How to Harness the Power of Testimonials and Social Proof.

Part of the Kenno's Blog series.
By Ken Brown
Editor, You Can Learn Series
Updated:
July 21, 2008
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Using Testimonials to Grow Your Business

Why do testimonials work so well? Find out what the great copywriters of all time have to say about testimonials later in this article. You might ask, who are the great copywriters? Read more as we take you on a journey into the most powerful tool at a copywriters disposal.

I received an email recently from AWeber about a new chicklet they are offering to their customers that show the number of subscribers to your email subscription program. Why is that so important? This article will tell you how to create winning testimonials that help people make the decision to say yes to buying your product or service.

Imagine going to a summer party, picnic or outdoor barbecue. You are wandering around the food table looking at all the delicious foods available for your consumption. You see a dish that looks kind of interesting, but you aren't quite sure whether to have some or not.

You Have to Try This

Then your best friend or favorite aunt comes along and say's, "Oh, you have to try that dish, Aunt Myrtle made it and she is the best cook and it is so delicious. I tried it myself and I think it is wonderful. It is made with ingredients grown on Aunt Myrtle's property and everything is fresh."

Now what are you going to do? Will you take it knowing that Aunt Myrtle made it? Will you take it because it has only fresh ingredients? No. You will take it because your favorite Aunt or best friend recommended it.

You will say you decided to add the dish to your plate because of it's freshness. But, the real reason is because of the power of persuasion and human's innate training to do what people they trust recommend.

What if your friend had instead said, "Oh that dish. Well Aunt Myrtle made it and even though she uses the freshest ingredients grown on her own property and she is a professional chef, don't eat it. I am having a fight with her right now."

Testimonial Stops You Cold

The dish is still fresh and it's made by a professional chef so it must be good. But, you will not eat it because your friend told you not too. Your friend has given you a testimonial that has nothing to do with the product, that delicious dish. And because of her testimonial you choose not to participate in that great smelling cuisine.

Now, professional marketers know our predilection to testimonials from people we know, trust, and respect. That is why they use these people in advertisements all the time. If you like Jamie Lee Curtis, then you are sure to buy some great tasting yogurt she is telling us about on TV.

Jamie Lee Curtis Sways Your Thinking

Really, what does Jamie Lee Curtis know about yogurt? My sister knows more about yogurt than Curtis does. But, you don't know my sister. You trust and respect the actress.

You respond to the images and a little signal goes off in your head. This is someone I trust and respect. It is okay for me to buy this product. Is the product any good? If Curtis say's it is that is good enough for you.

How can you use this in your own blogging to help drive traffic, get more rss subscribers and email subscribers? Find successful bloggers in your network or niche to recommend you. Have them write reviews for your blog. This means that you will get traffic because everyone believes what that other person says and trusts their judgement.

Use Comments as Testimonials

Have visitors to your blog comment on your blog. If you find a favorable comment, ask the commentor if you can take a piece of it and set it as a testimonial. Give them a link for agreeing. After you get this favorable snippet, put it up for everyone to see. Get a few of these. In fact make a whole page of it and create an image that say's "See what our fans think of us" with a link to the whole page of glowing testimonials.

TicketsNow.com has a whole page of testimonials. They have a great image that say's "Find out what our biggest cheerleaders have to say." When you click the image you are taken to their testimonials page. Notice they use a snippet of the original comment. Then they use the person's first name and first character of their last name. "I have ordered from you often and have always been 100% completely satisfied." - Elayne R., Customer.

TicketsNow.com has a whole page of testimonials.

There are many different ways to let you know the customer's name. It is important to get some name on the testimonials. You can't just have a bunch of positive comments. You can use the person's full first name and last name initial, "Joe S. Use the person's first initial from their first name and their full last name, J Smith. Then give us the city they are from. Like Atlanta, GA. Or even just Atlanta. If the person is famous or well known in your industry then get the approval to use their full name.
  • The father of copywriting, John Caples in How to Make Your Advertising Make Money"Sometimes a brief quote from a testimonial letter can be used as the headline of an ad. Or, you may want to quote several testimonials in a box of copy with the subhead, 'What Others Say.'"
  • Another great name in copywriting, Victor O. Schwab in How to Write a Good Advertisement, writes, "The 'Dead Storage' files of many an advertiser bulge with sincere, unsolicited, gratuitous endorsements ... carry more selling power than anything the advertiser himself might ever have the temerity to claim for it."

Get Approval to Use the Testimonial

It is important to get the person's approval before you use their testimonial. You can't just run around printing people's comments on your blog. If someone makes a comment or sends you an email with a positive comment then decide what part of the comment you want to use. Then send the person an email or letter asking for approval to use the comment in the way you want to use it. Get their approval before using the comment.

The original article from Aweber mentions using their new chicklet. The chicklet is similar to the feedburner chicklet that tells how many email subscribers you have for your blog. Using this new chicklet will show visitors to your blog how many email subscribers you have for your blog. Why would having many email subscribers be important? Because people like to do what the crowd is doing. If you find a blog with many email subscribers you may be more likely to subscribe.

I agree with their assessment. People want to go where other people go. I remember hearing or reading years ago about two men standing on a sidewalk outside of a successful department store. The first man say's, "Why do so many people go to this store." The second's response, "Because so many people go to this store."

Go Where the Crowds Go

Isn't that so true? We all want to go where the crowds are going. Haven't you heard? Everyone is going there. Did you care anything about that event 10 minutes before your friend told you how popular it is? No, you didn't. But, since everyone else is going you have to check it out.
  • Bob Stone, in Successful Direct Marketing Methods say's, If you have a great product or service, you have an almost inexhaustible source of great copy practically free -- written by your own customers. They will come up with selling phrases straight from the heart that no copywriter, no matter how brilliant, would ever think of.
  • The book, How to Get Rich in Mail Order by Melvin Powers mentions this little tidbit about testimonials, "Do you have letters from satisfied customers? If so, use important excerpts or even the entire letter."
  • In Joe Vitale's, engrossing and yes hypnotic book, Hypnotic Writing: How to Seduce and Persuade Customers with Only Your Words, he clearly states, "There is something about quotation marks that capures people's eyes. If your quote is intriguing, they will force readers to read your copy."
The movie, Batman, the Dark Knight, just opened in theaters around the country. How many of you really had no desire to see it, but, now that you hear how good it is, you have to go? Has the show gotten better? No, the same show you saw advertised a week ago. But, your friend saw it and loved it. Guess what, you will be there before the end of the weekend.

Localize Your Testimonial

Anther powerful use of testimonials is localizing them. John Caples mentioned previously used this technique in print ads and now it is even more effective. The power of the internet allows us to kind of guess where people are from when they visit us. Using their IP address there are software tools that will tell you that a person is from say, Chicago. Then all you have to do is if you have a testimonial from Chicago, then display the testimonial from Chicago when someone from Chicago visits. Put it bright and clear, K Smith from Chicago say's this about your product. Even Victor Schwab say's, "In the use of testimonials, it is wise, whenever possible, to localize them."

So, use the power of testimonials to drive more traffic to your site, to help people make the decision to sign up for your rss feed and to get more email subscribers. The big companies use them and have for 50 plus years. Now, you can be just as successful with testimonials.


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