Successful SaaS businesses know that the most effective marketing does not come from a sales representative, but from customers that are pleased and satisfied with a product, in the form of customer testimonials. According to research by Broadly, posting positive reviews can lead to customers spending 31% more.
Testimonials are powerful because they are viewed as credible and persuasive.
They're also useful for customers too, giving a benchmark about what's good about a product, and any red flags to look out for along the way.
So, this our guide on everything you need to know about how to ask for a testimonial and make it work for your business.
So what is a testimonial… And why should you care?
A testimonial is a written or recorded statement of good or bad feedback about a product you that has been purchased from a business.
Client testimonials help to support business credibility and strengthen reputations by advertising the trust and feedback customers have in your product. Research by Adweek in 2017 found a whopping 76% of consumers were more likely to trust content shared by people rather than by brands.
So, testimonials are good for businesses and customers.
Asking for feedback can sometimes seem daunting but testimonial requests are becoming increasingly common.
One of the easiest ways to collect testimonials is to send out a short satisfaction survey with a couple of questions asking for feedback once the business transaction has been completed (make it clear it is for publication online).
A good example of a testimonial request would be the following:
- What do you think of the design and function?
- How would you rate our response to your order and responding to additional requests?
- Would you recommend our business services for others? If so, why?
If the feedback is positive, ask the client for their comments to be used for a testimony online.
Finding a willing case study for a testimonial can be a harder task, but according to a report in 2016 by the Content Marking Institute it can be effective for attracting new business. Often a satisfied customer will be more than willing to feature as a case study for your site, it may even indirectly promote their business too.
Another easy way to spot a potential testimonial is to look out for grateful email messages or positive comments on social media. It's good practice to reply to these messages and if it is appropriate, ask if you can include their words for a testimonial on your website.
Evidence shows that positive testimonials work. Almost 95% of shoppers read online reviews before purchasing a product according to Spiegel Research Center, as reviews help customers make a decision before a purchase. People make personal choices based on social proof and they tend to follow the actions of other like-minded people that have written positive customer testimonials. For example, research by Deloitte shows 60% of customers believe reviews are as trustworthy as information from family and friends, so don’t be afraid to make a testimonial request.
There are many different types of testimonials which can be used to benefit your business, so be proactive and ask clients for feedback.
Make sure you get it in writing and obtain permission to use the feedback publicly on your website.
Types of testimonials
Testimonial requests can take the following forms:
Case studies can be incredibly powerful.
Research in 2017 by the Spiegel Research Center found purchase likelihood improved by 15% when reviews were verified rather than posting anonymous reviews. So why not invite customers to talk about using your product and the transformation they went through after using it? For example, if a customer has purchased a bed from you and is now sleeping better this is a powerful transformation that can be used to highlight the value of your product. Using a strong case study is an easy way of helping to market a product.
These are perhaps one of the easiest testimonials to ask for, but they can also be easily fabricated. Just like a newspaper quote they are simple and effective and can help to give the buyer confidence they are making the right decision. Adding an image to a quote of a real person can make a testimonial more powerful.
These can make a huge difference but getting an endorsement from a famous influencer is not always easy to do. So be the best at what you do, and you will get noticed by the people that matter. Why not offer people in your industry the chance to try a product instead? If you do have celebrity endorsement or influencers using your products make sure you highlight their testimonials on your website and use them on social media channels.
Social media testimonials
These can work better than traditional advertising. There are 3.2 billion social media users worldwide according to statistics from Emarsys 2019 and that figure is growing. People love to express themselves online from Instagramming pictures of their beautiful food to reporting bad experiences and frustrations with brands. A social testimonial is more effective than quotes because it is possible to see the real person behind the comment. An easy way to get social media testimonies is to ask customers to take a photo using the product after making their purchase. Companies can then embed those responses onto product pages so customers can see what the pieces look like and how they are being used.
