This question comes up a lot: “How do you present testimonials? Should I create a testimonials page or put them in different locations on my website?”
Website testimonials are most powerful when they’re placed in close proximity to your marketing claims and back up what you’ve promised. This not only helps your potential customers overcome objections by answering any lingering questions they may have, but provides them with powerful “social proof” that other people trusted you before and it worked out pretty great for those people.
Here’s the thing …
People don’t spend a lot of time meandering around websites clicking all the pages. You’re lucky if they click on two or three before they go on about their day. So normally I tell people not to bother with a full page of client testimonials, but, there are exceptions to that rule.
Before we get into the specifics of where you should put them, let’s first chat about …
Why testimonials are so important
When you’re marketing your business to a local market, word-of-mouth is the best way to get clients. You simply rely on your personal and client referral network to remember you when they have conversations with their friends and colleagues. It works like this…
Your former client Jim is chatting with Jane over lunch about her problems and says, “Oh, I know who you should talk to — Julie! She’s awesome. Tell her I sent you.” And boom, you’re off to the races.
But online, we’re marketing to an infinite number of internet strangers who don’t have a “Jim” to vouch for you.
Somehow, you need to convince internet-stranger Jane that you’re credible and trustworthy, then remove the friction she experiences when she’s debating whether to click your “work with me” page and take those next steps.
To really crawl inside your potential clients’ minds and understand what they need to feel safe and secure knowing you’re the best choice, it’s helpful to understand the process they go through to arrive at the conclusion to hire you.
They’re aware they need you, they’ve done a bit of research into their options, they’ve compared the different ways they can go… but just as they’re feeling confident that they’ve made a decision, they’re probably going to try to talk themselves out of it.
That’s just what we humans do, especially if the price tag is high.
At this stage of the process, we need to do all we can to answer any questions they have and address any lingering doubts.
The most powerful way to do that? By having other people address their objections and concerns for you. Enter… testimonials.
Credible client testimonials placed in just the right spots on your website can dramatically reduce uncertainty and insecurity for people who don’t know you. Not only that, they provide powerful “social proof.”
When they see people raving about their amazing experience and how you’ve transformed your clients’ lives in some way, people want to be a part of that. (a.k.a. FOMO — fear of missing out).
Should you create a separate testimonials page for your website?
Creating a separate page for your testimonials means most people are going to miss them. If you have a dedicated testimonials page now, check your analytics under Behavior > site content > Landing Page to see for yourself. I’ll bet it’s not getting much traffic.
If it’s working for you? Great. But typically, it’s more effective to sprinkle them around your site in strategic places. (I’ll get to exactly where in a sec.)
It’s okay to have a testimonials page, but don’t just stick it in your top bar navigation and call it good. Think about where people are evaluating your offerings and making their decision… you’ll want to use short snippets from testimonials close by.
Then, if you want to, you can direct them to your full testimonials page so they can get their final questions and objections answered.
The most powerful place to put your website testimonials
Where people are making their final decision to take action is where you’re making marketing claims — e.g. “These are the features and benefits of my service… book now!”
So, immediately following a claim, display a testimonial that supports that claim.
For example, one of the things I try to convey in my website copy is that my process is fun. So I might say…
CLAIM: “There are no shortcuts, and you’ll have homework to do, but my clients say my process is fun.”
I’ll follow it with a testimonial that reads,
PROOF: “Taughnee made the design process fun!”
Bam. Now, my site visitors don’t need to take my word for it, they can take my client’s word for it.
Most credible forms of testimonials
Now, what if I did this? Here, I took a screen capture from my LinkedIn profile testimonials section.
Do you believe it to be more credible than if I just said “Taughnee made the design process fun” — Julie
The reason why this is so effective is that your website visitors are looking for reasons not to trust you — they’re skeptical. If your testimonials don’t appear to be legit, they’re going to click away.
Here are some things to boost the credibility of your testimonials:
- Use a photo, full name, title and if possible, a link to their website
- Use screen captures from review sites and social media
- Use video testimonials — this is the MOST powerful because they’re impossible to fake.
I recommend including a debriefing session into your projects so you can get feedback and request a testimonial – a tool like Zoom is perfect for this. As you’re chatting and asking them if they have any final questions and making certain you’ve set them up for success, ask if they would mind sharing a few words on camera and answering a few questions.
Ask them how they felt about the experience of working with you, how they achieved an objective or overcame an obstacle. Ask questions that relate to your marketing claims and brand promises.
In Zoom, you can hit “record” and it’ll automatically save to your computer (or you can configure it to be stored to the cloud but I don’t bother with that). Then, upload that to YouTube (or your video hosting platform of choice) and display it on your sales page.
How to collect great client testimonials
Now that you understand the rationale behind how this works, you know exactly where to put your testimonials so it makes the most sense and meets your site visitors where they are and joins in on that conversation going on in their minds.
It also helps you think more strategically about the specific questions you should ask in your feedback surveys going forward. Rather than the generic, “Would you write me a testimonial?” you can ask them to speak specifically about something you want those internet strangers to know about you.
Pro-tip: if you have raving fans who write you long love letters, that’s AWESOME! But your site visitors aren’t going to read paragraphs and paragraphs of text. Use snippets from those long testimonials that answer common objections or describe a specific outcome your potential clients want.
Help your site visitors get the “gist of it” by pulling out the language that best describes the experience of working with you. A testimonial that’s 1 or 2 sentences rather than 3 or 4 paragraphs will be more easily digested and make a bigger impact. You can display longer testimonials on a separate page or on long-form sales pages.
Probably the best example of someone using testimonials like WHOA to build her online business is Marie Forleo. She has this down to an art form and goes to great length to get the very best possible response from her customers and uses them as a pivotal part of her sales pages in order to boost conversions.
I highly encourage you to check that out — if you’re not convinced how powerful testimonials can be after reading this case study, I don’t know what’ll do it for ya. See: How Marie Forleo Leverages Testimonials
I hope that was helpful! If you have any questions, hit me up in comments!
Taughnee Stone is an award-winning designer, brand strategist, and location-independent business owner for over 15 years. Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, she now lives in Croatia with her husband, energetic Samoyed, and three bossy cats.