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How To Get Testimonials When You're Just Getting Started Online
Testimonials are a necessity these days. In fact - if you don't have them, you're leaving money on the table each day. Online buyers are cautious, and they expect to see these if your product is as good as you say it is.
There’s a problem though! How do you get favorable comments on your products when you’ve hardly started selling them?
And how do you start selling when you’ve got no testimonials? This can be a real chicken and egg situation!
We’re going to take a look at how you can deal with this age-old problem once and for all.
So if you’ve not yet selling your product - and need testimonials - don’t worry! We’ll show you how to get the feedback you need, and boost credibility for you and your product.
Some of things we’ll cover will help even if you’re brand new at all this, and no one’s heard of you before. Other tips will be more suitable if you’ve already got some customers, but no testimonials. Just waiting for testimonials to magically roll in and help you start making sales is not the way to go!
So, let’s take a look at some of the things that impact perception, and what you can do to crank up your credibility without having actual testimonials.
Getting The Magic of the Halo Effect To Work For You
The way we think about things is often shaped by something called “The Halo Effect”. This is a tendency to make specific judgements on something else on just a general impression.
So how does this work in real life?
Well, one example is the research that shows if people are educated on the benefits of nuclear power, they then have a tendency to see the whole nuclear thing in a positive light.
And here’s a classic example of how this works in an everyday situation. Let’s take a company whose sales and profits are up. It’s doing well - especially in people’s perceptions of it. The common takeout is that it has an inspired leader, a spectacular strategy, great employees, and culture, etc.
Different story when things start to go a little wrong.
Suddenly “everyone” knows that this leader became an egomaniac. Not only is it now commonly considered that their strategy was all wrong, everything else was too. The accounting got too creative, workers were lazy, and the culture was dead in the water - whatever - the whole thing has turned around. In reality, little may have changed.
That is - other than people’s perceptions. In fact, the perception of one little thing can influence a whole heap of unrelated ones, just by close association.
A halo effect also happens in marketing when those things that are thought of positive in regards to one brand or item, then branch out to include another. This can work for a product or against it (as in our above example, which is also known as “the reverse halo effect” or “the devil effect”).
In fact this is a technique you can see used by marketers every day.
We’re all familiar with the way celebrities are used to endorse products that they may not have anything in common with. Sometimes it’s laughable, but it’s done because it works.
Why? Because the perceived attributes of the “star” in question get transferred to the product.
Think Michael Jordan and Nike as a prime example! (And most other high profile sports brands.) By a perceived association, all the qualities that make MJ a star start to be seen as Nike’s as well. Kind of like status through osmosis, if you will.
By making reference to things that already have established credibility - you can sort of “borrow” some of this third party credibility. You’ll see a number of the recommendations we’re making here directly relate to this phenomena.
So let’s take a look at a number of things you can do to get “The Halo Effect” working for you.
1. Refer to media interest
Prospects place more credibility in the news that they read than they do in you. Sad but true!
Get your hands on any meaty bits of published info that help put your product in the right light. Make sure you use these as much as you can. You can highlight these as news links and comments on your website, and in communications with prospects.
You can also create a “Media” section on your site that includes all this relevant information. This is great for third party credibility!
Keep your eyes and ears open for a timely topic or newsworthy angle that could be related in some way to your product. You can then create “ins” through press releases of your own which borrow the halo effect created through media interest in the original subject.
Writing keyword rich press releases can also drive more traffic to your site from users searching for topical issues or products to do with your business.
2. Refer to popular magazines you’ve advertised in
Listing the magazines you’ve advertised in suggests a level of acceptance of your product. (You can also provide samples of your product to industry journalists. Some of them test products and then publish their findings as part of their regular products review.)
For example, “As seen in PC World Magazine” as a graphic on your website conveys a level of respect to those in that industry. The mantle of credibility is passed on, as the halo effect from a prestigious magazine is transferred to your product.
And if you happen to be selling a high profile product with a serious multimedia budget behind it, it’s even better if you can say “as seen on TV”! Believe it or not, even in this day and age - it’s still instant credibility.
3. Highlight good reviews and ask for new ones
Some products are lucky enough to attract people who write about them without being asked.
