The Holy Grail: Monty Python tells us that the cup of Jesus is in the Castle Arrrghhh, Indiana Jones tells us it is in danger of falling into Nazi hands, “The Da Vinci Code” tells us it is the womb of Mary Magdalene, and Mark Zuckerberg tells us the greatly sought-after goal of humanity is a trusted referral.

“People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.”

– Mark Zuckerberg

The reason Facebook’s patriarch heralds the customer testimonial as the ultimate objective is because he truly understands online businesses. And customer testimonials have benefits that can catapult online businesses to success in Indiana Jones’ style.

Customer Testimonials Build Trust

In our increasingly impersonal online research and purchasing, we still yearn for reliable, unbiased opinions. It is a lot like buying a used car. Trusting a company’s own raves about its own benefits is much like buying a Toyota only because the used car salesman told you it was reliable. You are much more likely to purchase the kind of car your friend or neighbor has been driving without incident for many years or one that got a great review on Consumer Reports.

Candid customer testimonials provide input from real people about your product or service. They are not salesy or pushy. They convince real buyers that other real buyers have tried it and recommend it. They put website visitors at ease, add reliability, and promote your brand’s credibility.

What Makes a Great Customer Testimonial?

Simply having customer testimonials is not enough. To truly effect the opinion of your website visitors, your testimonials need follow several characteristics:

Make Customer Testimonials Personal:

Select testimonials from customers that fit your buyer personas. Your website visitors must be able to relate to the person giving their opinion. If your core buyer is from the gaming vertical, do not use a testimonial from a banker.

Adding pictures or video of the person giving the testimonial gives their voice a face and makes them more relatable. Connecting the customer testimonial to their social profile builds even more trust and credibility. If their testimonial can include assertions made especially to your target audience, then you are getting very close to the Holy Grail.

For example, if your website targets working mothers, get a testimonial from a working mom, pictured with a briefcase in one arm and a toddler in the other, connected to a LinkedIn profile, saying something like “I balance my commitment to my children and my responsibility to my employer with the help of this great product…”

Address Pains and Benefits:

Your value proposition likely addresses a certain pain for your target audience. Your customer testimonials should attest to your products’ benefits and the pains they solve.

For example, in their testimonials, LinkedIn Ads speak to target audiences of online marketers, Marketing Executives, and Digital Marketing Managers. They speak to verticals of finance and commodities and startups. They discuss pain points and needs of lower cost per conversion, high-quality relevant leads, brand awareness, and client acquisition goals.

Unbounce, the landing page company features a single testimonial on their home page. In it, they target young professional in customer acquisition roles with pains of conversion rates and reliance on developers.

Customer Testimonials for a Competitive Edge:

Sometimes, customers may mention a competing product and explain why yours is better. For example, in this rave review for Crazy Egg heat maps, a Bronco insider compares Crazy Egg to Google Analytics… and contends that Crazy Egg comes out on top. In addition, he speaks of the benefits of the software.

A wonderful customer testimonial (which could have been made into The Holy Grail if only they had included the customer’s name and a link to his social profile).

If your customers are not comfortable mentioning the name of a specific competitor, they can also easily speak about the features that set your product apart from its (unnamed) competitors. For example, SalesForce is setting itself apart from its competitors with its new SalesForce1 platform for mobile devices. A testimonial on their site promotes this feature without calling out any competitors.

How to find the Holy Grail

So, we agree with Zuckerberg, customer testimonials truly are the holy grail of advertising. To gain the trust, credibility, and reliability they can add to your site:

  1. Profile the customers that best fit your target persona and ask them for feedback.
  2. Direct them to focus on their personal pains that your company solved or the benefits of your product, as well as the features that set you aside from competitors.
  3. Use a customer testimonial widget to link their story with a social profile.
  4. Display the customer testimonials proudly and prominently on your site
  5. Watch conversions skyrocket!

Customer Testimonials: the Spectoos Way

At Spectoos, we have built our customer testimonial widget on these principles. Our widget shows pictures of the users who review your product and links to their LinkedIn profile for social proof. Testimonials displayed are short and poignant, much like a Tweet; and our rotating images liven up your page without being too obtrusive.

Spectoos offers an innovative way to add effective testimonials quickly and easily.


Are you using customer testimonials on your website? Do you think it provides any value? Share your thoughts in the comments!