If you’re in the business of selling things, adding customer testimonials to your website is something you’ve probably considered.
You might already have them on your site, or you might be toying with the idea of getting them there.
What is a testimonial, and why is it so darn effective at winning the hearts of clients?
What are customer testimonials?
Testimonials are statements from ordinary people about a product. They’re a little bit different from endorsements, which is when a company pays someone to share and use their product.
Testimonials have been around in marketing and sales for years.
They’re incredibly effective as long as the customer believes that they’re real–the main challenge in adding testimonials to your site is making sure that they are authentic.
For small- and medium-sized businesses, testimonials are one of the most effective marketing techniques.
Why do we need them?
Take a look at your site.
Now back to me.
Now back at your site.
Now back to me.
Count the number of promises you’re making to your leads. “Choose me,” your website says, “because we’re efficient and we save money and we’re helpful and we won’t ravage your wallet and we’re reliable.”
Testimonials all serve one purpose: they establish trust.
If you can make other customers happy, then you should be able to make them happy too, right?
Think about the buying process you take when you’re shopping for a new, say… washing machine.
You want to make sure that you’re getting the most value for your time and money, and one of the best ways to do that is to check out what other people are saying. It’s why Amazon reviews are so helpful, and it’s why you should definitely consider popping a few onto your site.
The phenomenon of basing decisions off of what other people say is known as “social proof”, where people who want to make the “right” (aka, most efficient + valuable) choices will follow the actions and behaviors of other people.
Customers aren’t dumb. When you’re selling a product, you want to make it sound as great as possible–so any praise you bestow upon yourself will usually be disregarded or, at best, taken lightly.
Testimonials, though, are third-party endorsements. They trigger the conformity bias, aka the bandwagon effect.
Think back to the washing machine.
If LG says, “Hey, our new 2-in-1 washing-drying machine is the best on the market! It saves money and time, and it’s so easy to use,” you’ll probably think, “Yeah, but how do I know that for sure?”
If one of your friends, though, pulls you aside and says, “Psst, check out this awesome new LG 2-in-1 washing-drying machine I bought last month. It’s the best tool I’ve ever tried. I swear, it changed my entire life!”, you’ll probably start wanting it for yourself.
All customers who are in the buying process have one burning question that they need answered: “How do I know that I’m getting great value for my money?”
By showing real examples of people who have already gotten great value for their money, you can better persuade potential customers that they will also get the same benefits.
How can I get great testimonials?
Testimonials like, “This was great,” are nice, but they’re not very helpful. Getting a persuasive testimonial requires asking the right questions. First, try these out:
- Why did you want to hire me?
- What was the problem you were struggling with?
- How satisfied are you with my work?
- How has my work impacted you?
But that’s not all. Before they pay for your service, customers will be weighing their objections. In order to address them, you can also ask your previous clients this:
- What concerns did you have before working with me? For example–
- Ease of use
- What was the obstacle that would’ve prevented you from buying this product?
You should also be specific.
By including a specific argument in your testimonials (this product helped me solve this problem), your leads are much more likely to convert.
Dr. Elliot Aronsen, one of the best psychologists of the century, explains that this is a great way to build instant credibility.
Your product probably isn’t for everyone. Like many businesses, you might have a handy dandy list of buyer personas. So seek testimonials that explain why your product is great for the audience you’re targeting.
- What benefit have you gained after working with me?
- What specific feature did you like best about this product?
- What are some other benefits that you enjoyed?
These are all examples of questions you can ask your customers or clients.
You can also learn more about crafting the perfect testimonial questionnaire on Copyblogger.
What kind of testimonials can I include?
When we think of “testimonials”, our minds usually jump to customer quotes. But there are actually tons of ways to build testimonials.
- Quote testimonials – Quotes from customers are tried and true. They usually include your clients’ names and a photo. Don’t use stock photos–those tend to convey the message that the testimonial was written by you, and not by a real client.
- Influencer testimonials – Influencer testimonials tend to fall under the category of endorsements, but if you’re lucky, high-profile influencers might try your product out and rave about it on their social media.
- Consumer reviews – Consumer reviews are usually found on dedicated review sites, or as a built-in feature. (Apple’s App Store, for example, lets you easily write a review about an app you’ve tried). These are reliable and helpful. The more reviews, the better–it’s why many apps include a call-to-action that asks, “Do you like our app so far? If so, please leave a review on the Play Store!”.
- Case studies – Case studies take client cases and really go in-depth on how a business helped out. You’ll see this often with SaaS enterprise companies, who have to create a compelling narrative that convinces large companies to make a switch. Case studies are often digital downloads or long web pages, but they all include quantifiable proof that your service or software or software-as-a-service really helped out. (For example–“the landing page that Billy wrote for me increased my conversions by 243%”, or something like that).
