A recent article from Marketing Prof reminded me that all testimonials are not equal.
Holly Buchanan opens a post at the FutureNow blog with a pair of seemingly contradictory ideas: that testimonials work very well and that they don’t work at all. Both are true, she argues, because customer praise can be a two-edged sword: If it appears inauthentic or doesn’t offer true insight, it can actually have a negative impact.
According to Buchanan, effective testimonials:
- Are specific in their commendation. A generic testimonial like “I enjoyed my time at your hotel” won’t grab the attention of a business traveler in the same way as, “I was impressed by the 24-hour concierge service, especially when they found an all-night printer at 3 am.”
- Address possible objections. You gain credibility when a happy customer explains how her initial skepticism was unfounded. “By addressing and voicing what many perspective customers may be feeling,” says Buchanan, “these testimonials are powerful persuaders.”
- Are shown in a proper context. The testimonials on your website’s landing page, for instance, will be different from those on product pages or order forms; each should be appropriate for where a customer might be in the sales process.
The Po!nt: Not all testimonials are created equal. “Testimonials hurt you when people don’t think they’re real,” says Buchanan. “Anything that sounds vague or cliche can smack of insincerity.”