Pro Tips to Get the Most Out of Customer Testimonials

B Y   T O M   T O R T O R I C I

Whether you’ve been actually doing it or not, most businesspeople know it’s smart to collect testimonials from happy customers and clients.

Using them in your website or other marketing gets other people to help sell your services to new prospects. In fact, as a form of ‘social proof,’ the words of an independent and knowledgeable third party are typically more credible than the expectedly biased ones you use to describe your own products.

Sadly, I’ve seen a lot of companies make mistakes that flatten the impact of even stellar testimonials. Here are 7 ideas and insights to make sure that doesn’t happen to you.

1. First, stop calling them Customer Testimonials

‘Testimonials’ is a trade term, which ordinary people might understand, but not really relate to. So use the word they’re most familiar with: Reviews. Even the word ‘Customer’ should be generally avoided, since it reflects the sensibilities of company insiders rather than someone with a need.

Instead, use introductory headers like “What Homeowners Like You Said.” Or “What are People Saying?” Or “Why Do Companies Choose Us? Hear It From Them.” The point, of course, is to elicit curiosity. Humans who are trying to form an opinion tend to want to know what others think.

2. Get rid of your website Testimonial Page

It’s one of the least visited pages on your site. Instead, sprinkle those reviews around on your other pages, where people are more likely to come across them.

Relevance is key. For each of your Services pages, try to offer one or two reviews from folks who used that particular service. They’re more likely to be read if each one is separate, so don’t group them together. Picking a small number of truly meaningful reviews is more effective than trying to include every single one, even if they’re all generally positive.

3. Lets get specific

General accolades about “a great team” or “a wonderful job” are nice, but not the best type of reviews to include. Instead, choose ones that focus on the happy resolution of a specific, but common problem.

These will set off a ding-ding-ding in the mind of website readers who also happen to have that problem. This kind of implicit connection helps your company stand out among competitors who don’t know this tip.

4. Edit the hell out of ‘em

Look, those short attention spans out there aren’t going to read a three-paragraph, tiny-text review on your Home page. The ‘scanning eye’ of a first-time visitor is drawn to large-size, short-length pieces of content. Quote marks and italics help separate reviews from the other page content.

So edit longer reviews down to a sentence, or at the most, two. Sharp editing can accomplish that while retaining the gist of the reviewer’s feelings. It’s okay to rearrange the phrases a bit for brevity and ‘flow,’ as long as it doesn’t affect the reviewer’s intention. And always include the reviewer’s name, small, under the quote.

5. Harvest from Google Reviews

Review the reviews in your Google Business profile for ones you’d like to use in your website. But it’s recommended to check with those customers before using their words.

And of course, don’t forget to ask your happy customers for reviews, soon after you’ve delivered the goods (and maybe suggest that they focus on that pesky problem you solved). Even better, ask them to leave a Google review, where more people will see it. People trust Google reviews because the company “can’t just pick the good ones.”

And when smart companies get a negative Google review, they respond in a positive, helpful way – knowing people will see that too.

5. Optimize it, baby

You can’t just add your page’s SEO keywords to someone else’s review. But if a reviewer happens to include terms that are close to those keywords, that’s a plus. With the phrases and issues of actual buyers, you never know what else you might rank for.

Another possibility is to use keywords in a header above the review: “Premium Cloud Storage: The Reviews Are In.” Or identify the reviewer as “Using Premium Cloud Storage Since 2014.”

7. Show me some face

Include a small profile picture of each reviewer next to their reviews, if possible. It helps reinforce that this is a real person.

Hopefully, each person is smiling in their pic. Zoom in if needed to show that warm, confident smile. Marketing with images of positive people simply has more emotional resonance than marketing that doesn’t. Starting as infants, humans are naturally drawn to faces, and the emotions they reveal.

Now pull up your company’s website, and see what improvements you might be able to make, now that you know more than you did before. Oh, and don’t forget to reach out to recent customers, and let them know that their opinions are valuable, and everyone wants to know what they think.


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Tom TortoriciAbout the Author:  Tom Tortorici is an Atlanta copywriter and web content writer who helps companies make a genuine connection with their audience. His classes and conference presentations have focused on how writing, strategy and design can work together to grab attention and interest even among readers with short attention spans. In addition to working directly with businesses, Tom regularly partners with web designers and marketing agencies.

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