One of the most powerful things you can put on your software sales website is a customer testimonial. Visitors to your website who are prospective customers will trust you more if you have testimonials because it indicates that 1. There are other people using your software, 2. At least some of those other people are very happy about using your software, and 3. You listen to what customers are saying about your software.
So, here are 12 tips for using testimonials on your website.
- FIRST, above all else, your testimonials need to be from actual users, preferably ones who are paying you money. Anything else is deceptive (and in some places, illegal).
- DON’T ask customers to “write you a testimonial.” Most won’t, and the ones that do will try to think like marketing people and will write things that sound forced and unnatural. You want testimonials that are genuine, so readers say “I believe that a real person wrote that, not a marketing drone.”
- DO send a regular survey to your customers that asks open ended questions like “What is the primary benefit you receive from <product>.” I recommend an annual survey, but depending on your market, something more frequent could be ok. (By the way, we highly recommend the simple survey at survey.io, which is where the question quoted above came from).
- DO keep an eye on your communication with your users. Emails, tweets, and even bug reports can have customers saying very nice things about your software. When you get nice comments, make a note of them.
- DO ask people if you can use their quote before publishing it. Send a short email asking if you can use what they said. If they say “no,” then don’t use it. (In 11 years of running a software business, I have never had a customer say “no” when asked if I could quote them on my website).
- DO alter their testimonial so it makes sense. Don’t put words in their mouth, but it’s ok to make “editorial” changes to make their message more concise. For example, if the customer wrote “I love using your software, it’s a must have for every one of the people I know that’s a dentist,” you might change it to “I love using <ProductName>. It’s a must have for every dentist I know.”
- DO tell the customer exactly what you intend to publish, including any wordsmithing you’ve done, and how you intend to display their name and any other personal details you intend to use.
Here are a few simple guidelines to help your testimonials have maximum impact when you publish them:
- DO make the testimonial stand out from the other text on your website. You could make it a different color, put it in a box, or use a different font. The point is to convey the idea that this text is different from the other text, because someone else wrote it.
- DO use testimonials as a form of “proof” of something you’re trying to convey on the page. For example, a page about how much time your software saves users would be enhanced by a testimonial that says “<ProductName> saves me a ton of time.”
- DO use multiple testimonials together, if they all support the same basic idea. If you have three testimonials that talk about how much time your software saves, you can put them together to strengthen the “proof” mentioned above.
- DO make the testimonial as personal as possible. Always use the author’s first name. Even better, use the author’s first and last name. Better yet, use their first and last name and their picture! How far to go with this will depend on the comfort level of your customers and your market. Personally, I use a first name with a last initial, and a bit saying “<ProductName> user since 2008,” or something similar. You want your reader to feel a connection to the author of the testimonial, so that they trust the testimonial, and by extension trust you.
- Finally, DO deliver on the testimonial! This goes back to the top, about using genuine, honest quotes from real users. If something about your product changes that makes the testimonial no longer apply, stop using it. If the user had an exceptional experience that’s the opposite of most of your users, don’t quote him on that experience (Have you seen those “results not typical” weight loss ads? It might generate interest, but it just leads to users that try your software and are disappointed. Don’t do that).
Testimonials build both interest and trust in your message. Obtain them appropriately and use them wisely, and they’ll do great things for your business.
BONUS: Did you like the advice in this post? I’ve got three more tips on using testimonials (including the exact text of the email I send to customers when I ask if I can quote them) that I’m going to send exclusively to our mailing list next week. Join the mailing list to get more useful advice on software marketing (we won’t spam you, we promise).