Including testimonials on your website is one of the best ways to increase conversions.
Don't believe me?
The Pew Research Center found that 82% of Americans read reviews at least some of the time before they commit to a business or product. 40% of Americans reportedly always read reviews. If you don't have any, they might just take their money elsewhere.
While testimonials and reviews aren't exactly the same, they serve a similar function: social proof.
Let's face it, you're going to rave about your own business no matter what. Confidence is part of the entrepreneurial mindset. But without credible evidence, why should potential customers believe you?
When you back up your claims with real feedback from real people, in the form of testimonials, there’s no reason to doubt.
You instantly establish credibility and trust, by showing that others have had a great experience.
We're here to talk about how to get customer feedback and use it to write a testimonial that will do the selling for you.
What is a testimonial?
Testimonials are written statements of recommendation.
They give satisfied customers the opportunity to speak to the quality of your service or products. Therein lies the difference between a testimonial and a review.
Testimonials are positive endorsements that typically come at your request. Reviews can be left by any customer (and some may be negative). Unfortunately, studies have found that readers tend to put a lot of weight on negative reviews.
Testimonials are your chance to counteract that negativity.
How to get a testimonial from your customers
When you're first starting out, asking for testimonials will be your best bet. Reach out to customers (especially repeat customers) and ask if they'll give you positive feedback that you can use on your website.
If you have clients that run their own business, allow them to link back to their own website in their testimonial if it's relevant. That way, their testimonial is mutually beneficial (links are an important factor that can help in getting to the first page of Google).
As you build your business, pay attention to any unprompted positive feedback. If a customer writes to you thanking you for your service or posts on social media about their satisfaction, respond to them with gratitude.
Ask if they'd be comfortable with you using their words in a testimonial on your website.
You can also set up an automated process to ask your customers about their experience.
How to write a testimonial
Should you leave the content up to the customer writing the testimonial?
No! That’s a wasted opportunity.
What you’ll most likely receive is a generic, positive statement that won’t help your conversions.
You need specific, relevant details to include in your testimonials, to give them weight and credibility.
As you gather testimonials, determine a format that you will follow each time. You may give the writer a template to use or plug their feedback into a template, yourself.
As long as you're not adding your own opinions, under the guise that someone else wrote it, there's nothing wrong with using a template. In fact, telling people specifically what you want to know makes it much easier for them to write — no blank page anxiety.
We're going to break down proper testimonial writing into a few categories before offering tips, examples, and a template you can try out for yourself.
Testimonial format: 5 essential parts of a winning testimonial
Some testimonials consist of short quotes that are one or two sentences long. These aren't bad, but they leave out some important persuasive elements.
It's much more effective to include specific information about the benefits of your business.
Here are the essential pieces of a winning testimonial:
1. The attention-grabbing opener
Start with something positive and attention-grabbing before breaking down the specifics.
That might be something like, “This product was a huge help to me!”
That way, even readers who skim for information will know that your customers are happy with your business.
2. Establish the problem
The next ingredient is a description of the problem your business solved for this customer. What issue were they having that prompted them to work with your business?
If the testimonial is offered by someone who isn’t a customer, but a colleague or expert, establish their authority here. Why should potential customers listen?
3. Describe some hesitation
Next, explain any initial hesitation the customer had. Were they concerned with the price of your service? Have they worked with similar businesses in the past that didn't deliver good results?
It may seem strange to ask your customers to discuss their hesitation when considering your business. Why would you want your readers to think about the drawbacks they may not already be considering?
However, noting those drawbacks reveals a level of honesty and authenticity that will give readers more reason to trust your testimonial.
4. The outcome
Finally, demonstrate the usefulness of your service. How did your business help the customer overcome the problem they were having?
When you transition from drawbacks to usefulness, readers will understand that your product or service is worth the cost, the effort, or whatever else may have deterred them.
5. The recommendation
The final piece ties it all together. Will they use your business again and have they recommended your services to anyone else?
By now, readers have already read about how your product or service solved this customer’s issue. And they’ve thought about reasons they might hesitate to buy.
This final endorsement reassures people that they can let go of those worries — like this satisfied customer, they will have no regrets.
How long should a testimonial be?
That's a lot of information to pack into one testimonial, and it needs to be concise.
