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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.
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.
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
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. ;-)
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?
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.
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.
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.
Even for brick & mortar companies, testimonials have had their value degraded by the abuse of so many.
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.
Ya see this is how it works when you do your job:
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.
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.
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 :)
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.