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Last edited: 22.01.2022
Testimonials are the most powerful marketing and sales tool.
“I don’t know how I survived without this before” — Charlie Customer
Quotation marks, a few words and a name — and you’ve got yourself an ad more powerful than your copywriter could ever dream to create. And your customer did it for you!
That’s the brilliance of customer testimonials: powerful words supplied by the customers themselves and made believable by virtue of social proof.
Customer testimonials are your opportunity to let your customers do your marketing for you.
And they’re not just words. They’re also videos, five-star ratings, before-and-after photos. There’s a format for every imaginable use. And they’ve been proven to work.
In this guide, we will walk you through testimonials and explain how to use testimonials effectively instead of just posting a company logo of your biggest customer on your website.
Continue reading to learn:
Let’s get to it.
Customer testimonials are the honest words of your happiest customers telling everyone why you rock.
Customer testimonials tell the real stories of your customers. The stories of how once upon a time someone just like you had a problem, searched for a solution, found a product, took a chance with it and ended up falling in love with it.
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.
Let’s take a look at one:
Click here to go the testimonial video on Youtube.
Let me ask you something. How did watching that make you feel?
I’m guessing: positive, but in a casual everyday kind of way. And that’s exactly why testimonials are so brilliant:
Words of unblushing praise that still manage to come across casual and relatable. Those are the main ingredients of effective testimonials.
A copywriter wouldn’t get away with this: their words would be seen as untrustworthy. But since testimonials come from real clients, they are trusted. In fact, 72% of people say that they trust a business more after reading positive testimonials and reviews about them.
This is called social proof. It’s people’s natural reliance on their peers’ judgement to show them how to act in new situations. We wrote an extensive article on social proof and you can read it here.
Are testimonials and reviews the same thing? Not exactly. There’s a huge underlying difference.
Reviews are customers’ honest thoughts on their purchase, positive or negative, shared spontaneously. You know, the ones you see on Google Maps for restaurants or on Amazon for any gadget.
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.
This example is from Acon’s website. This is an excellent example of how reviews can also be testimonials. However, the last one written by Benjamin counts only as a review, as it contains some negative aspects as well.
Testimonials are much more than just positive words by your customers. They are actually incredibly versatile. Let’s look into that next.
When we talk about testimonials, we tend to think of those glowing words together with 5 stars somewhere at the bottom of a website. In the B2B context, testimonials are mostly quotes from customers accompanied with their name, photos, title, and company they work for.
But they’re actually much more than that. They range from a few words to longer testimonials.
Testimonials can be:
Here’s one example of a testimonial page from Staria:
When you enter their “Customers” page, you can see that they have included their biggest customers’ logos to boost trust. Furthermore, they’ve benchmarked their ideal target market sections and let you easily filter the relevant one for each user.
Did you notice that green “Videos” CTA there? If you have video testimonials, highlight them because they’re easily your best testimonials in terms of conversions. According to Forbes, videos were already in 2010 becoming the critical information source for senior executives.
In 2022, their meaning is even more highlighted, as we can’t meet people face-to-face like we used to. Give your potential customers the information they crave for: Show them you can be trusted.
Place your best testimonials everywhere: on front pages, landing pages, on dedicated testimonial pages, exit popups, blog posts, outreach emails, social media channels, as a QR code on a lamppost on a street or even on your physical sales presentation booklet.
The use cases for testimonials are numerous. They can be used in both marketing and sales at any point of the sales funnel. They can be the first thing that captures your potential customers’ attention, and they can just as well be the final thing that gets them to finalize their purchase on your website.
If that didn’t convince you on the importance of testimonials, let’s have a look at some statistics to further prove their meaning.
Here’s some hard data to convince you that you need to start using testimonials.
92% of consumers read online reviews and testimonials when considering a purchase.
95% of consumerssay that reviews — both negative and positive — influence their buying decisions.
88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust recommendations from a friend.
What do marketers think?
Well, 89%of marketers say that customer testimonials have the highest effectiveness rating for content marketing. In other words, a good testimonial is one of your most powerful marketing materials.
We’ve now established that:
That’s what we’ll show you in the next chapter. Or if you’re busy to get started right away, start your free 14-day trial at Trustmary, the best testimonial software there is.
There are two primary ways of gathering testimonials:
Option 1 skips the need to create a new testimonial, and instead taps into the many existing testimonials all over the internet. (Yes, there are many.) But this method runs into a number of challenges, such as obtaining permission to use the testimonial as well as the quality and relevance of the testimonial for your purposes.