In the golden age of the internet, studies have found that our attention spans are getting shorter. In fact, we're likely to lose interest in what we're viewing online in less than ten seconds.
Ideally, each component of the testimonial format will be taken care of in one or two sentences each. Don't overwhelm your readers with a huge block of text, but don't underwhelm them with one sentence.
Try to stay under 500 words and break up blocks of text by using a few short paragraphs.
What makes a powerful testimonial?
Just gathering a few endorsements isn't enough to really pack a punch with your testimonials. Read on for a few tips and tricks on how to make a truly powerful testimonial.
Placement: Don’t hide your testimonials
Some businesses make a separate page on their website for testimonials, but we aren't crazy about this method. Don't make your readers hunt for positive feedback on your products or services.
When you’re writing a sales page, include testimonials for the product. If it’s a new product, and you don’t have any feedback yet, you can use a more general testimonial for your business.
For example, say you are selling an online course on jewelry making and an online course on candle making. If you receive an endorsement for your jewelry course, use it for a testimonial on the sales page, and any email marketing campaigns you send.
Then you can repurpose it for the candle-making course sales page. Just pick out the parts that talk about your teaching style or course format — things that can apply to your business in general.
Don't hide testimonials somewhere on another page, because that's not nearly as helpful or relevant.
Relevance: Don't waste space with irrelevant information
Every word counts. Don't waste space and time with information that doesn't strengthen the testimonial.
We mentioned earlier that testimonials should provide some information about who the writer is, and why that lends them some authority on your business. This only applies if they are an expert in your field.
For example, if a professional fisherman purchases your fishing line and loves it, it's relevant for them to mention their profession. However, it is not relevant that they are a fisherman if they purchased your beginner's yoga course.
Experiment: Try different media formats
You will probably see written testimonials more than anything else. That being said, why not experiment with form to see what gets the best results?
If there are other formats that make sense for your business, try them out. For example, we run a business podcast and could use that forum for audio testimonials.
If your product or service is best explained visually, you may want to try using video testimonials where customers can show your product or service in action.
To give you a better sense of what good testimonials look like, we've put together a few examples. Let's take a look at a strong customer testimonial as well as a strong partner testimonial.
For this example, let's say that the business offers pet grooming services and the testimonial is coming from a repeat customer.
“I have been taking my dogs to Happy Paws Groomers for nearly five years now. I am a professional dog shower –I'm very particular about how my dogs are groomed!
At Happy Paw Groomers, every groomer is well trained and listens to your needs. Some of my dogs have even gotten better placement in the shows we enter since I started taking them there. They look that good!”– Hannah B, Dog Shower.
For this example, let's say that the testimonial is coming from a real estate investor who has partnered with an online real estate marketer.
“Running my properties has gone much more smoothly since partnering with Apartments R Us. I have owned two large apartment buildings in Florida for thirty years and I didn't know how to start marketing my buildings online.
Not only did they help me fill all of my apartments after a particularly high turnover rate last summer, but they've saved me a ton of time screening them. I never could have done it without them, and will continue to partner with them for the rest of my time in real estate.”James M, Real Estate Owner.
Testimonial template (and questions to ask your customers)
Before you can put the customer feedback into the form of a testimonial, you need to get the right information. Start by asking your customers a series of questions.
For a video or audio testimonial, you can even ask them to use these questions as prompts when deciding what to say.
Here are the questions to start with:
- What issue did you need to solve?
- What drew you to our business?
- Did you have any concerns going in?
Then follow up with these:
- How did we solve your problem?
- Why would you recommend us to other people?
- Is there anything about our model that really stood out to you?
While your testimonials shouldn't all be cookie-cutter replicas of one another, you can use the same basic statements to structure the answers you get.
Here’s a 5-point testimonial template to pull it all together:
- I am in the business of…
- I looked into [business] because…
- [Business] helped me with…
- The results were that…
- Overall, I am very pleased with…
Better your business with testimonials
Now that you’ve learned how to write a testimonial that will draw in new customers and build your reputation, reach out and ask your customers to vouch for you!
Once your website is set up to win over potential customers, it’s time to start building traffic. Check out how we can help you step up your online presence and grow your organic search traffic.