How To Ruin Your Business With Disembodied Testimonials

If you look very carefully you will notice the head move.

Testimonials are HUGELY important part of the selling process. They are used everywhere and by all.

Selling in this context is used very loosely. I’m taking the “we are all selling, all the time” type of angle here.

When I was teaching Network Engineering, the company I worked for had letters by past clients hung on walls all over the place.  In addition to that, the Trainers were required to hand over their professional degrees so that they can be hung on walls as well.

Letters of gratitude + professional degrees + trainers walking around in person = effective!

As Seen on TV

If you turn-on your TV late at night, you are likely to see paid actors spouting the magnificence of a given product.

Everyone gets a paycheck on those shows, even the overly exuberant audience members. Which is why their testimonials feel fake. Because they ARE fake.

Paid actors + flimsy product + coked out host that’s way too excited to be there = not effective!

There is an X factor here tho. This shit is shown late at night on purpose. We are tired, out of sync with our Circadian Rhythm, giddy and easily persuaded to part with our plastic.

Buy My Shit

Remember when the Internet was mostly anonymous? Well, it’s not anymore.

If you have a product or a service sold online (btw, if you don’t, what the hell, man?) your business can be helped with testimonials. However, they CAN NOT be Disembodied Testimonials.

We’ve all been to a site that’s selling a suspect product with testimonials that all sound oddly similar in “voice” and with names such as Rich Powers, John Smith, and Lisa Armstrong.

These ambiguous, “normal” sounding, “cant-do-a-google-search-because-you’ll-get-million-hits” type of names are clearly made up.

Occasionally they will throw in a “weird” name like Charisa Panzarella or some shit like that. And let’s not forget titles. Your DRs and PhDs. They will pepper it with titles every now and again for variety I suppose.

You’re NOT Fooling Anyone

Social Web has gone real. If I can’t click on the name and see the person’s Twitter account, blog or Facebook profile, then your testimonials are a scam. Or they are viewed as scam. Or at least…they are not reaching their full potential.

How do you like “not reaching their full potential” language? I’ve been practicing my mitigated language skills. It blows.

So how do you make sure your testimonials are hitting the mark?

Make sure the “realness” of the person is verifiable with a click. And by that I mean with a single click. And if a visitor is able to double-verify the “realness”, that’s even better.

This is not that hard actually. A link to the person’s Twitter profile and blog perhaps. Maybe Facebook.

Slight variations will exist depending on your industry. In my world, a Twitter ID is enough to verify the realness of the person. In your world, it might require their LinkedIn profile. Adjust as per the audience.

This is how we do it

Remember that song? This is how we do it…oh, nevermind.

Why am I talking to you about this now?

Dan Cristo impressed the hell out of me when he implemented Triberr’s testimonials.

He pulled the Twitter picture of the person, their blog, and made their picture clickable. So after reading the testimonial you can click on the person’s face and see their Twitter profile or their blog.

That’s double-verification in action.

Note the elegant usage of the homepage real estate. The testimonials are “spinning” so you see many within the same boxed-off area.

Also, note the implied testimonials on the bottom. Those are all pictures of our users and their faces are clickable. If you click on it, the box pops open showing you their Twitter ID, as well as the URL to their blog. See below.

I love the way Dan-O executed this feature. Simple. elegant, and effective.

Your Turn:

  • Do you use testimonials on your site?
  • Are they verifiable, or disembodied?
  • If you’re NOT leveraging the power of testimonials, why not?
  • Did you really think the head was moving? lol

Dino Dogan

Global Force for Badassery | Founder of Triberr | Refugee from Bosnia | Writer for Technorati | Speaker | Lousy Martial Artist | Pretty good singer/songwriter | Hi 🙂

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  • Dave Thackeray

    Great stuff as always, Dino. I’m reworking my endorsements right now and the idea of having a photo linked directly to someone’s website (some of my recommenders aren’t on Twitter, which is in itself concerning!) or social media profile makes perfect sense.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Dino Dogan

      I love hearing things like this, Dave.  Please come back and leave a before link and then come back and leave us with the after link.

      I love it when my writing makes someone get off their ass and do something 🙂

      • Dave Thackeray

        Umm, for ‘reworking’ read ‘starting to work on’. I have them all in a Google Doc and now I need to take ’em to the bridge!

        Will get cracking and report back!

  • Anonymous

    Ninja note: Charisa Panzarella is a kick-ass name. I’m going to use it on a story prompt.

    I’ve never trusted those disembodied testimonials. They scream fake. They scream “impersonal sales letter.” They scream CEO of Nowhere-to-be-found Industries, PLC. 
    I don’t buy from companies or people that resort to that kind of scheme.

    Thank all the angelic legions of the Internet for verifiable testimonials.

  • KeriLynn Engel

    Thanks for writing such a helpful post! I love your tip about being able to verify identities with one click. Great analysis, thanks =)

    • Dino Dogan

      You’re welcome  KeriLynn,

      I love your post about Direct Traffic…very useful …it was always kind of a mystery to me. Never truly understood it. Until now 🙂

      • KeriLynn Engel

        I’m so glad you found it useful! 

  • Armand Polanski

     Great Post Dino. That’s the main difference with the Internet and Television when it comes to product selling is the information access for the product. In TV Ads, all you need is a GOOD LOOKING FAMOUS Actor to Promote your products and people will easily buy into the hype but in Internet Ads, you want to have more backed up scientifice proof and when it comes to testimonials you want to add real people because yes they can be googled at an instant(SCARY).

    • Dino Dogan

      Good point, Armand.

      Thnx to twitter, facebook, linkedin, its easy to verify someone’s “realness”. And if a biz is not doing it, they are totally missing out. No way to do this on TV. I never thought about it in those terms, but you are absolutely correct.

