Why are consumer testimonials so powerful?
In his classic text, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Dr. Robert Cialdini explains the psychology of why people say “yes”—and how to apply these understandings in business and in life. In writing the book, he spent three years going “undercover,” applying for jobs and training at used car dealerships, fund-raising organizations, telemarketing firms, all in order to observe real-life situations of persuasion.
One of those theories born out of all this research – social proof – explains why testimonials can be such an influential tool in your marketing mix.
“If everyone jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge …”
At its most basic, social proof means that we all have a lemming-like tendency to do things we see other people are doing. It’s a principle that plays itself out everywhere, every day: bartenders “salt” their tip jar with a $10 bill to increase tips (everyone else is tipping in larger bills), sitcoms use laugh tracks (everyone else is laughing so I should too) and everyone else clicked on this Yahoo news story, so I will too. Our instinct to do what others are doing runs deep.
In essence, we are wired to learn from the actions of others, and this can be a huge driver of consumer behavior. When evaluating a product, consumers are more likely to incorporate the opinions of others.
Following that logic, incorporating those opinions into testimonials on your website should increase your site’s conversion rate. Right?
Well, yes and no. Customers are savvy these days, and after too many fake-sounding testimonials and the ubiquitous “likes” on Facebook, you really need to be authentic to be believed. With the following three tips, your testimonials can provide a tremendous improvement in the results you get from your website.
Step 1: Gather testimonials that overcome sales objections
Every prospect that hasn’t converted is held up by some objection. The right testimonial will provide the social proof needed to convert the prospect. Make a list of every reason a prospect would not purchase your product or service. Now, gather at least one testimonial that overcomes each objection.
For instance, we offer website design and development services in Greenville, SC. We sometimes hear from customers of experiences with previous web firms that did not meet their deadlines, so they were concerned about our ability to do so.
Our testimonial from Adam Anderson, CEO of Palmetto Software Group, overcomes that objection better than we ever could: “Right behind personal interaction with your team would be the speed of delivery. They have always been waiting on us and I feel that they do what they say they will do when they say they will do it.”
Step 2: Place testimonials strategically
The difficulty in writing good web content is anticipating the prospect’s next question without being with them physically. Put some thought into the placement of your testimonials. If you do, you’ll likely find a strategic area to place each testimonial.
Step 3: Add meat, not cheese to your testimonials
Unfortunately, we have all been subjected to testimonials that are clearly fake and over-the-top in their praises. As a result, readers are somewhat skeptical of testimonials. It’s an easy objection to overcome, just make sure your testimonial is real. Add as much personal information as you can (or as your source will allow). You don’t need to include their home address or astrological sign, but first and last name, company name, and a link to their website are recommended.
People Trust People
The Internet is usually an impersonal medium. When you’re able to humanize your website with the real voices of real people, you’ll instantly build the credibility and trust visitors have on your site. After all, people trust people. Like it or not, your prospects are interested in more than what you have to say about yourself; they want to know what others are saying about you.
Rick Paquin owns FishingMinnesota.com, a top-rated fishing site with more than 110,000 visitors a month. Here’s his reason for using testimonials: “We sprinkle our testimonials on pages that are intended to grab the reader and show them why they should decide to go further into our site. A visitor to our site can quickly see what others are using our site for and their opinion of it. Trust is rapidly secured and we can then get on to the business of exchanging information.”
See what we just did? Gave you a testimonial about testimonials!
We’re not the only ones talking about the power of testimonials. Take advantage of these tips and provide the powerful social proof needed to increases conversions on your website.