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Reviews versus Testimonials: How to Make the Most of Customer Feedback

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A consumer survey by Bright Local found that in 2017 97% of consumers read reviews for local businesses. We are living in an increasingly review-driven world. As e-commerce continues to dominate how we shop, and the internet increasingly influences which businesses we use, it is becoming increasingly rare that we spend our money blindly.

Undoubtedly, reviews have never been more important than they are now. The question remains, then, what place do testimonials have on our websites today? This article hopes to advise you on exactly what customer feedback you should be displaying, and how you should be displaying it.

What is the difference between a review and a testimonial?

Reviews and testimonials, while both at their core are feedback on your business, have some fundamental differences.

Reviews versus Testimonials

Reviews are intended to be unfiltered, objective, and entirely impartial comments and ratings of your business. You may be able to coerce your customers into leaving reviews, but it is unlikely you will be able to influence their feedback outside of the quality of service you provide them with.

Testimonials, on the other hand, are like a highlight reel of your company’s best work. You decide which customers you ask for feedback, you decide which ones you post on your site (and which excerpts you use), and you can often influence to varying degrees exactly what is said. It is important to keep in mind that customers know this too.

Reviews versus Testimonials

Should I focus on reviews or testimonials?

For the majority of businesses, testimonials are simply on their way out. If you check Google Analytics you’ll find that the traffic any page dedicated to them is extremely low, especially when accounting for the traffic of your own staff.

However, if you provide services which are more intimate and ongoing then testimonials can be a useful tool in increasing conversion rates. Consider for a moment that you need a web developer to create a site, advise on marketing strategies and provide SEO services for your company. This is likely to be a long-term arrangement, and you are much more likely to check the testimonial page when making a commitment like this.

If you are planning on coming to an agreement that could last as long as six months then a few brief five star reviews saying “great service, great team” or “very happy 😊!!!1!!11!!” might influence your decision, but they are unlikely to seal the deal. However, a few longer testimonials that go into more specific detail might be enough to make your mind up.

In summary, whether or not testimonials are relevant largely depends on the kind of service you provide.

How to make the most of reviews

Since the vast majority of people would benefit more readily from reviews over testimonials, we can go over some quick hints and tips here.

The first thing to consider is that generally if you don’t ask you don’t get. Around 50% of consumers have left a review when asked. If you provide solid service or a great product it is essential that you incorporate review requests into your marketing strategy.

If you want to get more reviews and find that your customers are not being very forthcoming, give them an incentive to do so. Maybe a 5% discount code off their next order, or a code for free P&P, or something similar.

You should also consider how you are going to display your reviews on your websites. If you are getting solid feedback you want to have them pride of place. Incorporate them into different pages on your site (especially the homepage) or have a floating sidebar.

It is worth considering replacing where a classic testimonials page would go with a reviews page. If you are going to do this make sure you rank different review sites in order, for example have Google reviews first, then Trust Pilot and so on. If your industry has its own specific review site then it might be worth putting this at the top.

Even if you aren’t looking for reviews it’s becoming increasingly easy just to come across them. For example, Google is incorporating them increasingly into their search results. Reviews for a company will often appear just under the company name. This can make the link look much more attractive than your competitors, and if they have the same it is essential to keeping you in the race.

For help with incorporating reviews into your site as a Google result then get in contact with us now, we are more than happy to help!

Dealing with bad reviews

Bad reviews aren’t always bad for business. When handled correctly, a one-star review can be more beneficial to your company than a five-star review.

The first thing to consider is that a perfect five-star rating just looks fake. You don’t want it. Customers aren’t stupid, they know if something smells fishy it usually is. Having a score of around 4.7 looks more realistic and believable, it looks less like the numbers have been fiddled with.

Trustpilot Review

Having said that, the importance of addressing bad reviews quickly and correctly cannot be overstated. There are always going to be subjective or, dare I say it, stupid reviews online. Perhaps a review complaining that their phone case did not protect it from a drop into a swimming pool. Or something like “terrible service” with no extra information as to what the customer may be talking about.

It is important to respond to these comments quickly and politely. If someone complains about the service, apologise for their experience and encourage them to give more detail or perhaps provide details for your complaints department. Don’t be afraid to correct reviewers if they are mistaken, just make sure you are talking objectively.

Responses to reviews are important to 30% of customers. When they see that your company is concerned with bad feedback and will take the time to respond are much more likely to do business with you. They see that your reviews are honest, and that you are willing to take the time to respond to complaints – you are committed to providing the best service that you possibly can.

As you can see, testimonials, for the majority of people, are on their way out. They can be old-fashioned, appear contrived, and the traffic people just aren’t interested. However, there are some service-focused industries where testimonials still hold significant weight.

Looking to add reviews or testimonials to your website?

For Soapbox, for example, we have ongoing relationships with many of our clients who sign up for long-term services. Before making a commitment like this, it is important people read some information that is a bit more extensive than your average internet review.

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