Testimonial advertising: 4 legal considerations to keep in mind

4 minute read
Testimonial advertising: 4 legal considerations to keep in mind

The more customer testimonials you use in your advertising, the more you can potentially boost your revenue. Just don’t forget that there are legal considerations that you’ll want to keep in mind for testimonial advertising.

Customer testimonials are short quotes or personal anecdotes from past customers. They describe how a particular product or service has helped them overcome a challenge. It can also reflect the positive experience a customer has had with your company. Testimonial advertising is about using these testimonials in paid campaigns of any kind.

About 84 percent of consumers trust online reviews and testimonials as much as their own friends.

Customer testimonials also can reach prospects when sales representatives can’t since your representatives typically have to wait until a prospect feels at least somewhat “ready.” Only about 19 percent of prospects feel “ready” during the early stages of researching purchase options. To help these prospects feel “ready” to potentially purchase from your business, customer testimonials are a non-invasive way to help them along.

Check out our six tips for collecting effective customer testimonials.

Leveraging customer testimonials in your advertising is an excellent way to make the most out of what you collect. Advertising online can include video ads on Facebook and YouTube, sponsored posts and so on.

But when you use testimonial advertising, you’ll want to think about the following four legal considerations so that everything is on the up and up.

Obtain customer consent

Before anything else, you must start with getting consent from your customer to use his or her testimonial in advertising. 

Best practice is to get permission up front as your collecting the testimonial. But if you don’t get it initially, you can always follow up later by obtaining written consent and keeping it on file.

Disclose your relationship

It’s important to be very clear about your relationship with the customer who’s giving you a testimonial that’s used in advertising.

For example, maybe you asked an existing customer to try a new product or service in exchange for a testimonial about that product or service. You’ll want to then disclose that background very clearly in your ad.

This is particularly important with paid endorsements, whether that’s with traditional celebrities, experts or influencers in influencer marketing. Of course, in these partnerships, it’s the influencer who’s posting the content. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regularly updates its guidelines for online endorsements. While the FTC holds the influencer responsible for knowing and adhering to the rules, don’t assume that every influencer does or will. The FTC has its own 101 Guide for Social Media Influencers that you can dig into.

The key is to be as transparent as possible.

Only use accurate, truthful claims

Your customer testimonials must be accurate and truthful. In other words, the results shared should reflect the actual experience of the customer (and have actual proof tied to it).

This is especially true for any medical- or monetary-related results because any misinterpretation could be harmful. 

For example, you might be a life coach with a client who doubled their income after six months of working with you. But it’s imperative that you give the full story behind that so that your advertisement is not misleading.

Anything that could be misleading or seen as exaggerated should be avoided.

Don’t ‘steal’ testimonials from review sites

You should not copy and paste testimonials for business from other websites into your testimonial advertising. 

Most review websites (such as Yelp) have a clause in their Terms of Service stating that user-generated content is owned by the user and licensed to the website. This includes reviews and testimonials.

You can always reach out to those customers and request a new testimonial on the behalf of your business. Or, you can use links or plug-ins on your website that can act as a workaround while still honoring intellectual property.

In conclusion

To dig deeper into the rules that govern testimonial advertising, check out the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising from the FTC. The more you adhere to these rules, the more your target audience will trust you. You’ll also reduce the risk of any penalties.

For any specific questions regarding the law, though, please consult an attorney.

While you’re generating more customer testimonials, consider leveling up your digital marketing process. DailyStory features automation, dynamic audience segmentation and more. We can help you get your survey to the right respondents. Schedule your free demo with us today.

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