Let’s face it — everyone loves getting a good customer testimonial.
At the end of the day, when you start researching a product or service, one of the first things you do is see what other people have to say about it. So when someone’s saying something wonderful about your own business, you know it’s a great sign of things to come.
But how are they different from reviews? And how can you get customers to give you a testimonial?
What’s the Difference Between a Customer Testimonial and a Review?
A testimonial is a customer’s endorsement of a product or service. What makes them unique is that they specifically address a challenge they had prior to making their purchase, then describe how the product or service resolved it.
What makes testimonials different from reviews is that they are provided by the customer directly to your company, and offer significantly more details of their experience as they did business with you. In addition, since they are managed by you, you can choose which ones to display on your website — as opposed to having no control over good or bad reviews left on third-party platforms.
The Importance of Customer Testimonials
Testimonials make people feel safer about connecting with your business. When it comes to B2C businesses, people often rely on their friends and family to make recommendations.
But when it comes to B2B businesses, they want to hear from someone who’s in a similar position (e.g., other business owners). Reading testimonials lets them see you in action before they risk any of their time or hard-earned cash. This lets them see their possible ROI as they learn about what you’ve done for clients with similar pain points.
Let's dive into the specifics about how testimonials can support your business.
Testimonials Humanize Your Brand.
Anyone who knows what a company does can read and understand a testimonial, and that’s what gives them so much power.
With a testimonial, a potential customer gets to “see you” in action before they risk any of their time or hard-earned cash. A good testimonial focuses on the facts, but also has enough of an emotional element for prospects to imagine enjoying similar, just-as-desirable outcomes soon.
Testimonials Show Your Longevity.
A business who just opened its doors yesterday probably doesn’t have a single testimonial to its name.
These days, when more and more commerce is moving online, all those signs that make your brand seem more solid in the online ether are vital markers of trust.
Now, I know what you might be thinking: But an online testimonial can be faked!
Of course, this is true. Anyone can write a testimonial and put it on their website. But people tend to trust their ability to spot a fake testimonial, and they often won’t question the content of testimonials from otherwise reputable brands.
Testimonials Help Customers “Get It.”
When people are thinking about a purchase, they generally want to know someone like them has had success with it in the past. This is especially true in the B2B world, where many specific aspects of a company’s way of doing business affect whether a solution is the right one or not.
With testimonials, you have the opportunity to scratch that itch.
When you select the right collection of testimonials, you can:
- Demonstrate ROI with testimonials from those with similar job titles or credentials.
- Build a business case with testimonials from those at a similar type of business.
- Make a personal connection when a speaker shares background details or affiliations.
Although the effect can be subtle, it’s often just the spark a prospective customer needs to delve deeper into what you have to offer them. And since testimonials can be viewed at the very top of the sales funnel, they do a lot of heavy lifting for your credibility early in a relationship.
Testimonials Are Potent Social Proof.
Although there are many ways to look at social proof, from an inbound marketing perspective, it may be easiest to think of it as evidence that others’ success will influence your future outcomes with a product or service. In short, the more other people do something, the more attractive it looks.
We see this all the time in today’s digital marketing landscape, with email subscription sign-ups headed, “Join 728,000 of your fellow marketers!” or “366,231 satisfied clients can’t be wrong!”
Of course, we all know that any number of people can be wrong about practically anything. But the wisdom of crowds suggests that the more people get behind an idea, the more likely it is that its flaws would have been pointed out — by someone, sometime — if they really mattered.
How To Get Customers To Give You Testimonials
As mentioned above, customer testimonials provide hard-hitting social proof that your leads find compelling. Used right, they speak to those deep desires and anxieties a lead keeps thinking about.
And all you have to do to get testimonials from clients is to ask them. That said, you do want to keep in mind several strategic factors:
1. Be Mindful of Timing.
You want to ask for testimonials when their experiences with you are still fresh on their mind. A good time to do this is to ask during a follow up email or phone call. The happier they seemed with their experience with you, the more likely they are to agree to give you a good testimonial.
Also, pay attention to whenever a customer gives you an unprompted glowing review during conversation. You can ask them right then if you could use their words for a testimonial.
2. Have a Specific Team Member Ask for the Testimonial.
While anyone from your company could ask for a testimonial, having the person who worked with them through the buying process will likely be met with more enthusiasm.
