Famous American social psychologist Stanley Milgram was one of the first few who demonstrated the influence of social proof.
In an experiment, Milgram commissioned actors to stand on a busy street and look up at the 6th floor of a building as if something is happening there when in fact there’s none. The experiment showed that when one actor is utilized, 4% of passersby stopped and looked up and this skyrocketed to 40% when 15 actors are placed on the scene. Milgram’s social experiment also revealed that 86% of passersby looked up to check what the crowd was fussing about.
This experiment will have a resounding effect on marketing as it proved how almost everyone is vulnerable to social pressures and how people tend to mimic the behavior of “the crowd” in a given situation.
On your website, this crowd is represented by the customer testimonials you put up. Ultimately, you want your site visitors to see that “the crowd”is raving about your products and services and you want them to mirrorthis behavior which can only be done if they respond positively or favorably to your call-to-action.
Not All Customer Testimonials Are Created Equal
While using customer testimonials is a quintessential conversion marketing strategy, it’s not fail safe. As straightforward as it is, there are costly mistakes many marketers have repetitively committed that significantly reduced the efficacy of their customer testimonials if not eliminating efficacy completely. Ineffective customer testimonials are total waste of space on your site.
Listed below are three of these fatal mistakes marketers make resulting in mediocre customer testimonials.
Using Mr. Nobody from the “Unknown Company”
It was communication theorist Marshall McLuhan who immortalized the phrase “the medium is the message.” Applying this to customer testimonials means that what is being said is just as important as who is saying it. This is not to say that you should disregard the positive feedback of your everyday customers, but in terms of the testimonials that you will be publishing on your site, fame goes a long way.
If you’re a small or medium business, you don’t really need someone who is nationally known or boasts of a celebrity status. Choose someone who’s known in your community or a famous person in your niche.
The key takeaway? People choose who they will listen to and most of the time, they listen to people they know, they admire and they trust.
Taking the Shortcut with Run-of-the-mill Testimonials
Let the taboo be stated. Customer testimonials can be fabricated and made up. If not, businesses write the testimonials themselves and ask their customers to sign off on them. These testimonials are easily spotted because they are empty and convey no value at all and often use generic terms such as “best” and “easy” which has no bearing at all in terms of influencing your market’s purchasing behavior.
A high-impact testimonial contains two essential elements: the initial hurdle the customer faced and how an organization or business helped this customer overcome this obstacle. Converting customer testimonials should contain a problem other people will relate to and as proof of the effectiveness of a product or service, concrete, quantifiable and measurable results should be presented.
Forcing Everything into One Testimonial
Customer testimonials that are three paragraphs-long are unheard of. These customer endorsements should be crisp, succinct and catchy. That being said, fitting everything that is positive about your brand into one testimonial will confuse your visitors. Instead of having a positive takeaway of what your brand is, they will not remember anything because your messages are so convoluted.
If you have several market segments that you want to target, the solution is to create different landing pages for these categories and have testimonials for each. This way, your customer testimonials remain relevant, compelling and “sticky.”
When done properly, customer testimonials can increase your site’s conversion rate by as much as 70%. Don’t waste valuable space on your site with useless testimonials. Watch out for the above mentioned mistakes and make your customer testimonials hardworking and highly converting.