Learn seven best practices for gathering and using customer reviews and client testimonials on your website and as part of your marketing and promotions.
Using client testimonials and customer reviews on your website and in your marketing can be an incredibly powerful tactic to boost sales conversions and get new clients — but only if you use them the right way. Not every testimonial is equal and not every review is helpful.
Here are seven best practices for gathering reviews and testimonials you should always follow:
Seven Best Practices
1. Never Ever Fake It.
Always use real customer reviews and client testimonials with the appropriate attribution. Never make up fake reviews or testimonials for a quick boost in sales or to position yourself or your business inauthentically. Testimonials and reviews are used to build trust and establish credibility and publishing fake reviews will destroy your credibility, eliminate trust, and tarnish your brand reputation. The risk that comes with fake testimonials is just not worth it.
2. Use Names And Photos.
When featuring reviews and testimonials, include the person’s full name and their photo for the best results. Without full names and photos, reviews often feel fake even if they’re not, but highlighting real people they can see will accelerate trust-building and allow prospective buyers to more easily connect with the stories and experiences being shared.
If you’re in a sensitive industry where your clients or customers are happy to provide a testimonial but don’t want their full name or photo shared, include a disclaimer that says something like: “Our clients are happy to share their experience working with us, but due to the personal and sensitive nature of our work, only first names are being used to protect their privacy.”
3. Stay Focused.
When collecting testimonials and reviews, it’s best to keep the source of the testimonial and the content or story focused and to the point. The reviews and testimonials featured on your website and in your marketing materials should help move a prospect to a buying decision. For example:
If your buyer persona is a woman, age 30-50, living in the suburbs, don’t seek out testimonials from city-living, twenty-something men. Instead, seek out testimonials from women who fit your persona so prospects can see themselves in the stories and better connect with your brand.
Also seek out reviews from customers who solved a specific problem or challenge with your product, program, course, or service. Ideally, the reviews you feature will speak to a common problem your ideal clients or customers have, which again will help prospects identify similarities between the review and themselves.
Client testimonials and customer reviews that are off-topic, too general, or not in alignment with who you are targeting with your marketing efforts aren’t going to help as much as you may think.
4. Ask For Details.
When asking a client or customer for a testimonial or review, be as specific as possible with your request so you get a specific result in return. Reviews that say, “I love this product,” or “Jennifer is amazing,” isn’t helpful for anyone. For testimonials to be effective, they need to tell a story and communicate specifics. For example:
“I learned so much in this course,” is general and unhelpful, while “What I learned in this course helped me land three new clients in one week,” is specific and very helpful.
To get reviews and testimonials that tell a story, you need to ask your clients and customers to not just provide feedback, but to answer specific questions about their journey, so they share where they were before, what they experienced, and where they are now/after.
5. Promote Your Client.
When asking your client for a testimonial, remind them that this is also an opportunity to brag it up and promote themselves a bit. While you want them to share their experience working with you, it’s also best to get a bit of background on the person giving the testimonial. Invite your clients to include who they are, what they do, and who they serve. This gives prospective clients more ways to connect with the testimonials being shared, see themselves on the same journey, and make a buying decision.
6. Edit But Not Too Much.
There are times when you’ll receive reviews and testimonials from clients with spelling and grammar errors, funky punctuation, the wrong words, and all sorts of extra background content that isn’t relevant. It is more than okay to edit a testimonial to fix glaring typos, grammatical errors, and replace a wrong word with a right word so your client can feel smart and proud of their feature. It’s also okay to edit a testimonial for length as long as the edits don’t change the meaning or context of the testimonial.
If editing testimonials or reviews, be careful not to edit them too much — they need to remain in the voice of the client or customer, using their words, their writing style, and their voice.
7. Use Them Everywhere.
If a client takes time to provide a testimonial or a customer puts in the effort to write a review, be sure to use it! Add it to a reviews page on your website, sprinkle them throughout your sales pages, and use them in your marketing materials.
Grow A Profitable Business With Testimonials And Reviews
Client testimonials, reviews, and stories are critical in growing a profitable freelance business or digital agency. They help you stand out in a crowded market and show others how you’re different or better than the competition, they reduce risk and skepticism with honest, real social proof, and they give prospects an opportunity to emotionally connect with your brand and see themselves in the stories shared.
But you have to ask for them.
As you move forward, I urge you to set up a process for collecting client testimonials and customer reviews and consider automating it. It’s a beautiful thing to receive a glowing testimonial from a happy client without having to ask for it!