July 22, 2014 | Emily Winsauer

Why Use Testimonials on Your Website?

Can Testimonials Increase Conversions

If you shop online, I’d be willing to bet the farm that you read product reviews from other consumers before you make a big purchase.

And you’re not alone—as of January 2014, WebDAM reports that customer testimonials beat all other types of content marketing in effectiveness.

Why Use Testimonials?

The web has made it easier for consumers to get recommendations not only from friends, but to see secure, verified reviews from people all over the world.

As a result, an increasing number of people say they trust online reviews just as much as recommendations from acquaintances78% as of last year.

Admittedly, testimonials and customer reviews are not strictly the same thing, but the principle holds - testimonials are a valuable form of social proof that gives your value claims more legitimacy.

How Many Testimonials Do I Need?

When we talk to our clients about using testimonials, many of them are intimidated by the prospect of gathering them. Probably the most common question we hear is “How many do I need?” Luckily, it doesn’t take many to have a big impact.

When asked how many online reviews they needed to read before they felt like they could trust a business, 67% of consumers said 6 or fewer—hardly the overwhelming number our clients may be expecting.

The importance of this type of social proof is growing—just one year earlier, that number was just 52%, indicating that people trust reviews and the process of reviewing more than they did just a year ago.

What Kind of Testimonials Should I Display?

Authentic testimonials don’t sound overly polished, manipulative, or “sales-y,” so don’t be afraid of testimonials that aren’t glowing, unqualified praise.

The social commerce company Reevoo recently released research suggesting that the presence negative reviews can even have a positive effect. They report that when consumers see nothing but good reviews, 30% suspect censorship; likewise, 68% say they trust a company’s reviews more when they see both positive and negative ones.

What bearing does this have on your testimonials? While we wouldn’t suggest putting negative testimonials on your website (unlike product review systems, there’s no assumption that you’re displaying every piece of feedback you receive), there is evidence to suggest that balanced testimonials with pros and cons may help you.

Remember, it’s not just about your product or service - testimonials about your customer service are valuable too. If a customer had a problem and you fixed it, don't be afraid to share that—it helps future customers feel secure in doing business with you.

Also, I would highly encourage you to think about testimonials as not just written recommendations, but as a multimedia opportunity.

There are excellent ways to incorporate video and photos into testimonials across your web presence. Visual content is increasingly popular across all platforms, but particularly on social media, so encourage your customers to share their photos and videos as well - they may not even think you'd want it.

Where Should I Display Them?

For many businesses, it's ideal to have a website page devoted to testimonials where all of them are visible, but it doesn't end there. Using a plugin like IQ Testimonials, you can add scrolling testimonials to any page.

They're particularly valuable on website pages that drive important conversions, where your potential customers are making decisions.

It's well worth your time to select the testimonials that best complement the conversion you're trying to achieve (IQ Testimonials will let you embed a short code to display a set of specific testimonials). Depending on the content and format of the testimonial, it can achieve different goals at different stages of the sales process.

By choosing testimonials that address potential customers' questions and concerns at a given point, you're using social proof to guide them down the sales funnel.

Testimonials aren't only for your website, though—you can also share them on social media and incorporate them into emails, blog posts, ebooks, print materials, videos, broadcast ads, and beyond. Hey - if they're the most effective form of content marketing, then why not use them?

So, how do you go about getting these awesome testimonials? Luckily, I wrote a post about that, too. You can read it here: How to Get Testimonials for Your Website


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Emily Winsauer

Emily Winsauer

As VIEO's content director, Emily Winsauer was responsible for content strategy for VIEO and our clients for over 5 years. She recently moved to Seattle where she's still creating compelling content in her new role.

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