Testimonials: A Powerful Persuasion Tool

Ah, the simple testimonial, a time honored advertising type, done to death in TV ads and ground to dust by telemarketers. It could be said that it is the original and most enduring form of advertising: making note of what people who love your product have to say about it, and using that in your message.

The internet hasn’t changed the fact that we still trust our friends’ recommendations the most. That is why advertisers tried to cram people talking about the merits of a product into countless TV ads and why so many direct marketing emails and product pages contain written testimonials displaying customer satisfaction.

Your copy could be stellar and your site super-responsive, even your product could be superior to the competition in every way – but the key question is whether all that is enough to persuade the site visitor to buy.

Testimonials play a key role in that. Most visitors check out product testimonials and customer reviews before making a purchase, and you need look no further than Amazon to realize that people prefer sites with product ratings and reviews.

The point here is that a customer will always be more persuasive than you. Great copywriters know this and use customer reviews to craft their copy. But you don’t need to be a copywriter to use testimonials on your ecommerce website in a compelling way. All you have to do is allow reviews of your products and then diligently sift through all of them, singling out those that strike you as most compelling – chances are that they will resonate with your visitors, too.

If you aren’t sure, some A/B testing will help you find the perfect review to highlight on your homepage or the product page. (this is a simple site optimization technique, where two versions of the same page are shown to two different users, and the clickthrough rate or some other performance indicator is measured to see which version has led to more conversions).

You should go beyond your site when looking for reviews – Facebook now has a review tab for local business, and Linkedin reviews can be a great trust-building tool, even though they are only available for individuals, because when users see that your employees or yourself come highly recommended, they will tend to believe that your product or service is also up to par. And don’t forget YouTube: the power of video reviews, coupled with unboxing videos, is only going to increase – and having a face to connect to goes a long way towards establishing trust in the reviewer.

There are other ways to get reviews for use for your products, such as Yelp or local search directories on Google. And its always good to solicit reviews of your product from specialized niche sites, where users can comment.

Finally, you can offer incentives for reviewing. Local search directories allow you to share coupons and discounts on their sites. Facebook allows you to provide special offers exclusive for your page fans. And you can provide a classic giveaway, gift or a discount to anyone who sends in a vide review. There is a lot to do and even more to gain, so start gathering those testimonials and reviews as soon as you have some satisfied customers.