However, this is a bonus - not something you can rely on.
Don’t be shy about approaching people about your new product, and asking them to review it. All they can say is, “Thanks but no thanks!” The more reviews you can get, the better.
Even if some reviews bring up potential objections, don’t get too concerned about this. Controversy can start a lively debate that draws in other people who want to give their own point of view - which is great!
In fact, this can be an opportunity for you to cover off any issues in prospects’ minds, and help continue the dialogue about your product. You might want even to be controversial yourself in order to start a chain reaction!
4. Refer to blogs and forums that talk about your product’s category
No - I’m not talking about competing affiliates! Hang out around the forums where your target market spends time, and keep an ear out on some of the conversations. Same goes for blogs. You’re not there to sell anything - and don’t try, or things may end in tears!
Simply listen for any useful comments from your product category’s users. You may pick up info you can ask permission to link to - or find out how your competitors are perceived - which can be just as insightful. Whenever you can, link back to those blogs that comment favorably about your product, or your product’s category.
It’s all about third party credibility!
5. Refer to popularity
If you’re selling a top selling product, trumpet this and use it to your advantage!
For example, if your product is hailed as the number selling stop smoking program in the States - make a big deal about this.
Make sure you let people know:
• Why it's so popular (outline the main benefits)
• How many people think it’s great (give buyer or voter numbers if possible)
• Who said so (give source, for example Forbes magazine)
• Any awards it may have picked up
• If it’s been featured by a major media outlet (for example Fox television)
There’s also two other ways you can use the halo effect to your advantage - but in a slightly different way. These play on the fact that highlighting a limitation can lend a “halo” of more desirability to a product.
6. Give a warning that your product is limited
This tip is one you have to be careful with. Letting people know that supplies are limited shows both:
1) Your product’s popularity
2) Scarcity (possibly because of the above)
However, while these can both act as powerful catalysts in human behavior, you don’t want to abuse this in any way. If you do, people won’t believe you. They’ll also start wondering what else you might be stretching the truth on. You don’t want all that trust you’ve been carefully building up to evaporate!
7. Let prospects know the seasonal demand of your product
This kind of plays on the “scarcity” value as well, but also shows that you have a popular product that sells in volume at certain times.
By relating this to a real situation prospects can identify with, a call to action is also more likely to be seen as genuine. They can see it as the possibility of missing out if they don’t act.
For example, something like: “Don’t miss out on your order - Christmas is our busiest season!”can help spur people into action, and get their order in earlier.
How To Get The Feedback You Need On Your Product
So now that we’ve borrowed some credibility, let’s gear up to get some of our own!
Here are some specific steps you can take today to get your first testimonials.
1. Give away A Free Trial
Depending on your product, you could offer a free trial to a select group of prospects. This could be a time-sensitive offer to encourage use - for example, a week’s free trial of your new software in exchange for their comments or a review of it.
2. Cross Selling Through Your Previously Marketed Product
If you’ve got a product that you’re selling that’s got a bit of a successful track record, you can use this to your advantage.
You can use the halo effect to “cross sell” the new product that doesn’t yet have testimonials. This means that you can leverage the “halo” of the previous product to lend a shine to your new one.
Here’s an example of how this works in real life.
Check out how the “halo effect” of her Apple iPod impacted on this consumer's buying decisions:
If you are selling similarly themed products, you can offer your new product as a possible option.
You can see how Amazon makes this work to their advantage:
By remembering what you’ve looked at, they offer similar products based on this theme. You can also see that they’re encouraging me to sign in for “personalized recommendations!” If your new product relates to your existing product/s in some way, this can work to your advantage. You can put a link on your established product's page that introduces and links back to the new product.
For example, you can have something not unlike the Amazon example, such as:
“If you’re interested in this product, you might also like to check out [your product name link]
“People who bought this product have also been interested in: [your product name link]
The halo from your existing product can lend trust and a natural introduction to your new product.
3. Give A Freebie
Simply give away some samples of your product free to a small group of selected customers. The testimonials you can get from this can really make the initial cost worth while.
Your customers get a great freebie for their thoughts on your product, or their experience of your customer service. And you get what you need for future sales!
