Tuesday, February 28, 2017

3 Unusual Tactics For Making Your Testimonials More Persuasive

I bet you’ve seen this sort of advice before…

When using a testimonial, you should always:

  • List the customer’s first and last name
  • Include their photo
  • Avoid unbelievable, over-the-top praise

Those are all fine tips to follow, but they’re really just starting points.

Optimizing your social proof requires just as much strategy and testing as improving a headline, hero image or call-to-action button.

Because if you just stick to blindly following ‘best practices,’ you could be missing out on a huge opportunity to squeeze more conversions out of your website or landing page. Here’s why:

Social proof affects different audiences in different ways. The complexity of your offer, the demographics of your visitors and a host of other factors all influence how persuasive your testimonials will be.

And that means you may want to try optimizing them in ways that seem counterintuitive at first.

Or even just plain strange.

I’ll get into more detail about this in a moment. But first, let’s make sure we’re on the same page about what typically makes for a convincing and credible testimonial.

Don’t use testimonials unless you’ve seen these tips…

Plenty of articles have already been written offering great advice for using testimonials. And those tips can generally be summed up as:

  • Include a photo and other details
    Providing the customer’s first and last name, location or any other relevant details makes testimonials more realistic. But an even bigger factor is including a (real) photo of the testimonial-giver. There’s plenty of research to back this up.
  • Use testimonials from people your customers can relate to
    According to implicit egotism theory, we generally trust people who are either like us or who we aspire to be like. And that means strong testimonials are often from folks who reflect how your prospects see themselves.
  • Use testimonials from people with authority (if possible)
    The most powerful testimonials come from people your audience sees as an expert or otherwise having authority. In essence, you’re ‘borrowing’ the positive feelings people have toward these individuals (this is called the Halo Effect) when you get their endorsement.
  • Reinforce a specific benefit
    Emphasis on specific. Vague testimonials that say things like “great experience” or “tremendous value” won’t connect with anyone. And it might even hurt your conversion rate. Instead, testimonials should be used strategically as ‘proof’ to support specific claims you’re making on your pages.
  • OR

  • Quash a serious objection
    Research by MECLABS shows that placing testimonials near sources of anxiety (such as the ‘Add to Cart’ button) can ease objections and improve conversions. Bottom line: don’t just randomly sprinkle testimonials throughout your website. First, consider the role they’re playing on the page.

These tips make sense, right?

And if you’ve been in the conversion optimization game for any length of time, I suspect you’re already familiar with most of them.

Now, let’s dive into 3 lesser-known techniques for making your testimonials more credible, engaging and persuasive.

1) Try ‘long-form’ testimonials

Far too many articles give out generic advice like:

“Always keep your testimonials very short.”

Well, no. Not always.

Short, specific quotes from customers may work fine in certain situations. But sometimes a big, juicy testimonial can provide the exact dose of social proof that your page needs. Why?

For the same reasons that long copy can sometimes be more persuasive than short copy. Long-form sales messages often work great when your product is complicated, your audience has loads of objections or the price-tag is high.

As veteran ad man Jay Conrad Levinson puts it:

“Don’t be afraid to use lengthy copy. Of all the things people dislike about marketing, ‘lack of information’ comes in second, after ‘feeling deceived.’”

The trick is to ensure your long-form copy — or long-form testimonial — is interesting and relevant to your audience. Here’s an example:

Long-form testimonials make up the majority of content on Noah Kagan’s sales page for his How To Make A $1,000 A Month Business course. And some of them run well over 500 words!

Now, these testimonials work like sales copy in a number of different ways. But I want to point out one specific technique that makes them so effective: storytelling.

Several testimonials on the page tell raw, human stories about a problem the person was up against and how they discovered a life-changing solution thanks to Kagan’s course.

Take a look at this example:

Dave’s story kicks off with an emotional (and relatable) problem.


He then goes on to tell a story about how the course helped him, eventually building to the ‘climax’ detailing how his life changed afterwards:


In fact, some of the most effective long-form testimonials start with an emotional problem.

