Your prospects want to know what other customers think of
their experience with you before buying, booking or signing up. And they'll go
wherever they need to go to find out. Hence the growth of online review sites
like Yelp.com. If you sell in the B2B space, you may be faced with providing
references, another form of testimonial.
Making customer testimonials available on your own web properties is a great
way to keep shoppers and prospects engaged on your site while you provide credible
feedback from others.
We were recently asked by owners of a web site promoting cabin
rentals in Georgia how they could best integrate the testimonials they had
collected, either in their web site or blog. The tips we provided can apply
across a range of industries, so see the takeaway points of our discussion
- It's much more credible to leave a testimonial in the person's originally
submitted text. When a company polishes the text, the reader can see that and
will put less faith in what it says. It's much more believable when left
complete with (a few) typos, ramblings, and other natural expressions. (That is, unless
it's really difficult to understand or contains profanity, for example. In that
case, it can definitely benefit from some cleaning up!)
- Include the person's full real name and other relevant data, such as their
company and job position, or location and age. The idea is to make the comment
as meaningful and credible as possible to those who will be reading it, which
extends to making it transparent who said it.
- To use testimonials in a meaningful way, you can post small snippets where
they will support your company's message. For example, if you have a paragraph
that talks about all the fun kids have while staying at your rental cabins, put
a testimonial supporting that fact somewhere nearby. When six-year-old James
says, "I love the beds. I love the games. I love the fire pit. I love the
movies," it gives a lot more credibility since an actual kid reports that it IS
- You could keep a page that shows the full-length versions of all the testimonials or customer stories, while using bits
here and there throughout your site to support certain points. After each
testimonial, include a link that says "see what others are saying here" so
people can access that full page of comments.
- To draw attention to the main point you want people to take away from a
testimonial, bold that part of the sentence, especially on the long versions and
on a page that's full of testimonials. Since people scan text online, even if
they don't read the full testimonial they will see what you want them to. See
how it helps on this online
business incorporation service site.
- You could potentially use testimonials in your blog, too, but you have to be
creative to create context. You could set up a separate category called
"Customer stories", for example, then introduce each testimonial in a separate
post with a brief intro that would surely be interesting to someone checking out
Here's what the post could look like:
We just received a message from a couple who took advantage of nearly all the
Fighting Town Creek area has to offer, from golf to canoeing to delectable apple
pastries. Seems J.B. even found how cold the river is in December - the hard
way! See what this couple thought of their stay with us below...
"Just a note to share how enjoyable it was for us staying at River Lodge
(which is part of the Rainbow cabins). What a fantastic area to get close to
nature, God and all the wildlife there. This beautiful cabin in the woodsy
atmosphere on Fighting town creek was the perfect place to read, relax, or just
enjoy family and friends. We saw several deer, racoons and wanted to see a bear
but missed out. The hot tub was very relaxing and everybody must try it in
December when there is snow on the ground. Loved all the Video games and became
quite proficient at the golf game. Speaking of golf, Butternut Golf course in
Blairsville offers a challenge to those who love the game. For the more
adventuresome type, try canoeing down fighting town creek but I must warn you
that the water is very cold. I found out the hard way.
If you enjoy apples, fried apple pies and apple fritters like I do then you
must visit Mercier Apple house just down the road. Yummy. We are looking forward
to our next stay at the Riverlodge, maybe when the fall color is at its peak."
J.B. Smith & Judy Smith
- Continue to encourage more testimonials at every customer interaction. If
someone says something nice about you, ask right then and there if you could use
their words as a testimonial. See if you have any reviews on Yelp.com or other
online review sites, and if you do, also bring those into your site.
- Also encourage people to submit photos or videos! This gives a lot more credibility,
since the visual depiction is from a real customer, not the company. You can
show the photos next to the testimonial. If they don't have photos showing their
experience with your product or company, ask for a regular photo to put next to
their note. If you're posting it in your blog, too, you can promise to send them
a link once it's live, so they can show their families. What a great way to
spread the impact of a few nice words someone says about you. Don't forget to
also ask them if they'd like to get future news from you, too, so you can add
them to your mailing list.
Maximizing testimonials is one of the most enjoyable aspects of online reputation management
. But be sure to always comply with the FTC guides on testimonials and endorsements. While this post doesn't address the details, the latest considerations include clearly disclosing any material connections (such as when you've provided compensation in return for endorsement) and also being transparent when a testimonial is depicting results that are not typical. You can learn more on the FTC website
April 19, 2010
Stone Reuning is president and founder of SEO Advantage, Inc., an online marketing firm and website optimization company that helps businesses turn their websites into powerful lead and revenue generation tools.
Beginning with a focus on search engine optimization in 1999, SEO Advantage now brings a full multi-disciplinary approach to each client website. Clients enjoy dominance on Google, Yahoo and Bing through a suite of unique pay-for-performance search engine optimization and online marketing services. Experts in SEO, social media optimization, online reputation management, and website conversions work hand-in-hand with small business owners and client marketing departments providing complete copywriting and creative web design support.
You'll find SEO Advantage referenced in books such as Writing Web-Based Advertising Copy to Get the Sale and the BusinessWeek bestseller The New Rules of Marketing & PR, as well as popular ebooks like The Small Business Blogging Blueprint.