Before someone comes saying yes it works because of social validation or social proof, are there any user tests, research or case studies that backs up it up?

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It seems like most poeple I speak to thinks the testimonial page is fake and no one actually reads it. At the same time companies want to have it up there cause, why not (just incase they do right)?

So are there are research or test to back up testimonials?

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    You can probably ask the same question about reviews (and there are questions on UXSE and research about it). The problem with this type of research is that both real and fake reviews have their effects, which is not only context sensitive, but can also have some unexpected effects when there are different proportions of them mixed together. – Michael Lai Mar 9 '16 at 0:17
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    Not all testimonials are fake. But yes, even fake testimonials work. Why do you think the Nigerian obviously fake emails about richness work? If you want to use testimonials don't use pages: sprinkle quotes through the other copy on the site and in addition to pictures you may want to use screenshots of actual tweets or other social media shares (and link to them!). When you can find people behind the testimonials and it is obvious from their profile that they are real life people and actual users that lends a ton to the credibility of those testimonials. – Marjan Venema Mar 9 '16 at 11:27
  • I don't know how you decide all are fake. I've only ever added testimonials that were voluntarily sent to me by users. – Rotem Mar 13 '16 at 19:39
  • We added one short testimonial to each of several sales pages. A/B testing showed that they did produce a significant improvement in conversions. (We used legit testimonials that were collected from actual happy customers who offered them freely) – cloudworks Mar 22 '17 at 6:10

i don't know who is the "we" that knows it's fake. Statistics shows quite the opposite:

90% of online consumers trust recommendations from people they know; 70% trust unknown users, 27% trust experts, 14% trust advertising, 8% trust celebrities (Econsultancy, July 2009, Erik Qualman, Socialnomics)

This is just an example of course. There are hundreds, probably thousands of similar studies, but the proper path is to do your own testing.

See, you're asking about testimonials, as if they were the same thing across sites, or using the same techniques, or working in the same context. In fact, there are (literally) hundreds of different combinations, going from generic testimonials with generic stock photos, testimonials from people on social media, testimonials with mail addresses to contact the person who gave the testimonial, testimonials with video, really short testimonials, testimonials that are a page in itself.... well, just some different ways to show a testimonial.

Wanna talk context? OK, think about any of the combinations above and now think about the difference depending on where are you seeing the testimonial. For example, would you expect the same level of trust on a testimonial in a page by Apple than in a page for an online casino? I doubt you would!

Wanna talk trust? Do you think it's the same a testimonial by John Doe with a stock photo than a testimonial by a real life like user? An individual that a representative of a company? Someone with a contact than someone that doesn't display any way to contact? And we could go with this for days

As you may see, there are countless ways of working with testimonials, but bottom line is people trusts them. For a law of averages, for the psychological will to trust, for simple reinforcement (and there are LOTS of studies about these aspects too), there's a noticeable difference between a site with testimonials and one that doesn't. Otherwise, you'd be saying that thousands of reputable and successful companies are doing this in a lame attempt to fool clients. AND they didn't even test what they do. As you may imagine, this is far from truth

Companies will obviously display the best testimonials they can find, but it doesn't mean they don't have real people willing to vouch for them. And let's not even start with paid testimonials!!!!

Bottom line, if you think all testimonials are fake... well, rethink it. And yes, they work.

Additional reading

Different ways to display testimonials


It's pretty well established that it does actually work, but there are a lot of variables that affect it, such as context, if the person is an expert or not, language. As you've pointed out, it's a form of social proof which has been extensively researched and shown to be very effective.

The papers below, in particular, look at user reviews, there is a lot more but I won't bore you. I have a small article here on social proof and user reviews.


Chen, Y.-F. (2008). Herd behavior in purchasing books online. Computers in Human Behavior, 24(5), 1977–1992. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2007.08.004

Xu, Q. (2014). Should I trust him? The effects of reviewer profile characteristics on eWOM credibility. Computers in Human Behavior, 33, 136–144. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2014.01.027

Willemsen, L. M., Neijens, P. C., Bronner, F., & de Ridder, J. A. (2011). “Highly Recommended!” The Content Characteristics and Perceived Usefulness of Online Consumer Reviews. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 17(1), 19–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1083-6101.2011.01551.x

NOTE: If you need access to papers try this. https://sci-hub.tw/

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