reviews vs testimonial definition

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We need to talk about reviews and testimonials.

The terms ‘review’ and ‘testimonial’ are sometimes wrongly used interchangeably. After all they’re both types of social proof, right?

While reviews and testimonials both are the ‘voice of the customer’, there’s more to these expressions of esteem than meets the eye. 

Fear not, though.

We at Trustmary will gladly be your guide as we explore the differences between reviews and testimonials.

Defining ‘Testimonials’ and ‘Reviews’

Definition of ‘Testimonial’

testimonial definition

According to the Collins English Dictionary, a testimonial is: 

Noun:

1.  a statement testifying to a person’s qualifications, character, etc. or to the merits of some product, service, etc.; letter or statement of recommendation

2.  something given or done as an expression of gratitude or appreciation

A testimony or testimonial has many purposes.For example, a former employer may give testimony to a person’s character and work ethic. 

We, however, are discussing customer testimonial: 

A customer testimonial is a recommendation of a business, or the quality of a product or service, by a customer. 

HubSpot’s definition of ‘testimonial’ goes into more detail: 

“A testimonial is an honest endorsement of your product or service that usually comes from a customer, colleague, or peer who has benefited from or experienced success as a result of the work you did for them.”

Our Ultimate Guide to Collecting and Using Testimonials states:

“More technically, a testimonial is a snippet of text, video or audio used for marketing purposes in which a satisfied customer shares their experience with a product or service and recommends it to the reader/viewer/listener.”

Testimonials provide social proof: this idea that people copy the actions of others to conform or be accepted. 

With 88% of consumers saying that they trust online testimonials and reviews as much as recommendations from friends or family, it’s no surprise that companies request testimonials as evidence of customer satisfaction. 

Testimonials are collected by asking satisfied customers specific questions that explore before-and-after comparisons, impact, or provide specific improvement statistics.

Definition of ‘Review’

review definition

From the Collins English Dictionary, a review is:

Noun:

1.  a looking at or looking over again

2.  a general survey, report, or account

3.  a looking back on; retrospective view or survey, as of past events or experiences

While a review may be a general retrospective of a past event or experience, a customer review is a specific account from a customer given for services or products. 

HubSpot explores customer reviews in more detail: 

“A customer review is a written reflection of a customer’s experience with and feedback on your company’s products or services. Reviews are found on sites such as Google Reviews, Amazon, Yelp, and social media.”

Customer reviews are honest. Brutally honest in some cases. 

67% will consider leaving a review for a positive experience, while 40% will consider leaving a review for a negative experience.

Which means your customer reviews are a true reflection of what your customers think of your brand. 

Review sites are a good source of customer reviews, and because of the nature of these sites, take the format of a written statement. 

Good practice is to monitor review sites and respond to all reviews, where possible. Our helpful guides can help you create the perfect responses to both negative and positive reviews.

While companies have little control over what is being said about them on third-party sites, they can also solicit their own reviews to get feedback or to use for marketing and sales purposes

Key Similarities and Differences Between Testimonials and Reviews

Testimonials and reviews are both types of social proof. 

What’s more they’re both examples of user generated content: content, whether video, text, images, gifs etc, that is created by users and posted online. 

Marketing guru Neil Patel sums up the difference between reviews and testimonials nicely: 

“A customer testimonial is basically just a customer review. The difference is you actually ask the customer to write the review for you if you know they are satisfied with your product or service.”

Or as our Ultimate Guide to Collecting and Using Testimonials points out:

“Reviews are customers’ honest thoughts on their purchase, positive or negative, shared spontaneously.

“Testimonials, on the other hand, are exclusively positive customer stories collected specifically for marketing purposes. They can simply be picked out from a bunch of reviews or they can be requested from the customers on the company’s own initiative.”

differences between review and testimonial definition

Book a meeting with the Trustmary team to find the best way to utilize reviews and testimonials from your satisfied customers. 

Examples of Testimonials

Video testimonials

A video testimonial is a formal statement attesting to the quality of your brand, using one of the internet’s fastest growing mediums.  

Cisco estimated that  82% of global internet traffic will come from video in 2022.

Why?

  • Video is much easier to digest than text. Viewers retain the information they’ve seen in a video for much longer than audio. 
  • Video testimonials tell a narrative and convey social cues such as emotions, gestures and facial expressions, resulting in a much more engaging and human experience for your customers. 

