Establishing trust and credibility is no simple feat, but testimonials hold significant power over the modern consumer. Unlike marketing materials and advertising campaigns, testimonials reveal the opinions and experiences of real buyers. Numerous business sectors have recognized the undeniable sway of effective testimonials, including the hospitality industry and online retailers. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a multinational brand to maximize your selling potential online.

Rules of Useful Testimonials

For testimonials to have the desired effect on buyers, it’s important for businesses to respect the following simple rules:

● Honest Opinions: Testimonials shouldn’t be edited or filtered to avoid negative feedback. Consumers want to see the raw truth.
● Proof: Testimonials should be accompanied by a name and photo when possible. Even a simple username is better than a vague, “Satisfied Customer.”
● Real People: It goes without saying, but testimonials shouldn’t be fabricated. Not only is this unethical, but it’s also illegal in some instances.

Some of the world’s most powerful online marketplaces have truly mastered the art of testimonials, with notable examples including Amazon.com and the Priceline Group. For any product on these sites, you’ll see good reviews, bad reviews, and everything in-between.

How to Solicit Testimonials

The undeniable potential of a well-written testimonial makes them incredibly useful, but it can be hard to get customers to leave reviews and testimonials. Some businesses offer incentives to customers for sharing their opinions, with giveaways and promotional discounts. If you have a large email list or an active following on social media, this method may be your best bet.

If you’re an independent business owner with a relatively small customer base, consider direct contact with your clients. Reach out via phone or email and explain what you’re looking for. You may be surprised how many customers agree to participate. Depending on the product or service you sell, it may be useful to help guide your buyers with a questionnaire or survey.

Using Testimonials on Your Site

Once you’ve obtained testimonials, you should display them prominently throughout the pages of your website. Social proof is often one of the first things consumers look for when they visit an e-commerce or small business site, so don’t bury them on a “reviews” page. Instead, place small blurbs above the fold on your website. (Above the fold means visitors won’t need to scroll to see your testimonials) If you have a large number of testimonials, you can always link to a full reviews page under the blurbs.

Word-of-mouth advertising has long been a powerful tool for small businesses, and testimonials and reviews serve as a natural extension of this. By building testimonials into your site, you’ll help convince buyers to interact with your business. If possible, start gathering consumer opinions from the day you open your doors. This will help you build a large cache of reviews you can use to bolster the success of your business.