Isn’t it lovely when you get a testimonial from a client? It gets me every time. I’m so happy I don’t know whether to do a little dance for joy, put the kettle on or break into a giant chocolate bar. Usually I do all three. But, wait, before you rush to put that testimonial on your website, take another look. Is it doing you justice? Is it impressive? Would YOU hire you if you read it?
‘Helen was brilliant. She really knows her stuff and was a joy to work with. I wouldn’t hesitate to hire her again. Highly recommended.’**
Are you rushing to hire me? Didn’t think so! And I don’t blame you.
Perhaps you saw the words ‘brilliant’ and ‘joy’ and felt hopeful that I might be what you’re looking for. But then you re-read the testimonial and thought ‘Eh? Hang on a minute… what does that actually mean? Jeez – what a load of old tosh.’
If you’re in the tosh trap, here’s how to get out of it…
Axe the adjectives
‘Helen is a brilliant copywriter and she writes amazing blogs.’
Are you put off by such gushing comments? I am! Do they come across as authentic? Does this sound like something you’ve asked your mum to write? OMG – did you write it yourself? Apart from the fact that it sounds suspect, a testimonial like this doesn’t help someone make a decision about hiring you because there’s zero detail.
Let’s try again…
‘I commissioned Helen to rewrite our web content. The attention to detail, patience and involvement from Helen was fantastic and her knowledge of our business by the end of the process was staggering.’
Here, ‘fantastic’ isn’t just an empty word. It qualifies how impressed the client was with the way I dealt with the project and how much I put into it. If you’ve previously worked with a copywriter who didn’t give you 100%, this is the sort of testimonial that might just catch your eye.
Remember your key words
Testimonials on a website are a great opportunity to pop a few more keywords in for SEO.
‘I’ve used Helen for three years now.’
‘I’ve used Helen for copywriting for three years now.’
Simple, eh? If your testimonial doesn’t come with a keyword, you can easily sneak one in (honestly, your client won’t mind).
And you can add in keywords to show not just what you do (in my case, copywriting) but the type of things your prospects might be searching for, too.
‘Helen sorted my Linked In profile.’
‘I commissioned Helen to rewrite our web content.’
‘Helen did the copywriting for my company brochure.’
‘Helen was great to work with.’
Really? Why? Did she turn around your project really quickly to meet a tight deadline? Did she have a clear process? Keep you updated? Send you Hobnobs? Tell me!
‘Helen takes time to understand exactly what you’re trying to encapsulate and to ensure that she understands everything about your business in order to bring out the best points.’
Now that gives you a bit more to go on, doesn’t it?
Make sure you have a mix of testimonials on your website. If they all cover the same ground, they lose impact and people will stop reading. Pick a range of testimonials that highlight different elements – your customer service, your attention to detail, your ability to follow a brief… all the things that your prospect would want evidence of.
Big up your USP
There are lots of copywriters out there (damn them!) and lots of us are doing the same thing (double damn!). But we’re all doing it in our own unique way. So use your testimonials to flag up your USP.
I love helping businesses to pimp up their personality with content that’s fresh, sassy and surprising – so I’m all over testimonials that get that across. Like these…
‘The newsletter is funny and bold – I love it.’
‘Helen breathes life into your words – as well as a bit of humour and fun.’
‘With Helen, it was like my words on a clear day – put together in a way that was conversational and different from our competitors.’
Be brave with your testimonials. I know that words like ‘humour’ and ‘funny’ could scare the bejesus out of some people (although not mediators and IFAs, it would seem) but what the heck? Use your testimonials to help you stand out and target the clients you really want to work with.
Business folk call it ROI. I call it a bloody good job well done. Either way, the Holy Grail of testimonials is when your client tells the world about the difference you’ve made to their business.
‘Helen’s web content immediately resulted in three new wedding bookings as well as increased hirings for our venue in general.’
‘The fact that I’ve had more quote requests via my website in the past few months than the previous seven years is testimonial in itself.’
Your clients won’t necessarily see immediate results so you might have to go back to them a few months down the line to get a testimonial. If they’re too busy to write one, remind them that a glowing testimonial for you is an endorsement of the success of their business too.
Follow this checklist
Testimonials may only be a small part of your web content, but don’t underestimate their impact. Don’t just chuck them on willy-nilly, go through this checklist first:-
remove adjectives (unless there’s qualifying content with it)
add in keywords – your job title, type of project etc
be specific about how you helped
highlight any ROI
promote your USP
check for spelling mistakes, typos and grammar
make it short and sweet (your testimonial shouldn’t compete with your main content)
watch out for repetition
vary every testimonial
And think quality, not quantity. Would your prospects rather read 50 testimonials that said the same old tosh? Or ten smoking hot testimonials that nailed your services every time.
