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90% of people are way more likely to believe what your customers have to say about your company than anything you could come up with on your own. Top-notch marketers know this and use it to their advantage as much as possible.
From referrals to reviews, if you can control the narrative around your company, you’re well on your way to exponential growth. One way to do that is to gather testimonials from happy customers.
Getting your hands on these golden nuggets is easier said than done, so let’s take a deep dive into what makes a great testimonial, and how you can ask for ones that make a big impact.
What Makes a Great Testimonial?
When your clients have lots of good things to say about you, they’re primed and ready to give you a killer testimonial. This statement or recommendation explaining their experience is a dream come true for marketers because it lets you brag about your company while building trust, credibility, and social proof.
However, if someone just says “This company is pretty cool!” that won’t get the best results. A truly exceptional testimonial will have some combination of the following elements:
- Specificity - How exactly did you solve their problem or improve their life? Details make testimonials relatable and believable
- Results - Highlight the benefits your company gave the customer, from increased sales, to improved efficiency, and beyond. The more tangible evidence it provides, the better
- Authenticity - There’s nothing easier to spot than a made-up testimonial. Any promotional language or fakeness will be clocked and turn potential customers away
When users can bake these elements into their testimonials, companies can see a 34% boost in conversions.
The Art of the Ask
If it were as simple as saying please, everyone’s business would be inundated with countless glowing testimonials. It takes craft and skill to ask for testimonials in a way that keeps your current customers happy and gives you the best chance at success.
As with any social interaction, there have been tons of studies done by psychologists to get to the core of a persuasive ask. They’ve managed to find a list of factors that help make even the most difficult requests feel convincing.
- Start With Relationship - If you want to influence someone in one way or another, you’ll want to build a base of trust and connection. The more engaged you are with your customers, and the longer you’ve worked with them, the easier it will be to convince them to write a testimonial
- Speak Their Language - Take time to understand your target audience and meet them where they are. If they use a formal tone when speaking with you, mirror that. Alternatively, if they regularly send you gifs of wacky cats, give it a try
- Enter With Confidence - If you believe it, they’ll believe it. You know these folks have nice things to say about your team, and you know their word could have a huge impact, so bring that energy to the conversation
- Offer Reciprocity - Tit for Tat. This is where a well-curated reward for testimonials can go a long way
- Build Up Credibility - You’re far more likely to get people’s trust and win them over when they think of you as an authority. If your business has consistently delivered good work, strived to innovate, and worked to become a thought leader, you’ll have your customers’ hearts
Coming into a conversation with these factors in mind will give you a huge leg up when it comes to getting testimonials from your customers.
When Do You Ask For Testimonials?
No matter how convincing you are, going in for a testimonial at the wrong time is a one-way ticket to a sub-par statement. The goal is to strike when the iron is hot. If customers are already thinking - or even talking - about how much they love your company, they’ll have no problem crafting a stellar testimonial.
A few excellent times to broach the topic are when:
- You’ve made a sale or finished a service
- The customer has had time to see the value of a past purchase (think a week or two post-purchase)
- You spot them praising you on social media
- They drop a compliment or two in a conversation with you online or in person
The more touchpoints you pepper with requests for mini testimonials, the more feedback you’ll receive. This builds your pool of glowing comments to pull from while making deeper connections with your users.
Best Practices For Getting a Testimonial
It can be nerve-wracking to ask for a testimonial from someone, especially when you aren’t entirely sure how to get the conversation going. Here are some of my top tips for crafting a request that works every time.
Tip One: Make it Personal
As helpful as templates can be, if your customers feel like a random box you’re checking off your list they are not going to feel like writing up a testimonial for you. Take time to personalize your request by using specific details about the person you’re asking, and make sure they know exactly why you’re looking for their input in particular.
Tip Two: Make It Simple
The easier it is for your customers to write a testimonial, the more likely they are to do it. You can simplify the process for them by
- Sending a sample testimonial for them to reference
- Offering prompts and open-ended questions
- Creating a template they can fill in
These help eliminate any writer's block or anxiety for your customers and make it easy to say yes.
Tip Three: Know What to Ask
Some questions are going to get better results than others. Whenever I want excellent testimonials that boost conversions, here are some things I ask.
- What big issues were you dealing with that led you to our company?
- How did our (product/service) help you address that issue?
- Do you have any specific stats and results we can see?
- If someone was unsure about our company, what would you say to them?
- Is there anything you’d like to add?
These kinds of open-ended questions are sure to get you a convincing testimonial and help folks know what information you’re after.
Tip Four: Mix it Up
Different people are going to feel more comfortable expressing themselves in different mediums. Maybe one of your customers is better at talking out their ideas than having to write them down. Or someone might only have the time to throw together a quick social-media-sized text.
Giving them the option not only makes them more likely to send something in, it also gets them excited about the process.
Tip Five: Make It Worth It
85% of customers name incentives as a major motivator when they give feedback to companies. You’re going to make your marketing pop with these testimonials, it doesn’t hurt to send a little positive energy back down the line.
This could mean offering a discount, free merch, or exclusive VIP treatment. Whatever you choose, make sure it's something that will be exciting for your audience. This can be yet another reason they love to rave about your company!
Testimonials and Referrals: Sides of the Same Coin
The great thing about breaking the barrier and asking for a testimonial is that it opens the door for collecting other forms of social proof and word-of-mouth marketing. If someone is already referring your company to a friend, they’ll probably be super excited to offer a testimonial, and vice versa.
Both referrals and testimonials can be most effective when collected from customers who
- Have told you repeatedly how much they love your company
- Made a purchase recently
- Have worked with your company for a long time
- Regularly leave positive comments and reviews online
- You’ve helped with a specific issue
What’s more, these two asks can feed into each other in the long run.
If a customer can articulate their love of your company through a testimonial, they’ll be that much more successful when it comes to getting referrals. You can take testimonials and give them to referrers as a resource, helping you bring in more new customers.
On the other hand, if someone has been bringing in lots of referrals, they have already learned how to explain how wonderful your brand is! Harness that passion and turn it into a well-crafted testimonial.
Savvy marketers can even fold testimonials into their existing referral program, offering bonus rewards for those who can provide the perfect snippet.
The Bottom Line
A great testimonial goes beyond a simple positive review. It’s authentic, specific, and meets potential customers where they’re at. If you’re going to score truly impactful testimonials, you have to understand what gets your current user base excited, and what they want to talk about.
When you approach satisfied customers like people and engage with them beyond asking for praise, not only will you get great success stories from them, you’ll deepen your relationship with them and build brand loyalty.
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