Option 2 has you reaching out to satisfied customers that might be willing to create a testimonial. You reach out, guide them through the process and do the necessary production work. May seem cumbersome, but it’s actually surprisingly easy and gets you extremely valuable testimonials that are laser-focused on exactly the themes that matter.
Both options have their pros and cons, but there’s one thing that is true to both:
Trustmary is the easiest way to collect both of them.
It allows you to:
Book your demo here to get started.
However, let’s look at the details of the different ways of getting those customer stories for your use in case you want to choose to everything on your own without a great testimonial tool.
You may not realize this, but chances are that there are already many great testimonials and raving reviews of your company and your product or service out there. Trust us, there are opinions expressed about you out there.
Let’s look at them in more detail.
Social media channels are a goldmine for finding customer feedback, including raving testimonials that aren’t overly formal.
People love social media, and they go there not just to observe; they go there to be social, to participate.
That means voicing their opinion, sharing recommendations and tips, complaining and venting, everything. If your product is good or you always give excellent service to begin with, you’ll most likely find great testimonials on social media.
You can find these by simply doing Google searches for your brand name on a given social media. You can also utilize various social media monitoring tools that analyze what’s happening in your social media. The social media platforms’ own analytics tools may be useful too.
The problem with getting new testimonials from social media is that:
You probably engage in some sort of email correspondence with your customers. These emails often contain spontaneous praise of you that you could utilize in your marketing, if you had the permission to use it publicly.
If a customer spontaneously sends you an email thanking you for a lifesaving product, the praise is self-evident.
But even if they’re reaching out to you just to inquire about your shipping methods, you may be surprised at what brilliant copywriting they’re giving you free of charge:
“Thanks so much! You guys have the best customer service on the planet!”
See? Testimonials are everywhere! Again, you have to ask whether you can post that publicly or not. I mean, how many times have you already wondered whether you could use this or that quote on your website, but are simply too shy to ask your customer for permission?
In-person encounters; physical thank you notes from your most dedicated customers; phone calls. Any encounter with your customer may yield words of praise that you can use for marketing. Keep your eyes and ears open.
The third-party review platforms are an obvious source of testimonials. A huge amount of reviews inevitably contains many positive reviews suitable for marketing use.
The usual way to incorporate reviews from these platforms into your marketing is simply to use a widget to embed the reviews as they are onto your website.
The bottom line is that there are plenty of words of praise out there just waiting to be seen. It’s incredibly effective marketing-wise to have even a short testimonial written by a real person.
It’s virtually impossible to build credibility and brand awareness online without using testimonials in some form.
Yes. You can also just ask for them. And this is actually generally the better way to do it if powerful, focused testimonials are what you are looking for. Statistically speaking, 72% of people will write a review if you ask for one.
Asking a stranger for a favor understandably feels a bit awkward.
But here’s the thing: they’re not strangers. They’re your customers, and most importantly, they’re your HAPPY customers. I mean, you’re not reaching out to your dissatisfied customers for a testimonial.
Take a look at this:
Doesn’t seem so difficult anymore, does it?
Your happiest customers already love you and your product, and they have great things to say about you in their minds. Many of them will be willing to share with the public what they think as long as you approach them in a gentle and polite manner, encourage them a bit and make the process easy for them.
You’d be surprised but people actually are frequently willing to appear even on a VIDEO testimonial just by asking them! (With Trustmary, you can also get video testimonials. Just saying.)
Now that we’ve gotten over the fear of asking for a testimonial, let’s look at some other practical ways to do this.
Email is one of the most practical ways of getting your customers to write or record a testimonial — even a video.
The basic template is as follows:
Email is great because it’s so versatile and easy to use. You can tailor personalized messages to different customer segments or even individual customers or automate the whole process. There are software tools, such as Trustmary, that allow for efficient automated email requests using ready-made templates.
Sending an SMS to request a testimonial works largely in the same way as email, but remember to keep the message shorter and simpler. Just get to the point and give them a link to giving the testimonial.
The most effective way to get good testimonials via SMS is to send the request right after they visited your location or bought something from you. If you send out automated mass SMS’, make sure that you’re sending it at the appropriate time, and not, for example, in the middle of the night.
Your website is one of the places to collect testimonials.
Featuring an option to give a testimonial on strategic locations on your website is efficient, because when people are on your website, they’re there for a reason — quite possibly because they like you and are a returning customer.
You can ask for testimonials, for example, in your chatbot or as an optimized popup. Consider offering them an incentive for reviewing you now. You can also try to motivate them by appealing to their core values.
“Are returning customer! Click this link to rate your experience so far to get a -10% discount code for your next order. Your review will help future customers to make better decisions which will help the environment, as there are fewer returns!”
