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Your Guide to Building Credibility and Client Loyalty with Testimonials

There is strong evidence that displaying client testimonials will impact your business’s sales. Most respondents of a study by Search Engine Land reported that reading a business’s positive online reviews make the respondent more likely to purchase from that company. Studies by B2B Content Marketing, Nielsen, and Search Engine Land found that respondents perceived testimonials as one of the most effective and trusted types of content marketing, influencing their buying decisions just as much as word-of-mouth recommendations from people who respondents know personally.

There’s no question that client testimonials will help to establish your company’s credibility and convert leads into clients. But how do you go about getting those impactful testimonials? And what do you do with them once you’ve collected them? That’s what we’ll cover in this article.

Asking for Client Testimonials

It is possible that your clients will spontaneously decide to leave a review about your business on Google Reviews, Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor, or other such sites. But if you just cross your fingers and wait for those testimonials to come pouring in, you are severely limiting the potential of your collection of glowing reviews.

Instead, be proactive and ask current and former clients to offer feedback and reviews. Many people are willing to take a few minutes out of their day to do this. In fact, most people appreciate it when they are asked to offer their opinion! Not everyone will respond to your request, but you’re bound to get more testimonials if you ask than if you don’t ask. Here are some points to keep in mind as you consider your approach to asking for client testimonials.

Who Should You Ask for Testimonials?

It may be tempting to ask friends and family for testimonials to get started. Sure, people who know you personally can give you a character reference and might have some familiarity with your products and services, but the testimonials that will be the most helpful to prospective clients will be from actual clients like them. We do not recommend creating fake profiles to write multiple positive reviews or hiring freelancers to write inauthentic reviews. You see, prospective clients can often spot a fake. They value reviews that provide them with specific details about products (size, color, texture) and anecdotes describing services (including issues that were resolved). Real reviews tend to take on a more neutral stance—including aspects that were positive, neutral, and negative—and extremely one-sided and exaggerated reviews are typically deemed less reliable.

So who should you ask? Repeat or long-time clients and customers stay with you for a reason! They are great people to ask for testimonials.

When Should You Ask for Testimonials?

The best time to ask is when your services have just wrapped up, while your clients’ experiences are fresh in their minds and the relationship between you and your clients is also still warm. If you didn’t ask a client at the end of a service, consider asking at these times:

  • When the client signs up for a repeat purchase
  • If the client candidly expressed his or her appreciation of your product or service
  • When you learn that the client has referred a friend or colleague to you

How Should You Ask for Testimonials?

Asking for testimonials can feel daunting or awkward, but keeping these six things in mind will help you craft a testimonial request that works that feels natural and, even better, that really works.

1. Set the Right Tone

What is your business’s communication style: informal and conversational or formal and professional? Perhaps you use different styles with different types of clients. Match your style to your usual tenor. Certainly, be polite, but making your request unnecessarily formal or stiff can make you and your client feel a little awkward.

2. Make Sure Your Timing Is Right

If your work with your client or customer is wrapping up, ask some open-ended questions about how everything is going before asking for a testimonial. If your client is experiencing some issue, you want an opportunity to resolve it (with the utmost care). It would not be ideal if you assumed all was well and only heard about a point of dissatisfaction in a publicly posted review!

3. Personalize Your Request

When requesting a client testimonial in writing, personalize your request by using the client’s name and making comments that are specific to the project, service, or product you shared with them. When you have developed a general template for requesting testimonials that works, it’s okay to use it again and again, but adding a few personal touches goes a long way to communicate to the client that you value what he or she has to say.

4. Provide Prompts and/or Sample Responses

Your client might genuinely want to respond, but he or she might have a hard time figuring out just how to respond. Asking a couple of questions, like “What features stand out to you the most about our product/service?” or “What would you tell someone who’s considering purchasing this product/service?” can be helpful prompts. If you already have a few testimonials, post them on your website, and provide the link when asking for testimonials to help guide your client.

5. Create Some Urgency

If you don’t provide someone with a timeframe on the testimonial, he or she is likely to put it on the back burner and completely forget about it. But there’s no need to put undue time pressure on a would-be respondent either. A gentle deadline, like, “It would be great if you could send me your response within the next couple of days” hones in the timeframe without seeming bossy.

6. Make It Super Simple for Your Client

Do not make your client search for the right place to provide his or her valuable feedback. Specify where clients should submit a review: indicate if they should reply by email, or provide a direct link to your online testimonial form. If you make the request in person, provide the client with a card with the direct link, or give them a self-addressed, stamped envelope and testimonial form that they can easily drop in the mail. Show that you value your client’s time by making the process as simple and straightforward as possible.

Where Should You Display Testimonials?

So now that you have collected all of these glowing testimonials, it’s time to showcase them!

  • Place them on your homepage so the praise of your company grabs a prospective client’s attention and adds authority and credibility to the products and services you are advertising. You can also choose to create a sidebar on your website, so the winning words will appear—unobtrusively—while leads are scanning your page. Or you can keep testimonials all together on a testimonials page. (This is a great place to link prospective clients to.)
  • Display especially positive and helpful testimonials in your business’s advertisements in print publications (such as magazines and newspapers). You can even feature audio and video testimonials in radio and television advertisements, respectively.
  • Take quotes from testimonials and create visually appealing social media posts to share on Instagram, Facebook, and your business’s other social media channels.

3 Important Points about Client Testimonials to Consider

1. Get Consent

If you plan on publishing or sharing a testimonial, make sure you have the reviewer’s explicit consent to do so. Testimonials with the author’s full name (or first name and last initial where privacy must be honored)—and even a headshot or profile picture—carry the most weight and credibility to your prospective clients, but make sure you have the testimonial author’s permission before you use their name and photo.

2. Minor Edits

If you are using the testimonial for your business’s own marketing, it is okay to make minor edits in order to correct spelling errors, typos, and obvious grammatical errors. Leave the author’s phrasing and general message intact though. (If a client reviews your business on third-party sites like Google, Facebook, or Yelp, you will not be able to edit their message.)

3. Incentivize with Caution

Some businesses give clients an incentive to review their product or business. For example, the business could announce that providing a review will earn the reviewer a gift card or will enter the reviewer into a drawing for a prize. Third-party sites such as Google and Yelp forbid this practice, however. If you choose to incentivize testimonials for your business’s own marketing purposes, it is a best practice to disclose that reviewers received compensation.

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