There are so many e-commerce sites on the Internet, it's easy to understand how consumers might become overwhelmed when searching for a particular product. For instance, if someone were to type in "diet supplement," on any search engine, they'd be confronted with thousands of sites to choose from.

So, what differentiates one site from another in the consumer's mind? Besides the obvious--an easy to navigate site with good pricing and convenient ordering policies--customer referrals in the form of testimonials will go a long way in insuring confidence. Imagine that you're shopping for a particular diet product, and find it on two different sites for the same price. But one of them offered testimonials from their satisfied customers--who would you buy from? (Some experts claim that customer testimonials can increase your sales by 30%)


But you don't have to stop at customer testimonials. Another way to promote your product is to have a celebrity or local personality tout your product. For instance, when Tiger Woods promotes golf items, he is providing a testimonial for that company. But if a national celebrity is out of your budget, get creative and think about local personalities that have a following. For instance, you might ask a talk-radio host with a large following to try your diet product, and then talk about how much weight she lost. (A paid commercial worded like a testimonial.) And don't forget about the experts. Using that same diet plan as an example, you might approach someone in the medical community to recommend your product. Remember that the word "expert" isn't just limited to an individual. A stamp of approval from magazines, national associations, and watch-groups related to your product can be a wonderful selling tool.


Once you've decided which type of testimonial to use, it's important to understand what does and doesn't work. General recommendations, such as, "I bought your product and like it," won't go very far. But what if it read, "I bought your product and lost 30 pounds--and have kept it off for 3 years!" That would surely go farther in the minds of those considering your product.

Now, imagine that same testimonial with a photo of the person making the recommendation. In this instance, you could use a before and after photo, but by using a photo in any situation you will triple the believability factor. Finally, be sure to print the full name, title (if applicable), and city of the person giving the testimonial. This will increase the credibility of the statement in the public's eye.


Of course the best way to get a statement of recommendation is to receive one from a satisfied customer. When you do, be sure to ask them whether you can print it, along with their name, in promotional items and on your site. Also, you may receive a partial testimonial, that is, a short statement with no detail. In this instance, you could call the person and ask if they'd be willing to give you a more detailed statement of their satisfaction. But what if you haven't received any comments from your customers? Then you have to go looking for them.

Start with your best clients, and tell them what you're trying to accomplish. Most, if truly satisfied with your product, will be happy to assist you by putting their stamp of approval on your business. And remember to talk to experts and associations for those types of recommendations as well.


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