Here’s a prime example from the Sweat Block homepage, which was optimized by the team at Copy Hackers. This testimonial follows the tried-and-true problem-agitate-solve copywriting formula:


Now, a customer probably isn’t going to just hand you over a problem-agitate-solve testimonial by fluke. You may need to give them some guidance first.

So ask specific questions when requesting a testimonial. Things like:

  • What made you seek out our product/service?
  • What was the exact problem you needed to solve? How did it impact your life?
  • How did our product/service solve this problem? How did it improve your [business/social life etc.]?

But even if you don’t take a problem-focused approach, the key to using effective long-form testimonials is to make sure they tell a gripping story.

One that will resonate with your target audience in a powerful way.

2) Show your warts (really, it’s OK)

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying you should post a testimonial that outright bashes your company.

That’d be weird. And, well, kind of dumb.

But I am suggesting that by leaving some minor ‘warts’ in your testimonials you can convey trust and credibility — if you do it the right way.

One study found that 68% of consumers trust reviews more when they see both positive and negative scores. And a whopping 30% suspect faked reviews when they don’t see anything negative at all.

As master copywriter Bob Bly puts it, “showing your warts” can be an effective marketing technique provided you:

  • demonstrate why your product’s weakness isn’t important or
  • show how you’ve designed your product to overcome the weakness

This tactic works because arguing against your own self-interest builds credibility.

In this Unbounce article, marketer and entrepreneur Pratik Dholakiya suggests testing a landing page testimonial that tells people who your product isn’t right for. This might involve including a line like:

“This product isn’t for [so and so], it’s for [so and so].”

The beauty of this approach is that it sends the message you want happy, long-term customers; not just quicks sales for short-term gain.

Some brands have used not-so-shiny testimonials in more creative ways to reinforce a key message.

For example, Ship Your Enemies Glitter used to feature a reviews section that told an unfiltered story about their product — one testimonial even mentioned a customer’s pending divorce.


OK, this is an extreme example.

The point is that people are skeptical of both online reviews and testimonials. But by slipping in a few “warts” (in a strategic way), you can give your social proof a shot of credibility.

3) Make your testimonial the ‘hero’

Got a beauty of a testimonial?

One that’s credible, relatable and aligns perfectly with the goal of your page?

Then don’t bury it way below the fold! Instead, play that sucker up big time in the hero section for every visitor to see.

Emphasizing the right testimonial immediately sends the message to prospects that your product solves problems for people who are just like them.

I used this strategy while optimizing a key sales page for LivePlan, which is a SaaS product that helps entrepreneurs write professional business plans.

Research showed us that many prospects had niggling doubts when they hit the page. They often wondered:

“Will this software work for my specific industry?”

It was a big barrier to signing up.

So we created a landing page that targeted just a segment of LivePlan’s traffic: people who wanted to write a business plan specifically for a café.

But instead of us telling the audience “this works for café entrepreneurs like you,” we wanted to prove it to them by making a relatable testimonial the hero of the page.

So we emphasized a quick story about how café owner Brian Sung used LivePlan to write a business plan faster and with less effort. Then we A/B tested the new page.

Here are the two hero sections we tested:


The testimonial-focused variant hauled in a 72% boost in paid conversions, which translated into a 53% increase in revenue (when you consider average order value).

There were a few other variables at play here. But ultimately, I believe that this relatable testimonial proved the hypothesis that LivePlan customers needed to feel confident that the product would work for their industry before signing up.

Other companies have also seen ‘wins’ by playing up testimonials like this as well. For example, Highrise saw a 102% lift in conversions when they tested a giant image and quote from one of their customers.

But again, having the right testimonials is key here. You can’t just pick one at random.

If you know headlines focused on “saving time” convert well, playing up a testimonial about how a customer “saved money” isn’t going to cut it.

Consider your goals and strategy for the page. Then select your social proof accordingly.