QR codes can be placed anywhere in your physical location and on brochures. They are an efficient way to direct people directly to your review form.
You can encourage people to tell their experiences from their own perspective on your different social media platforms.
It might be a good idea to show them examples of what your company considers to be a good testimonial. In case you have really specific features in your product of service, make sure to mention that you are looking for feedback on them specifically.
That being said, encourage people to be as genuine as possible. Their comments should come from the heart instead of sounding like a written interview.
Remember to thank for each comment you get! You can consider launching a giveaway campaign where you giveaway something once you’ve received a certain amount of testimonials.
Making personal requests might be a little too time-consuming (and it’s most definitely not cost effective), if you’re looking for getting even dozens of quote testimonials for your business.
However, if you’re starting from scratch, being personally in touch with your happy customers can be a good place to start collecting the first ones. After having a handful of testimonials, you can start using them as examples to get some more.
At the same time when you’re collecting testimonials, you can have some really meaningful conversations with your customers about why they’re using your services in the first place.
If you’re trying to get glowing testimonials of your product or service, be precise in phrasing your testimonial request to be exactly what you want.
If your potential customers are mostly interested in your product features and how they function, ask different customers to share their positive experience on each feature separately. Share alongside with your request some testimonial examples that others have provided you to be really specific.
Many companies aren’t using their most powerful tool, customer testimonial, to the fullest. Think about it like this: If all your future customers were to look at your testimonial page right now, would that buy them over? Or would they rather go to your competitor?
Having at least one customer testimonial is a start. Having positive feedback (and even some negative reviews) for each of your product or service components will, however, boost your growth in ways you cannot even imagine.
Because testimonials come in so many shapes (text, video, audio) and sizes (short and long form) they are suitable for many different marketing channels.
Also, their utilization of social proof makes them relatable and suitable for situations where more traditional salesy and pushy marketing wouldn’t be appreciated.
Let’s cut to the chase.
Testimonials are a particularly good fit for social media.
Consider this: as explained in a previous chapter, social media is an excellent source of testimonials, as that’s what people do there — share their experiences.
This naturally means that social media is also the perfect platform for publishing the customer stories you’ve procured yourself. It’s the perfect platform, because the testimonials naturally popup there anyway, as people are telling about the good and bad service they’ve got.
Testimonials and social media really are a match made in heaven.
Basically, only your imagination is the limit. You can use text, video, star ratings, images, and even case study testimonials, whatever you want. Add explanatory text or just leave as it is. It fits well among the non-paid posts and doesn’t stand out awkwardly like paid ads usually do.
Remember to keep the message short. Two or three paragraphs are a often the maximum, where the sentences are short, on-point and each carry a powerful message.
I know what you’re thinking. TV is for the big budget productions — cinematic ads of German cars and Swiss watches.
This is partially true, but not completely. There’s plenty of advertising on television that also tries to be relatable and authentic, not too Hollywoody. Yet the advertising often fails, because it looks — well, like an ad.
A video testimonial fixes this problem. It looks real because it is real.
There are a lot of influencers nowadays that will advertise your product or service on their platform. It can be anything from Instagram to their blog post to creating a whole video series around your brand.
The great thing about influencer marketing is that you get to tap into the followers the influencers already have. However, you need to choose the right influencer to promote your product in order for it to be beneficial for you.
For example, Wello2 is a great example of a company that has tapped into the influencer testimonial game by getting a famous musician, Bernie Shaw from Uriah Deep, to recommend their product on a video. It’s clearly shot with an extremely low budget and Shaw is speaking freely and not acting.
With this material, the product can be further marketed to other musicians.
You can see the short video here.
An easy way to try out influencer marketing is to try to find micro-influencers that have a very niche audience that is also the key customer profile for your company.
Recently, I’ve noticed that many Youtubers have done collaborations with different brands. One great example is Scrub Daddy that produces cleaning products that has started to work together with an extremely popular Finnish youtuber, Aurikatariina, who cleans people’s extremely messy apartments for free.
Aurikatariina cleans to help out people that are in dire need of help, and the apartments are filthy. She has used Scrub Daddy’s products for a long time already, but has since their official collaboration started to clearly highlight different products she uses.
Her channel on Youtube has 1,09 million subscribers and her TikTok account has 5,5 million followers. Those are people that are inspired to clean thanks to her cleaning. And it’s not hard to guess which products her followers are using to clean.
Audio testimonials are a thing too. To hear the excited voice of a real customer instead of the company’s salesperson or of a famous broadcasting voice adds credibility and is sure to get the attention of the listeners’ ears.
