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What is the difference between good and bad testimonials?

There's no denying that everyone enjoys spending money, especially on themselves. People want to solve their problems and make their lives easier or more convenient. And they're happy to pay for it – for the right price.


Yet, running parallel to this is our incessant fear and nervousness about making poor decisions. We don't want to feel foolish and make costly financial mistakes. This is because our emotional response to our own money is extremely sensitive. The wins are greater, and the losses are more severe.


This means your ad is always starting on the back foot. The possibility of post-purchase regrets is strong, and your prospect is sceptical. So your advertising must do two things:


1. To fuel your prospect's natural desire to acquire what you're selling

2. Understand that your prospect is anxious about their impending decision


Your ad needs to consider their doubts and reassure them with answers in the most compelling way possible.


And what's more compelling than a testimonial?


For a prospect, knowing that someone else (similar to you) has already taken the plunge, overcome their fears, and is reaping the rewards. Nothing performs better.


A good testimonial should excite prospects and soothe their anxieties. They work to reinforce your benefits from new perspectives. And crucially, they make your claims credible and attainable. Reassuring a prospect's decision is wise.


But, not all testimonials are created equal.


The kinds of testimonials you don't want to use in your advertising are:


1. Testimonials that do not reinforce a specific benefit

2. Testimonials that repeat your ads copy

3. Testimonials that are unattributed


Let's take a closer look at each.


Testimonials that do not reinforce a specific benefit


Too many testimonials say things like:


"Great service! I'd certainly recommend."


"It's so easy and simple to use."


"Thank you so much! It's exactly what I was hoping for."


How incredibly bland and unspecific. These testimonials give no detail and leave your prospect asking more questions. Why was it a great service? What happened that was so great? Why is it easy and simple? What about it makes it so simple and easy to use? Why is it what you were hoping for? What anxieties have now been solved?


Testimonials like these do little to SHOW a prospect anything more than what your ad has already told them. Adding zero impact and taking up valuable ad space.


On the other hand, a good testimonial should comfort the reader by adding another dimension to your argument from a satisfied customer.


Testimonials that repeat your ads copy


Repetition of the value you offer should be saved for your body copy. In testimonial form, repetition only serves to discredit your claims. It makes what you have to say seem more sceptical. Regardless of whether they are genuine, they sound like they're not. So don't use them. Here are a few in action:


"Great quality for such an affordable price."

"The half-price saving meant I bought two."


"Delivery was so quick and easy."


These are all things an engaged prospect would assume, expect as standard, and have been told them a million times before. They do not work.


Testimonials that are unattributed


Nowadays, this has become less of an issue with the rise in independent review sites like Trustpilot or FeeFo doing the leg work. However, many advertisers often miss the opportunity to fully maximise the impact an entirely attributed testimonial could make.


Of course, you're trying to show your prospect that someone like them has obtained tangible benefits from what you have to offer. But you can make that person more relatable and meaningful by adding more specific information:


- title

- company (if B2B or an industry expert)

- age

- location

- awards honours (if B2B)

- book and publications (if B2B or an industry expert)


The key here is to either show your prospect, "Here's a person who's achieved these real benefits." Or "Here is someone worth listening to – an expert – who has also achieved these real benefits".


Sounds simple, and it is. If you have this information, you should absolutely use it.


To summarise, a good testimonial should:


1. Point to a specific benefit or benefits

2. Not repeat the ad copy

3. Attribute as much information as possible about the person who said it


So, think your ads need a little more scrutiny? Even minor tweaks like presenting your testimonials correctly could increase your ad's effectiveness. Why not drop james@paperandpixels.co.uk a note or use the form on the contact us page, and we'll show you how.





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