Effective Client Testimonials

People are doing their homework before they purchase a product or commit to working with a company. They are asking their friends for feedback and researching products, services and companies online.

The best thing you can do is to be aware of reviews people are putting out there (google your company every now and then) and make sure you provide effective success stories and testimonials that can be found on your site.

Using client testimonials on your site builds trust and credibility in your business; it shows that others value the service that you provide or the product you sell. A recent blog post, The Secret Life of Testimonials, published by copyblogger, discusses making testimonials more believable by using a “reverse testimonial” method. They suggest that admitting skepticism in the product or service in the beginning may, in fact, make your testimonial more compelling. The article makes some good points about using testimonials in the same manner that we talk to our friends about products we buy or services we use.

After working with a client or selling them a product you should request their feedback and ask for permission to use it on your website. Not only will the feedback help you improve your goods and services, but by putting it on your website you can provide future customers with an idea of what they can expect from your products or what it’s like to work with you.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you put a testimonial on your website:

Use real people.

Include the customer’s  name and location with the testimonial. If it’s in context, add the  business name and a link to the company’s website. This shows that other people back up your work and builds credibility for your business. Be sure to ask for permission before putting this information on your website.

Keep it simple.

When you receive a testimonial from a client, you may need to refine it (with their permission, of course). Don’t use industry jargon, use the language you would use when you talk to your friends; in layman’s terms. Steer away from including overenthusiastic praises and overused adjectives. Do you ever watch those infomercials and notice how “passionate” the customers are and you ask yourself, “Real person or actor?” Most people can spot a phony right away, so make sure that the testimonial won’t sound fake to others. An authentic, easy to read testimonial should only include the most necessary information to relay a clear picture of the way the person felt about the product you delivered or the service they received.

Use examples.

Make the testimonial helpful by using examples of how your product or service has benefited them. Explain what their business was like before they bought your service or problems they were having before they purchased your product. You can enhance a testimonial by including hard evidence your client has noticed, like an increase in sales or the ability to provide better customer service.

Short and sweet.

No one likes to read a text-heavy website page, we are skimmers. Keeping your testimonials short and sweet (and to the point) increases the likeliness that people will actually read them. When refining a testimonial provided by the client, you should try to take key points that will demonstrate conclusive evidence.

Sometimes you don’t even have to ask for client feedback to gather a good testimonial for your site. If you get an email from a client you are working with who acknowledges your attention to detail or the timeliness of your responses, ask them if you can display their compliment on your site. Clients may also thank you publicly on Twitter or Facebook by tweeting or posting an appreciative message that you may want to re-purpose as a testimonial for your site.

Ask for permission.

Always, always, always ask for permission before putting someone’s personal information or a testimonial they have written on your site. Always. Nuff said.

Where to put testimonials?

Many websites use a specific page dedicated to testimonials and success stories. You might also want to think about matching a testimonial with the content on the page. For example, put a testimonial about someone’s experience with a product on the product specific page. This benefits the user because while they are obtaining information about the product they can see how it has positively effected someone else.  (Little secret, it might even help increase your website’s goal conversions.)

Using client testimonials will help build trust in your business, but they must be constructed and refined properly to be effective. They don’t have to be filled with fluff; just simple and factual so people will read them, and probably believe them. Then, most importantly, validate those testimonials with the work that you do and the products you provide.