Testimonials can be a big deal if you’re launching a course, a program, a product, or even if you’re offering a service of some sort. I personally use testimonials for my information products and for my transcription service business.
Think of testimonials as awesome little tidbits that let the rest of the world know that you’ve been doing what you do for awhile and you’re not going to steal their money and run away. They don’t really think you’re going to do that, but seeing that other people have worked with you is a reassuring sort of thing and it helps get past those little specs of doubt floating around in the back of their mind.
In the past few years the use of testimonials has become a bit – let’s say crazy.
With the whole big FTC crack down on “fake testimonials” and publishing guidelines a lot of people have been afraid to even add testimonials to their pages for fear that someone might think they’re fake, even if they’re not. It’s all quite chaotic and panic inducing.
There are a lot of decisions to make when you’re adding testimonials to your website. Should you include photos next to the quotes? Should you only use video testimonials? What if you add audio testimonials, will they be considered a worthy source? Are text quotes without photos valuable enough to be perceived as good? If a client or customer wants to give a testimonial but wants to remain anonymous to the public, how can you handle that without the testimonial looking fake?
Something that happens more often than you would think is people sending testimonials and including a fake picture or other information that isn’t accurate.
A lot of website owners work under pen names, which is fine and normal, but it also frequently means they don’t have a proper photo to offer up with a testimonial. But when someone says to them, “Hey, I could really use some testimonials for XYZ. Could you say a few words about it?” they think they’re helping out someone who has helped them along the way and they send in their testimonial and attach a stock photo, which can be fine if it’s the photo they use on their own site and can be connected to them, or what sometimes happens is they send some random photo they found on the internet thinking “it will do for now.” And it’s not a big deal until it gets published on the web for everyone to see and the person who published it doesn’t realize it’s not a real photo.
Here’s an interesting example…
This was a testimonial for a program I considered purchasing at the beginning of the year when a few friends online were joining up. I went to check it out and it looked good as I scrolled through the page reading the program plan, and then I reached the first testimonial…
This photo along with the name and information about losing 60 pounds is included in two places on the sales page for the program. While the program being sold wasn’t about weight loss, it was about setting and achieving goals, the fact that the testimonial is about weight loss and includes a fake photograph is a bit unnerving.
(No, I’m not going to link to the page I found it on, this isn’t about pointing fingers, it’s about making double sure that your testimonials include accurate information. I did let the program manager know about it, I emailed and I put in a support ticket, but as far as I know it still hasn’t been changed yet – three+ months later.)
Now there are a few scenarios that go through my mind for this example….
Scenario A: The webmaster is a fan of The Office and used photos of the cast as placeholders when building their sales page during their planning stages before they had the real testimonials to put in place. Then somehow when the page was being finished and finalized this one was overlooked and didn’t get swapped out for the real client photo.
Scenario B: The testimonial is just plain fake all around.
Scenario C: The testimonial came in from a real client who didn’t want to send a real photo of themselves so they just attached any random photo they found on the internet.
Scenario D: The testimonial is actually from Ed Helms himself and he didn’t want to use his real name but included this real photograph.
(and probably about 15 other scenarios that are all a bit of an imagination stretch…)
Sure, all of those scenariosare possible. But let me ask you this…
Which one do you think is the case?