This is because they’ve already established a relationship with the team member and feel most comfortable speaking with them. That salesperson can also refer to specific instances during the experience to get the customer to elaborate.
3. Ask for It In Writing.
Asking for testimonials in writing lets you include instructions along with the request. This makes it a lot easier for your customer.
Also, once you hit send, let it go for a bit of time. If the customer wants to send information, they will do it. Following up repeatedly in a short period of time will only annoy them and won’t win you any points to gain repeat business in the future (plus, they’ll also tell everyone they know how annoying you turned out to be, which is worse than a bad review).
4. Provide Examples of Other Testimonials.
For a lot of people, a writing assignment — no matter how short — can feel like a daunting task. They don’t know where to start or what to include, so they keep putting it on the back burner, or they don’t write the testimonial at all.
Providing examples or a template with your request will make the process as easy as possible for everyone involved.
5. Look For Existing Content.
Browse through Google and Yelp reviews, social media comments, blog comments on your website, and in emails from clients to look for good, detailed reviews that may serve as testimonials. You can also set up Google Alerts to make it easier for you.
However, always remember to reach out to the customer and ask whether you can use their words as a testimonial on your website. This is crucial to do, especially since you will be using their full name and job title on the testimonial.
6. Make a Quick Video.
When you’re wrapping up business, ask them whether they would feel comfortable giving you a testimonial on camera. Be mindful that this may not be everyone’s preferred method. But if they agree, you can use the content both in a video, as well as using excerpts throughout the website.
Another option is to use product/services reviews already posted on YouTube. This is another instance when those Google Alerts come in handy.
7. Ask Open Ended Questions.
Having an organic conversation with people will lead to additional information. Ask them why they chose to do business with you over a competitor, or whether you could do anything to make the experience even better in the future.
This gives you an opportunity to receive insights that may be favorable for your company. If so, ask if you can use them as testimonials on your website.
8. Leverage Feedback Forms.
Sometimes, people just prefer to do everything online instead of having in-person or phone conversations. Some others fare better with a specific question/answer format than drafting a testimonial from scratch.
By providing a feedback form on your website, you can use direct quotes that have been sent to you by existing and former customers.
How To Maximize the Impact of Testimonials
While you can simply ask customers to give you a testimonial, you want to make sure you are giving them guidelines so that they send you complete, useful information. Along with your request, ask for the following information:
- Details supporting why your offering was important or what made it special
- A summary of the value they received
- A headshot or clear, bright picture of the person giving the testimonial
Once you have all the information, remember to edit it for clarity and to add the name, title, and organization of the person giving the testimonial. When everything’s polished and wrapped up neatly in a bow, it’s ready for publication.
Now, you have to ensure you include it in strategic places within your website.
Where to Place Testimonials On Your Website To Boost Sales
Ok. The hard part is done. You have plenty of happy customers waxing poetic about how you made their lives better. You have fabulous headshots to add to them, too. Your copywriters edited the content to make it sound straight out of a high-end publication.
Now, where are you publishing it?
No matter your industry, testimonials on your homepage — usually near the bottom in a slider or static footer — are a great way to set the tone for users getting acquainted with your site for the first time. Some site layouts also let you use a testimonial footer on blog posts as well.
However, there’s no hard rule as to their location. Just make sure they don’t disrupt the flow of information.
Anyone can include content on a services page, but not everyone can showcase a long list of happy clients.
Including a testimonial from satisfied customers near the call to action buttons on your services page will be a lot more convincing than clever copywriting, since it’s the word of third parties who don’t have a financial stake in the sale.
Your landing page is where site visitors go to become leads or customers. Having a good testimonial at the top may give a prospect that final push to fill out the form and hit that submit button.
Remember to keep the page simple, so one testimonial should be enough, unless you include a testimonial carousel.
If you have several testimonials, it’s a good idea to have a dedicated testimonials page. And if you have some from big name companies, make sure to include those at the top.
However, make sure to include one or two of them in other areas of your website, as some visitors may not visit the dedicated page.
Long story short: When you include testimonials on your website, you’re doing the same thing you do when you try to sell a house — creating the conditions where your would-be customer can imagine themselves “living there.” So take some time to plan your strategy and watch your ROI grow.
Get your testimonial engine firing by making sure your post-sale follow up process provides you with an easy, intuitive way to collect all that praise. You’ve earned it!