Testimonials are a great way to build trust and credibility with your audience. But sometimes, the word can feel a little bit ambiguous.
The word “testimonial” has multiple meanings in different contexts, and it has close relatives in the field of marketing.
This blog explores the different meanings of the word “testimonial” and offers some synonyms to use in marketing.
Here’s a table that presents different definitions for testimonials from different dictionaries.
|A statement testifying to benefits received||Merriam-Webster|
|A character reference: letter of recommendation||Merriam-Webster|
|An expression of appreciation: tribute||Merriam-Webster|
|A statement about the character or qualities of someone or something||Cambridge|
|A formal written description of someone’s character and qualities given by a previous employer||Cambridge|
|A formal written statement about the qualities of a product or service||Cambridge|
|Proof that something exists or is true||Cambridge|
|A sports match where part of the profit is given to a player or their family||Collins|
|A written or spoken statement in which you say that you used a product or service and liked it||Britannica|
|A written or spoken statement that praises someone’s work, skill, character, etc.||Britannica|
|An event at which someone is honored||Britannica|
We can conclude that testimonial as a word is used at least in the following contexts:
Here are some more words that are associated with testimonials. They come from the previously stated various categories and contexts.
Testimonial synonyms according to Thesaurus:
Judging from the list above, testimonials are something grand!
We believe so too, and that’s why we have created an awesome tool for collecting and utilizing testimonials.
Why not check it out?
We have explored the different meanings of testimonials. Ultimately, we want to focus on the sphere of marketing.
The idea of testimonials is to showcase what your happy customers say about your business.
There are multiple alternatives to testimonials that fall under the same purpose.
Let’s have a look at some examples.
Not all reviews are testimonials, but some testimonials can be reviews.
We have a separate article that explores the difference between reviews and testimonials, but in a nutshell:
|Exclusively positive||An honest opinion, be it positive or negative|
|Often published and displayed on company’s own channels||Can be found on external review sites like Google, Yelp, Trustpilot, Facebook and so on|
|Planned and intentional||Spontaneous|
Common for the two is that both are user-generated content, and valuable for the business nevertheless!
Here are two examples of a classic star review from a review site, one positive and one negative:
As you can see, the above positive review from Jane is something that could be regarded as a testimonial.
The business owner could very well use Trustmary to import the review to their own website 😉
Someone’s experience was not great, and they are not afraid to tell that in the review. Bad reviews are inevitable, but it is the company’s call whether they try to fix the situation or not.
Case study or case story is a more elaborate version of a testimonial.
In a case study, a (business) client speaks about their positive experience about a company’s product or service.
The story can go more in-depth about the client’s profile, pain points, and how the collaboration has helped them overcome challenges and reach tangible goals.
A case study can consist of multiple media affordances, like text, audio, video and images.
See this example by aTalent Recruiting.
It consists of an article with images as well as a video.
When you apply for a job, you might be asked to provide references, aka people who can attest your character and abilities.
The same idea applies to marketing. A satisfied client can act as a reference for a company’s product or service.
References are often given in a form of reference letter, which is quite formal compared to a testimonial. They can also be sent directly to the person who is requesting reference about a company.
Here’s an example provided by The Balance Careers:
A recommendation is a suggestion that someone should do something, or advice that something is good and suitable for a particular situation.
Imagine you are looking for a good movie to watch next weekend. You are probably going to ask for recommendations from friends and family, or even online.
The chances are that you will watch a movie that is recommended by other people.
This applies to business as well: when someone states that they recommend others to use your service, you are more likely to get new customers!
Endorsement is closely related to reference and recommendation. It is the act of supporting and giving visibility for a product or service.
Think about LinkedIn: you can give endorsements to other users about their skills, meaning that you have witnessed their skills and can state that they are good.
In marketing, an endorsement is often done by celebrities or influencers as part of collaboration. For example, many athletes (like Michael Jordan below) get paid by sports brands for endorsing products.
Even though the word endorsement has the connotation of being paid to recommend products, endorsements can still be genuine.
If you thought that testimonials can only come as snippets of text, you are mistaken.
Testimonials can be made in different ways. Video testimonials are one of them.
Video testimonials convey emotions and nuances in a different way than plain text. They also require the customer to show their face, and when one is willing to associate with a business like that, it is very convincing!
Don’t you agree after taking a look at this video testimonial example?
We hope you understand the concept of testimonial better now, and know where it stands compared to other similar genres.
Before you go, hear this out:
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What is another word for testimonials on websites?
Testimonial has many synonyms from different contexts. In marketing, close terms for testimonial are e.g. review, endorsement, and recommendation.
What does testimonial mean?
In marketing, testimonial means that your satisfied customer tells about their good experience.
What is the difference between testimonials and reviews?
A review is a spontaneous and honest opinion made by your customer. It can include positive or negative feedback. A testimonial is an exclusively positive review and recommendation that your happy customer provides. Here’s more on the difference between review and testimonial.