  • Whitney Punchak

    This was one of the first lessons I learned when I started on Twitter. I had a bio, but no link to something more substantial. I added my LinkedIn profile and later my blog. So I guess it’s important to give “prove” yourself too.

    And lol, love what you said about late night TV commercials. I’m surprised I don’t own a magic bullet yet. 😛

    • Dino Dogan

      Hi Whitney,

      Those late night guys have perfected the art of selling garbage, haven’t they?  They do so many things right and they are so effective it might be all kinds of unethical shit going on there. But I digress …

      P.S. I love magic bullet 🙂

  • Eugene Farber

    You make a wonderful point about testimonials seeming fake most of the time. I’m always skeptical when reading those. I’d say some of those “marketers” should be put away for false advertising but quite frankly if you fall for it that’s your problem.

    Dan is working magic over at Triberr as usual I see…

    Awesome pictures for the post by the way, trying to give me nightmares? 🙂

  • Amber-Lee

    We (I should say I, since I’m the one) do NOT- YET! Wow! Yeah, I noticed, What I noticed was (My thought- “classy”) now, I understand. Good, good, good! Ok, now, a question for you and all of your brainy-acks, can you please add about, oh say..6 hours to the day, please? (that might do it! LOL) Back to work.
    p.s. Thanks! 

    • Dino Dogan

       Hi Amber-Lee…you got my email, right?

      In your case, video testimonials shot using your camera whilst on a walkabout with some kind of amazing Alaskan backdrop would be appropriate.

      Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn link to people’s profile would be nice bot not necessary.

      So next time you’re showing people around, bring a cam and catch them in the moment and just ask them “how does this feel?”

      Try to get as natural and as in-the-moment reaction possible. A standard TV release form would do the trick for you to be able to publish these on youtube and embed on your website.

  • Saul Fleischman

    Thanks for the explanation on the photo-testimonial connection on the @triberr:twitter site. Use an excerpt from today’s #quora answer for my #Triberr testimonial?

  • Life, for instance

    Dino, this is great stuff! You’ve got some big wheels turning for me! Thanks for that! (More later, for sure!)

  • Ryan Critchett

    It’s about time someone started talking about this, and who better than you. 

    Man.. it’s all being uncovered. Glad it’s happening rapidly. People’s BS meters are needing frequent maintenance, because they’re being used constantly. It’s nice to know people are becoming conscious of the fakeness out there. 

    • Robert Dempsey

      Some are Ryan, but many are still not savvy to the ways of the wiley marketers and continue to be lulled. For those in the social sphere though, it’s becoming harder. Overwhelming proof is no longer nice to have, it’s a necessity.

  • Robert Dempsey

    1. I absolutely do use testimonials. I put the full name, company name, city and state of the person that gave it to me too. I don’t always use the picture though as I’ve been told if you have all the pictures use them, if you don’t, leave them out. Either way they work very well.

    2. They are totally verifiable with all the information I provide in addition to the testimonial itself.

    3. Didn’t I say I was using them?

    4. It’s a static image Dino. Nice try sucka!

    Very true on testimonials –  if you don’t prove they’re from real people (pictures, additional info) then frankly I don’t believe them to be true. Audio and video are even better. I’ve seen some sales pages that have audio testimonials on the entire right hand side of the page (that’s a lot by the way). Talk about overwhelming proof.

    • Dino Dogan

      Im not a fan of audio testimonials. Not sure why. I prefer video. But that could be just me 🙂

      • Robert Dempsey

        It is just you Dino. It’s always just you 🙂 But it really depends on the market, and I still think an audio testimonial can be better than pure written. Video is great too, and I would say the best – it’s practically word of mouth at that point.

        • Tom Nunamaker

          We use audio testimonials and written and I think the audio testimonials are much more compelling.  Video is better than audio which is better than written.  

          • Robert Dempsey

            And there we go! Thanks for adding your experience Tom.

  • Jens P. Berget

    Hi Dino,

    I don’t use testimonials for my personal blog, but for the University, that’s a different story. We use testimonials all the time. It’s very important, especially when it comes to students. They listen to other student, not people like me. We use pictures of the students, and all sorts of facts so people understand that they are real students.

    When it comes to testimonials it would be even better if we could contact the people via the testimonials, like with using Twitter (as you are doing on Triberr). We haven’t added any contact information at the University, but we should do… I understand that now 🙂


    • Dino Dogan

      Glad I made you see that. And peer testimonials are ubber powerful.

  • Kiera Pedley

    Actually, Triberr is onto a winner there. I’ve always used screen grabs of Facebook comments, but even they can be faked.

    • Dino Dogan

      Thnx Kiera. It really irritates me when I see truthful testimonials that look fake and it REALLY irritates me when I see fake testimonials trying to look real.

      So much of it can be faked, or at least we were able to fake it. (and by “we” I mean “they” :-))

      In this day and age, there is absolutely no reason why you couldnt/shouldnt verify the person and allow potentials to get in touch with those who have endorsed you.

      • Kiera Pedley

        Spot on. I reckon it’s half the reason that people have a “Long Copy” filter – they expect it to be filled with false promises and fake testimonials.

  • Janet Callaway

    Love what Dan did with the Triberr testimonials.  Interesting to read the different perspectives.

    Totally agree with what you say about fake testimonials.  If “real” people said it, why wouldn’t you link to them?

    Heck, the same even applies to posts.  If you quote someone why wouldn’t you link to them or at least put their twitter id so they are easy to find.

    Best wishes for a terrific weekend, Dino.  Aloha.  Janet

    • Dino Dogan

      I still see them. I saw then yesterday. And from a company that looked kind of legit. What a shame.

      Anyways..have a great weekend…