Robert Beerworth Team : Web Strategy Tags : Web Design Common Sense e-commerce

Website testimonials don't cut it anymore. You need to do better.

Robert Beerworth Team : Web Strategy Tags : Web Design Common Sense e-commerce

Testimonials and specifically, those quick quotes we splatter across 'sales' websites are designed to give users and buyers additional confidence in using and buying from our websites.

E.g. “Loved the product. Thanks heaps guys.” – Rob B, Sydney.

Or even (better): E.g. "Awesome" – Ros. 

The problem is that we’ve used these quick testimonials so much that their effectiveness has become abated.

In fact, I’d argue that these sort of testimonials can work against you because so often, these testimonials are unqualified and look too baked into the original website design to actually be credible.

The testimonials look static and stagnant.

And if building trust on a website is key to its success in selling, if users don’t trust your testimonials, you have a problem.

The quality and genuineness of too many of these throw-around testimonials is understandably in question.


Reviews are different to sales testimonials (and quick quotes)

There is no doubt that testimonials and reviews have a big part to play in a website.

Research and statistics tell us that customers love independent, customer ratings and reviews.

Arguably, nothing rates higher in the mind of a user in terms of getting impartial, real feedback and information on whether a website, product and service worked.

All submitted by users that actually purchased the product or service and had the chance to use it and give feedback.

Modern eCommerce websites and indeed, any website really should have a program of collecting and publishing reviews, negative or positive.

Even manufacturers are doing it… not just the eCommerce websites selling their products.

Dell has done it for a while.

They let users rate products on their own website as a manufacturer.

Indeed, whilst I have a Trek bike myself, I recently decided not to purchase a Trek bike for my 5-year old because the reviews on Trek’s own website suggested that the kids'’s bike in question was just too heavy.

Well-built bike, just too well built and heavy for a 18kg boy with 5-year old muscles.

Whilst there is a separate debate Trek might have about the merits of having user reviews on its own website in light of losing a sale to me, it equally would know that I would have sought reviews anyway and that Trek was better to have me on their website, rather than other review websites possibly promoting the products of its competitors.

Genuinely submitted users reviews to websites however, are different to those testimonials and ‘quick quotes’ we see on so many ‘sales’ websites.

Because we know that website/eCommerce reviews under a specific product are real. And we can see the good and the bad the reviews.

Handpicked testimonials, much less so.


So what to do about those testimonials and quick quotes?

Testimonials on a website are always going to be handpicked.

That is an issue.

Already, credibility is lost.

The first step to getting around this is threefold:

  • Randomise your testimonials. Show users you have lots of them. Right there on screen in real time, so that users see movement, animation and lots of testimonials. (The quantum of your testimonials scrolling through, adds weight to your argument.)  
  • Cycle your reviews as testimonials.
  • Introduce star ratings and other devices to suggest that the testimonials are more then your web designer writing them up.

This might not work for you.

And certainly, for many of the ‘Who We are, Why You Need it, BUY NOW’ websites we see so often – websites which aren’t large catalogues or are the website of the manufacturer – promoting testimonials and reviews which aren’t both entirely positive and which fit your mould and design, will be very difficult to stomach.


So what to do next?

At the very least, give your testimonials and quotes credibility.

Assure users that your testimonials are real. From a real human.

And this means showing where it originated from.

Below is a screen shot from a booth at 2013’s CES - the peak electronics show in the US.

You will note that the qualification – the testimonial – provided of the product comes with some gravitas.

This weightiness comes from the fact that you know it came from Facebook… and therefore, unless the company is being sneaky and therefore likely to look pretty stupid if they faked the testimonial… the testimonial is true.

Versus ‘Rob B – Sydney’ who existed only in the mind of an web consultant or web designer who plonked it in the design of the website.

The additional of the Facebook logo does so much to add credibility.

By telling you that the user of the testimonial is from Facebook, the company is being transparent.

As a user, you can qualify what they’re promoting.

Users are pretty cunning these days and they have a benchmark of what to expect when buying.

They expect real reviews and real user feedback.

Baseless or unprovable recommendations of your website, product and service don’t cut it anymore.

Prove it to them and reap the reward.