Satokausikalenteri uses video testimonials to show the experiences of happy customers and aid purchase decisions. 

satokausikalenteri video testimonial example

Puustelli USA uses high quality video testimonials to share social proof about its high end kitchens. 

usa puustelli testimonial

Written Testimonials

A written testimonial is a written statement, done as an expression of esteem about your product or brand. 

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but that’s no reason to ignore those words!!!

Here are 3 reasons why:

  • 92% of people will trust a recommendation from a peer, and 70% of people will trust a recommendation from someone they don’t even know.
  • Using customer testimonials regularly can generate approximately 62% more revenue

Written testimonials are easy to collect and can be used in a variety of marketing channels like your homepage, brochures and on social channels.

Other Types of Testimonials

Audio testimonials are snippets of audio where a customer recommends your product or service.  

Case Studies  are longer-form narratives where customer discuss the problem they had, the solution your business provided, and the results 

aTalent Recruiting provided an in depth case study on how they use Trustmary for our website:

aTalent recruiting case study

Social Testimonials are testimonial content displayed on social media channels, such as tweets, videos on Youtube or TikTok, Facebook and Instagram posts.

Uber uses in app ride reviews as part of its Five Star Stories campaign on Instagram:

uber social media review

Social testimonials aren’t just the realm of big consumer brands either. 

Boutique solicitors Francis Hanna & Co have turned social testimonials into a social media campaign with the #feedbackfridays hashtag:

francis hanna testimonial example

Influencer or Celebrity Testimonials are typically paid collaboration (but not always) where a person in a position of influence endorses your brand, and in some cases advocates for them

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s testimony to the integrity of the Under Armour brand helped the clothing brand weather a crisis:

under armour example testimonial

Find out more about how you can use testimonials in your own marketing or try it out yourself with a free Trustmary trial. 

Examples of Reviews

Product or Service Reviews

We’re all used to seeing reviews of products and services – in fact 93% of us read online reviews before buying a product!

With this in mind, companies that utilize customer reviews see a marked increase in conversions.

Detailed reviews on your website bring 3.5 times more conversions than those without.

Tech company Kaisanet publishes reviews directly to their website, which have received more than 48K views in a year

kaisanet review example

Cosmetic retailer Sephora publishes ALL reviews for all its products on its website – I mean everything, the good, the bad, and the ugly!

sephora product reviews

Company Reviews

Reviews about companies are used to build trust. 

Using reviews in this way is a particularly useful tactic for small or new businesses, who can utilize social proof to gain initial traction. 

Punk Pasta opened in February 2022 in London and already has a 4.5 star rating on Google Reviews:

restaurant review example

Our Guide to Online Reviews explains why EVERY business can benefit from reviews

Social Media Reviews

On average, we spend 2 hours and 25 minutes a day on social media, so it makes sense to display reviews in the one place where your customers spend most of their time. 

See how Continental Tyres uses Instagram stories to share great reviews about their tyres:

Our Ultimate Guide to Reviews outlines how to get reviews and how to make the most out of them.

Conclusion

Testimonials and reviews provide much needed social proof for all kinds of businesses, but that’s where the similarities stop. 

A testimonial is a sought-after expression of esteem with the main purpose to use for marketing, whereas reviews are honest testimony to the experiences customers have with brands. 

Both reviews and testimonials can help build trust in your product and can be used across multiple channels and points in the customer journey to drive conversions. 

Learn more about testimonials and reviews, or speak to a member of the Trustmary team to find out how testimonials and reviews can help your business grow. 

FAQ

What is a review?

A review is an honest account of your company, service or product, given by someone who has experienced it. 

Reviews are usually written, can be collected by a company or a third party and can be positive or negative. 

What is a testimonial

A testimonial is a recommendation or endorsement of your company, product or service, usually collected by the company for the main purpose of marketing. 

A testimonial comes in many formats, including video, written, or case studies. 

What is the difference between reviews and testimonials?

Generally speaking, a testimonial is a personal recommendation of a product or service, whereas a review is when someone expresses their opinion, whether positive or negative.

Positive reviews can be used as testimonials and both provide social proof. 

How are testimonials and reviews used in marketing?

Testimonials and reviews show potential customers that previous customers have enjoyed using the product or service, building trust in the brand. This is known as social proof.

Marketing teams can utilize social proof along the customer journey to encourage purchasing decisions. Our handy guide shows how you can use social proof, or more specifically, testimonials and reviews in your marketing strategy. 

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