Are you using testimonials?

Today I just want to ask you some simple questions. Questions that frankly I spent many years not asking myself.

It's all about using testimonials. And in case that word is foreign to you, it simply means quotes from other people (normally clients) who brag about you.

It's that bragging that often makes us uncomfortable. And the idea that we'd ask for them, gather them, and even publish them feels really stressful to a lot of people because it feels like we're doing the bragging, not the authors of the testimonials.

The other day I wrote about LinkedIn.

The very first feature I learned to use on LinkedIn was the ability to request a testimonial from people I'd worked with. It was awesome because it didn't come from me. The request came from LinkedIn, so if someone didn't want to write one, they could ignore the email.

Turns out a lot of people had no trouble writing them. And when I started taking calls on Clarity, I discovered people were leaving me testimonials there too.

Let's just agree…

Let's just agree that the whole idea of asking someone to write (or say) something nice about us is hard to do. If we can agree on that, and we can use systems like LinkedIn and Clarity to collect them for us, we can move to the next thing.

Can we also agree that once we have them, it feels hard to publish them on our website? If we can agree on that, we can feel a sense of kinship as we decide, collectively, that it's just something we need to get past.

And that brings us to the question of why. Why should we get past our insecurities and stress? Why even make a big deal about testimonials?

And the answer is that it's not for or about us. It's about our clients.

Your prospective client has a need

When a prospect arrives on your eCommerce site—any site where you're selling services or products – they come with one need more than any other. That need is the one thing they have to resolve before they give you their money.

  • It's not the need for a great product.
  • It's not the need for incredible marketing copy.
  • It's not the right price that they can afford.
  • It's not the money-back guarantee to reduce their sense of risk.
  • It's not the ease of use that allows them to buy without friction.

All these things are good. They're things you should make sure are on your list to work on. But they aren't the one thing that stands between you and their willingness to spend money.

It's trust.

Your prospects need to trust you. To know you're not going to grab their money and run.

And that's where testimonials come in.

Where you could be using testimonials

I'm not going to tell you which plugin to use. I'm not going to tell you how to create or upload testimonials to your site. This isn't a tutorial post.

Instead, I just want to talk to you today about the four places where I think you could be using testimonials on your eCommerce site.

Put testimonials on your home page. This one is a no-brainer and you likely have heard it before. The testimonials on your home page help the first time visitor trust you enough to browse. These testimonials should surprise and delight prospects – getting them excited to explore more and work with you.

Put testimonials in the sidebar of your product page. A lot of folks don't have sidebars on their product pages. But I think it's a mistake. I know some people put reviews in a tab that may or may not be seen. But a sidebar that's always there and presents the top three quotes about that product or service on the page, to help people feel confident, to me that's critical.

Put testimonials on your checkout page. At the bottom in a non-obtrusive way, I would put a set of testimonials there that help people who may be nervous about the purchase price. So they'd focus on the value delivered.

Put testimonials on your thank you page. And when a person has made a purchase, I don't want to stop. I want to encourage them, using other's words, to take the next steps. After all, we all know people (find a mirror) who buy things and then never use them. So use testimonials that talk about how easy it was to get started, or the return they got from the first few steps.

Bonus: Put testimonials on your onboarding emails. I know I said four, but once a person has started, how do you get them focused on taking the next steps? Testimonials. Quick and easy quotes that talk about the pace of progress and the value realized.

It's not just about collecting or using testimonials

What I hope you realized as you read those five spots is that it's not just about collecting or using testimonials. It's also about the kinds of testimonials that you collect. You really want different kinds for different purposes (and different locations).

But it's commonsense because we know that when we're buying things, the fears or worries we have differ when I arrive on a site, versus when I'm looking at a product or service, versus when I've put it in my cart, versus when I get that first email.

So instead of just letting a faceless system like LinkedIn or Clarity do all the work for you (once you get going), you might want to create your own mechanism for asking for different kinds of feedback and testimonials at different parts of your relationship with your existing clients.

This will give you a variety of testimonials that you can and should be using across your whole site. All so you can reduce risk and increase trust between you and your customers.