It doesn’t matter if you’re dealing with testimonials, user-reviews or client logos — the bottom line is the same:

Social proof affects different audiences in different ways.

Following best practices is a great starting point. But to squeeze the most persuasive value out of your testimonials, you need to consider things like your audience’s level of awareness and their thought sequence as they hit your page.

Now, maybe the 3 tactics outlined here aren’t a great fit for your prospects. That’s fine.

But it is important that you make an informed, strategic decision about how you use any type of social proof.

Because just tossing testimonials randomly on a page isn’t doing your visitors — or your conversion rates — any good.

About the author: Dustin Walker is a copywriter and partner at Good Funnel — a marketing agency that does in-depth customer research to help online businesses fire up their revenue. Follow Dustin on Twitter @dustinjaywalker.

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How Top Apps Are Leveraging Referral Marketing to Boost Downloads

How Top Apps Are Leveraging Referral Marketing to Boost Downloads written by Guest Post read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Customer trust is a commodity that’s remarkably in short supply.

Lack of trust is one of the reasons why businesses fail to persuade customers to buy a product or service though they may have handsome rewards or gift coupons on offer. On the contrary, a good word about your brand or product from a trusted family member or friend might work like magic.  It could turn a reluctant customer in favor of your product. Sometimes forever.

The fact has been verified by Nielsen study which says, word of mouth marketing is 92% more effective than any other form of marketing.

The bottom line is: If you want your business to survive and thrive, get people talking about your product. More than that, get them to refer your product.

Even in the app landscape word-of-mouth marketing or referral marketing has proven its mettle, time and time again in driving app downloads. From DropBox, Airbnb, Uber to Evernote, referral marketing has turned out to be one of the most important pillars on which edifice of their success stands.

Nevertheless, you don’t have to take my word for it. There are many app companies who are already leveraging customer referral programs as their chief growth engine to drive incredible app downloads and more.

1. DropBox Referral Marketing Program

With a staggering 3900% growth rate, Dropbox is reckoned to be an all-time referral marketing champ. The company had just 1,00,000 registered users in 2008, which climbed to a staggering 4M registered users within a mere 15 month period, thanks to its straightforward referral program.

How did they do it?

Dropbox offered both the referrer and the referred a free 500 MB space on every successful referral. It’s called reciprocal incentive in the customer referral lexicon. Meaning, customers would refer your brand to their friends and family only if you give them something substantial in return. The referral program resonated well with the users and rest, as they say, is history.

2. Airbnb Referral Marketing Program

Though Dropbox engineered an unheard of growth rate through referrals, but then,  Airbnb’s referral program is touted to be the best in the world. Founded in 2007, the company is today valued at over $25 billion, thanks to its double-sided referral program.

How did they do it?

Airbnb offered both the referrer and the referred $25 travel credit, on the grounds the new member completed his/her first trip. This was a quite a calculated approach by Airbnb as the referrer was paid only when the new user made a purchase. This ensured they weren’t putting money into any unprofitable referral schemes.

Plus, they offered an additional $75 credit when the referred hosted a guest the first time.

The program was a runaway hit, helping Airbnb double its users each year since 2012. The company is also said to have made the most of the recommended contact feature available in Gmail and Android APIs, which resulting in higher conversions.

Few things Airbnb ensured while sending out their referral invites:

  • They A/B tested their referral invites to ensure their referral invites sounded as gifts rather than promotions.
  • The language of the invite was altruistic, given that altruistic emails enjoyed far more success ratio than outright promotional emails.

3. Uber Referral Marketing Program

Uber’s referral marketing program had become so popular that today every cab and ride sharing app is duplicating it, be it GRAB TAXI, LYFT, SIDECAR, or GET AROUND.

Uber also follows a double-sided referral scheme akin to Dropbox and Airbnb.  Nevertheless, the chief attraction is the drivers’ referral program. The drivers are considered to be valued partners of Uber and are offered  $5 cash for every new rider they bring on board.

How did they do it?

