Reviews vs.Testimonials: The Credibility Gap

I’ve written considerably about online reviews, how more and more people are looking for them, and making their spending decisions based on what they are reading.  Like it or not, they are going to affect how people choose a dentist. Whether they go to Yelp, or Google, or see them on your website or on Facebook or, even more likely, some combination of those, they ascribe a lot of credibility to what random people are saying about you.

A more relaxed approach to negative Yelp reviews.

A more relaxed approach to negative Yelp reviews.

This is why I say that including written patient testimonials on your website doesn’t add much. The consumer suspects they may be fiction, but also believes that it’s easy to find at least one or two people to write something nice about you.  You are much better off having a steady stream of patient reviews posting on your website. They can be from surveys that you do using digital communication software like PatientActivator, or you can request them by email, or ask patients to write them while in your office.  (For my white paper on how to build a review strategy for your office, click here.)

The importance of reviews is one more reason to make sure you have a dynamic website, where you can change the content yourself.  Ideally,  some content should even change and update automatically, with a function that displays all your reviews as they are generated. This page could also include a window of your Yelp reviews so that the viewer doesn’t have to leave your website to find them.  Including an ever-changing flow of reviews in your website gives you credibility with consumers, but it also enhances your SEO, because Google is expecting your content to change constantly on your website, or it will ignore you.

So are testimonials worthless?  Not at all, if you do them the right way.  And what is that way? Video, my friends.  Video testimonials from patients have enormous credibility.  In people’s minds it’s much harder to get someone to stand there and recommend you “on camera”.  Don’t you feel the same way?  I know I do.

Here’s what I do: whenever someone comes up to me and tells me all the reasons they liked my book, I whip out my phone and say, “Would you mind saying that again with me recording it?”  And you know what–they always say yes.  And the fact that I shot it with my smartphone, all in a single take (as we say in the movie business), makes it even more authentic.  Here’s an example of one I did recently:

In 30 seconds Dr. Callaghan was more persuasive than I could be in two hours.

That’s not to say that you can’t use a better camera, and even edit several testimonials together.  My friend Dr. Craig Spodak did that with some of his implant cases, and the emotion in these videos is quite powerful. Check this one out:

More statistical food for thought: People are 4 times more likely to watch a video on a website than read long text.  And including video in your website makes people 3 to 4 times more likely to take action.  We all know that the average person learns and comprehends much more through a visual medium than a literal one. So why believe a barrage of text is going to do the same job?

And videos are multi-purpose: they can go on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, your website, and you can even email them to people.  That some serious utility, and worth the time and trouble.  So start to make a habit of it.

For my blog on how to expand your video skills easily, click here. And if you don’t have a website where you can add video easily, it’s time to build a new one.  Check out WebDirector.


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4 thoughts on “Reviews vs.Testimonials: The Credibility Gap

    • Thanks, Richard. Deep down we all know how persuasive visual media is. But we tell ourselves it’s too much work. And it used to be, but not anymore. People are making entire movies with iPhones

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