* Want a copywriter to create your web content? Well, hello, I’m here
Did I ever tell you the story behind
Trumpet Media? No, well pop the kettle on to discover how I went from a copywriter
to a trumpet-blowing copywriter – with no musical instrument required.
It started when I was working with
clients on their web content. We’d be sitting having a coffee and a good old
natter about their business. They’d be telling me lots of useful stuff to add
to their website. They’d be happy, enthusiastic, their eyes shiny and bright.
And then I’d ask them for information for their About page. They sat back in
their chair. They squirmed. They mumbled something about their CV. They did NOT
want to talk about themselves AT ALL.
But this is the bit where you can really
connect with the audience, I’d tell them. The bit where you highlight your
experience, your talent, your expertise, your passion, your ‘why’. Yeah, they’d
say, but it’s just sooooo icky. And then they’d suggest I looked at their LinkedIn
profile (I did – it was dire).
What they meant by ‘icky’ was that it
was embarrassing. And awkward. That good girls (and it’s mostly women, I’ve
found) don’t boast.
Well I’m not having this, I thought.
These people should be blowing their own trumpet. And if they REALLY can’t big
themselves up, then I will. So I changed my business name to Trumpet Media and
got busy with the trumpet blowing.
Don’t write in the third person
Helen is an amazing copywriter.
Yes, she is. I mean – yes, I am.
This is a GREAT example of
trumpet-blowing, right. Er, wrong. The purpose of your website is to connect
with your audience. And writing in the third person immediately puts a distance
between you and your potential customers and clients. It sounds like an agent
talking on your behalf and that you’re too busy/can’t be arsed to communicate
Don’t get me wrong. If you’re a large
organisation, you might want to talk about yourself differently (though I still
think you can loosen up a bit and drop the over-formality). But if you’re Kevin
the accountant, why put up a front? Be you, be real, be approachable. Be Kevin.
You’re gushing. Please stop!
Helen is a brilliant copywriter.
Yes, she is. I mean – yes, I am.
Some great trumpet-blowing going on
here, yes? Um, no. Helen/I may well be one of the best copywriters you’ve ever
come across – but it’s not for Helen/me to say so. Not like that, anyway.
Brilliant. Amazing. Fantastic. These are adjectives that mean nothing. Honestly, would you hire me if I told you I was an awesome copywriter? Doubtful. What about if my About page explained I had over 30 years experience as a writer? More likely. And how about if there was some evidence to back that up? Very possible.
Trumpet-blowing isn’t about telling
people you’re great – it’s about showing
it. For a psychotherapist, that may mean adding your qualifications. For a
florist, forget the diplomas and tell people what inspires you to create
There’s no formula for your About
page. The most important thing is to think about who you want to attract – and
what they’d want to know about you.
* Squirming over your About page? Me and my trumpet are ready to help you
What have the January sales got to do with bad websites? I’ll tell you. They both leave me confused, irritated and frustrated – and that means I walk away without making a purchase.
Here’s an example. This month I wanted to buy a new dress – a kind of smart-casual number for business meetings. Maybe in orange. Maybe not. I go into a department store confident that they’ll have what I’m looking for. But as soon as I’m in the door, I start to feel stressed. There’s a lot going on – ‘Sale’ signs, ‘Pay here’ signs, sales assistants trying to lure me over to their counter. Frankly, it’s all a bit too in my face and I’m tempted to leave.
Why your Home page is a headache
I often get the same feeling when I land on a Home page. There’s so much going on I’m like a rabbit in headlights. There are sliding banners, gazillions of links, more CTAs than you can shake a stick at plus testimonials that whizz past before you’ve had chance to read them. Just thinking about it is bringing on a headache.
TIP Get focused on your Home page
What you want in a Home page is order and calm. First up, I want to be reassured that I’ve come to the right place – and that means setting out your store. Who are you, what does your business do, how can you help me? A good copywriter will come up with clear and concise content to get those messages across.
Once I’m confident you’ve got what I need, I’d like some help getting to the next stage. Women’s clothes? First floor, madam! I don’t want to be sent on a wild good chase via the ‘Sports’ section and ‘Home appliances’ (no, I’m not going to buy a toaster!). You need to lead your customers to where they want to go quickly and seamlessly too. Otherwise, like me, they’ll be on the elevator heading for the Exit.
Service pages that suck
So I’ve arrived in the department for women’s clothes. But what’s this? Well, I’ll tell you what this is – this is a mess! Clothes crammed so tightly on the rails I can’t see the wood for the trees – or in this case the dresses from the skirts. Shoving everything under the ‘£50 or less’ sale banner isn’t helping. I want a dress. In my size. Maybe in orange but I’m open to options. I’m getting another headache. Is this how your Service pages make people feel?
