Here's why every small business website should include testimonials (bonus script included!)

Why every small business website should include testimonials

Have you ever heard of the saying "Don't just tell them, show them"? This small but powerful piece of advice can be applied to so many areas in life and it is often a guiding principle for small businesses who are looking to grow to the next level. 

Why's this?

Because people are inherently social creatures and we usually want proof that something works or is "worth it" before we make a purchase or sign up for a service. There's something to be said about the sway of social proof, am I right?

You probably already know that people are more likely to buy a product or service at the recommendation of others, and this is especially true for small business offerings online. No one wants to be the first one to try something; instead, we'd rather go with something that is tried, true and proven.

People want to do business with companies and individuals they know and trust but how can you enhance that relationship? How can you use this information to strengthen your website and encourage people to make the move from "visitor" to "client"?

Great question! The answer, my friends, is by including testimonials on your website.

Different Types of Testimonials

Testimonials come in all shapes and sizes but the one thing they all have in common is that they add credibility to your business.

The most effective among them include reviews and comments from satisfied customers in one of the following formats:

  • Text

  • Video

  • Audio

While all formats are powerful, audio and video testimonials pack the strongest punch and are the most effective. This is because viewers can connect with the testimonials even more deeply and see the enthusiasm and satisfaction for themselves.

Address and Overcome Hesitations

As we mentioned above, people rarely want to be the "beta testers" for your product or service because there's no guarantee they will get good results of have a positive experience. Instead, people want to see that other people (customers or clients, primarily) have done business with you already and that they have something good to say about it.

Potential clients and customers will always have some form of hesitation before making a purchase or signing up for a service. Having a strong and targeted sales copy on your website will help address this buyers skepticism, yes, but let's take a look at exactly why testimonials are so powerful in this regard.

At their basic level, testimonials allow your business to address any potential hesitations a client might have. They also show that many customers before them have had great results with your product/service despite that hesitation.

Potential clients might already be interested in your products/services but before they pull the trigger, they want to know that "it works". People are reassured by seeing that other people have already done businesses with you and they want to know what those customers have to say.

Build Trust

Your website will no doubt explain your offerings and outline to potential clients why your product/service is valuable or beneficial. 

Testimonials add value because you're showing what previous customers have to say about what you've done for them and helped them achieve. State your claims and then use testimonials to back them up.

Basically, you're backing up your claims with real-life examples. This reinforces the positive experience potential clients can have as well. 

It makes sense, therefore, that potential customers will put more trust in someone who's already bought or used your product/service than the claims of the seller only.

Along those lines, trust is also built when potential clients see themselves reflected in the person giving the testimonial. Consider your ideal or target audience and make sure to include testimonials from someone that group will find relevant.

For example, a law firm that specializes in tax law should include a testimonial from a small business they worked with instead of from someone who was thrilled with the out-of-scope work that firm did to overturn their speeding tickets.

The best way to build trust through your testimonials is to make everything as real as possible. Not only should the testimonial come from a real person (i.e., don't make it up!), it should also be credible and appealing to future clients.

Be sure to include:

  • First and last names

  • Company and role

  • Photo

By including these components in your testimonials, it shows that the quotes and results are coming from real people and does a lot to humanize the experience.

Components of the Ideal Testimonial

When choosing which testimonials to include on your website, there are many components you should aim to highlight. Consider the following:

  • What outcome can potential clients expect to receive?

  • How does the testimonial support claims that the product/service works?

  • Does the testimonial explain the benefits of your offerings?

  • Are the results repeatable? Are the results the same for individuals at different companies? Does size affect results?

  • What else does this testimonial really say other than "it's great!"?

  • If stats are included, do they prove a positive point? Are they reassuring to potential clients?

Now that you know what makes up a great testimonial, be sure to remember that these testimonials are going to be included online and should be formatted accordingly. Wait, what? 

This simply means that the testimonials should be concise, specific, and outcome oriented. Keep in mind that many visitors to your website will be viewing your site on a mobile device so the best testimonials are those that are quick and easy to read with a catchy and visual bio.

Testimonials that are written in a "natural voice" that comes directly from a past user carry a lot of weight because they seem more candid and less biased than what a potential client might read on a sales page or in a product description. When the testimonial uses similar language to what prospective clients might be using, they sink in and a have lasting effect.

Requesting and Collecting Testimonials

There are several ways to collect and request testimonials and they aren't hard to get so long as you know how to ask and search.

To begin, take a look at old emails/letters/comments and social media posts where people have said something good about you and your business. Depending on the source, simply screenshot the testimonial (e.g., if you're using a comment from a blog post or from Facebook) or grab the direct link to embed (e.g., if you're using Twitter). You may also want to reach out for a headshot or profile picture from the person giving the testimonial, if you can't grab it already through social media. Be sure to double check their current job title if that is helpful! Also, it's best practice and common cutesy to let someone know that you're going to use a testimonial from them on your website since not all companies allow their employees to publicly endorse a product/service.

Next up, you might also want to reach out to customers directly to request a testimonial from them. Many services based businesses include a testimonial request when the project wraps up but it's totally fine for you to reach out at any time. Obviously you want to start with clients with whom you have a good relationship before you start reaching out at random. Another way to request testimonials is through an autoresponder that is sent out whenever someone purchases a product or completes a service/program.

Give these methods a shot and you'll have a collection of testimonials prepared in no time!

Where to Include Testimonials on your Website

Now that you've got a handful of testimonials ready to use, it's time to include them on your website. The goal here is to include these testimonials as effectively as possible so that potential clients see this information right away. 

Experts agree that testimonials should be included on the homepage whenever possible since it's the first introduction visitors to your site have with your business. They can be included in the body content of the page (e.g., centre text) or along the sidebar (if your website has one). 

Another idea is to create an independent page reserved specifically for testimonials. This option works for two main reasons:

  1. It has the technical bonus of being another page that search engines (like Google) can index, which means that content covering your products/services, features, keywords, etc. are easier to find online. Basically, it helps SEO

  2. It keeps all your testimonials together in one spot and plays up the "power in numbers" game for maximum effect

Totally up to you!

Final Thoughts

Have I convinced you that your website needs testimonials yet? Not only are testimonials extremely effective, they also go a long way to support your marketing efforts and convert "lurkers" to customers. Go ahead, use the free email script I've included to request testimonials today and get those live on your website - STAT! 

Now it's your turn to tell me what you think. Does your website use testimonials already? Have you heard about their effectiveness before reading this article? Are you going to request a testimonial today? Be brave, you can do it! Leave me a note in the comments, I'd love to hear from you.


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