Before I start telling you all about testimonials and WordPress, let me share a little story about social proof and street food in Vietnam.
Vietnam is not known for the hygiene of its street food. In fact, quite the opposite. Any traveler’s guidebook will warn of the very common, and very horrible, food poisoning that can result from eating street food.
BUT, despite living in Vietnam for over two years now, I have NEVER gotten food poisoning from Vietnamese street food (and trust me, I’ve eaten more than my fair share).
Do you want to know my secret?
I only eat at street food stalls that are packed with locals. If a place is packed, I eat there. No matter what food it is. If it’s empty, I skip it. No matter how much my stomach is growling.
And with that one simple trick, my stomach and I have managed to navigate the murky waters of Vietnamese street food unscathed.
Moral of the story? Social proof is powerful. We use it every single day to help us make the best decisions. I use it to avoid a week of gastrointestinal distress. But you probably use it to decide whether to sign up to a newsletter or buy a product.
That’s what testimonials are all about:
Testimonials help make your website the digital equivalent of those mouth-watering street food stalls full of patrons and juicy smells.
They boost your authority and your conversions. And they’re also surprisingly easy to implement with WordPress, which is what this post is going to lay out.
Why you should care about social proof
Humans don’t just rely on social proof when they’re trying to avoid violent food poisoning. 70% of Americans seek out other opinions online before committing to any purchases.
So adding these opinions, if they’re believable, can build your reputation and help ease readers’ minds. How much can they do this?
- WikiJob boosted conversions by 34% after adding testimonials to their site.
- Hotel Institute Montreux increased their conversions by 50%.
- Michael Aagaard found that just by moving testimonials higher on the page he was able to increase conversions by ~65%.
If you want these benefits for your site, you need to start collecting and displaying testimonials. Here are the best WordPress plugins to help you do just that…
1. Thrive Ovation
Thrive Ovation is the first WordPress testimonial plugin on this list for a reason. Not only does it help you showcase your best testimonials, it also helps you collect testimonials from your customers and, after approval, automatically display those testimonials on your site.
Essentially, Thrive Themes Ovation puts your testimonials on autopilot. Here’s exactly how it does that:
Adding or collecting testimonials – easily ask customers for testimonials
Before you start showcasing your testimonials, it’s pretty important that you actually…have testimonials. Thrive Themes Ovation helps you accomplish that in a few ways.
First, if you already have testimonials from happy customers, you can input them yourself. All you have to do is add a picture (optional), details for the individual, and their comment. Then, you can easily manage and insert these testimonials wherever you want.
You can also enter a Facebook or Twitter URL to automatically pull in a testimonial from social media.
Those are certainly nice features, but here’s the really cool thing…
Thrive Themes Ovation also includes several built-in testimonial collection forms that you can include in your site. Most importantly, these forms are designed to actually elicit meaningful testimonials – not just “I really like/hate your product” over and over again.
And once a response comes in, it will be marked with a helpful “Awaiting Review” designation so you can look it over before approving it and adding it to your pool of testimonials.
If you’re already using Thrive Architect, these testimonial capture forms are easy to implement via the Builder. But don’t worry if you’re not – you can also add capture forms via shortcodes.
Organizing testimonials – tags for easy management
Once you’ve collected some testimonials, either manually or via a capture form, you can apply another helpful Thrive Themes Ovation feature:
Because there’s a good chance you might want to include different testimonials for different parts of your site, Ovation lets you apply tags to quickly filter testimonials by their topics.
While you can technically use these tags for anything, there are two main ways they can help you sort your testimonials:
- Tag by product: If you’re selling multiple products, you can add a tag for the exact product each testimonial is talking about. For example, you could tag one testimonial “product 1” and another “product 2” so that you can easily include the testimonials on the correct product pages.
- Tag by topic: You can also use tags to divide by the topic of the testimonial. For example, you could tag all the testimonials which praise your live support as “live support” and all the testimonials which compliment your documentation as “documentation”.
Note – you’re allowed to add multiple tags to a testimonial, so you can actually do both these things at the same time.
In addition to tags, the main interface also divides testimonials up into six different categories to keep things organized:
- Awaiting Approval
- Awaiting Review
- No Picture
If you’re wondering what the distinction between “Awaiting Approval” and “Awaiting Review” is, it’s actually a very helpful feature…
After you review a testimonial, Ovation can automatically send an email to the person who gave the testimonial asking for permission to display it on your site. The testimonial will only be moved to “Approved” after you get explicit permission from the submitter to display it publicly.
Showcasing testimonials – static or dynamic content
Now that everything is added and organized, you’re ready to actually display your testimonials to your readers. Just like with the testimonial capture forms, this feature is integrated into Thrive Architect, but you can also add testimonials via shortcodes.
Ovation comes loaded with templates so that you can pick the display style which fits your site. You can then further customize colors and display options if you want to tweak the template.
