better, more powerful testimonials that help you convert visitors into customers.

Meaningless testimonials are a nice placeholder but will not help conversions. As Talia says,

“Marketers using testimonials or reviews that don’t reflect their customers, or focusing on aspects customers’ don’t care about and result in having little to no effect on conversion rates. Which basically means missing out on huge potential to turn more visitors into customers and build trust.”

So, it is important that we invest some effort in better testimonials for our website agency.

What the heck is a testimonial?

Okay, you know what a testimonial is even if you can’t define it. Even so, let’s give it our best shot. In an article at Hotjar, marketer Sean D’Souza defines a testimonial like this,

“A testimonial is a written or spoken statement that presents a customer’s first-hand account of a positive experience with a product, service, or company. Testimonials are evidence that a company is dependable and that its products or services are worth the price.”

Naturally, we know that a testimonial is a statement recalling a first-hand experience, but I want you to notice something in this definition. D’Souza says that they are “evidence that a company is dependable” and that the company and its products and services are “worth the price.” Consider this bookends. A good testimonial has to make the case for these two things.

Many testimonials do not. They may be classified more as a short review.

The reason you need a good testimony is to provide credibility (dependable as D’Souza says) and proof, or social proof (worth the price). These are the two major benchmarks of a good testimonial.

Testimonials from happy customers
Testimonials from happy customers

The problem with most testimonials

But there is a problem with most testimonials. They are meaningless, or useless as Wolf says. They often fail to give the info that is needed for a customer to make a decision. What you often see are the testimonials that Nevile Medhora calls an “Ego Testimonial.”

What is an “Ego Testimonial?” I’m glad you asked. Take it away Neville,

“An “Ego Testimonial” is a testimonial that sounds great to YOU and YOUR COMPANY, but it doesn’t serve any benefit to the customer.”

It looks a little something like this:

Fake Profile Image from thispersondoesnotexist.com
Fake Profile Image from thispersondoesnotexist.com

“I love Todd! He writes the best articles and they are fun to read.” (Fictional of course)

This would be an “Ego Testimonial.” It sounds good to me, but it does nothing to convince you to use my services. It does not provide credibility or proof of services, the two things that are good benchmarks for a testimonial.

I have started calling this hype marketing. The language depends on hype and is usually characterized by adjectives.

What’s missing and how can testimonials be better

So, what’s missing a testimonial. We have already mentioned two benchmarks: benefits and social proof. These are two things that can make the testimonial more compelling.

Copywriter Henneke Duistermaat mentions four tips to make the testimonial more compelling. The tips include: “Demonstrate a benefit,” “Overcome objections,” “Be specific,” and “Use the selling power of testimonials.”

I want to focus on three things that make a testimonial better: Benefits, Results, and Overcome Objections.

If you can hit these three elements, you have a good testimonial.

Benefits

Henneke says this regarding the benefit,

“To get a persuasive testimonial, ask your customer why they wanted to hire you. What was the problem they were struggling with? Then ask them how you’ve helped. What impact has your work had on them?”

This is crucial. Don’t let your client just say you were great and they loved working with you. Prompt them with the right questions. I will give you some questions to ask later in the article.

Results

Results are important to give you credibility. Take a look at this testimonial for Case Study Buddy,

Chris Dreyer, Founder & CEO – Rankings.io
“We’ve closed $179,444 worth of deals in the past month and case studies helped close them all. Our new case studies are powerful lead magnets and they’re great for sales.”

Screenshot: Case Study Buddy
Screenshot: Case Study Buddy

Whoa, now that stands out. That gives credibility to Case Study Buddy (CSB) as being the best at SaaS case studies.

Think about it for a second. Suppose you invested $2K for a case study project (written case studies start at $1750 at CSB) and you got back almost $180K. That’s a really nice return on investment, yeah?

That is communicating the results. Results have more power when you can give numbers and/or data to support success.

Overcoming Objections

A good testimonial can overcome your potential customer’s objections before you have to. That’s powerful meaning it leaves you one less objection to close the project.

D’Souza says,

“Don’t dance around a potential objection. Every buying decision comes with some risk (even if it’s just the risk of feeling like a fool), and an effective testimonial will directly address a single, specific objection.
source: https://www.hotjar.com/blog/testimonials-guide#great-testimonial-page-qualities

As you can see in this testimonial for Jessica Mehring’s Horizon Peak Consulting, the customer helped others overcome any objections.

In the testimony, Mike Robertson from Ravenshoe Group gave reasons that his hesitations faded away with his interaction with Jessica’s team.
https://www.horizonpeakconsulting.com/about/testimonials/

Screenshot: www.horizonpeakconsulting.com
Screenshot: www.horizonpeakconsulting.com

Overcoming objections in a testimonial also helps with credibility and social proof.

Wrapping it up

Reviews are good and it seems our industry relies on review type testimonials. However, do they really help persuade a potential customer?

See if you can dig a little deeper to get more depth to a client’s testimonial. The power and persuasion of a good testimonial can be conversion boosting for your business.

Earlier I said I had some questions you can ask to help you get a better testimonial from customers. These questions come from an article at Copybloggers by Sean D’Souza:

Ask these 6 questions to get a powerful testimonial

  1. What was the obstacle that would have prevented you from buying this product?
  2. What did you find as a result of buying this product?
  3. What specific feature did you like most about this product?
  4. What are three other benefits of this product?
  5. Would you recommend this product? If so, why?
  6. Is there anything you’d like to add?

Copy them to a document and use them to help you create your own form to help solicit a testimonial. Further, if you choose to interview your customer, you can use these questions to guide the conversation.

What kind of testimonials have you gotten from your clients?

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Todd Jones
Along with being the resident writer for MainWP and content hacker at Copyflight, I specialize in writing about startups, entrepreneurs, social media, WordPress and inbound marketing topics.
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