If you knock on someone’s door to sell a vacuum cleaner, the homeowner may not believe your claims about the item, because you have a conflict of interest. You stand to profit if you can persuade the homeowner to make a purchase. But if the same homeowner is told by a neighbor, “The Acme Company makes great vacuum cleaners,” and the neighbor has no conflict of interest, the homeowner is more likely to believe the neighbor and buy the product.

It’s a basic truth of doing business. Client testimonials are honest recommendations of a service or a product by clients who use the service or product in real life and profit nothing by endorsing it. It is not your fault, but your clients are always going to be more convincing than you are.

And if you are treating those clients right, they can provide powerful testimonials that you can use effectively on your website. Of course, some testimonials will be more effective than others. The best testimonials are personal, clear, and motivational.

In fact, good testimonials can boost the traffic to your website and bring in new clients. Today’s consumers – as you know – have their defenses up against marketing exaggerations, gimmicks, and insincerities. Any claims you make will be thoroughly scrutinized. Online marketing can help you level the playing field, because online marketing is entirely about building relationships and establishing trust. And a genuinely effective way to gain the trust of prospective clients is to share the stories of your satisfied clients.

It doesn’t matter how inspiring your own words are or how effectively you market your product or service. Testimonials tell your website visitors that the general public appreciates your product or service, and testimonials further tell visitors that clients who choose to trust you are not disappointed.

Testimonials establish credibility, so don’t waste space on your web page with vague or half-hearted testimonials. When you create a testimonials page on your website, only the strongest and most powerful testimonials should be posted there. How can you make a page of testimonials strong and powerful?

Here are some tips:

1. USE PHOTOS AND VIDEOS TO INCREASE TRUST

If you are an adult in the United States, you have been genuinely disappointed with a product or service that you’ve paid for, and probably more than once. Bogus promises, misleading ads, and disappearing acts by companies are all routine aspects of consumerism in the U.S. today. And when a service or product disappoints, you actually lose more than you paid for it, because you’ve lost the time and effort that you’ve invested.

Seeing a good report from another client – especially if it’s someone a website visitor can relate to – goes a long way toward assuaging the natural suspicions and anxieties of potential clients. And seeing a picture of the client who is making that good report helps to alleviate any suspicion that the testimonial is a fiction written by a marketing writer.

The psychology researchers tell us that photos make a statement more believable to the average consumer. Photos make testimonials “feel” more reliable. Video testimonials enhance that feeling even more. Researchers tell us that seeing faces increases our empathy, even if we don’t know the people in the pictures.

Obviously, you want to feature satisfied clients that potential clients will relate to. But don’t let a testimonial be “too” perfect. If your “satisfied client” is too polished, in looks or in words, your potential client may sense premeditation or artificiality. Your satisfied clients should appear to be casual and speaking more-or-less “off the cuff” rather than appearing to use a script prepared in advance.

2. TELL STORIES – DON’T STRING TOGETHER ADJECTIVES

Let’s say that you are looking online for a battery-powered screwdriver. You check the reviews and find posts that say, “Great product” or “Exceptional value.” You learn nothing from these reviews. But if a customer actually tells you about the product this way, “I needed this item to accomplish this specific job, and after disappointments with similar items, this is the one that did the trick,” you are probably going to be more impressed. When you seek client testimonials, encourage clients to tell their stories – which will be more than a string of adjectives.

Good stories slip into our subconscious and persuade people when they don’t expect it. Psychologists Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris tell us that’s how we’re wired. Our ancestors, according to Simons and Chabris, “learned from specific examples, not by compiling data from many people across a wide range of situations.” Today’s consumer may be an expert on marketing gimmicks, but everyone is wired to be pulled in by a good story.

3. SELL “THE FEELING”

The automobile commercials you see on television seldom sell you the automobile directly. Instead, they sell the experience, the sensation of what it feels like to own and drive the car. Testimonials help you do something comparable. When your website features someone who is easy to relate to, you’re selling more than your product or service. You are selling what it “feels like” to be your client, and when visitors to your website see satisfied clients, they will want that satisfaction for themselves.

It’s not a marketing rule or regulation, but you really must have pictures, and preferably videos, of the ex-clients who are offering the testimonials. Text-only testimonials are just too easy for someone to counterfeit and are as likely to create skepticism as trust. Video testimonials, however, are difficult to counterfeit, and it would not be worth the effort. When your website’s visitors see real people – people not unlike their neighbors and themselves – it eliminates the skepticism for most consumers.

A professional internet marketing agency can help you produce video testimonials and design a testimonials page or a complete website – along with a variety of other important online marketing services. It’s considerably less expensive than you might think. For far too many attorneys and other professionals, a good testimonials page is the single element missing from the website – and the element that might make all the difference. Don’t wait or hesitate to speak with experienced professionals at a good internet marketing agency for help with testimonials or with any other facet of effective online marketing.