People who end up on your website are most likely interested in your offerings, but not necessarily ready to buy yet. They may be in the early stages of consideration: weighing the pros and cons, looking for evidence.
Enter testimonials: a carefully placed, relevant testimonial may serve as an incredibly powerful decision-making factor in the purchase process.
Good places on your website for testimonials include:
You can also utilize your website’s analytics to see where people spend time and consider adding a testimonial there. A/B and multivariate testing are key here.
The content you publish can be a good spot to feature a testimonial in.
As mentioned before, social media is a natural medium for testimonials. You may incorporate testimonials of various kinds, including lengthy case studies into your social media posts.
Your content on your website can also feature testimonials. Consider writing case studies as blog articles or incorporating a quote testimonial as a part of a longer blog post.
The more testimonials you have, the better. Unfortunately, that’s still not enough. You need to constantly figure out better ways to reach your target audience with the right message that speaks directly to them.
At this very moment, your future customers are looking for someone to fix their problem. Make it easy for them to:
A testimonial only becomes a good testimonial when it works like it should: It brings in more leads and customers.
Just like in marketing, the use cases for testimonials are extremely versatile in sales.
Outreach is scary. Cold calling, cold emailing… I’ve got shivers already.
Why not warm it up with a testimonial?
Think of all the times you get an unanticipated email from a company that you’ve perhaps given your email for but don’t otherwise remember much about — you immediately feel annoyed and are tempted to just mark it spam.
But if you do take a glance at it and give it a quick skim, words of assurance from a customer might just make it all feel much warmer.
Let’s quickly go over different types of outreach where testimonials come in handy.
First up is the infamous cold calling. Some think it’s dead, but it’s still here.
When calling your prospects, you should have a fitting quote testimonial ready at hand to be mentioned to the potential customer. Maybe someone from their social circle is your client already or you have an industry leader from their field?
You may have a couple of different ones depending on how the conversation goes — for instance, a short quote for an impatient prospect and a longer one for the chattier type.
Next up, the next worst thing, cold emails.
We all get these and we often immediately spam them if they make it through the spam filter. That being said, if you can grab their attention with a great testimonial, it might be the trick to win them over.
There’s always room for a testimonial in an email. It can be just a short quote or the star of the show. You may also add a touch of graphics such as a star rating and a picture of the happy customer.
3. Social media outreach
Outreach in social media is often not perceived as aggressive as cold calling or emailing. It often feels more natural to get a LinkedIn message from a company that you’ve just started to follow on LinkedIn.
But to maximise its conversion potential, include a testimonial. You can incorporate any form of testimonial including video testimonials in this: simply add a link with the words “check out what *customer* has to say about us!”.
Might be rare in this day and age, but when the opportunity lands to meet a customer in real life, be prepared with a testimonial. Much like with cold calling, have a few different ones ready to be quoted for different situations.
Pro tip: bring the customer with you when meeting with a prospect. Obviously this is usually not feasible, but at networking events you may be in the same event with your own happy customer, and if you can get them to join you when reaching out to potential new customers, let them do the talking!
Always include your happy customers to your sales pitch. Try to include testimonials from people that your prospective customer might know personally to boost the effect.
Keep in mind that not all testimonials work for each company. Different businesses have different challenges and the testimonials you include in your sales pitch and presentation have to be modified accordingly.
Add the most important points for the product or service you’re trying to sell to this particular customer.
Once you’ve reached the stage where you’re about to send an offer, now is the perfect time to add a few quote testimonials or a short video to further convince them to buy your services. You’ve come this far, and you should use all the tricks in the book to get them to say “yes”.
If they aren’t getting back to you and you want to follow-up on them, you might even add a testimonial there.
“Just checking in to see if you’ve made up your mind. By the way, here’s what your old colleague Mike has thought about our services.”
Testimonials make it nearly impossible for them to say no.
Your testimonial page is great, but the real effect comes to play when the sales team is using the testimonials effectively. After all, sales is in direct contact with potential future customers on a daily basis, so it’d be stupid to let the opportunity go to waste to add some credibility by practising a little name-dropping.
Testimonial examples are everywhere in marketing, so you can really make your business stand out by harnessing the sales to spread the word about your company as well.
Do testimonials improve conversion rates on websites?
Yes, as long as the testimonials are relevant. Testimonials have the potential to multiply your conversion rates and they perform well on average. Don’t throw just any testimonial on a random page: analyze the context.
For what kinds of businesses do testimonials work the best?
All types, irregardless of the industry the company is in. The key is to use different types of testimonials for each business and in different use cases.
How much does creating a testimonial cost?
Anything from zero to thousands per testimonial. It depends on what you’re looking for.