You have probably read all of the stats about testimonials and populated your site with customer success stories so that you too could reap benefits like these:

  • 93% of users say their buying decisions are influenced by online reviews.
  • 68% of users are willing to pay up to 15% more for a product or service if a customer success story convinces them the product or service will be useful.
  • Reviews on a site can boost conversion. Expensive items given customer reviews boosted conversion rates by 380%.
  • 85% of users ages 18 to 34 trusted verified reviews more than any other type of information.

But, for some reason, you are not seeing these kinds of phenomenal results. Are you wondering why customer testimonials seem to work for everyone except you?

Here are the possible reasons that the testimonials you have now may not be giving you the returns you expected:

1. Your customer success stories are anonymous

Not including (at least) the name and company of the person giving the testimonial is as bad as simply disclosing that you wrote it yourself.

To fix this: show the user’s information, as well as a picture (or video) if available. This is how Neil Patel does it:

To go a step above, have the testimonial linked to the user’s social media account, which verifies their true identity, the way writer KeyScouts features a review from Bringg’s Tania Fuchs:

Faceboard LinkedIn

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2. Your testimonials are from the wrong people

If you are targeting online SMBs, don’t have customer success stories from the CEO of McDonalds or from a kid at the corner lemonade stand.

To fix this: select users from your target audience.

For example, Google Analytics targets online businesses committed to excellent online marketing. They are also noticing an industry trend of expanding into mobile channels. Look how their testimonials speak to their target audience:

You need to consider your buyer persona. If you don’t know who your buyers are, then how you create customer success stories that would motivate your ideal customer to choose your company over the competition?

To create a buyer persona, consider the following:

  • Your ideal customer’s job role and responsibilities
  • Their demographics and personality identifiers
  • Their goals, challenges, and pain points
  • Their common objections to purchasing a product/service like yours

For help getting started with creating your buyer personas, try using Xtensio’s free User Persona Creator.

Xtensio’s free User Persona Creator

3. Your customer success stories are not in the right place

Testimonials are important and should occupy good real estate on your website and landing pages. But testimonials are not the most important thing, so you need to make sure they do not overshadow Call to Action buttons or other key information.

To fix this: test placing your testimonials in different places on your pages and track results to find the optimal placement for you.

Look at this example from Marketo. The company includes testimonials on its homepage, as well as on a dedicated page for more customer stories:

Marketo includes testimonials on its homepage

Or this one from Aflac Group Insurance for Business. They put their customer success stories only on a dedicated testimonials page:

Aflac Insurance Group

They each position their testimonials differently proving that there is no magic formula of where you should put yours.

What you need to do is test different locations and find what resonates with your audience.

As a rule of thumb, testimonials should be included on any page with a form, like your homepage, contact page, and landing pages. However, you should only put relevant testimonials on each service page. For example, if you offer cybersecurity solutions for the healthcare, finance, and software industries, you should not have a healthcare testimonial on the finance service page.

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4. Your testimonials are vague

Offering all-encompassing customer success stories may seem like a good idea as you may assume they would speak to more people, but the truth is, they have the opposite effect. For example, if you were evaluating customer service software for your company, what would interest you more? A testimonial that says:

“This is the best and easiest to use help desk software available!”

Or something more like this:

AirBnB start your trial

The fix: Get testimonials from your customers that contain facts and speak to the benefits of your product. Have them include measurable results with their feedback.

Also, format your testimonials to make the most important parts stand out: use larger fonts, bold, italics, or different colors.

5. Your testimonials are too long

Customers who love your product sometimes go out of their way to write long versions of their stories. While this can be packaged and effective as a case study, customer testimonials should be concise. For example, here are a couple of testimonials from Zoho CRM. Which are you most likely to read?

Testimonial is too long The fix

The fix: Long reviews are great, but not as testimonials. Use the detailed feedback you get in other ways (like in case studies) and sum up their most important point for a short, readable testimonial.

Customer Testimonials: Putting it all together

Customer testimonials have the power to ameliorate your website conversions to new heights. Your business can see the kinds of success others have seen by adding testimonials, as long as you remember these five important elements:

  1. Testimonials should be personalized – testimonials with the user’s full name, picture, and link to social media profiles build trust and show authenticity.  
  2. Testimonials should be from members of the target audience – this makes them relatable and relevant.
  3. You should test the placement of testimonials – try them on different pages and on different locations within each page. Make sure they are prominent, but do not take away from other, more important elements.
  4. Testimonials should contain details – avoid vagueness by including specific benefits and measured results.
  5. Testimonials should be short and to-the-point – make long reviews into case studies and use a soundbite from them as a testimonial.

social proof

Also published on Medium.