As soon as your online business is up and running, give each of your customers a chance to share their experiences with your product or customer service.
Whatever way you decide to do things, it’s important to make it easy for people to give you their feedback. Don’t be shy in asking for this - good or bad. You can set up ways to get feedback through autoresponders, your newsletters, and other areas throughout your site.
4. Show people using your product in a photograph
The right picture can say a lot without saying a word! For example, a prospect can see:
• the sort of person who buys this product
• a visual example of what you’re selling
• the benefits of using it
5. Show a well-known or important person people using your product
This doesn’t have to be a Hollywood celebrity!
Someone who is well known in your target industry or business can be just as effective if your target audience can relate to them.
For example, if you’re selling an internet marketing product, a well-known “guru” in this area who thinks you’ve got something special is worth gold as a testimonial.
This is again is the halo effect – where the way a celebrity is perceived rubs off on the things they choose to have around them. In this case - hopefully your product! It’s even better if they like your product, and are prepared to comment on it.
4. Show a recognized seal of approval
Is your business connected with a recognized industry group? Check out what it takes to display their official seal.
Here's an example:
Have you received any industry awards or recognition? Make sure you've got these details on your website.
Second best to this could be displaying the logos of your payment or similar providers. This gives your prospects some sort of reassurance that you are a bona fide business that takes payment security seriously.
5. Put a link on your site
A simple form can also be set up, so that customers can give you positive stuff.
"Tell us how [Product] helped you!"
“What do you think about [Product]? Click here to let us know!"
It’s a good idea to put this close to some testimonials that you’re already happy with. This helps customers get a feel for the kind of feedback you're after.
6. Do Polls and Surveys
Here’s a free online survey solution that helps you to work out why visitors are at your website, and if they’re doing what they came to do. (And if not - why not?!)
All you need to implement on your end is a simple line of code.
Polls and surveys can also be useful to rate favorite products, or the most important benefit a user has had, a fun quiz, etc. Your info collection options are endless!
You can also check out www.surveymonkey.com, which is widely regarded as the market leader in the survey area.
7. Customer letters and emails
Ask them if you can use their positive comments on your web site to recommend your product to others. Most people will be happy to help - especially if they’ve already given you positive feedback. Research has shown that once you can get people to state an opinion on something, they’re unlikely to reverse this opinion without good reason.
8. Set up an autoresponder
You can set up an autoresponder to invite people to:
• be kept up to date on your launch dates
• offer a free white paper or ebook on something of interest
• give their feedback about your new product
• register for a free trial
or any number of things that start to build a relationship.
Once you’re selling, you can also set this up to automatically contact a buyer when they have bought from you. You can find out how they're enjoying the product, plus give them the opportunity to give feedback on their experience with your business.
All these points of contact can all have pre-set time frames, allowing you to set this up and pretty much forget it.
Three of the more well known and popular autoresponder companies are:
It’s important to be happy with your autoresponder right from the start.
Why? If you want to leave it later on, you could lose a lot of business from your old list members refusing to opt-in this time around.
It’s best to steer clear of the "free" solutions that you’ll find around the place. Many of these tend to be the “you get what you pay for” variety! The best idea is to choose one of the paid versions carefully, and stay with it.
If you’re after a one-stop solution that covers ecommerce and autoresponder together, 1Shopping cart has it pretty much covered. The premium version has affiliate marketing features, along with autoresponders, and the delivery of downloadable products.
However, a number of people still prefer to use other providers for these things.You’ll need to check out the options for what you need in your personal situation, and see what fits best.
So - all in all - if you don’t yet have an arsenal of powerful testimonials under your belt - it’s not the end of the world! Because you now know all about the “Halo Effect”, how it works - and how to get it working to your advantage. You know exactly what to do enhance your product’s credibility when you don’t have testimonials.
And you also know the actions you need to take to encourage a steady stream of materials that turn into powerful credentials for your product. All easy ways to get and keep those valuable testimonials rolling in.
Go for those that most appeal to you, and start polishing that halo!
Learn from an affiliate veteran.
Your host, Allan Gardyne, has been earning a good living from affiliate programs since 1998.