How do I know if testimonials on a Web site are legit?
I'm in a pretty competitive business and I am noticing that many of my competitors have tons of great testimonials to build up their credibility. But I'm skeptical. How can they launch a site with 20 perfect testimonials and no sales? Right now I display a few authentic testimonials from satisfied customers. However, since I didn't write them myself, they aren't as punchy. Do you suggest I follow suit and make some up myself?
Well, you certainly can make up a testimonial or two, but since you brought up credibility, you have to wonder about what your customers would say if they were impressed by your testimonials, just to find out that they were bogus. Certainly isn't going to be good for your business. I'd say "just be honest" but you also raised an interesting issue about how you can ascertain if someone else's testimonials are legit or not.
It turns out that a new company, Trusted Testimonials, is focused on just this space, and is trying to solve this problem for consumers in a rather interesting way. To learn more about it, I asked Warren Houston, one of their executives, how they'd address your question. Here's what he shared:
First off, let me say that it takes a long time to build credibility and it can be lost in a flash with an irresponsible act like posting fraudulent testimonials. So my short answer is NO.
If you haven't already done so, you can increase your testimonials' effectiveness by including the full name, city, state and country of the customers providing testimonials (with their permission of course). Photos of your satisfied customers and testimonials from experts in your industry are also great site conversion boosters. Once collected, in addition to your testimonials page, you should sprinkle testimonials throughout your site to maximize impulse purchasing.
For maximum effectiveness, when soliciting testimonials, you should request that in addition to reinforcing key benefits of your product or service, they should also quantify those benefits. For example, "Product X is less expensive and more effective than other similar products on the market. It cost 20 percent less and has helped my company save 30 percent in labor costs."
I am a big advocate of testimonials as they do add credibility to your site which in turn results in better sales conversion and enhanced returns on your current advertising budget. However, with the number of sites online, it is getting harder for visitors to tell sites like yours apart from unscrupulous competitors. While web seals such as Verisign and GeoTrust let visitors know that your site is secure, they do little to assure visitors that your testimonials have not been fabricated.
Trusted Testimonials independently verifies website testimonials and provides a web seal which can be used to prove to your visitors that your business, customers and testimonials are real. Once you sign up, they also provide a link that you can add to your email signature that prospects can click for a list of the verified testimonials. This should help close more sales on your website while setting you apart from the competitors you referred to.
Check it out and see what you think: Trusted Testimonials
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