Testimonials seem to be a great idea (social proof, etc), but I'm not sure they have any meaningful impact on sales. And they could actually be causing problems for our existing customers. For example, if many potential clients contact your previous client, he or she may feel bothered. Any other factors should be taken into consideration?
Great question. Here's two studies that have some good statistics and graphs on this issue. This research included over 25,000 Internet consumers from over 50 countries.
Fast Facts: More than 40% of consumers go online to check reviews and consumer feedback before purchasing consumer electronics.Article 2: Consumers Trust Real Friends and Online Strangers the Most - The Nielsen Company (2009) Hope this helps!
60% of those going online have visited a social network, with half going back everyday according to Facebook.
23% of social network users expect companies to listen and respond to what is said online
Testimonials are a great marketing technique because of the psychological principle of social proof. To quote Wikipedia, social proof is
a psychological phenomenon that occurs in ambiguousYou must get permission from the testimonial-giver to use their name and quote. If they work for a company, you should make sure you have the company's permission, too, to use the company name.
social situations when people are
unable to determine the appropriate
mode of behavior. Making the
assumption that surrounding people
possess more knowledge about the
situation, they will deem the behavior
of others as appropriate or better
I have never known a testimonial-giver to be harassed as a result, but obviously, if this happens, you must take down the testimonial.
Other than that, testimonials are a great idea and an important part of marketing.
We use testimonials all the time and they really help. While asking for testimonials, we explicitly tell our clients that it may be used on our website with their name and city/country. We don't mention their contact information on our website for privacy purposes.
Clients normally won't have any issue with that.
In a B2B situation the problem with testimonials is that they can't be easily verified (because usually there's only initials and not names) and/or they are easily cast as inauthentic and purely offered as a professional courtesy.
My solution to that is scale... if you have a large number of testimonials (or some that are so long they simply can't seem to be concocted) then the viewer is far more likely to presume that at least some of them are authentic (here's that social proof bias at work).
In other words, it's like SEO... the content has to validate the claim... if you're a 'leading provider' and have three testimonials I'm put off. If you're 'the area's fastest growing provider' and you have 50 testimonials I'm all thumbs up...you've validated your claim.