Copywriting Friday: Seven ways to make your testimonials work harder

Published: May 2024

Copywriting Friday highlights the tools and techniques of creating persuasive content. Enjoy.

In this article, we talk about a crucial element of persuasive content—testimonials. We’ll also cover the seven factors to consider if you want to wring the most value from your testimonials.
A woman jumps from a cliff into the sea, where someone else is waiting.
Before you jump, it helps to know that someone has done it before (bottom right).


When it all started is lost to time: The first use of testimonials was no doubt thousands of years before those famous cave paintings. For all we know, some of those paintings might have been praising someone’s advanced spear technology.

At any rate, we’re wired to pay attention to those who have come before us, either in ancestral terms, or simply because someone has already tried out the skis we’re thinking of buying.

Yet most websites do a pitiful job of using testimonials: they’re buried if present at all, and are often too long or too vague to be persuasive.

Seven ways to make your testimonials work harder

Let’s look at seven considerations for using testimonials to make your best case to visitors.

1. Get some social proof above the fold

That term originated with newspapers, where the top stories started in the top half of the newspaper front page, above the fold. The concept is alive and well with websites because you can’t assume that people will scroll down your page. You better grab their attention in the above-the-fold area that’s visible without scrolling.

Most companies’ websites talk about themselves above the fold. The problem is visitors expect companies to like their own stuff. When testimonials appear above the fold, visitors get to hear from the customers’ perspective.

Just look at how important reviews are to any product on Amazon: the number of reviews and of stars are right there beneath the title.

The Amazon product page for an Ecobee thermostat.
We can be certain that Amazon tested the placement.

Even if you don’t have a lot of room above the fold for testimonials, you can include a link that says something like: “Read what our customers have to say” or “See our 200+ reviews here”.

2. Consider using a testimonial as a headline

Many headlines are boring boasts. We’ve had wins with clients where we tested a testimonial as a headline. Sometimes a customer can nail a product description better than a marketer can.

Here’s how the famous copywriter, Drayton Bird, opened a sales letter about legal services:

“This has changed the way we work. It allows us to bring a higher quality of service to our clients and enables our fee earners to work more quickly and effectively.”

Wendy Small, Eversheds

3. Show the target audience that the testimonial writer is one of them

Ideally, you should have a name, occupation, and location in a testimonial. That level of granularity is more believable than a testimonial signed by “K.S.” If you can’t get the full name because the happy customer wants to be anonymous, then that person should be fine with “K.S., Aircraft Mechanic, Brussels, Belgium.”

The best testimonials also imply a lot about the writer in other ways:

“In my 27 years as a software engineer, I’ve never found a debugging system that was as reliable and automated as what I found in the Acme 1000….”

4. Have a testimonial next to each major benefit

Let’s say you make mattresses, and your most-important benefits are customizability, price, and guarantee period. Think about how you can align a testimonial next to each description of those benefits, using one that focuses on that specific benefit.

If you’re short on space, you can always say something like: “Read what our customers say about our customizability here” and link to one or more targeted testimonials opening in a modal window or separate page.

By the way, it’s OK to edit testimonials to make them shorter, as long as you don’t change the meaning of what the customer said.

5. Make it easy for both scanners and readers to consume the testimonials

Even if a testimonial is phenomenally good, it can seem too daunting to read if it’s presented as a big block of text. You can help people who would prefer to scan the testimonial by doing two things: Excerpt a quote from the testimonial and make it a bold headline; and put the key messages of the testimonial in bold. It looks like this:

Blown away by the selection

I’ve spent the last 20 years shopping at stores with holiday decorations. Never have I seen so many different types of Christmas trees in one location. I was blown away by the selection. Plus, the staff was helpful but didn’t hover. I make it a point to check their selection first, before bothering with anyone else.

6. Avoid general testimonials if possible

These are ones that sound like the person might have written the testimonial without even using the product or service. If it’s a book, the testimonial might say it was a “great read.” If it’s a mobile app for editing images, then it might say, “It rocked.”

But what you want is emotion and specificity:

“I had almost given up on finding a mobile editing app that could handle both sRGB and ICC color spaces, so I couldn’t believe it when the AcmeX app switched between them and didn’t skip a beat….”

Try to solicit testimonials that describe the user’s frustration before finding a solution and the specific use case that your product or service solved.

7. Shoot for too many testimonials

We say “shoot for too many” because you can’t have too many testimonials. Often there’s a major disparity between the “Over 100,000 satisfied customers” a company claims, and the eight lonely testimonials found on the site.

If you have too few testimonials, it looks suspicious: If your product is so great, where are the delighted customers? But if you have hundreds or thousands of testimonials, the worst thing that happens is a reader mentally goes: OK already. I get it. You have lots of happy users.

Here’s an impressive example:

The reviews page on lists over 495,1000 reviews.
You really can’t overdo it.

At Conversion Rate Experts, we spend the money to fly a professional film crew around the world to film our customers and what they have to say about working with us. We could save a lot of money by asking a customer to film a few thoughts on a mobile phone. But our target market is not TikTok kids; it’s well-established businesses in highly competitive industries. We believe that how you do one thing is how you do everything. Therefore, we want to impress visitors with the quality and quantity of our testimonials.

Future-pace your visitors

You may have a lot of visitors on your site wondering if your offer could work for them. There may be many factors for them to consider: which product, what options, and so on. The artful use of testimonials can get them thinking about how great it will be when they’re using what you have. Few other copywriting mechanisms can be as potent at engaging and convincing them.

That’s why our philosophy is to imagine that our company’s real product is testimonials from happy, thrilled clients.

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