Testing the Testimonials

I'll be posting some information about 'EVA Netmodeler' - a new EA tool that I saw today - in a couple of days, when I've had a chance to play with it for a bit longer, but in the meantime let's talk customer testimonials

Metastorm have just released a set of customer testimonials in a big push to get people bought into their software. This isn't a new feature (after all if you look at this page you'll see someone mentioned there who hasn't worked for that company for getting on for two years (me!), so it's not revolutionary), but what is different is the use of custom created video testimonials.

These cover a whole range of customers and topics.

The thing I particularly like about this is the way the questions are edited together to give a complete story about why Metastorm was chosen, what the problems were that lead them there etc., but at no point is there a blatant plug for the Metastorm software itself. It's been very cleverly done.

It got me thinking about the whole area of customer testimonials and their value. For example we've all been to web sites that have faceless individuals telling you how they were 'so glad they bought product xyz' and how it 'changed my life' - as if this is in itself enough to persuade you to buy the product. What very few testimonials actually do is to engage the satisfied purchaser in a dialogue about what they were hoping to achieve with the product, what their problems were and what led them to chose that product.

Consider the following web-site: PXMethod Speed Reading (Incidentally this is a completely bogus web site designed as a means of testing uptake on a similar product. As it says on the payment page if you click through "Note: This page is a mock-up. It is NOT secure. Please do not use real credit card information. Use a few numbers in that field and hit "Order Now" to see the final screen."). Note the heavy use of testimonials down the side and in the body of the text itself. These are all meant to increase your level of confidence with the product and persuade you to purchase. But consider the content of the testimonials. There is no context in which to view them, there is no identification of people other than a partial name and location "Amy K., Princeton Day School", and there is no way of knowing how genuine these testimonials are.

Compare those to the Metastorm video testimonials. You will see that all the participants are named (as are the companies they work for). The testimonial is placed in context with a set of questions that allows you to gain confidence that the speakers are genuine. It also answers some of the questions you will be asking yourself when deciding to purchase an EA/BPM tool of your own. "How did you build your business case for this tool?"

It is undoubtedly a very expensive way of gathering testimonials, but I believe it is extremely persuasive.

What do you think?

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