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testimonials must be real?

 8:42 pm on Jan 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

If you are building a membership site do testimonials have to be from real people? I mean, how is anybody going to know you didn't just make it up, on the other hand apparently testimonials are a good marketing tool? What do people think on this topic?



 8:46 pm on Jan 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

I know all the testimonials are real on our site as I get forwarded the original emails and told to put them on the website.



 8:49 pm on Jan 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

What do people think on this topic?

Speaking only for myself, I pay no attention to testimonials for exactly the same reason you elude to...the falsification angle.

Too many years of those stupid infomercials I suppose.....

Anyway, why would you want your site to have a reputation built upon a false pretense? <-Rhetorical Question.



 8:54 pm on Jan 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

I donít know about anyone else but I think testimonials should be real.

I have only used testimonials one time to sell some software, the testimonials were real and even had contact info so people could contact the companies and people that had written testimonials. If I remember correctly approximately 88% of the purchasers contacted one of the people or companies giving the testimonials before they purchased.

So IMO itís not just good ethics...Itís good business.


 10:04 pm on Jan 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

When I first launched my commercial website, I used FAKE testimonials, it was an excellent traffic driver and even places like Yahoo listed this in the descriptions.

This resulted me in getting MORE genuine testimonials, and also lots of conversions.

I can now say that it was a very foolish/selfish thing to do, and I regret having done it.

Currently I do NOT carry testimonials, although we get about 2-3 per week, as most of the competition are running fakes, I do NOT want to be tarnished with the same brush.

We all make mistakes, SORRY



 11:12 pm on Jan 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

Testimonials are an excellent tool to help build confidence. A good business will always be able to provide some kind of testimonial however, they must be real. It won't take long to collate "real" testimonials from "real" customers.

Don't be afraid to ask for them as most people that have had a good experience are only too pleased, and are often flattered, they were asked.

Shak, you're forgiven. ;-)


 11:16 pm on Jan 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

engine, thanks :)

On another note, if you are getting emails of compliments, should PRIOR permission NOT be sought before reproducing private comments as testimonials?

whats the legal angle? Lawman?



 11:33 pm on Jan 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

There was an interesting discussion about permission, here. [webmasterworld.com]


 7:22 pm on Jan 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

If you are going to make up testimonials I would suggest giving them a slightly negative tint. And then below them show a response about how you fixed the problem and the original testimony person now thinks highly of you.
Either do this or make up some negative ones and some positive ones that are very specific.
And again no one really cares how good the testimonials sound, but if they point out something people need to consider about your product or service rather the testimonial is good or bad it is helpful to your potential customers and to you.

If you are going for legitmate testimonials you really need a person willing to have a website or email address attached to the testimonial otherwise its worthless.
If you can't having a clause saying customer privacy does not allow you to post specific contact info about your customers who left testominals is a good idea.


 7:40 pm on Jan 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

.. and there i was thinking customer testimonials were legit!

its far too easy to lie on the internet


 7:48 pm on Jan 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

Sadly enough, based on this thread I'll pay even less attention to 'testimonials' than I ever did before.



 8:02 pm on Jan 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

Was that microsoft testiomonial all fake or just the picture?


 8:07 pm on Jan 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

I have only used testimonials one time to sell some software, the testimonials were real and even had contact info so people could contact the companies and people that had written testimonials.

I feel testimonials add some credibility to the overall offering. When testimonials are followed by the persons name and company, the credibility rating goes up a notch. If you provide a means to contact those who have provided testimonials, you've climbed another notch on the credibility rating.

There are certain industries where testimonials are mandatory. Without them you lose some credibility and visibility. Keep in mind that your testimonial pages are a great way to add more relative content and at the same time provide some real world feedback on your products and/or services.

Of course we all know they can be faked. Sometimes it is very obvious that the testimonials are not real.

Real names, real companies and a way to contact those users who provided testimonials is the key. If you don't want to expose those people online, at least provide a way for the visitor to contact you for references. If they are interested in your product or service, they will make the effort to find out as much as they can prior to making a purchase.


