Testimonials on Your Emerging Web Site
A Brief Guideline for a New Venture
Business owners who have recently launched their businesses have asked how to present themselves professionally on their new web sites. Common concerns include a small client list and lack of impressive testimonials. The following suggestions are intended to help the new business get over this hurdle in the development process:
Where & When to Include
- Omissions are generally not noticed. No testimonials are usually better than poor ones.
- It is not uncommon for established businesses to omit testimonials and client lists.
- With fewer than 5 or 6 testimonials, it is generally effective to place them scattered on the main page or services pages.
What Makes a Good Testimonial
- The more detailed and specific as to what you do and how you are unique, the better.
- The vast majority are “generic superlatives”, i.e., "The rave reviews continue to pour in! Bravo! Great program!" These are good, but not enough to make you stand out.
- Nothing communicates quite like a tangible result, i.e., “On Toni’s first call after training, we got the customer to close himself…”.
- Most testimonials focus on you or your services. For greatest impact, focus on the client and the change in his world, i.e., “Thank you for the gift of efficiency. You wiped away the chaos and for that I am eternally grateful.”
- Most come from evaluation forms and therefore tend to be rather generic.
- Call up the client to follow up on such evaluation forms and ask for more detail. Ask for permission to add that to the evaluation.
- When a client expresses appreciation, ask if there has been a tangible result. Write the answer down and ask if you may quote him.
- Call up a client to check on progress and determine the effectiveness of your service. Directly ask for observable improvement. This serves as a customer service call as well as a way to gather testimonials. Be sure to ask if you may quote him.
- Be sure to verify the final wording and get written permission to use the quote on your web site. Email is usually the easiest way to do this.
Positioning on the web site
- Two models are generally used for displaying testimonials on web sites.
o A testimonial page
o Testimonials scattered throughout the site
o Sometimes both are used on the same site
- A testimonial page is particularly effective when the client list is impressive and when the scope and variety of testimonial emphasizes your strengths. This is the best way to go if you have many testimonials that you really want on your site.
- Testimonials scattered throughout the site are most effective when each is carefully selected to complement the content of the page. Quotes praising your consulting skills are typically most effective on a page describing your consulting services, while quotes about your product belong on your product detail pages.
Don’t Overdo It
It is not uncommon for businesses to include a several dozen testimonials throughout their sites, many sounding similar to each other. The effect may be to clutter the site and make it more difficult for the visitor to zero in on what he’s looking for.
As the number of testimonials increases (which may not be necessary), the structure for handling them may need to change.
The Big Picture
Keep in mind that the overall message and impression conveyed by your site is most important. Testimonials are just a piece of the picture, so make sure that each one contributes to the effect you want to create. As a rule of thumb - especially on a web site - it is quality over quantity!