"Testimonials are critical to any website that's marketing or selling products or services," says Rick Sloboda of Webcopyplus. To make his point, he cites the Robert Cialdini book Influence: Science and Practice, which posits that "we determine what's correct by finding out what other people think is correct." Customers feel more comfortable if they believe that others have made the same choice—and Sloboda gives this advice for enhancing their comfort level:
Real people, please. Always attribute your testimonials to people with full names. "Donna M. just doesn't cut it," he says. "In fact, it diminishes your credibility on the already suspect Web."
Address common concerns of potential customers. Highlight one or two key qualities with each testimonial. While one praises the quality of your product or service, another might tout your exceptional dedication to quick turnarounds or customer service.
Proportion testimonials to the demographics of your audience. "Going after the average Joe?" asks Sloboda. "Quote average Joe. Is your market upscale? Showcase sophisticated people. Do women make up 90% of your target market? Then 9 out of 10 customers providing testimonials should be female."
Give customer acclaim a prominent position. Sloboda warns against burying testimonials on a dedicated page where no one will ever see them—instead, spread the wealth around, placing at least one on every page of your Web site.
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