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Increase your conversion rate with stories

By Drew Strojny on October 31, 2013

You’re in a new city and looking to grab dinner. You walk by a busy restaurant. You see customers laughing and having a good time. You glance at the restaurant across the street and see one couple by the window. Otherwise, the place looks deserted. Where are you eating?

This is commonly referred to in psychology circles as social proof. In summary, human beings seem to be hardwired to look to their peers for guidance. This groupthink probably served us well in prehistoric times. You see others in the group start to run, so you start running too. If you stop to look, you might be dinosaur lunch.

So, what does social proof have to do with increasing conversion rates?

One of the best ways to increase conversions on your website is to include stories from your customers about your product or service. I like to call it a “story”, because the word “testimonial” has gotten a bad rap over the years due to fake endorsements in TV advertising.

Find some stories

Reach out to your customers and ask for some honest feedback. Tell them you’re looking to publish their story and will include a link back to their website. It’s important to get real information: Full name, website URL, and a photo (at the least). Your potential customers want to know these are real people. Most of us have been inundated by the fake TV endorsements I mentioned earlier, and are subconsciously trained to filter them out.

Don’t forget to ask about your customer’s business or website, not just their feedback about your company. This is a two way street, and you want to help them out with some promotion as well. Depending on your business, it might even make sense to do some phone interviews with your customers and build some more exhaustive case studies around these stories.

Once you’ve collected these stories, add them to your website. If you’re using WordPress, this is a nice place to use a custom post type. See our customer stories page here at The Theme Foundry for an example. New customers can see our WordPress themes on real websites and hear from real customers about their experience with our company.

Next, add some of your favorites (or portions of them) to your product or service page where you’re trying to increase your conversion rate. If you’re a web designer or a local business, this might be your contact page. If you’re selling a product or service, it’s your sign up or buy page.

Don’t forget, everything starts with great products and great service. If you’re nailing those two areas, your customers will be more than happy to talk about a positive experience. If you’re not, you might hear some good ideas for improvement. Either way, reaching out to collect stories from your customers is a no brainer.

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  1. Vlad

    Great points, thank you!

    Can you please share what percent of people you’ve asked for story agrees to be promoted on your website?

  2. Drew Strojny

    Hey Vlad!

    Most customers submit their own stories through the instructions on the page, so I don’t have any exact numbers. If you’re just kicking it off, my suggestion would be to reach out personally to customers you already know, and ask if they’d be interested in sharing a story. I think that would work much better than sending out a generic email blast to all your customers.

  3. Vlad

    Thank you for your response.
    I’d love to read more about how you manage your business, many folks write on WordPress techniques but it’s not as important if you don’t know how to sell/promote your final product.

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