Probably not. Our research indicates that most sites don’t use credibility indicators to their full advantage. You’ve probably noticed the same thing when your marketing cap is off and you’re visiting sites as a hunter or browser (or howser?) in your free time.
When you’re the customer, do you trust that long list of rosy, anonymous quotes over in the sidebar, or filling a whole page of its own? Does that type of testimonial influence you positively, or make you more skeptical? How do text quotes compare to video and audio clips or a customer rating system? What kind of lift can your conversion rate get from a review or award from a known brand, like PC Magazine?
Those are among the questions we’re working to answer in our optimization experiments. And we discussed recent research results and best practices in our July 9 clinic: Using Testimonials Effectively: How credibility indicators can help (or hurt) your conversions.
As we noted in the clinic, the multivariate tests we examined also included changes to other page elements. However, our goal in sharing this research was to show that credibility indicators can indeed play a significant role in conversions — both positive and negative — based on how they are applied. While these tests didn’t isolate the specific impact of testimonials, the results make a strong case for additional testing and support the best practices we’ve identified in previous experiments.
So, science aside, what are some real-world keys to applying credibility indicators and making them more powerful?
- No matter what the format (text, video, audio), testimonials should be placed strategically on your pages to alleviate anxiety; focus on order forms and sign-up pages first and foremost.
- Standalone testimonial pages need to have clear, direct links and calls-to-action to transaction pages. Relying on the navbar tab = missed opportunities.
- Lead with the highest authority testimonials, but first ensure that the application fits your target audience. Example: If you’re appealing to SOHO or small-biz buyers, recognize that using quotes and logos from corporate Goliaths like IBM, GE, or Bank of America may send the wrong signal.
- Less is more with content: Keep the blocks of praise compact and easy to scan, with bold highlights for relevant phrases or terms like quality. Same goes for video clips: shorter ones will load quicker and convey the message faster; use a timestamp that lets prospects know it’s only a 30-second clip before they click.
- More is more with attribution: Quotes with a full name, title, company, and photo, are more believable than just initials and a city.
Those are just a few takeaway ideas. To find out more about the underlying principles, case studies and examples, plus a live page critique, please check out the full clinic and post your thoughts or questions here in the comments section.