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How to Effectively Use Testimonials

Adding this single element to your website can multiply your profits--and get your customers selling your products for you.
February 24, 2006
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/83752

What do people who've actually purchased and used your product or service think about it?

Answering that question is one of the most fundamental tasks your website needs to accomplish--and it's as simple to do as it is important.

By using testimonials (reviews and comments from your satisfied customers) in text, audio or video format on your website, you not only answer the question, you also transform your sales pitch into a credible, unbiased recommendation for your product.

Overcome Buyer Skepticism
Adding testimonials is probably one of the easiest ways to improve your website, and a good one can generate more selling power than some of the best sales copy out there.

So why are testimonials so effective?

How to Choose the Right Testimonial
When you're choosing testimonials, there are a few key ingredients to look for that make the difference between an ineffective testimonial and one that sells. Here's an example of a glowing, but ultimately ineffective testimonial:

"I love this product! I can't get enough! I'm so glad I bought your stuff and I'll definitely be back to get more!"

What could be wrong with that? It sounds like you have a happy customer on your hands!

But what does this testimonial really tell your visitors? Does it prove the product works, or explain exactly how your customer benefited from using it? While the feedback is definitely positive, the testimonial doesn't provide enough detail to have any real impact on your visitors.

Here's an example of the kind of effective, benefits-driven testimonial that'll turn a visitor into a customer:

"I used the methods you told me to use, and for three days my phone's been ringing! I sold over $3,500 in goods and services in three days! It's the first time in five months that anyone had really purchased anything."

What makes this testimonial so powerful? Let's break down the elements of an effective testimonial in more detail:

Now that you know what you're looking for in a testimonial, how do you actually gather the reviews you need from your customers?

How to Effectively Use Testimonials

Getting Great Testimonials--Even if You Haven't Sold Anything Yet
If your customers have given you positive feedback on your product already, then you may already have some great testimonials to add to your site. However, if your customer response is a little scarce--or if you're just starting out--getting testimonials from your buyers might take a little more effort.

So how do you collect the testimonials you need and keep them coming as you grow your business?

One easy way to collect testimonials is to include a link on your site with a form that allows your customers to give you their vote of confidence: "Tell us how this product changed your life!" or "Click here to let us know what you think!" Put this link next to some testimonials that you've already gathered to give customers an example of the kind of feedback you're looking for.

A more effective method is to create an autoresponder that contacts your buyers after they've purchased your product to ask how they're enjoying the product, as well as giving them a chance to offer feedback on their experience with your business.

And, of course, anytime you receive a great letter or e-mail from a customer, ask them if you can use their comments on your website to recommend your product to others. If they were happy enough to let you know, they're bound to want to spread the word.

If you haven't yet begun selling your product and have no feedback yet, offer your product or service for free to a select group of customers in exchange for their thoughts on the product or some details on their experience with your site. The impact that testimonial will have on your bottom line will be well worth the initial expense.

Strategies For Using Your Testimonials Effectively
Once you've got some testimonials to share with your visitors, you need to make sure you're putting them to the best possible use on your site. Always make sure that you:

Now let's look at a few mistakes to avoid when using testimonials on your website:

Final Thoughts
If you're not using testimonials on your website, you're missing out on one of the most powerful, easy-to-use and cheap marketing tools available to you.

Most of us would rather act on a referral from a friend than make a purchase based on a sales pitch alone. We want to know that the product actually works before we take the leap to buy, and we're bound to put more trust in someone who has already used the product successfully than the person trying to convince us to buy it. Using glowing, fact-filled testimonials on your website will let your visitors know that you're worthy of their trust.