How to Snag an Awesome Testimonial
How to Snag an Awesome Testimonial
If you’ve ever shopped for any kind of goods or services online, you know just how important a good testimonial or review can be when making purchasing decisions. In fact, according to a study by Search Engine Land, a whopping 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations. This is as much due to social proofing as it is to pure pragmatism, as testimonials provide invaluable information about the quality and effectiveness of a company’s product or services.
If you’re a small business person or entrepreneur, a good testimonial will sell your services for you. But how can you go about getting one? Let’s take a deeper look at a few excellent strategies for doing just that.
1. Get Your Timing Down
Of course, it’s impolite (and just kind of weird) to ask for a testimonial while you’re still in the middle of a job. (Exceptions can be made for long term clients, but it’s still probably a good idea to wait until your first project together is done). However, you don’t want to wait too long, or else the customer will forget many of the most compelling details about why working with you was great. Advice on just how long to wait varies, but generally anywhere between one to seven days after finishing work is a good rule of thumb. And if your customer has already offered to provide a testimonial, give them at least three weeks before politely checking in.
2. Personalize the Request
Yes, I know you’re busy and want to work from an email template, but taking the time to at least add in a few customized details to a testimonial request will significantly increase your chances of getting one. This can be as in-depth as reminding your customer about something funny that happened while you were working together, or as simple as adding in a few details about the exact product you provided them with. The more personal the request, the more motivated (and even, socially obligated) your customer will feel to respond.
3. Make it Easy for Them to Do
Unless your customer just so happens to be a writer, the absolute worst thing you can do is leave the request for a testimonial open ended. Most people hate writing about themselves, even if it’s about their experience with you, and they’ll be paralyzed if they’re told to “just write something up.” Instead, guide them by providing any one (or more) of the following options:
Pull from an email. If you’ve done a great job, the customer may have already sent you an email praising your work. Ask them if you can use simply paste this email onto your website, with any identifying information removed.
Give them a form. A form will give consumers a much better sense of what you’re looking for, especially if you’ve put thought into the questions you ask. Some good candidates include: “What was it like working with us?” “How has your situation changed since you’ve started using our product?” “What specific results did you get from our service?” And so forth. Customize these to fit what you do.
Say yes to video. For some people, it’s far easier to flip the camera on their iPhone and start recording. Even better, consumers love the video testimonial format, as it makes reviews feel even more personal. And if you add your video testimonials to your YouTube channel with your keywords embedded in the description, you’ll be doing great things for your SEO, too.
Run a contest. Whether it’s essays, photos or videos, a testimonial contest run through social media sites like Facebook can be an effective form not just of gathering testimonials but also of content marketing as well. For example, you could run a “Why I Switched to Your Company” video contest, and use the best entries on your testimonial page or YouTube channel. Consumers will have fun competing, and will be far more likely to share their testimonials on their own social feeds as they compete to win a prize.
4. Edit Their Work
I know, I know, it sounds immoral, but chances are you’re going to have to do a little editing work for any testimonials you grab. While it’s never okay to alter the core message of the testimonial, you have every right to add capital letters and fix grammatical errors so the review feels more trustworthy. You’ll also want to add any clarifying information at the bottom, like, “Claire Smith, College Application Customer, Current Freshman at Stanford.” Just make sure to send it back your client’s way for final approval before posting.
5. Feature Your Testimonials Prominently
Having a testimonial page on your website is crucial so that customers can easily find what people are saying about you. However, from a conversion standpoint, it’s also important to feature snippets of your best reviews throughout your site at key decision points. You might, for example, have a quote like, “I don’t know what I would have done without X Business’ services” bolded and enlarged over an email signup of the shopping cart to help brush away any last minute nerves.
Testimonials can also make for great content on your social media feeds, especially when your customer has told a particularly compelling story or has provided you with an update about their continued success. If you’re on a professional website, like Wedding Wire or the Knot, you may also ask your customers to leave testimonials there as well, so you come up higher on those sites’ search results.
6. Say Thank You
Whether it’s a simple email or 5% off on the customer’s next purchase, it’s important that you thank each and every customer for their testimonial. Doing so will make it far more likely that one-time customer will become a regular, and that you’ll get referrals down the road.
7. Follow This Procedure Every Time
Many small businesses and entrepreneurs who are just starting out do a great job at gathering testimonials at first, only to let the good habit fall by the wayside. Don’t let this be you. A steady stream of fresh testimonials will show more cautious consumers who return to your site multiple times before making a decision that your popularity continues. It will also keep you looking like you’re in the loop, as new customers will reference your changing services as they evolve. (There’s no point, after all, in keeping up a testimonial that discusses a service you stopped offering five years ago).
Testimonials are a crucial part of the purchasing decision making process. Without them, customers are at least left confused, at most suspicious. With them, customers get motivated and excited to start working with you. And isn’t that what you deserve?