Testimonials are one of the sure-fire ways to convince potential customers to go from shoppers to buyers. Everyone’s been on the fence about a product, and in eCommerce the ambivalence or anxiety that a customer feels before a purchase is often stronger because they’re not able to actually touch your products.
That’s where testimonials come in -- but how do you ask customers for them, and what type of testimonials are the best at convincing on-the-fence customers to take the chance on your brand? Here, we’ll discuss the whys and hows of the customer reviews you need in order to rocket your online shop to success.
It turns out that a positive review from our peers is more likely to convince us to do something than nearly anything else -- even saving money! That’s great news for small independent brands, as focusing your resources on cultivating great testimonials from customers can work better than even money-off promotionals.
In one famous study, scientists asked people to “go green” by using fans instead of their air conditioners in the summer. Their awareness campaign had four messages:
Not surprisingly, the fourth message -- that their neighbours had already happily switched to fans and therefore they should too -- convinced the most people. All people naturally crave assurance that we’re making the right choice, and the social proof that other people like us are happy with that choice is often the difference between a window shopper and a new customer.
If you already have a few testimonials on your website, have a look at them. Do they tell a story? Do they explain exactly how your product changed their life, fulfilled a need, or solved a problem that they have been having? Chances are, your existing customer reviews are filled with “great service, fast delivery, A+!” style reviews that aren’t convincing anyone.
So how do you get better testimonials that will convert shoppers into buyers?
Start asking your customers the right questions.
Giving them parameters, instead of asking them to sit in front of a blank screen and write, will boost the length, depth, and overall quality of your testimonials.
While it sounds strange, remember that the people reading any testimonials on your website might be unsure about your product, and have already thought of their own reasons for not buying your product. Hearing about that same potential obstacle, and how an existing customer already overcame it, can put their mind at ease immediately. Imagine that you want to buy a product but you’re not sure about the build quality. Then imagine going through the testimonials and seeing “I wasn’t sure if this product would able to hold up, but 3 months in and it’s still like new!”
This question ensures that you get details in your testimonial, which is what makes testimonials so convincing in the first place. Instead of asking about their overall experience with a product, asking customers what they liked most ensure that they will dig deeper and provide the personal reflections that every online shopper is hopeful for when they turn to testimonials to help them make a decision.
You can always leave off the number, or ask them to list three other benefits! The important thing is to stretch the net a little wider now that your reviewer has already pinpointed their #1 favourite thing about your product.
Asking your customers if they personally recommend your product also asks them to put their own ‘good name’ on the line, so you’d be surprised at how seriously people will take this question. The people who feel strongly about your product will stand up and say ‘I recommend this product’ and often who they think it’s best suited for, who they think it’s ill suited for, and why.
In this example by Dove skincare, a recommendation by a Dermatologists adds huge creditability to the skincare brand
While we need to be asking the right questions, it’s also important to let the customers have room to speak for themselves. That’s where the most personal, and convincing, stories come from.
Look for someone who represents your ‘ideal customer’
People are more likely to be convinced by someone who is like them, someone who has the same lifestyle or leanings or problems that they are looking to solve with your products. All testimonials are potential revenue-boosting tools, but this is especially true for the testimonials that your ideal customer can relate to.
Don’t sugar-coat everything
You want positive reviews, but putting out reviews with only praises sounds too sugary-sweet to a prospective customer. This is not only unconvincing, but can even seem suspicious. You’ve seen it on other websites, so ensure that the testimonials on your own online shop don’t fall into the trap of having too-good-to-be-true reviews.
Ask for pictures
It can seem too pushy, but asking if you can use a friendly picture of them next to their testimonial can make a big difference in terms of how convincing customers find your reviews. It’s proven that reviews seem more reliable with a face attached, but if that’s not a problem, don’t get hung up about it -- even just their name can give a testimonial an air of legitimacy.
Example by Xero’s providing online accounting software for small business, include testimonial snippets on the homepage with customers’ photographs, videos, quotes, client names, industry, testimonial content slider, and read more buttons that take you to a full Q&A page for that individual case study. Now that's how it's done!
Overall, remember that your satisfied customers want to write a convincing review, but they might not know how. Add structure to your requests for testimonials and watch how they go from bland and boring to just the thing that potential customers need to hear. And, when in doubt, always go with your gut. You are your brand, and often small online boutique owners are their own target consumer!
So ask yourself: am I convinced?
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