There are countless articles and blog posts out there encouraging businesses, large and small, to include testimonials on their website, explaining the reasons to collect and display them. One of those reasons is to demonstrate credibility, another is to instill trust in you and your business. But does that really make a difference? Do people actually trust testimonials, especially if they don’t know the businesses that are recommending you?
We have always encouraged our clients to use testimonials, to include asking for and showcasing them as part of their marketing activities and we do this ourselves too. I recently took part in the WP Builds weekly news live chat, hosted by Nathan Wrigley, and one of the items on the discussion agenda was his latest Podcast, episode 161 “Why don’t you believe in us?”. Nathan and his colleague David Waumsley, both of whom run their own WordPress businesses, have been reading and discussing the book ‘Watertight Marketing’ by Bryony Thomas and have dedicated several podcast episodes to her subject matter, testimonials being one of them.
As part of my own preparation for the live session, I read several of the news items in the list and listened to their podcast discussing testimonials and whether people actually pay attention to them and if they make any difference to their decision making. David and Nathan were quite skeptical about the whole notion of including testimonials on a website to ‘prove’ worth or make potential clients trust in you. They brought up the question about the belief in the person giving the testimonial, asking “why should I believe you if I don’t know who you are?”. This fascinated me. I’ve always been concerned with the other side of the question – how best to collect and use testimonials – not whether people would believe them or not. It’s a good point and has inspired me to write this blog post on why testimonials are important and how to use them in order to strengthen credibility and instill trust. By putting the testimonial in context and asking your clients to leave a Google review, for example, you can begin to answer Nathan and David’s question.
5 ways to use testimonials to strengthen credibility and build trust
Use testimonials within your case studies
Including a client testimonial in your compelling story of a real sale is an ideal placement of their testimonial because it helps to showcase the resulting benefits, in your client’s own words. So, although your potential clients might not know the business or person in the case study, there is enough verified information to prove their credibility and, in turn, yours.
Add testimonials to your past work, portfolio, products or service offering
In particular, for B2B testimonials, include a link to their website so your potential customers can find out more and ‘get to know’ them.
If you sell products online, then why not add a product review facility for individual items? This is something global online shops do, such as The North Face, but it’s also important for local businesses.
“82% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, with 52% of 18-54-year-olds saying they ‘always’ read reviews”
Include selected testimonials within your proposals and pitches
When you’re pitching or preparing a proposal, including relevant testimonials can demonstrate a proven track record in a particular industry or market. So although your potential customer won’t know the company you’ve worked with before, they will be able to see the value in what you’ve done for them which will naturally relate to their own business. You can even make it clear to them that they are welcome to pick up the phone and speak to them first-hand, thus, making a strong case for including the testimonial in the first place. You’ve worked hard, done a good job and provided excellent customer service, so why not let them rave about you?
Widen your reach
Including testimonials within your social media content enables them to be seen by a wider audience. Instead of relying on potential customers to come looking for them on your website, share them over your social channels. This can be done graphically or simply as a text post. You can also actively illicit feedback over social media by encouraging past clients to post about their experience with you, using a hashtag to easily find them. It generates good sentiment and social media is so much about sharing positive stories.
Think beyond your website
In addition to including testimonials within your social media content, you can collect them through a third party review platform such as Google My Business, Trip Advisor, Yelp or Facebook. This addresses a point that WP Builds brought up in their podcast – “How do you know the testimonials are real?”. Well, unlike with your own website, where you could essentially put up any testimonial you like or even make some up, you cannot do this on a third party review platform. These types of reviews must be added by a logged in user which means that the business cannot post reviews on behalf of the people recommending them. This is good, but unfortunately, online reviews can be manipulated and purchased too, which is obviously unethical. We know that Tripadvisor have had loads of problems with this and have written an article on how they stop this type of unethical activity. You can pick and choose which platform to collect these reviews on or collect them on several. And, be sure to respond to all reviews, positive or otherwise.
WHY? Why dedicate time to this, why include it as part of your marketing strategy – especially if there’s a chance people won’t believe them? The activity of collecting feedback and testimonials helps you to improve your products, services and customer service. Whether it’s via a feedback form or over a phone call, you will learn about your clients and what they thought about their experience with you, understand how the project or sale went from their point of view, and very importantly, find out how you did. Learning in this way can result in making improvements, identifying and filling gaps or celebrating and rewarding your team (especially if a particular staff member stood out to them). In addition, sharing positive feedback helps to make you stand out from your competition and demonstrates the confidence your clients and customers have in your company and helps them to have confidence in you too.
Let’s not forget that one of the most important forms of testimonials is in a word of mouth recommendation. We talked about this on WP Builds and agreed that the strengths of this are undisputed. However, from experience, we know that it can be worth collecting and using testimonials for business benefit, especially when framed in some of these ways.
Do you agree?
Do you tend to believe the testimonials you read or are you skeptical of them? Do you think testimonials are important for businesses? Leave us your feedback in the comments section below.
Meg Fenn, Director of Shake It Up Creative