As the classic New Yorker magazine cartoon says, on the Internet nobody knows you’re a dog.
And when someone new comes to your website, they don’t know if they can trust you or not. That’s why you need social proof — basically a way to show that other people already trust you, making you trustworthy.
On a website you can get social proof by displaying a few different things: logos of professional associations you belong to, lists of awards and social media likes on your pages and posts.
But the best is perhaps the oldest form of social proof, customer testimonials.
According to Entrepreneur Magazine, testimonials work well because they build trust, aren’t salesy and overcome skepticism.
But there are ways to use testimonials that don’t work for your business because they don’t work for your audience. For example, they’re not relevant, don’t highlight benefits of your product or service or just aren’t believable. Here are three things you need to make your testimonials work:
- Authors who your audience will identify with. That means you need to know your audience’s demographics — age, sex, likely educational level, etc. — as well as your audience’s tone and style. If your customers and other web visitors are men in their fifties who’ve work work in machine shops, display testimonials from similar men. And get their permission to identify them as openly as possible: use their full real name, company, location and even a photo. The more real the customer seems, the more your web audience will trust their testimonial.
- Praise, but with a twist. Testimonials that are “all good” are less convincing and compelling than testimonials that start with a doubt or a challenge that your company then met or overcame. For example, “I was attracted to the price of used equipment but was skeptical that it could ever be as reliable as new components. But Company X won me over with their 10-year warranty, 99-point inspection plan and money-back guarantee. Their obsessive customer service was just icing on the cake.”
- Right on the homepage. A few short testimonials on your homepage make it more likely that visitors will click through to the inside. You can also put longer testimonials or even letters of recommendation, if that’s appropriate to your business, inside your site, but linked to the homepage. Duct Tape Marketing recommends putting a single short testimonial about half-way down your homepage and you can do that attractively in WordPress using a quote rotator such as the Testimonials by Aihrus plugin.
What if your business is new and you don’t have many customers yet? As Entrepreneur advises, give out free samples online:
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.
Make it a habit to ask your customers and clients for testimonials right after they buy from you or you complete your first job for them. That’s when they’re most likely to be most satisfied with and excited about your company. Don’t feel shy about asking — getting a testimonial up on your website will give good publicity to your customer, so it’s a win for both of you.
— Erik Curren, Curren Media Group