For Drivers

  • Every Uber driver is offered a promotional code which is passed over to the potential So whenever a new buyer sign-ups for a driver’s account using the former’s promotion code they get linked to his account.
  • And when the new driver completes his first ten trips, and if you are the first driver to refer him, you are entitled to $5 cash.


  • Any new rider using your promotional code will get $20 off on their first ride.
  • You gain $5 cash in return every time your promotional code is used by a first-time rider.

4. Evernote’s App Referral Program

With a valuation of more than $1 billion, and with more than 100 billion worldwide users, the popular note-taking app has also launched a popular double-sided refer-a-friend program.

How did they do it?

Both the referrer and referred are rewarded when the later successfully completes a user sign-up. In return, the former wins Evernote Points. The referrer is entitled to use his earned points toward premium subscriptions, increase in monthly upload limit and so on.

On the other hand,  for signing up through your link, your referred – that is your friends and colleagues – would be offered a month of Evernote Premium for free, which means they could enjoy some powerful Evernote features like Offline Notebooks, smarter search, and more.

How App Start-ups Could Use Referral Program Strategy

All these four powerful app referral marketing case studies is a testament to the fact that referral marketing is one of the best marketing strategies to boost app downloads. In fact, it could be construed as a shortcut tool to built instant customer trust.

Nevertheless, app developers or marketers shouldn’t apply this strategy as soon as the app is ready. One needs to establish a loyal customer base first if they really want their referral campaign to hit the ground running.

A few selected tips to get your app referral campaign up and running:

1. Establish A Loyal Customer Base and Then Target Them

Don’t target the entire customer base. It could turn out to be an exercise in complete futility. Rather focus on your most active customers, because they wouldn’t mind recommending your app to his or her’s family and friends.

2. Employ Double-sided Referral Programs

All the above-mentioned app referral program worked fine because they leveraged double-sided referral strategy to a T.  Like it or not, humans are selfish. (Sure, there are exceptions to this, but by and large, “what’s in for me,” is how the human mind works.) So, dangle the reward bait without any second thoughts, if you really want to your referral program to work.

3. Take Industrial Data Into Account  

According to a recent study by app analytics firm AppsFlyer, iOS users download apps most during the weekends, while the Android users download more during weekdays.  So, while shooting your referral emails via SMS or push notifications, bear this point in mind.

Action days:

iOS apps:  Target your referrals on Thursdays and weekends. The iOS apps have 30% higher install rates on these days compared to other days of the week. However, avoid Mondays because there’s 40% drop compared to the weekends. Bottom line: Spend sparingly at the starting of the week when users are less likely to download apps.

Android apps: You are free to send out referrals all through the week as app installs are strong and consistent; nevertheless, target Tuesdays without fail, as it witnesses 4% higher download volume compared to the weekly average.

Rope in Key Influencers to Promote your Referrals  

Of the several users joining your referral program, only a few would qualify as the key influencers.  Find them and reward them handsomely so that they become the brand ambassadors of your app.

Leverage Social Media to Promote in-app Referrals

This goes without saying. It’s the age of social media, so if you want to really want to make your in-app referrals a grand success, leverage different social media channels. Even put your website and mobile site to work.

Wrapping Up

App referral programs are doing good.  Dropbox, Evernote, Airbnb, to name a few, are just tip of the iceberg. But then, before you embark on your referral campaign make sure that you earn some goodwill, that is building a good loyal customer base first and foremost. It’s because your referral marketing campaign would literally be riding on their shoulders. And also, make sure you are targeting quality users who would interest in using your app in the long run. And before I forget: A/B test your referral schemes. There’s nothing such as referral marketing blueprint to follow. Tweak and tinker your referral programs as and when needed.

So, tell me, are you using referral marketing to attract more customers? How is it going for you? Any experiences worth sharing? We are all ears.

About the Author

Jini Maxin is a Senior Writer with OpenXcell Mobile App Development Company which offers mobile app development services across the globe. She is a voracious reader who pours all her learning into producing well-researched and data-driven posts. You can connect with her on Twitter.

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