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How to increase conversion rate in e-commerce with testimonials

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When someone we know suggests, teaches or tells us something new we trust them and accept that information happily. If we don't know something, we or are uncertain, listening to other people helps us to determine our own beliefs. Social proof works the same. What the majority has and we desire, is supposed to be good for us as well. But how do we apply these principles in e-commerce to get more sales?

How to improve conversion rate?

There are numerous ways of executing these principles, but we need to start at the beginning and work from there. I prefer starting with a hypothesis and then think of ideas about how to execute it and A/B test.

Here's a hypothesis formula from Craig Sullivan:

We believe that doing [A] for people [B] will make outcome [C] happen. We’ll know this when we see data [D] and feedback [E].

Focusing on just one problem for a time while earning, researching, analysing and thinking about it should increase the chance that you're going to fire your neurotransmitters in your brains successfully to come up with something really good. Ideas come from the imagination which is fuelled by information. The more you input while thinking about a problem, the better the output can be. Just don't stress over it and let it come naturally.

Prioritise, execute and test these ideas to find a winner based on the data.

What is our goal and how should we measure it?

Landing pages, be it product pages or squeeze pages all have a conversion. Usually, it comes with a "Sign up" for saas companies or "Add to cart" for e-commerce product pages.

Never send ads to home, about or category pages, your ad spend is better used on other pages. Even if you're sending traffic to the product page, make sure it's optimised and fast landing. This will increase your ROI on them and make you more sales for the same spend.

Always have just ONE goal on a landing page. You can have 2 buttons (top and bottom) but make sure it's the same action. Use HotJar or other tools that create heat maps to see where you're losing focus and clicks. I've seen people go away without coming to the action section so make sure you remove or improve the hierarchy or the ecommerce website design to make it work. Your visual heatmap should only show click on that action button and maybe the page logo. Hide the menu/navigation as well or make it a hamburger menu, even for desktop.

Improve e-Commerce conversion rate with social proof

We now have a goal and we can measure it with Google Analytics + Google Optimize. If you've got the budget and huge traffic, I suggest using Convert or WVO for even better stats. What we can measure we can improve. Now as the page should be cut down into sections that flow into each other, one of these sections should be social proof.

Social proof is one of "6 Principles of Influence" that Robert Cialdini promotes in his books (must have). These are based on research and experimentation and go deep into why and how they work.

Here's a couple of ideas what testimonials or social proof sections might be:

  • before/after images
  • short quote testimonial with customer images, name, location or age
  • long quote testimonial (if it's long, you can link to it)
  • influencer testimonial with an image with the product, quote, name, their social URL or even follower number
  • Facebook testimonial that is a full screenshot
  • Twitter testimonial or a link embed
  • interview testimonial where you can answer the fears your customers may have before buying
  • long-form/story testimonial which goes deep into the customers before/after the change
  • results/benefits testimonial with a prominent image of the product (or package) that was used
  • video testimonial like an Instagram Story or a more high production video
  • case studies are great for B2B companies or services
  • reviews make shopping easier, especially if there are quotes with them

There's a lot more you can think of and may be unique to your product or service. The best thing is, you can combine them on a page as well and instead of having just one section, you have maybe 3.

You can even reuse these in your email automation and social channels so putting the work in to produce or gather these makes sense.

I've built [flode] as a solution to make the organisation and team collaboration optimal for this kind of media.

Best testimonials are the honest and authentic ones

For a/b testing these sections to see their impact, you'll want to prepare testimonials. There's a couple of ways of doing this:

  • ask your loyal customers for them (images with a quote work best)
  • make a monthly competition with a reward for your new customers (you can automate this)
  • find influencers who'd be willing to help and try out your product

But the main tule is don't write them yourself, stay authentic and real. Fake testimonials won't produce real results and your customers will see right through them so you'll earn your brand. It's easier to break things than to build them so don't make that mistake, it makes cost you a lot.

Social proof is about how your product helped your customers

Testimonials should be about the story how:

  • your customer had a problem (before state)
  • your customer found out about your product/service and it's benefits or results (advertising, marketing, word of mouth,...)
  • your customer used your product/service which helped with their problem and how it changed them (after state)

Customer photos work well, but videos are best

Testimonial photos are powerful and have an impact, but they can be out of context or don't provide the right message. They can look fake, awkward or the message is wrong. Videos are for that matter better you see the person, you hear him and you even see their body language, tone of voice,...

There's a ton more of signals and outputs videos give that images don't so their impact is even bigger. It's just harder to fake them.

Depending on your marketing channel, a different kind of media may increase conversion rates and click-through rates

There is no one rule here so you'll need to think about your product, your audience and test different ideas.

How to improve ads with testimonials and social proof

A good starting point or rather an exercise is to make a workshop with your team and create personas based on your customer profiles. Data and analytics help here as well so make sure to use it. This will give you the needed insight to create highly relevant messages that will resonate with your audience.

Create ads campaigns starting with your core values

A good thing to do is tie your ad campaigns and messaging with your brands’ core values and promote them. Customer reviews, quotes, before/after images and other testimonials should also be used here.

Your future customer will likely see them as something they can become/achieve and will want to learn more. Everything is tied together. Whatever you do needs to tie with your mission/vision of your brand and core values are a check you shouldn't skip. If your communication aligns with that, great, if not, improve it.

You can look at your core values as boxes to which you put "votes" in. Votes are marketing messages and campaign and the more you put in the stronger you are. Take care of your customers and they will connect with you and your values making them fans forever. That's your ultimate goal.

Experiment, learn, fail, create, repeat

It takes time and resources to learn things deeply. There are no shortcuts or quick wins. It's also risky to do it and there's a chance you will fail. But failing is good especially if you test it first. Why? Because when it comes to conversion rate optimisation you always wind.

A failed test saves you from making a mistake you'd probably do without it. Imagine doing something that halves your conversion and sales and you don't even know it... for years.

CRO saves you from that costly mistake.

Testimonials are just one of the many things a CRO program can impact your business.

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  • Darjan Hren

    Article by:

    Darjan Hren

    Darjan is a conversion optimization consultant @ Hren.io.

    A branding, design, marketing & development polymath that helps eCommerce and online businesses increase sales profitably.

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