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Why Aren’t There More E-Mail Testimonials?

  |  August 23, 2004   |  Comments

Testimonials add credibility to e-mail campaigns with minimal cost or effort. Here’s how to get started.

One of the first things I learned as a direct marketer was to include compelling testimonials in my advertising. Effectively implemented, testimonials both confirm company claims and address key satisfaction issues. These aren’t nearly as believable when the advertiser states them. Testimonials are consistently used in DRTV, direct mail, and print advertising for a reason. Why not email?

While cleaning out my spam the other day, I noticed virtually none of the messages contained testimonials. I even looked at email my company produced. Sure enough, none contained testimonials. We’re missing a golden opportunity to enhance response rates simply by letting satisfied customers help tell our stories.

Frankly, I can’t think of a valid reason not to test testimonials in email. Results may be well worth the effort. Some suggestions for adding testimonials to email advertising campaigns:

  • Reality counts. People can spot a fake testimonial a mile away. Real consumers don’t speak the way professional writers write. That’s why it’s difficult, if not impossible, to fake testimonials. Besides, it’s not ethical, let alone legal. Make sure you keep copies of actual testimonial statements in your files. They should be on file before the advertising goes live.

  • Get real photos. Make a solid effort to obtain photos to accompany testimonials. A picture adds an amazing amount of credibility and believability.

  • Use real names and professions. A real customer’s name provides additional credibility. Make sure the consumer signs a legal release for appropriate consideration, which provides you with the legal right to publish the consumer’s photo and testimony. Determine the town or city in which the consumer lives, which could help geotarget email campaigns.

  • Edit testimonials responsibility. It’s OK to edit out parts of testimonials that are rambling or redundant or don’t contribute. Just don’t change the overall statement to a point where you’re taking questionable liberties.

Your final, believable testimonial will have a picture, short quote, the person’s full name, hometown, and state. If it’s a business testimonial, add the person’s profession. In the case of a homemaker, state that as the profession.

OK, so how do you get these great testimonials? Chances are you already have some or can get some fairly easily:

  • Monitor incoming email and postal mail. Some of the best testimonials are unsolicited. They arrive all by themselves. Let everyone in your company know they should forward positive comments to someone assigned to "testimonial development."

  • Add a comment form on your landing page or Web site. Ask people to talk about their positive experiences. Many people love to talk, and write, about their experiences.

  • Solicit testimonials from customers. Have your salespeople ask a few of their best customers for testimonials. Depending on your product or service, you can request they talk about specific benefits you feel are important.

  • Monitor newsgroups, bulletin boards, blogs, and chat areas. Look for places where people may already be talking about your product or company. Contact people who make positive comments in these venues.

If you decide to include testimonials in your email, let me know how they work. I’d like to share your experiences with readers. Keep reading...

Want more email marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Reference is an archive of all our email columns, organized by topic.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paul Soltoff

Paul Soltoff is the chief executive officer of SendTec, Inc., a direct marketing services company specializing in customer acquisition. SendTec combines extensive direct response experience with proprietary technologies to produce scalable results. Principal services include performance-based online marketing, offline direct response marketing and direct response television. SendTec represents advertising agencies and advertisers such as RealNetworks, AARP, Monster.com, AAA, Punch Software, MyPoints, Grey Worldwide, CosmetÍque Cosmetics, Columbia House, and Euro-Pro. Prior to starting SendTec, Paul was a founder and EVP of Saatchi and Saatchi's DRTV division in New York and has over 25 years of advertising, media and direct marketing experience.

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