Blog posts can be a quick and useful way to display testimonials. Customer stories can be written about in-depth. Similar to case studies but this allows the business to promote a customer testimonial from their own personal perspective. Blog posts can be written by a guest writer or an employee. Hiring a guest worker can make a blog piece seem less biased to the readers. The benefit of blog posts is they can be shared easily online and with other relevant members of the industry.
A video is worth a million words and video testimonials are becoming increasingly popular as a strong marketing tool for business owners according to a report by Forrester, using video and images for testimonials helps to increase engagement with your site and products. Making video used to be expensive and only for companies with a big budget, but now anyone with a smartphone can record their thoughts on a brand and easily upload a video. Video is more powerful than a written testimonial. Some people feel less comfortable being on camera, but you won’t know unless you ask. A video testimonial can be less than 30 seconds, and showcasing positive video testimonials with user-generated content is an easy and cheap way to promote your brand. It's a win-win all-round.
What should your client say in a testimonial?
Testimonials need to paint a picture with words so that customers can see what the benefit is of making a purchase from you.
Testimonials which use detailed and enthusiastic descriptive language tend to work best. This needs to be more than “I love x”.
Incorporate visual elements to make the content more engaging by using pictures, social media feeds and video. This also has the added benefit of proving to viewers that the testimonial is from a real person. Using personal case studies from customers is a strong way of promoting a product. A Q&A format can also work well.
Case studies can help to highlight how a service or product is used and help to strengthen a brand.
Presenting your testimonial on the site
If you make any marketing claims on your website such as trusted or reliable, you have to support those claims with evidence.
A testimonial letter should be a statement of recommendation describing the value of the product or services. The most powerful evidence you can add to a website is a testimonial from a client that has used your services or product. How do you write one?
A good testimonial needs to be short; less than 50 words is best. Testimonials should be direct, impactful and authentic.
Testimonials from a named person including title, company and picture work better than an anonymous review. Use a headshot from the client’s website or social media profiles if you don’t have a picture.
It is good to use the client’s first and last name. If privacy is a concern for the customer, then just use a first name and the first letter of their surname. The more information you have, it increases the credibility of a testimonial.
If the review is from a well-known company, ask if you can include their logo too.
How do you ask for a testimonial?
Sending an request email is very simple:
- Email the client or customer with a clear subject line.
- Start with a polite greeting.
- Explain the email is a testimonial request and why you’re asking them for product feedback.
- Let the client or customer know how their comments will be used and if it will benefit them in any way.
- Let them know how long the process will take.
- Make sure you give a deadline in the email to create some urgency.
- It can be more efficient for businesses to create a testimonial template which can be emailed to clients.
- It can also be helpful to provide examples from other clients.
Be prepared and have these systems in place, and you should be able to make this into a system which you use regularly.
Once you have sent lots of request emails, don’t forget to promote them. Send them to your staff, to new customers and plug them on your social media channels!
Putting testimonials online
Some businesses like to have a page full of testimonials, but some critics say this can result in less traffic. Either way, make sure you place your social proof where visitors will see it.
Put the testimonial close to the product it is talking about.
If you have a testimonial about quick delivery times, place it next to the information about shipping.
Keep the content fresh by adding new testimonials on a regular basis.
The best three places for client testimonials are the following:
- The homepage of a website is usually the most visited page, so it makes sense to put testimonials on the homepage where more people will see them.
- Placing testimonials from clients in a sidebar will help to keep them in view as readers move around the website.
- Having a dedicated page to testimonials can help to keep feedback in one place and also makes it a useful tool to send on when requesting feedback from new clients.
Remember there is always room on your website for new and fresh client testimonials. Most websites do not have enough.
Nobody wants to make a bad decision when buying a product or services. A survey by BrightLocal in 2017 found 85% of people trust testimonials as much as personal recommendations from friends and family members.
The evidence shows consumers rely heavily on client testimonials so make them work for you and your business by making sure you ask for them. A testimonial request might just bring you a new brilliant review.
Word of mouth or social proof is important because it allows a business to learn through reviews and make changes to better the customer experience. Happy customers may then tell other people about those good experiences.