Sam Rose - Head of Content

Sam Rose

19th May 2015

Making the Most of Your Testimonials and Product Reviews

Testimonials and product reviews are a great way to encourage people to purchase from you. Here is a guide to why you should use them, how to get your hands on them, and where to put them once you’ve got them.

Why use testimonials?

Testimonials (content provided by your customers which acts as an endorsement of your company, product or service) are useful for a number of reasons. The main benefit of testimonials is that they build trust. People are more likely to trust your existing customers than you, as your customers are simply members of the public who have no vested interest in your company’s success. Of course you think your product is great, but is it really? If several people have gone out of their way to endorse your product, then surely it must be good.

Displaying reviews on your website shows that you are keen to create good relationships with your customers, and that you care about what they have to say – even if they dare to point out areas where you could improve. Perhaps you could go a step further by responding to reviews and showing how you have taken their feedback into consideration and improved your service – much like many hotel managers reply to reviewers on TripAdvisor. This shows that you encourage conversations with your customers, and you realise that you are nothing without them. They are all-important, and you need them to help you provide the best service ever.

Testimonials also act as a way to add more rich content to your site - they sometimes mention benefits of your product that you didn’t cover while writing up your product description. With all of that in mind, testimonials are an important element of your website that can lead to more conversions.

Testimonials vs. product reviews

Testimonials and product reviews are both important, but they are quite different pieces of content. A testimonial will generally speak about your company as a whole, and by definition it will endorse your company, encouraging other people to purchase from you. Testimonials may mention your great customer service, fast delivery times, how easy you are to contact, your understanding of the customer’s requirements, and so on.

Meanwhile, product reviews focus on the particular item the customer purchased: how fit it is for purpose, its reliability, if it was as described on your website, and other physical properties of the product. Reviews may not necessarily be gushing with praise, so if customers do mention any negative aspects of your product it may be a good idea to counter these by responding to them and making changes to the product where appropriate.

Different types of testimonial

Testimonials don’t have to be a paragraph of writing. As well as product and service reviews, you could also upload and ask for photos or videos of people using your product; social media comments; or short one-line quotes to dot around your website (footers and sidebars are good places for these). Product reviews usually also allow customers to leave a star rating along with their comments.

You could also write up case studies for a particular project you worked on, then let the customer know you have profiled them and would like it if they could add in their own words how they feel the project went, and what they think of the final product. If it’s a business, the exposure this would give them, as well as a link through to their own website, may encourage them to help out.

How to get testimonials

To source testimonials or reviews, you will of course have to look to your existing customers. There are several ways you could ask customers to write a testimonial or product review for you. Here are some ideas:

Request reviews via email:

A few days after the product has been dispatched to the customer, send them an email asking what they think of the product or your service, and if they could leave some feedback. This is a tactic applied by Amazon to ask people to review the packaging of a product they have received.
You can use review systems such as Feefo, Trustpilot and Reevoo, which will send out an email asking customers to write a review. You can display these reviews on your website and on social media networks.

Use a call to action on your website:

If you already have some testimonials on your website, add a ‘call to action’ alongside them asking previous customers to leave their own review.
If people have commented on social media about your product or service, you could embed the tweets or comments on your website.

Send a request out with your product:

Get creative with your product. When you send it out, include something in the box asking people to review it. Off the top of my head (pun not intended) I’ve thought about a hat shop – a customer buys a hat, it comes nicely packaged in a box along with a polaroid-style photo of you, the hat shop owner, wearing one of your hats. Maybe it’s lopsided and you’re pulling a goofy face. Underneath the photo you’ve put (handwritten to make it more personal) “Here’s my silly hat selfie – show me yours! Use #hatselfie to tweet @coolhatshop”. (I want to start my own hat shop now just so I can implement this and see if it works.) The good thing about this is it would take the customer two minutes to stick the hat on, grab their phone, pull a funky face and tweet you. And it wouldn’t take much longer for you to see their tweet, retweet it, send a quick reply saying “Thanks for the pic @hatlover1987, hope you love the hat! #hatselfie”, grab the tweet along with the photo, and put it on your site. Before you know it, you have a whole gallery of hat photos on your website.

Send a request out after your product or service has been provided:

Similarly, a holiday or hotel company could send a postcard to customers once they’re back from their travels, saying something like: “Hi Sarah, thanks so much for visiting us! We had a great time and we hope you did too. We would love to hear all about your holiday, so please write back to us on our website. It would really help us out and give our next visitors an idea of what to expect. Thank you!” A small incentive might encourage people to do this, such as a free gift when they next visit. There are even apps these days which will send postcards for you with the picture and words of your choice, so you don’t even need to go to the post box.

Where to put your testimonials once you’ve got them

Testimonials and product reviews may appear in different places around your website. It is a good idea to have a dedicated testimonials page which will be home to general comments about your service, while product reviews will naturally be placed on their respective product pages.

You may also want to put two or three testimonials on the homepage with a link to click through to read some more. If your website structure features category and sub-category pages for your products, you may also wish to put a review or two of your most popular products on these pages.

You don’t want a homepage full of testimonials or a product category page filled with reviews, but on the individual product pages and testimonial pages, the more positive reviews you have, the better. If a product has two four-star reviews but also a one-star review, customers may not be completely convinced about how good your product is, so it’s best to have plenty of good reviews to counter any bad ones. Good luck!

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