There I was, in my full leisurewear-clad glory, headphones in, strolling along on my treadmill, when the podcast host I was listening to said something that near threw my rear end off the back end.
They didn’t subscribe to using client testimonials on websites as a great way to boost business credibility.
A few days later I heard a similar sentiment, this time, from a client:
Testimonials felt clichéd and tacky.
And later that week, a fellow business owner confessed they avoided using testimonials on their site as it was common perception in her industry that they were often completely fabricated.
Boo! Not cool.
I’m a big believer in that – when done right – promoting client testimonials on your website can and will positively impact your bottom line. I’ve experienced this first-hand and it was one of the ways I quickly booked myself out for weeks in advance after launching my business. In fact, a 85% of consumers trust online reviews[i] as much a mate’s business recommendation.
So how do you generate better testimonials than “Great service. Would recommend” which are a waste of prime website real estate and little more than an ego boost? And what’s the best way to assure potential customers that not only are you the best person for the job, but all this glowing praise is as more legit than Kanye’s love for Kanye.
1. ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE. This might require you to pull on your big girl boots, but if want a testimonial? You’ll need to ask for one. Your customers are busy people, so the chances of receiving a review from every happy customer – sometimes no matter how amazeballs your service – is slim. Make it part of your processes to regularly ask for testimonials – jump on the phone, send them an email or create an automated email that’s sent after your services or products are received by your client.
2. FREQUENCY MATTERS. Regularly asking customers to post their feedback directly to Google Reviews or Facebook will help you avoid gaps that will leave people wondering why rave reviews stopped in 2004. Worried you’ll cop a bad one in the mix? This is a golden opportunity to show the world just how fabulous you are at managing client concerns with aplomb! Even more reason to want to do business with you.
3. GROW YOUR GANG. Consumers need to read around seven reviews[ii] before they’ll trust what you’re saying about your fantabulous biz echoes the sentiments of your customer base. Don’t want the visual clutter? TLDR? My homepage features only the most powerful single sentence of each testimonial. The full testimonial is featured on a dedicated “Client Reviews” page.
4. GET SPECIFIC. Ask for reviews that detail two things: 1: How your customer felt before they found you, and 2: How much better life is after your products or services. This way, prospective clients will identify with the problem your other clients once faced, and they’ll be keen to get their hands on your products and services that saw those problems vanish. Specific mention of your services, products, your name or your business name will also remove doubt that your review isn’t the real deal.
4. DOUBLE UP. I don’t recommend posting testimonials on your website that haven’t been posted directly by your customers elsewhere online. Instead, ask your client to post to Facebook review or Google Reviews (bonus SEO points here), then copy that review and post it to your website. You’ll avoid raising the alarm that reviews on your site can’t be traced back to the original source.
5. SHOW I.D. Fake testimonials on a business website might identify a supposed customer by their initials but are less likely to show a full name. They might say which country they live in, but not narrow down to a specific town or suburb. They won’t reference or link back to a client’s business (if you’re in the B2B space), and it’s unlikely the review will include a photo of the customer. Simple, but these four things will help sway the cynics that your testimonial has been provided by a walking, talking, ridgy-didge customer.
6. NEK-LEVEL INDISPUTABLE TRUTH. To raise the bar, use video footage for client testimonials. If you can star alongside your happy customer, even better. And unless you wield some impressive animation and editing skills, I’d rate the authenticity of a rave review like that with 5 stars.