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Testament To Testimonials

We have all seen websites showcasing their testimonials either spread strategically throughout the site or all together on their own glorious page. They're there with the intent of leading us toward that high dollar purchase or convincing us of something's legitimacy. Sometimes we read them and sometimes we won't. Sometimes we believe them and sometimes we don't. Well, are they really worth all the time and effort?

The quick answer: Only if you do it right. When done correctly, testimonials can really serve you in establishing your site's credibility. Testimonials give you an opportunity to back up your claims. Believe it or not, as soon as someone visits your site you have immediately begun a relationship with that person. Your site will be one of the determining factors in solidifying that relationship and your testimonials can be a key component in building their trust. When done improperly, you might actually drive people away from you and what you have to offer. If your testimonials aren't believable and honest then you probably don't want them posted in the first place.

Here are a few guidelines to follow if you decide to use testimonials on your website.

1. Testimonials Should be Brief. You want your reader to get the point quickly and read the entire quote. You might have a great testimonial, but it is a page long. The odds of someone reading it in its entirety are pretty small. A good idea would be to break it up into sections.

2. Don't Fake It. Your testimonials should be believable and the best way to assure yourself of that is not to make them up your self or have someone else do it for you. Honesty is always the best policy. Phony testimonials will ruin your credibility immediately. Say "adios" to your customers if you want to fake it.

3. Specifically Identify. Testimonials should be signed with a full name and a specific title. Don't use something like "Businessperson" or "Professional". People wan to see a name and area of expertise. It is also a good idea to put a link to their website. This will help establish the legitimacy of their testimonial.

4. Ask Permission. Before you publish someone's comment make sure that they are aware of what you are going to post and that you have their consent in doing so. It is easier to "sell" the idea if you agree to post a link to their website beneath the quote.

5. Address a Specific Benefit. A specific positive result has much more impact than something generic. It is better to post something to the affect of "Your product helped cut costs by 18 percent last quarter" as opposed to "Your product is great".

6. Spread Them Out. You can have a page dedicated to testimonials. It's a good idea, but you can't guarantee that a visitor will visit that page. In addition to your testimonial page why not post a testimonial or two on each page throughout your website. You can even interweave your quotes into your content. This can most likely increase the strength of your message as your visitors peruse each page.

SPECIAL TIP: Anytime you have a good experience with a website or online purchase send your own testimonial adhering to the above-mentioned guidelines. If published, you'll probably get a link to your website. Over time that can add up and increase traffic to your site.

When it comes down to it, testimonials help provide an independent and unbiased medium to promote you and your website. You have the option to use them or not. If you decide to use testimonials on your website then use them properly. Well-positioned and authentic testimonials can easily make a positive impact and strengthen your site.

Cal Hyslop has a background in business and technology with a Masters in Business Administration and is an owner of a website design firm located in Houston, Texas. The mission of his company, WebChrysalis, is to help individuals and businesses look like a million dollars online through the use of web templates and expert design.


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