People trust other people, especially those who’ve done things they want to do. For example, let’s say you want to buy your first motorcycle. You’re likely to ask your tattoo artist, who runs a small bike repair shop on the side, the difference between a cruiser and a cafe racer. One step further, and you’re likely to ask him which dealerships you should check out. Why? Because he’s been where you’ve been, but now has firsthand experience you can use to inform your decision.

That, in essence, is why your website needs a customer testimonials page. By giving visitors (and potential clients) a firsthand account of your business, you’re accomplishing three things:

Remove the mystery. Firsthand accounts (even by total strangers) are persuasive and make the unknown feel more familiar.

I’ve heard good things. By selecting positive statements from your customers for your testimonials page, visitors will have only heard good things about you.

Establish credibility. Your business feels less mysterious and the visitors read good things about it — that formulates credibility and trust. And people are much more likely to do business with those they trust.

Getting customer testimonials

However, especially when you’re starting out, you might not have anyone to vouch for your business — that’s OK. There are a few ways you can start raking in testimonials:

Ask your customers

Customer TestimonialsIf somebody comes to your business (or contacts you online), ask them to write testimonials for your website. If they’ll let you, snap pictures of them, too. Putting a face to a name (and a testimonial) makes it even more credible.

If you’re doing any kind of email marketing, you can reach out to customers that way, too. Something as simple as a comment box at the bottom of a survey will suffice.

Use third-party resources

Online recommendations are a huge part of many people’s shopping practices. Even if you don’t sign up for them, your business might still find its way onto a site like Yelp or Angie’s List. If someone has something nice to say, put it on your website! It’s a good practice to link back to the site, as well.

Don’t let a few bad reviews on those sites scare you off, either. Very, very few businesses have 100-percent 5-star ratings. Potential customers know to take the bad (and the good) with a grain of salt.

Tell the truth

No matter what you do, don’t fabricate anything. Don’t gently rewrite a testimonial to be something it’s not. You’re breaking an implicit trust that future customers have in you — and that’s not the kind of relationship you want to have.

On your website

How you format your customer testimonials is up to you. We’ve found a few of the following things to be good guidelines, though:

  • Have a Testimonials page dedicated to nothing but customers singing your praises.
  • Photos of your testifiers make them much more compelling.
  • Link back to the original source if it’s online. This lets potential customers make an even more informed assessment, which builds greater trust.
  • Use a consistent layout to make your testimonials easy to read. You’re asking someone to take the time to read the content — don’t make it harder for them than it has to be.

With all of these tips in mind, once you have a few examples of satisfied customers, you’re ready to go. Always remember that you’re aiming to build credibility and trust with your clients. That kind of earnest, well-earned relationship pays the largest dividends in the long run.