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How to Ethically Get Testimonials and Use Them to Add Credibility and Increase Membership

Great testimonials can be very persuasive. The value of member corroboration and its ability to get new subscribers to your membership website cannot be under-estimated.

Know this about the buying process: Whether they know it or not, everybody has a personal strategy for rationalizing his purchase decisions.

All purchase decisions are emotional, but in order to be congruent, buyers need to create reasons for their choices.

“Celebrity endorsements are the creme de la creme. If Brad and Angelina bought it too, it must be good!”

Say you want to spend your hard-earned money to acquire a new toy, or a useful tool, or even a membership in a subscription website.

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How do you convince yourself that this is the right thing to do?

If you’re like most consumers, especially for the purchase of a big ticket item, you need enough excuses to justify it to yourself and, perhaps, your boss or spouse.

How do we, as consumers, give ourselves permission to buy what we want?

Most of us seek the consensual validation of our peers. We are comforted by knowing that our friends or colleagues have made a similar purchase and are happy with their choice.

Celebrity endorsements are the crème de la crème. If Brad and Angelina bought it too, it must be good! And here they are saying just that: “I bought this and it makes me healthier, smarter, sexier and wealthier. You should buy it, too!”

So it is with membership websites, too.

Nothing tops the sincere, heart-felt praise of your current subscribers for convincing prospective members to join your membership website.

Great testimonials can be very persuasive. The value of member corroboration and its ability to get new subscribers to your membership website cannot be under-estimated.

How to get people to say nice things about you

It’s not difficult to get testimonials for your membership website, provided you deliver a quality product. You only need to ask. Here are some tips on how to get all the glowing testimonials you need.

  • Deliver on your promises.

Unless you have a great product and you deliver outstanding customer service, you can’t expect anyone to sing your praises. Start by providing your members with the highest quality content and member support.

Give them something to talk about. Once you get a reputation of being the real deal, you’ll even get unsolicited praise from your subscribers.

  • Confide in your friends.

There is absolutely nothing unethical or otherwise wrong with asking a faithful member if, in good conscience, she can write you a testimonial for use on your website.

If asked, many people will agree immediately. Others will ask you to write the words for them, or at least create a first draft for them to amplify or edit. Don’t be reluctant to compose a flattering but honest appraisal of your membership site. This is no time to be modest.

  • Offer an ethical bribe.

How would you respond to this e-mailed request?

________________________

Dear Joe,

I’m redesigning the HamsterLovers.com website and my marketing consultant suggested it needs a few more testimonials from happy subscribers. I notice that you’ve been a member of HamsterLovers.com from the beginning and that you renew every year. So I was wondering if you would care to help me out by writing an endorsement of HamsterLovers.com that I can use and attribute to you.

However, if we’re doing something that you disagree with or that prevents you from endorsing HamsterLovers.com, I’d like you to tell me about that. If you think HamsterLovers.com is somehow broken, I want to know so I can do whatever is necessary to fix it right away.

I know your endorsement isn’t for sale, but if in good conscience, you can write a favorable testimonial, I’d be ever so grateful. Alternatively, if you can provide me with some constructive feedback about how we can improve HamsterLovers.com, that would be invaluable, too.

Either way, I’d like to reward you for your time and effort by sending you a copy of my new book, Hamster Lovers Handbook—Tips, Techniques and Secrets for Hamster Breeders.

Just let me know what you think by return e-mail. And thanks for doing this.

Sincerely,

–Peter

________________________

Would you consider anything about that letter to be inappropriate?

It gives the member an opportunity to praise or criticize your site with equal reward. Either way, you, as the online publisher, get valuable information from a longtime member for the modest cost of a paperback book and postage.

  • Get it in writing.

If you make an extraordinary claim on your website, whether in a testimonial or otherwise, the FTC or some other agency may want you to prove it. So get your testimonials in writing and signed if possible.

If you’re doing audio or video testimonials, get the person to say his name and company or website URL at the beginning of the taped comment.

  • The more specific the praise, the better.

“The advice I got from HamsterLovers.com was directly responsible for $497,643 in increased hamster sales last year” is more convincing than “HamsterLovers.com helped me make more money” or “HamsterLovers.com provides lots of good ideas.”

  • Include details.

Include the member’s full name and website address or city and state. We’ve all seen testimonials that only identify the member with initials.

“Great job. Thanks, HamsterLovers.com!” … J.B., Houston, Texas.

That doesn’t have the ring of authenticity, does it? Real people have real credibility.

  • Ask when the time is perfect.

If you receive an email message from an enthusiastic member who is praising your website content or customer service, that’s the perfect time to ask for permission to use the testimonial. Even if you don’t use the commendation right away, you can keep it in your files for when you upgrade your site.

Use the most persuasive testimonials.

Depending on your niche topic, you’ll probably find the most persuasive (and most valuable) testimonials will be along these lines:

  • Testimonial from a member who used your site’s content to get all her questions answered about something of vital importance to most of your members.
  • Testimonial from a very experienced member of your site who nevertheless has found his membership valuable, and says so.
  • Testimonial from a subscriber who recently renewed her annual membership, and explains why.
  • Testimonial from a member who is able (and willing) to cite specific savings or earnings owing to the advice or articles on your site.
  • Testimonial from a recognized industry “expert” in any field who is also a subscriber to your membership site.
  • Testimonial from any so-called celebrity.
  • Quotation (reprinted with the publication’s permission) from any newspaper, magazine, or other media outlet.

When it comes to the value of testimonials, more is not less. More is definitely better!

If you have an impressive collection of testimonials, you might even consider setting up an entire page or department on your website that is devoted to reprinting the best of them.

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