To choose the actual testimonials that display, you can either manually check all the testimonials you want to include from your master list (which is filterable by tag) to create static content.
Or, if you want to create dynamic content that always stays fresh, you can choose to select X number of testimonials from a specified tag. As new testimonials roll in via your capture forms, they’ll be added to this pool after they’re approved and tagged.
Once you get it set up, Ovation has the power to provide you with a never-ending stream of targeted testimonials. Your testimonials will always stay fresh and current, which will ensure your conversion rate statistics keep making you smile.
Price: Single site license is $39. Multiple site licenses available. Also included in $19/month Thrive Themes membership.
Learn more in our Thrive Ovation review.
2. Testimonials Widget
For a free WordPress testimonial plugin, Testimonials Widget packs a surprising number of features. There’s also a pro version which unlocks even more functionality.
The free version lets you display static testimonials or rotating testimonials from a specific selection.
You can then insert these testimonials either via shortcode or widget. If you want to display different testimonials for different pages, you can filter testimonials by categories, tags, or post ids.
Actual testimonial content is added via a custom post type and lets you include information like name, title, company, pictures, and more.
If you go with the premium version, you’ll get more flexibility for displaying your content, a rudimentary testimonial submission form, and lots of smaller features. Unfortunately, there’s not much about the submission form to differentiate it from any other form, so I don’t think it compares to Thrive Themes Ovation in that regard.
Price: Free. Premium version starts at $29.99 for a single site license.
3. Testimonials Showcase by cmoreira
Testimonials Showcase from cmoreira is a premium testimonial plugin that gives you the ability to display testimonials as static grids or sliders.
You get five built-in templates which you can further customize via the plugin’s interface. You can customize both the layout and image settings. You can also enable rating stars and add any relevant schema markup to take advantage of rich snippets.
If you want to have your testimonials change, you can create dynamic content from a specified pool of testimonials.
And if you want to collect additional testimonials, the plugin includes a basic frontend collection form. But again, this form looks like any other form created with Contact Form 7. It’s not optimized for testimonials beyond its integration with the plugin.
Price: $16 with standard Envato licensing. Add an extra 6 months of support for $4.50.
4. Testimonial Rotator
Testimonial Rotator is a free option that adds a “Testimonial” custom post type which you can use to display testimonials on your frontend.
The plugin’s author has taken an interesting approach to monetization – rather than locking away features behind a pro version, he sells premium themes to change your testimonials’ appearance.
You can display testimonial rotators according to different animations and transition speeds. And if you want your testimonial content to change, you just need to tick a box to randomize testimonials.
If you want to display star ratings, you can easily add them with proper schema markup to get rich snippets.
You can create multiple rotators which are connected to different testimonials, which essentially lets you engage in page or category level targeting. Once created, you can insert rotators via either a widget or a shortcode.
As for those themes I mentioned, the plugin ships with two free themes. After that, you can either create your own theme following their guide or purchase one of the premium themes. Note – creating your own theme requires coding knowledge. There’s no WYSIWYG editor.
Price: Free. Premium themes cost ~$19 for a single site license.
5. Testimonials Showcase by azzaroco
No, that’s not a typo – this testimonial plugin from azzaroco has the exact same name as the Testimonials Showcase I talked about earlier.
With the exception of Thrive Themes Ovation, I think this Testimonials Showcase has the best-looking testimonial displays. The plugin comes with ten pre-packaged themes that can handle both grids and sliders.
One unique feature is a publicly displayed “filter” option. Users can click on different categories to automatically update the testimonials. For example, if a reader is particularly interested in the quality of your support, they can just click “Support” and the testimonials will change (without reloading the page!).
Like the other plugins, it also includes a barebones submission form. And if you want to add star ratings, you can easily include them with proper schema markup.
All the display themes are responsive and retina ready and you can insert them via either shortcodes or widgets.
Finally, the plugin claims to offer 24/7 support. So if you ever run into trouble, you should be covered.
Price: $17 with standard Envato licensing. Add an extra 6 months of support for $4.88.
How to choose the best WordPress testimonial plugin
If you’re looking for the best overall WordPress testimonial plugin, it has to be Thrive Ovation. It’s superior to the other plugins in all three facets: collecting, managing, and displaying your testimonials. But, it’s also the most expensive plugin on the list. There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch, right?
So, if you want a great free option, I think Testimonials Rotator has the best design. It also works with all native WordPress functionality, so it should perform well. Testimonials Widget has nice functionality, but I don’t think the designs stand up when compared to the other plugins.
Finally, of the two mid-range options, I think the latter Testimonials Showcase from azzaroco offers the best-looking designs. And it’s filter feature opens up some nice possibilities for displaying targeted testimonials. Other than that difference, it functions pretty similarly to the $1 cheaper Testimonials Showcase from cmoreira.
No matter what – if you’re trying to convince your readers to do…anything, you should be including testimonials to boost your conversion rate. Whatever your needs, these plugins will help you do just that.
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