- Video testimonials – Video testimonials take the quotes testimonials and go one step further. By hearing the testimonial straight from the beaming face of other customers, your leads will really get to hear why they should try your service or product.
- Interviews – Interviews with customers are especially helpful because they offer in-depth looks at how your product really helped them. This works especially well if you’re targeting local customers, but you can implement this no matter where your clients are. Ask them questions about their experience, and turn it into a standalone page. Make sure to include their unique voice.
- Press reviews – Getting your service in the press is big news–it pops rocket boosters onto the public awareness of your products. Another benefit: if the publication is well-liked and well-trusted, then you’ll probably get a ton of cozy, warm leads from readers who clicked over or hopped into Google. .
Okay, now show me the examples.
Nothing is better than seeing examples from people who have pulled off great testimonials pages, so to help you out, here’s a list of some awesome pages that you can use as inspiration.
Stripe’s testimonial page is incredibly robust. They include the logos of all the companies that rely on their payments service.
But then they go a step further–they have a gorgeously-shot video testimonial with Glossier that features the president of the company himself, Henry Davis.
Glossier has become one of the biggest names in beauty, so featuring an open, enthusiastic testimonial immediately lets other businesses know, “Hey, this would be great for you too.”
You don’t have to create beautiful videos in order to have trustworthy testimonials. But it helps a lot.
The Bic for Her ballpoint pens got a lot of attention on Amazon for their unnecessary gendering of something so ubiquitous. But those reviews are stellar, and incredibly funny.
The very first customer review raves about all of the new and wonderful activities that she was able to take on with the help of her amazing new Bic pen (tongue-in-cheek, but the point still applies).
If you believe in your product, then why not include customer reviews on your site?
Toggl Track is a popular time tracking app that lets you track the time you spend on tasks.
These testimonials are believable because they include real photos, the names of the clients, their jobs, and their location. (Basecamp once ran an A/B test that found including the face of a happy customer increase conversion rates by 102.5%).
Plus, take a look at what their clients are saying: they clearly state the benefit of using the service, and what they use it for. If a customer is looking for a time-tracking app that can analyze the profitability of their own projects, they’ll be more likely to convert.
The incredibly delicious Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken hawker stall in Singapore won a Michelin star two years ago.
The hubbub about the fact that a hawker stall beat out some of the finest restaurants in Singapore helped the small stand’s popularity skyrocket.
The press it received from the award sent bloggers in a frenzy–some of the most popular food bloggers in the region came to try out the food.
The review above, from Daniel’s Food Diary, is objective–it’s the kind of review that consumers can trust. If you’re a solopreneur or small company, collecting these press articles and reviews will serve as compelling proof to your potential customers.
Jack Morgan’s incredible case study reveals the process behind branding Tinycards, DuoLingo’s sleek flash card application.
Potential clients who want to work with Morgan can easily see how he comes up with his ideas, and imagine themselves in the same position as his past clients, Google and Duolingo.
After seeing the results and the incredible attention to detail Morgan dedicated to the app, what business wouldn’t want that for themselves?
He explains, “Tinycards launched to rave reviews in the Tech press and hit the front page of ProductHunt, before going on to win ProductHunt’s Golden Kitty Award for Mobile App of the Year 2016, beating much-hyped apps like Prisma and Houseparty.”
Shopify’s testimonials page includes real examples of how using their service has helped small businesses grow.
Seeing examples of people who have found success often inspires customers, and helps them believe that they can find success as well by signing up.
They also include an interesting feature specifically designed to collect more testimonials: “Share your Shopify success story.”
Why is this helpful? Well, as a service, it can be difficult to find testimonials. By offering clients a platform that provides a clear benefit (more awareness to their brand), Shopify can easily connect with shopowners who can share their story and show how empowering and helpful the service is.
The lesson here? Offer your clients something helpful (a backlink, or something else) in return for their help.
Sometimes, people will tweet about your topic.
If they do, find those tweets and add them to your website.
Embedding tweets lets your leads click right to the person’s account. Seeing real testimonials from real people is a great way to establish trust among your leads.
Hillary Weiss is a copywriter who decided to turn her love for words into a workshop that teaches people how to write amazing copy.
Whenever someone comments on Facebook or tweets about her workshop, she screenshots it and shares it on her own social media.
Since we usually follow people we trust on social media, seeing them recommend something really increases a product’s value and trustworthiness in their eyes.
No matter who you are or what you sell, testimonials are a useful way to really increase customer trust. If you’re selling software-as-a-service, list your product on ProductHunt or another directory.
If you’re selling on an online storefront or have your own website, enable reviews. And if you’re a freelancer, then don’t be afraid to ask for those testimonials.
If you’ve added value for your clients, chances are they’ll be more than happy to help you do the same for new customers.