Strategically use testimonials

No one ever asks how to use testimonials. Instead most do it the way everyone else does it. They create a testimonials page and they hope you go read them. But is that the best way?

Let’s establish some criteria to measure our use of testimonials. Has the use of testimonials in your marketing enabled you to

  • Increase your income?
  • Reduce your working hours?
  • Increase your conversion rate?

If you have some other measure of criteria, please share below.

So what are testimonials?

Well they’re not just the emails you get that say how great you are. Yes, those are testimonials but you have more powerful ones at your fingertips.

A testimonial is any third party tool that lends proof to your claim. That means a retweet is a testimonial if you’re claiming influence among your audience members. Retweets, repins, and shares show that what you’re saying is resonating with your audience.

Your Amazon Sales spreadsheet showing you made 51 book sales from a book you blogged about last week is a testimonial. Not only does it show your influence, but your ability to get people to open their wallets.

Pictures of smiling people at your coupon workshop is a testimonial without any words. Not only does it show that your content is pleasing, but it also shows that real people do attend your workshops. It shows someone new that they are not alone in their interest. Very powerful indeed.

Not every testimonial supports every claim. Kind words from someone who attended your workshop do not support a claim that you’re influential in your community. It does directly support the claim that the workshops are valuable and informative, but that’s likely it.

Showing that you have 400 unique visitors per day does not support the claim that people love your website. You may be able to use a “returning visitor stat’ to do that, or blog comments, or mentions in the social universe. Just make sure that the testimonial itself adds value to the goal you’re trying to achieve.

How do you use testimonials?

Your business is no different than George Lucas’s, Sam Walton’s or John Grisham’s. They are basically the same but in different forms. You provide products and/or services to an audience who, in return, pays for them. Sure Adsense income and coupon prints are a bit different, but those aren’t the only sources for sure.

Ever pick up a John Grisham novel in the airport bookstore? What’s the first thing you do when you pick up a book you’re considering purchasing? Look at the back cover for the synopsis, right? And what do you find along with the synopsis? Yep, testimonials from people they hope you respect.

How about a movie trailer? They never ask you to visit StarWars.com/testimonials to find out what the critics say, do they? Nope. They feature the good reviews right in the ad, after one explosion and before another.

In both of those cases the testimonials are used directly in the buying process. No extra page, no extra website. The buyer doesn’t have to do anything extra to benefit from the fine words of others. Not only that but the testimonials directly support the goal of buying the book or the movie ticket.

Another influential part of testimonials is the author of such. Movies look for reputable movie critics. Books look for newspaper reviewers. Businesses look for stereotypical customers. Facebook uses your friends faces along with ads to show that your current community already likes that company. Infomercials look for celebrities. The best testimonial is the one that resonates with your audience from both a content and origin standpoint.

Where do you put testimonials?

Without knowing it your readers are probably benefiting from the testimonials in your blog comments. When people comment on a blog post sharing their own experience, validating the ideas in the post, responding with their own results. . . those are testimonials working for you. And they are right in line with the buying process. Blog comments are social proof that the topic is being enjoyed by others. They also make it easy for others to comment, follow and heed your advice.

What about your media kit? Are the testimonials separated from the Media Kit or are you using quotes directly in the explanatory paragraphs? In the “Online Reach” section, are you including links to your most commented blog posts? Repins? Retweets? Are you using natural social proof, or have you decided that telling them you have 3,200 followers is better?

One of the great things about the online world is the ability to take screen shots. Actual complimentary tweets, emails and Facebook updates show the reality of the comment and instantly dispels any disbelief the reader may have. Lots of people make up testimonials. Screen shots used throughout your content dispel the belief that you do too.

No one wants to be first. Whether we ask for it or not, we want proof that someone else has done it, survived it and is better for it. We don’t want to be sold, we want to be educated. Instead of telling someone how great you are, just pop in a testimonial and you never have to broach the subject.

Dan R Morris is the author of LettersFromDan, a marketing strategy program dedicated to improving your revenue stream from online efforts. Dan is an infomercial producer, niche website owner, product developer, author and Mastermind leader. Dan actively encourages marketers to take that extra step so that “Hope” doesn’t become the marketing plan.

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