No matter what kind of business you run, you’re always going to vouch for your own brand — but what is a prospective customer going to think about this? Probably something like: “Well, duh, of course you’re saying all of these marvelous things about your business. But how can I believe these claims you’re making are actually factual?”
Unfortunately, you’re not always going to gain new clients solely based on giving yourself a good word. Instead of giving potential customers a reason to roll their eyes at your website, give them the support needed to back up these claims.
What kind of evidence can you provide that shows your company is indeed smart, reliable, compelling and efficient? A good testimonial from past clients, that’s what. This form of social proof is a simple way to gain trust at the beginning of your business relationship — but only if your writing is on point.
Here’s how to start writing testimonials that can improve credibility and turn 1 happy customer into even more happy customers!
How to Write a Testimonial
Customers have stories about your brand. To turn those stories into social proof, you need to roll up your sleeves, flex your writing muscles and break the process into 5 simple steps:
- Determine the challenge your client faced.
- Walk through what you did to solve the problem, including a quick product description where relevant.
- Explain how your solution was different from other options.
- Describe your customer’s experience from start to finish and highlight any compelling results.
- Conclude with your overall message, such as a call to action.
Remember, your goal is to show a potential client how your business delighted people just like them — so don’t just talk about yourself, your brand or your solutions. Instead, focus on the relationship you built with your happy customer.
Tips for Writing a Great Testimonial
Although those 5 steps will help you craft testimonials of all kinds, it’s important to keep in mind that you shouldn’t get too formulaic. After all, you want to show your audience that you treat every customer as an individual — which means a copy/paste format or cookie-cutter social proof isn’t going to cut it.
The key to writing a compelling testimonial every time is to think of the process as storytelling. You and your customer are the main characters, and the customer’s problem is the antagonist trying to get in your way. How do you work together to save the day and live happily ever after?
To start framing your story, you need a solid, confident approach to customer communication and research. Here are a few tips to help you get the information you need and frame it in ways that make your customer look like a hero:
Give customers an experience to remember. This one technically takes place before you start working on a testimonial, but it’s an important tip nonetheless. That’s because memorable experiences are more likely to create strong brand relationships, which, in turn, inspire customer testimonials that almost write themselves. For this reason, it’s smart to approach every interaction as a future testimonial — that way, you’re always thinking about how best to serve and delight your customers.
Reach out to your connections. Talk to clients with whom you’ve developed a strong business relationship over the years. These individuals will have great stories to tell and are likely to get excited about helping your company.
Set clear expectations. Your subject will want to know how the testimonial process works, what the end result will be and whether they can review your writing before you publish it on your website. Remind them that they’ll be the hero of this piece.
Get a lot of (specific) information. Gather details including your contact’s name, title and company. Adding the company’s logo is also effective. This information helps flesh out your “main character,” making the customer testimonial more personal for readers.
Ask good questions. Some customers are natural storytellers, while others are less comfortable in the spotlight. To help guide the conversation, be sure to brainstorm your questions ahead of time. Here are a few to get you started:
- What problem were you facing and how was it impacting your life?
- What prompted you to reach out to us?
- If you could choose one word to describe your experience with us, what would it be?
- What does your future look like with our product or service?
Keep things short and sweet. Even if you get enough information to write a whole novel, make sure you focus on only the most important details when writing your testimonial. A long testimonial that rambles on will likely be passed up by your website visitors, according to Orbit Media — so keep things concise.
Be authentic. Authenticity is the underlying factor of credibility. Don’t blow anything out of proportion in customer testimonials — be authentic and factual.
Be visually engaging. No matter the type of testimonial, use images, videos and social media embeds that help paint the picture of the story you’re trying to tell. This makes your content more visually appealing and engaging.
So What Is a Testimonial, Exactly?
Not to be confused with a success story or case study, a testimonial is a creative way to share a statement made by a happy customer who can provide assurance about the quality and value of your brand. It’s a written form of a “thumbs up” provided by someone who trusted your process, felt happy with the end product and is willing to share their experience in hopes of helping you gain more business.
Putting a testimonials page on your website is worth considering. In fact, according to a recent Local Consumer Review Survey by Bright Local, consumers read about 10 online reviews before they feel like they can trust a business. These star ratings can help your business, but an effective testimonial can take things a step further. On top of that, a B2B Content Marketing Trends Report shows that customer testimonials are the most effective form of content marketing to 89% of marketers.
Different Types of Testimonials
You know that testimonials are powerful tools, but which type will work best for sharing customer success? There are so many ways to tell a compelling story, and deciding which one works best will be based on the collateral you have to work with, as well as the unique way you want to share the success.
Here are some of the common types of testimonials to consider:
1. Quote Testimonials
Perhaps the most beloved and common type, quote testimonials are direct words from a customer who was satisfied with the products or services they received.
2. Peer Testimonials
People tend to gravitate toward others who resemble themselves. This is referred to as implicit egotism, and it’s why peer testimonials work. Basically, the person giving the testimony is of similar status to the audience. This type usually includes a visual in the form of a portrait.
