Some clients I speak to are fearful of promoting positive comments from their current clientele – and not without reason. Some companies actively scout competitor sites for leads, looking to poach business from them. But testimonials form an important part of the decision-making process for many consumers who take more notice of reviews than what are often perceived to be biased company claims and statistics. So should you share testimonials, or pass up on a great opportunity to promote your business?
Testimonials are important to buyers
As a copywriter I always ask clients who are setting up a new website whether they are including testimonials somewhere for potential customers to read. This is because over 90% of consumers check out a business online before they choose to spend with them – and 88% trust online reviews and testimonials as much as a word of mouth recommendation from a friend or family member. This proves that comments made by happy customers past and present do have a significant role to play on your website. Don’t forget that for many consumers the content you share on your website is the only information they have about your business.
The positives outweigh the negatives
Although stealing business is a concern and competitors may look at your site, it’s likely that the majority of traffic coming to your site is going to consist of people who want to work with you, not against you. By nature we often base our opinions on the views of others – which is why online review sites like TripAdvisor, FreeIndex and Feefo are so popular. A ‘check online before you buy’ culture means that your testimonials matter now more than ever before to potential customers with no previous experience of your business or recommendation to refer to.
Testimonials are a really important part of my business, because I gain a lot of my work through word of mouth recommendations. I think it’s crucial that I include a selection here on the website for anyone who is considering working with me, as this assures them that I can do an excellent job for them before they spend any time or money with me, just as I have done for my other clients. Think about your own habits when shopping online. If you’re about to spend hundreds of pounds on an expensive item, you want proof that it will deliver as you expect it to. For many people this proof comes only from testimonials. With this in mind can you afford not to take the risk of posting testimonials and leave potential clients in the dark?
Aside from this, poaching business from competitors online really isn’t the smartest tactic – especially when you’re targeting a company’s most satisfied customers! And if you lose that customer based on price alone, perhaps they weren’t your best client after all.
How can I share testimonials and protect my business?
It’s certainly possible to share testimonials without giving away details of top clients to your competitors. Some companies believe that simply asking potential customers to ‘request testimonials’ works – but with increasingly impatient and fickle consumers and plenty of competition who do post testimonials it’s likely they’ll feel frustrated and go elsewhere.
Another popular way to get around the ‘poaching’ issue is to include testimonials without publishing the company or contact name. However on a personal level as a consumer the connotation with these types of testimonials is that they could have been written by anybody (probably the business owner themselves!) As the point of testimonials is to secure a positive impression and help you to gain business, not put buyers off, this is a risky tactic and not one I would recommend.
Instead my suggestion for those who are nervous about posting testimonials is to choose clients you’re confident with. They’ve made time and gone to some effort to write you a testimonial – so they must value your business relationship and aren’t likely to take a call from a competitor promising to undercut or over-deliver. Including links to their sites also helps you from an SEO perspective – so not only do you rank highly in the opinions of consumers, but you can work on ranking highly with Google, too.
For more on copywriting, blogging and website content take a look at my related articles here.