October 9, 2014 Why testimonials are important to business success

By Natalie Khoo

If you’re running a small business, you need all the help you can get to bring customers in through the door. You could promote quality. You could promote price. But these are words customers hear all the time.

So what can you do to make your business stand out from the crowd? The answer is: provide credible testimonials.

Testimonials are positive word-of-mouth referrals. They are one of the best ways to generate business and don’t cost a cent. Start collecting them from your customers and put them on your site today.

Social proof

When trying to persuade a customer to choose one business over another, effective testimonials always work. The plain truth is that people are influenced by other people’s opinions.

This theory is called ‘Social Proof’, investigated by famous psychologist Robert Cialdini in his book Influence and the Power of Persuasion; we make decisions once we’ve seen someone else do it first. For example, if we hear “This book has sold 3 million copies!” we think it must be good.

Testimonials provide this social proof to your prospective customers. They give you credibility and show that:

  • you are reputable

  • people have had good experiences using your product or service

  • people can trust you

  • people can be reassured you will provide them with exactly what they’re looking for.

Promoting good customer feedback is guaranteed to bring in more work amongst your clients and peers. We’ve all been influenced by it before, so you may as well start using testimonials to your advantage.

Collecting testimonials

The good news is if you genuinely have a great business, testimonials are easy to get. To begin, start collecting positive feedback from former clients. You can do this a couple of different ways:

  • The more formal way is to contact them via letter or email. Ask them to write and send you a few sentences, describing what they liked about your business.

  • Alternatively, the easiest way of all is to simply ask your customers over the phone or in person. You can then write their comments down yourself.

  • Another is to supply a customer feedback form at the point of purchase. Negative feedback helps you become a better business, positive feedback can be posted on your site.

How to make your testimonials work for you

A) Edit and make your testimonial clear

Testimonials need to be sharp and to the point. Avoid diluting the power of your testimonial with waffle. It doesn’t have to be published word for word. Pick out the best parts of your testimonial and cut it down (without changing the message) to just two or three lines. To make it stand out even more, you can give your testimonial an appropriate heading.

B) Add a photo of the customer

Adding a portrait photo next to your testimonial makes your testimonial seem more credible. When asking a former customer if you can feature them on your site, ask them if they would be happy to send you their professional picture to add as well.

You can also do something similar if your client has any video. Embed a clip next to their testimonial – this creates an interactive user experience where they can see what kind of other customers you’ve worked with before.

C) Format your testimonials so they stand out

The type of font you use can have a big effect on your testimonials. Depending on your overall web design and style, you may even like to use a traditional ‘typewriter’ font.

Alternatively, depending where you put your testimonials, you may want to use a different font to your body copy. This will make sure that the testimonials stand out.

Also, it is important that you put your testimonials in quotation marks. This makes it clear that the statement is a quote, not just promotional copy that you’ve written yourself.

D) Show their credentials

It’s not enough to write down a quote and just add someone’s first name. If you really want to get the most out of your testimonial, add more information.

If you can, add the customer’s full name. You should also add the company that they’re from. Better yet, add their role, especially if they’re a manager or director.

Depending on the type of business you have, you can also add other bits of information such as the suburb that they’re from or other details, such as their weight if you were promoting a personal training business.

The best thing that you can add is their credentials. If someone is an expert, list their qualifications – the more important the person, the more credible the testimonial.

E) Strategically place them on your site

Once you’ve collected a few testimonials, it’s time to upload them to your website. The most common way to add testimonials is with a ‘testimonials page’ – curious customers can click on this page and see what others are saying about you.

One step better is a ‘clients page’. Ideally, this page should have testimonials and short descriptions. Almost like a folio, it details who you’ve worked for, what you did, and what they thought of your business.

However, the best way to place them is to add them to various pages throughout your site (e.g. your right hand navigational panel). Have a different testimonial on every page, or set them to rotate. This way the customer doesn’t need to search for good responses about your business – they just appear.

If the testimonial relates to a specific product in your product range, you may want to post it next to that specific product.

For even more effect, you can also add your testimonials to your email signature. This will help your business reinforce your professional positive image every time you contact someone.

F) Continue collecting them

Once you’re done uploading them to your site, remember to keep collecting testimonials for future reference. When you know you’ve done an awesome job for someone, make sure you ask them for their feedback.

You should continue to upload new testimonials to your website as often as you can. No matter what type of business you are running, you will benefit from adding them to your website.