Testimonials are no longer a “nice-to-have” for small businesses — they’ve become vital to building a reputation, establishing trust and standing out from competitors. Providing these short and authentic narratives from your happiest customers in your sales and marketing can be an effective and powerful way to create more growth.
The best testimonials do a few things, which can really influence the buying decision for your potential customers:
- Establish trust: Having real people endorse you, your business or your product goes a long way toward showing potential customers you’re an expert with an established business and therefore worthy of their time and/or money
- Sell your product or service: Testimonials about a specific product or service — especially the results someone has seen from using it — can be the deciding factor for whether or not someone buys from you.
- Answer frequently asked questions: You probably either know, or can guess, what some common questions or hesitations are about buying your product or service. If you can find some testimonials that directly address those concerns, that can help speed up the buying decision.
How to ask for a testimonial
When deciding what questions and how many questions to ask, consider where and when you’re asking for the testimonial. Here are a few common places to start.
For shorter testimonials:
- After someone buys one of your entry level products or paid lead magnets (under $100 or so)
- After someone attends a 1:1 session, like a coaching session or consultation
- After someone takes a course
- After someone gives you a review
For longer, more in-depth testimonials:
- Repeat customers who have purchased multiple products or a single product multiple times
- After someone buys a high-ticket item, something they’ve invested a couple thousand dollars or more in
- After someone has been a consistent customer of yours (a year or more)
- After someone gives you a review — this can prompt longer testimonials too! Depending on where they left the review and what kind of experience they had, this can be a great time to ask for more in-depth information about their experience with you
Fitting testimonials into the customer journey
To decide how to fit testimonials into your current customer journey, work through the following tips to get clarity on exactly what you want from your testimonials, and the questions you need to ask to get them.
1. Write a few “ideal” testimonials
What would the BEST testimonial ever say? What kinds of things do you hope they point out about you or your business? How does your product or service make them feel? What results did they see or get? How has their life changed? Get clear on a few different kinds of responses that you’d love to get and then try to connect that to some questions that may spur similar responses.
2. Ask questions that drive your ideal responses
You can ask really specific questions! Don’t be afraid to guide your customers toward specific answers. If their results can be easily measured, ask for that measurement (i.e. number of miles run, number of new sales made, percent increase in something, etc.). You can also ask before-and-after questions, to get a sense of changes or results that way. If you’re asking about a specific product, ask about a core feature or concept and how they’ve implemented it in their life or business.
Here are a few questions we ask our customers at Keap:
- How were you operating your business before Keap?
- How has Keap changed the way you operate your business now?
- What was your driving force behind the decision to start implementing Keap?
- What is your favorite feature and why?
- What advice would you give to others who are thinking of using Keap?
- What’s been your biggest success with Keap?
- How much time do you think automation in Keap has saved you?
- Some specific numbers we ask for: before and after of # of customers, before and after of conversion rate, before and after of vacation days taken, before and after of hours worked per week
3. Be super clear in your instructions
People love templates! Give them examples of other testimonials if you have them. If not, you can give them a few pointers, like talking about specific benefits they’ve seen, or prompts to help them focus on specific facts or data that shows their results (I love [your product] because it helped me go from A to B and now I feel [insert awesome emotions]).
And if you’re asking for video testimonials, make sure to include information about filming the video itself. Include details like:
- Preferred format: Landscape or portrait
- Lighting and audio suggestions: Include some easy training like a quick video of you showing your own setup, or link to other resources you support like a simple blog post or how-to YouTube video
- Preferred file format to send it in (.mp4 or whatever you need), how to export to get that format, where to upload it when finished, etc.
- Preferred length: Could be anywhere from under a minute to 10-15 minutes depending on the questions you’re asking
- Prompts that will help you during editing - like begin sentences in a way that includes the question like “I love XYZ company” or “ABC product changed my life because”
4. Ask for video!
Speaking of video, almost everyone has an exceptionally good camera in their pocket these days. If you’re clear in your instructions, you can get really powerful video testimonials without having to shell out the money on crazy production (though I do recommend having a testimonial booth setup if you throw events — but that’s another blog post!)
Having a video montage of customer testimonials can be incredibly powerful on a landing page or sales page. And it will look professional and intentional if they’re all filmed in the highest quality possible and in the same direction.
Plus, if you create video testimonials, that makes it easier for your customer to share with their own audience, or even just friends and family — which can lead to even more referrals.
5. Send to your happiest customers first
Customers love to be included — especially the ones who are already involved in your community. Ask a small group of them for their testimonials first, and invite feedback on the process before sending it far and wide or working it into your automated systems. This will ensure you get the most responses in the best format.
Also, if you’re automating this process, weed out anyone who has expressed they’re dissatisfied, gotten a refund, etc. It’s not a good look to ask people that have told you they didn’t enjoy their experience to share something positive about their experience, so if you have any kind of review process in place, make sure that’s part of the equation.
Create a process for collecting and organizing testimonials
I LOVE a good automated process, especially when it’s as straightforward as this one and has such a huge payoff.
Here’s how I’ve automated the testimonial collection and organization process:
- Build a form: This can be a Google form, Typeform, or whatever kind of automated form to collect responses to all your questions
- Get permission to use their testimonial: You can either include a basic permission checkbox in the form, or for more explicit permission, link to a release form for them to sign and return during the submission process (or in the email where you request the testimonial)
- Keep a field for longer text: Testimonials can vary a lot in length, from a sentence to a few paragraphs. When collecting testimonials, keep the longform text in a field in your database, and have the raw data from your form feed into this field. Include a few open-ended questions — as opposed to yes-or-no questions — so there’s room to expand on an answer if someone wants to.
- Edit responses: Create a new column in your database to edit the long answers into your favorite couple of sentences or quotes. Edit the longform text down to something more short and concise, even taking one really great sentence out of each.
- Create categories: Create a column (or columns) to categorize testimonials by benefit, product, etc. That way, when you’re creating new landing pages or emails and you want to find a testimonial that highlights something related, it’s easy to find! For example, it’s very easy for me, as a person who writes emails for Keap, to find a testimonial from a Keap Max customer about the live events they’ve attended, or from Keap Max Classic customers about why they love the campaign builder so much.
Testimonials are a truly powerful tool for any size business, but especially for growing small businesses that rely on referrals. The better the strategy behind where and when you’re collecting those testimonials, the more powerful they’ll be for your sales and marketing.
About the author
Laura Sills is a Keap customer-turned-employee responsible for overseeing the Keap customer journey. This work is where her love for small business, operations, and all things automation is used to help onboard, educate, and nurture Keap customers as they go through the same experience she did. She also has an equally creative side (and a BFA in art and photography) that allows her to see unique solutions to problems. Laura transitioned to the digital marketing space as the Director of Operations for Ziva, a meditation company based in NYC, where she helped to scale the business by leveraging the power of automation.