This is a question we’ve recently faced as we work to launch our own redesigned website. Is it important to include testimonials on your website? The following is a short aggregation of some findings, but here’s the TL;DR: Probably important, but not crucial.
Most of the research I encountered from various Google searches resulted in articles from 2011-2014, nearly a lifetime ago in Internet terms. There were a few articles as recent as March 2016, but in looking at their source material, most of it goes back to similar studies done in 2013 and 2014. Do with that information what you will, but I think this is an indication that putting testimonials on the website itself is a downward trend.
However, I will say that a common theme I’ve found from research, experience, and being a human person who consumes things, is that social proof is valuable in establishing credibility. There’s lots of research on why good reviews are important to a business, but the jury’s still out on whether or not those reviews need to be in the form of a testimonial smack dab on the front of your website.
One of the best reasons advocating for placing testimonials on a homepage is that testimonials create an emotional appeal by humanizing your brand. According to the Journal of Marketing Research, brands that inspire a higher emotional intensity receive three times as much word-of-mouth referrals as less emotionally connected brands. It could be argued that testimonials are an actionable way to create an emotional appeal.
More compelling evidence is that testimonials influence leads. BrightLocal’s 2014 Consumer Review found that 88% of people trust online reviews written by other consumers as much as they trust recommendations from personal contacts. Again, it’s unclear to me if this means reviews from a third-party source such Yelp, but if the behavior behind this data is true, then why not leverage it by placing a testimonial directly on your site?
Photo and video testimonials help increase your social media engagement. This is interesting to consider because you can’t necessarily share a testimonial if it’s just embedded into a landing page, but you can create some cool, shareable content using testimonials. Much of the [more] recent data I’ve come across advocates for video testimonials that can be shared across social platforms. This HubSpot article estimates that visual content is more than 40X more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content, and a 2013 NewsCred SlideShare reports that posts with videos attract three times as many inbound links as plain text posts. So there’s something to be said about curating video testimonials as a means of lead generation, although (yet again) still unclear of its importance on the homepage itself.
Ultimately I think including testimonials on a website (at the time of this blog post) is still more important than not, but it seems to be less common than it used to be. Reviews are still – and probably always will be – highly valuable, although their greatest effect is in shareable, visual content, not necessarily as a testimonial quote on a homepage. Think about what you are trying to accomplish with your website and whether or not it makes sense to include testimonials to reach those goals. At this point, the correct question might be “Can I achieve my business goals with third-party reviews and shareable social proof?”
Do you include testimonials on your website? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.