How To Ethically Use Testimonials And Case Studies In Your Marketing

You’ve probably seen lots of businesses feature case studies and testimonials on their websites. Did you know that many of these case studies and testimonials are actually breaking the law? In this post, we’re gonna talk about how you can use case studies and testimonials legally.

You’ve probably seen a lot of entrepreneurs, small businesses, and big corporations feature case studies and testimonials on their websites.

Did you know that many of these case studies and testimonials are actually breaking the law? Yeah, you read that right. In this post, we’re gonna talk about how you can use case studies and testimonials legally.

FTC Guidelines On Using Endorsements And Testimonials In Advertising

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has set standards for trade practices, and this includes testimonials and case studies. Keep in mind that other laws exist in individual states about trade practices. But as long as you follow the guidelines set by the FTC, you’re on solid ground.

The FTC has established guidelines for the use of endorsements and testimonials within the advertising industry. For consumer endorsements, it says that an advertisement that uses the endorsement of at least one consumer regarding the performance of a product or service that’s being promoted will be interpreted as a representative of what other consumers will achieve when using the advertised product or service, regardless of the variable conditions of use.

I know that’s a looong sentence, but basically, it means that the testimonials or case studies you use on your website are a representation of what your advertised product or service offers. 

Keep in mind that there’s a typical standard in advertising where you need to have a scientific basis before you can make a claim. It’s your responsibility to have a factual basis to make sure that the testimonials or case studies that you present about your advertised product represent the probable results for most of your clients.

Support Your Claims With Data

You may argue that most websites provide disclaimers that results aren’t typical or results may vary. But that’s not good enough. 

If the advertiser doesn’t have anything to substantiate the testimonials or the endorser’s experience doesn’t represent the general results that consumers can expect to achieve, the advertiser must clearly state that.

You can’t just leave a footnote saying that the testimonials presented on your website aren’t typical and are based on the experience of a few people. It’s not enough to say that consumers aren’t likely to have similar results. As an advertiser, you need to tell your customers what the general results or experience they can expect.

You may have noticed weight loss commercials presenting case studies. But they also provide a separate note that sets consumers’ expectations. They state that on average a person can expect to lose one to two pounds a week.

So when you present a testimonial on your website about a product or service that you’re offering, you need to do two things. First, you have to tell consumers that those aren’t typical results. Second, you need to tell them the typical results they can expect to get.

Remember, you can’t simply present a disclaimer that your best testimonials or case studies aren’t typical. That’s a clear violation of the guideline set by the FTC. 

Even though the chances that the FTC will come after you aren’t high, it doesn’t give you a pass to make deceptive claims. It’s not okay to break the law just because you’re confident you won’t get caught.

Advertise Based On Real Data

As an entrepreneur or advertiser, you want consumers to buy from you based on a reasonable expectation. Whether you’re launching using an event, sales page, or webinar, don’t present case studies or testimonials that only present the results of only the top 1%. 

Instead, present actual data and let consumers decide based on that. You need to be proactive in collecting the data of people who have purchased from you rather than focusing on collating your best case examples.

Present The Expected Results

All too often, advertisers present lengthy sales pages and then add a disclaimer at the bottom in the fine print. Most consumers don’t read that. You need to follow the FTC’s guidelines and tell consumers upfront that the results presented in the testimonials aren’t typical and provide an accurate representation of the results they are likely to get.

Be Honest And Follow The Law

You need to be thinking about these guidelines when you’re writing your sales page. Remember that lying is wrong even if it makes for a better sales copy. Using testimonials or case studies that don’t represent the results that consumers will get when they purchase your product isn’t only unethical but it’s also illegal.

When it comes to testimonials and case studies, you need to follow the law. You can’t cherry-pick testimonials and choose only the ones from your best clients. You may do so but you need to clearly say that the results aren’t typical and set realistic expectations of what people can expect to get. If you don’t have the data, don’t make any claims.

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