In a recent article we described just how effective testimonials can be. All is not sweetness and light as there are legal restrictions as to what you can and cannot do. They are easy enough to comply with, as long as you know what they are. Here is a non-exclusive list:
1/ Make sure they do not deceive
Do not write your own review and make out it was from a satisfied customer. If you state or imply that it was then you are deceiving your readers.
2/ Any connection between you and the endorser must be made clear
If the person endorsing your product is connected to you in any way, such as an employee, or has a financial interest in the product, then this must be disclosed. Displaying the comment in 18 pt type and stating: ‘Ethel is my mother’ in 6 pt is not complying with the law.
3/ Testimonials cannot make claims that you can’t support
If the person writing the review makes a subjective statement, such as ‘it was excellent service’, or ‘the product was just the right colour’, then you can run with these as they are unchallengeable. If, however, the claim is that your pitta bread cured their back ache, without substantial evidence to support it, it must not be used.
4/ You cannot leave out relevant information
Following on from 3/ if someone achieves a weight loss of 100 lbs from using your rowing machine and following a strict diet, the fact that the person ate just 400 calories a day for six months should also be included. In other words, it is not enough that the customer achieved the result they claimed, it must be as a result of using/buying your product.
4/ Obtain provable permission to use a person’s name
The next point is the one that there is the suspicion that it is most often ignored. You must obtain permission from the writer of the testimonial to use their name or any other information that might lead to their identification. Here you have a certain flexibility. Many websites include a condition that if they enter their name in the box it will be published. Never publish email addresses or specific addresses. With B2B you can publish their position in a company, although ensure that you obtain independent permission from a company official to use their name. A future article will include ways to ensure you comply.
5/ Check copyright
Don’t copy and paste testimonials from other websites without first obtaining permission. This often includes forums and social media.
6/ No cherry-picking
If a customer wrote about how pleased they were with the way you dealt with their complaint, then their comment of ‘very quick and professional’ can’t be used for an advert for your car polish. That is not to suggest that the whole testimonial must be used every time. We will cover editing of testimonials in a future article.
7/ Read up on the legislation or take professional advice
Lastly, there are ‘restricted categories’, most notably medicines. Check with CAP on: https://www.cap.org.uk/Advice-Training-on-the-rules/Advice-Online-Database/Testimonials-and-endorsements.aspx#.VyoLTfkrLIU