What can you do with material collected through interviews?
The big advantage of testimonials is their language. Even with our best efforts websites can feel artificial or stilted because of the language we use.
Many sites use jargon that distances them from potential users. In general, people seem to respond best to language as close as possible to the language they use.
There are some issues. A recent client wanted a static website. The term “static website” normally means a site lacking dynamic content. Such a site might be regularly updated but doesn’t have anything on it that enables visitors to influence its content. My client means a site that requires no work, with content that never changes.
Leaving aside whether an unchanging website has any real purpose (they do exist and can have a purpose under certain circumstances) the problem is if I use this language on my site, it would be misleading. As it happens I’m not interested in unchanging websites; so the chances are I would not present this particular idea on my site. But it illustrates the issues you might face using your interviewees’ language.
Positive and Negative copy
Substantial positive copy is of great value and one goal of testimonials. Positive copy is most effective when attributed.
However, negative copy can be of value. Whether you attribute negative copy depends upon context but it can be used to, for example, respond to objections to your service.
Negative copy can be treated as a request for an enhanced service. So, you will be able to say something like: “several past clients have commented that they’d like a particular service and so in response I’ve started this new thing”.
The value of the interview is whether comments are positive or negative, you are more likely to get a deeper understanding of why the interviewee thinks the way they do. This can be immensely valuable.
Generally it is difficult to get anyone to say anything about your service. A negative comment can be valuable and should be used, so long as it is constructive. “Your website’s rubbish” is not helpful. But a comment that explains why the website is rubbish may be helpful. The fact that someone took the time to comment suggests they value what you’re trying to do and want to help you improve it. You may have invested hours of work in your site and prone to be defensive but a positive and appreciative response to the comment is better.
How can testimonials be incorporated into your website?
Testimonials can be used on your website and the question is how they can be best deployed.
The first question is whether to attribute testimonials. There are a variety of options depending upon context. Broadly, testimonials can be attributed only with permission. If someone sends you a testimonial on request, then attribute it. If they send you something you haven’t asked for you will need to permission to attribute it.
An attribution is something that can in principle be tracked down. If I say John said something, it is not really an attribution even if John is the name of the person who said it. I suppose someone might work out who John is but it’s not very likely and they wouldn’t have proof.
If someone is willing they may also feature a photo or video their views.
An attributed testimonial carries more weight. They are evidence of the value of your work.
However unattributed testimonials have value. You could say here are some quotes from past clients. This is not as effective as attributed quotes. You could use them with negative comments. For example I might say: “One of my clients said …” and then a negative comment. I would then respond to the comment.
The client might not want to be attributed for a negative comment (it would be more convincing if they are) but that it is negative carries some weight. It shows you respond positively to negative comments.
It is not necessary to say something on your page is feedback. You may find that comments can be incorporated seamlessly into your copy. They may enable you to write in language your customers use and appreciate. If, for example, you receive comments from a client, it might be inappropriate to quote them on your own website but they can still influence the copy on your site.
Where to put them!
Do not place testimonials on a page by themselves. No-one will read them. You could put them in a sidebar but it is better to integrate them into your copy. So, if you are explaining about your coaching offer, quote from a customer.
How have you used testimonials creatively to enhance the copy on your site?
If you enjoyed this post, you can sign up to my email list at the top of the right-hand column. You will receive a weekly summary of my posts, an email sequence about community development and occasional emails about community development online.