Website testimonial, at its base level, is a comfort blanket for all those people that visit your business. It’s snuggly and warm, with a thick feather down made of happy previous customers that oozes confidence straight out of the screen.
It answers three questions that every buyer expresses when reaching into their wallets:
- Can the seller be trusted?
- Do they have a good track record and can they deliver?
- What are they like to work with?
An analogy would be a used car salesman – if the owner gave you a typically American sales pitch and screamed YEE-HAR whilst wearing a cowboy hat, would you trust him to sell you a car that isn’t seconds away from detonation? If 50 great independant reviews said ‘My word! That’s a fine purveyor of automobiles!’ would your opinion alter?
In short, the importance of website testimonial is the building of credibility.
What are the returns for your business when employing website testimonial?
Naturally, we’re not jumping through these hoops if there’s nothing in it for us, so what does the average business achieve with website testimonial? Kissmetrics ran a survey and discovered that adding reviews and testimonials boosted conversion by more than 34%.
By adding the source of the testimonial to increase authenticity and moving them up to the top of the page, WikiJob jumped by 34%. That’s nearly a third overall increase in conversion rate!
Getting that website testimonial is the hardest part
Now, anything this valuable should be difficult to get and testimonial can be pretty damn difficult. One of the major failings of the human race is that we’re more likely to complain about a service than give it the praise it deserves.
In short, you’re going to have to ask. Bite the bullet; the worst that can happen is ‘nothing’. As a web developer, the work I do tends to build longer client relationships than a simple product purchase and by the end of the project, I’m on good grounds to make simple requests.
Make it as easy for the end customer as possible – don’t ask them to ‘review me on Google’, send them links to the specific page and even offer instructions if need be. Not everyone is tech-savvy and the older generations tend to suffer more than most.
Want some ideas on how to approach the problem? Here you go!
Customer handouts – at the end of a service or product sale, why not hand the customer a handout, detailing why it’s important to you and where possible, a step by step method on how to leave the review.
Email signature – make gaining testimonial part of your email signature. Dress it up with some HTML and turn it into a call to action, with a link through to the review service(s) you want to steer them towards.
Social media – do you enjoy a fantastic following of satisfied customers? It’s a great place to ask. If they’ve already left a good review on Facebook, why not ask them to review you in other places as well?
Email follow-ups – Make it part of your follow up plan for each client / customer. Don’t harangue them, leave it a few days.
Business surveys – even if only a small percentage of your customers react to it and complete it, as long as you’ve got a section that generates a review, every review is golden.
Where to submit them
I’m not a big fan of a testimonial system that operates only on the owners website. After all, what’s to say they haven’t spent the day faking it or getting friends and family to do it for them? Outside sources that aren’t fully under your control are the best places, but by all means repeat them on your website as part of your website testimonial system.
Google Places For Business
If I had just one option for testimonials and reviews, this is the one I’d choose. Google places generates the map results often seen (now only the top three) at the top of the page when searching for a location based business. It ties in deeply with Google’s services and provides a host of benefits:
- Increased visibility in local search marketing
- A number of 5 stars reviews makes the listing much more visible above your competitors
- You can leverage Schema markup to make the most of those reviews (we’ll get to that later!)
A study done by DMW concluded that quality and quantity of reviews submitted by outside sources on Google Places is a strong inclusion and ranking variable.
Trusted Third Party Directories
When I say ‘directory’, I’m not talking about that half-assed mess of advertising that the owner stuck up in 1998. For reviews to have credibility, they need to be from a credible source with a recognisable brand. Directories such as:
- Touch Local
Although unlikely to have as big an impact as the organic search results, people do use them and they have taken the place of the hoary old Yellow Pages. Don’t forget, this is a pointless ask if you don’t have a listing on there already.
We’ve got the reviews piling in! What do we do with them?
Deciding a location for website testimonial
The first step is in deciding whereabouts they’re going to appear. They’re not going to be a lot of use at the bottom; the average visitor scans the website rather than reading every cleverly crafted word; if they’ve not spotted something they like in those first few vital seconds, they will be gone like a nice married couple walking into a bar in the worng end of town.
- Place reviews as near the top of the page as possible. Don’t go daft; introduce yourself first!
- Don’t worry about the old ‘above the fold’ argument – it’s the 21st century and people WILL scroll.
- Use a slider / fader to keep things looking neat – but make sure your absolute golden testiomonial is the first in line.
- Consider your testimonial as a call to action. Make it stand out, but don’t go all garish on me.
- DON’T reserve the testimonial to the front page – every page on your website is a landing page. Mix it up a little and use testimonial that suits that particular business topic.
Be sure to give links back to that credible source – something along the lines of ‘View all G+ Reviews’.
Dealing with negative reviews
In a bizarre way, the occasional negative review can be a plus point. If you saw a business online that had 499 perfect 5 star reviews, would that not look a little shaky to you? Sometimes, that less than perfect testimonial can add a little honesty to the proceedings and add that all important credibility.
Where possible, react to negative reviews. I don’t mean bring down hellfire and brimstone against the heathens, but do react; apologise if need be. There may be technical reasons for your actions or simply a ludicrous expectation from the customer. Be polite!
In Summary: The Overwhelming Importance Of Website Testimonial
The old saying ‘people buy from people’ is more true than ever. It doesn’t matter how flashy your website is, or how overwhelmingly enjoyable your copy, without a bit of website testimonial to back it all up you’re going to be missing out on a lot of potential conversions. Honest reviews from business owners that can be verified are the key to leveraging them; never, ever make the mistake of thinking that nobody will follow up and personally contact the reviewer!
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