 9:49 pm on Jan 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

testimonials seem more location-specific - like in usa, the site is valued on the kinds of customers you have, their testimonials about your site - in asia and especially india testimonials dont seem to matter so much - jst an observation



 4:58 pm on Jan 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

I often ignore traditional testimonials, because as has been said, they're almost all fake, or paid for.

But, a rather cunning way around this I've seen has been (very seemingly) genuine email asking questions about something relevent, in a sort of "weekly/monthly mailbag" fashion, sometimes these have words of thanks at the end of genuinely worthwhile questions perhaps not addressed in an FAQ (because they're not frequently asked, obviously). Unconciously, they seem to weigh better in my mind, even though they're probably rather faux.

Does that all make sense? It doesn't read well, but hopefully there's a jist in there somewhere.


 5:11 pm on Jan 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think the value of testimonials is greatly diminished on the Internet especially by companies that do not have extensive contact information. If the only contact with a company is by 'email' then you're not dealing with a real company hence why believe anything they say.

Even for brick & mortar companies, testimonials have had their value degraded by the abuse of so many.


 7:15 am on Feb 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think this is especially true in the book testimonial arena. If ya just look at net marketing related books, it all the authors giving each other testimonials, so they all have great recomendations from recognizable names.

If testimonials are gonna be put up on the site, they should be real.

When looking at a site, it would be nice to be able to tell if they were real and unsolicited - no chance of that.


 8:41 am on Feb 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

Fake testimonials......Your products must suck.:o We have stacks of testimonials that we cull thru to pick relevant and or funny ones. But than again our products and reputation kick ass. You cannot fake that for long.

Ya see this is how it works when you do your job:

Feb 1,2003
Dear Mr. <snip>,
Hello. I just wanted to let you know that we received our repaired <snip> bike rack bag a few days ago. If it was not for the slight fading of the bag's material, you would never know the bag has been in use for several years. Your repair workers did a flawless job of replacing the broken zipper and torn velcro strip. Thanks for the excellent service on your excellent products! My wife and I will be <snip>customers for life.

Yours truly,

Willard <snip>

Upland, CA


 11:05 pm on Feb 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

Testimonials, or in fact any sort of related material that is part of inducing people into an agreement, contract or otherwise affects actions or activities that they undertake as a result, really needs to be real otherwise you could be liable in an action for misrepresentation, false advertising or related tort. This isn't really going to happen unless someone complains and takes out a civil action, or requests that relevant authorities step in (and they infact have the resources to step in ...) and take action under statute (I don't know about the US, but the UK has trading standards).

However, as you see with "infomercials", there's nothing that stops people obtaining testimonials under dubious circumstances (i.e. we pay you to come into the studio to review our product and give us your ''objective'' comment, and our accountants will send you your payment in the mail a week later, irrespective of what you say about our product ...).

If it ever does come to proof in court as part of an action, then the you'd be required to substantiate the validity of the testimonials (i.e. show email, produce signed affidavits from the original parties, etc), which may include the parties stating to the court that they provided the testimonials without duress or inducement of any sort.

If you take away the legal dimension, then it's a matter of ethics. Personally, I like good ethics, but sadly a lot of people with good ethics seem to get trampled by those without.


 9:52 am on Mar 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

From a cynical POV a testimonial that cannot be validated is a fake. However, if you have some form of link to the source that can (and is willing) to validate then it must be real and thus carries weight.

For me the reviews that Amazon included were the only reason that I used to visit the site.

If I am buying a car I will not bother going anywhere else than http*//www.carsurvey.org/ what a great site! It canít help Brett with his "to buy a red Porsche or purple Porsche" dilemma but after reading 10 or so reviews you know if you are about to buy a lemon :)



 3:27 pm on Mar 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

pageoneresults made a great point. Testimonials from a recognizable/respected entity carry great weight.

For instance, if you sell Dog Shampoo, yours is one among many. Bow wow.

But if on the home page you have testimonials from the owners of several previous year Dog Show Champions... Your credibility goes through the roof.

Although Shak had a positive response from his stab at it, I think a greater value comes from a testimonial from a person/entity with authority.

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