TIP Sort out your Service pages
Like a department store, you might
have a lot of different offerings. Squash them all into one page and you make
it hard for people to find exactly what they need – not to mention buggering up
the SEO value of using separate key words for separate services.
Say you’re a roofing company. Rather than shoving all your content under ‘Roofing’ you could break it down into ‘flat roofing, ‘pitched roofing’ and ‘green roofing’. Think about what your customers are searching for – then signpost the way there. Once they’re in the right section, THEN you can do a bit of re-routing/cross-selling. As in – ‘Want some guttering with that? Click here.’
De-clutter before your competitors pounce
Did I get that orange dress? No. With
all the clutter and confusion, January sales do my head in. I’ll wait until
calm is restored in February. I might even end up buying a bag and shoes at the
same time (probably not in orange – I mean, I don’t want to look like a giant,
That’s OK for me. But can your business
afford to wait for customers to come back? And what if they DON’T come back?
What if they clicked on your competitor and discovered a much more
I’ve never been a fan of the Submit
button on websites.
I mean, check it out in your
thesaurus. ‘Submit’ means capitulate; defer; give in; put up with; yield;
surrender. Jeez! Hardly the warm, fuzzy Call to Action (CTA) you’re going for,
When I see the word ‘submit’ I always
think of wrestling. I grew up in the days of Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks –
yeah, yeah, I’m old, look them up – and they did their fair share of submitting
during their career. For a laugh, on rainy Saturdays me and my two sisters used
to recreate their wrestling bouts at home. Well, it started off as a laugh but
usually turned pretty vicious – unless it was your turn to be referee.
But it’s not childhood trauma that
makes me dislike the ‘submit’ button. The word is so damned cold, harsh,
unfriendly and unengaging. Everything you DON’T want your CTA button to
It also doesn’t give you a clue what
you’re letting yourself in for. Thing is, you know where you are with online buttons
that ask you to ‘Sign up for free monthly tips’ or ‘Register now’ or ‘Join our
community’. And doesn’t that sound more friendly and inviting? You can even be
a bit playful with your CTA buttons to reflect your brand personality –
something I’m personally all for.
Still not convinced? Well check out this Hubspot study that showed people who used ‘submit’ buttons on their website landing page got lower conversion rates than those who had CTA buttons with alternative wording.
Still want your potential clients and
customers to submit?
* Want help with some friendly words for your website? Get in touch
I get asked this question all the time – so I’m going to darned well answer it. And a few other web content questions while I’m at it…
Content or design – what needs doing first?
I’ve worked with many lovely web designers. One of their biggest gripes? Twiddling their fingers waiting for the words. Sure, they can make a start on ideas, but until they get the content they can’t really get cracking. And my own gripe? Having my words shoehorned into a design that doesn’t fit. I mean, it’s not the designer’s fault – how were they to know it wasn’t going to work when they didn’t have the words! For the perfect pairing of content and design, chat to your copywriter first.
How long’s the content going to take?
Good question – and one you should definitely ask because the web designer’s going to need to know too so they can organise their schedule. I usually say around 2-4 weeks. Four weeks? Yep, maybe a month, maybe less. Here’s the thing – do you want it fast or do you want it fabulous? Because I don’t do quickies, I do quality. And any decent copywriter will say the same.
What exactly are you doing in that time?
OK – so here’s how it’s going to go down. First off, I’m going to do a shed load of research. I’ll be checking out your current website, if you have one, your blogs and your social media stuff so I can start building up a picture of your business. I’ll also be getting clued-up on your industry and poking around to see what your competitors are doing. Then I’ll put together my questions so you can fill in the blanks at our meeting.
Meeting? Now we’re talking!
Yes, well, it’ll be you doing most of the talking. The more you talk, the more I’ll find out about you and your business. I love it when clients are chatty. Once they start nattering, they really open up about their business and end up spilling the kind of interesting detail that sets them apart from the competition.
You mentioned questions…
Yep, I’m really, REALLY big on questions. But don’t worry – it’s not like it’s a test or anything. Most of what I want to know is in your head. If you need to check any facts and figures, you can always email me later. And if you’re a control freak – that’s fine, me too! – I can pop you over the questions before we meet.
That’s useful. And how can I help you?
You’re sweet – thanks for asking. Best thing you can do is keep me in the loop. I once spent AGES on research only to be told by the client at our meeting that, actually, he’d dropped four of his services and was introducing two different ones. Oh, and remember you said you’d get back to me with those last little details? If you could pop them over, ta.
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