3. Social Testimonials
The greatest testimonials are the ones you don’t ask for. This is where social media testimonials come into play. It’s when customers volunteer to write about their experience with your company via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or another social media outlet. This type is ultra organic and can add another layer of credibility to your reputation as a brand — plus, it’s social proof of your successes.
4. Customer Video Testimonials
Letting your customer speak their truth in a video is one of the most authentic opportunities for a testimonial. This is something that’s very difficult to fake. Plus, a great video testimonial is visually stimulating, attention-grabbing and can keep potential customers on your page for a set amount of time.
5. Interview Testimonials
An interview with your client is another authentic route. It’s almost as if it’s a hidden testimonial – if everything goes smoothly, nothing will be forced and the interview will speak for itself. A text interview is one option, but a Q&A via video or audio is often more engaging.
6. Influencer Testimonial
Having a celebrity or social media influencer vouch for your brand is an influencer testimonial. It works because these individuals have a trusted name and can help encourage other people to make decisions, thus leveraging them to consider your products and services. Keep in mind that The Federal Trade Commission requires all formal, paid influencer marketing campaigns to be disclosed.
7. Employee Testimonials
Don’t forget one of your greatest resources: your employees. This type of testimonial gives your team the opportunity to talk about a day in their life, such as what the job looks like or their favorite parts of what they do.
Employee testimonials can be an especially powerful tool as they speak to two audiences at once: prospective customers and would-be applicants. For those seeking a job, an employee testimonial is a great way to show off your organization’s culture and what they can expect from working with you. On the other hand, potential customers can get a first-hand look at how your team interacts and how that collaborative environment will translate into a great experience for them.
Benefits of a Good Testimonial
A testimonial is basically an advertisement that sells your services for you, encouraging potential clients to work with you without beating a dead horse with your own sales pitch. Good testimonials are important because they:
Build trust and credibility. Let past customers share their experience with your company, sharing the answers to the questions potential clients may have. This can fill the void of skepticism and provide credibility for your brand.
Connect with your audience on an emotional level. Emotion-based decision making is common, and it makes sense, according to Psychology Today: “A great deal of your decisions are informed by your emotional responses because that is what emotions are designed to do: to appraise and summarize an experience and inform your actions.”
Boost your persuasiveness. Connecting with your clients on a deeper level also gives you better leverage when persuading them to work with you. Even if you’ve never met with them, you’ll have laid the groundwork for a future relationship by showing them how you’ve worked with others.
Give you a chance to tell a compelling story. There’s a difference between a story and a good story. If you know how to write a testimonial the right way, you can craft a tale your potential customers will remember — one that inspires them to start their own story by working with you.
Build your company’s personality. Although marketers work hard to avoid the pitfalls of impersonal sales language, it’s sometimes easy to forget there are real people behind every social media post, email and service. Customer testimonials pull back the curtain and allow your audience to see that your company is made up of strong, hard-working humans who give your business its reputation.
Increase conversions. Having a page of testimonials on your website is more powerful than you think. When keywords like “trustworthy,” “authority” and “credibility” are used in a testimonial, they become strong signals for search engines for prospective customers. According to VWO, testimonials can increase conversion on your sales pages by 34%.
Our Favorite Customer Testimonial Examples
Looking for some inspiration? Here are a few customer testimonial examples that are compelling and motivational:
Those dealing with acne, both teenagers and adults, understand just how frustrating it can be to find a skincare product that actually works. Proactiv knows how to get people interested in trying their brand: by showing how well it works for people dealing with similar issues. It’s a perfect example of peer testimonials.
On its testimonials page, Proactiv introduces multiple customers who share their journey with acne before and during their experience with the skin care products.
“Whether you’re just starting out on Proactiv or have been using it for years, it never hurts to remember where you started. Real Proactiv users share their untouched before photos as well as their afters to show you just how far they’ve come on their clear-skin journey.”
The brand goes on to share photos, with specific customer details attached, as well as direct quotes.
Why it works: Proactiv evokes an emotional response from readers who want to know how well the products worked for other people who struggled with acne. This makes them relatable and encourages readers to believe the brand is authentic and trustworthy.
Brafton for Family Reach
Here’s an example of one of our own customer testimonials. Family Reach, a financial lifeline for families fighting cancer, reached out to us for content that would help explain what they do and reach a broader audience. Their goals were to sympathize with families in need and help remove the stigma that comes with the financial burden of cancer. With these goals in mind, the Brafton team has created various graphic designs, animations and videos for Family Reach.
In this video testimonial, you learn that Brafton and Family Reach have developed a strong professional partnership.
“What I love most about the Brafton is I feel like I’m working with someone from Team Family Reach,” said Rose Cunningham, Director of Partnerships and Marketing at Family Reach.
Why it works: Getting direct quotes from satisfied clients is valuable, but recording these customers via video breaks down the barriers that would normally eliminate the emotion and passion behind the success. This video clearly shows what the partnership means to Family Reach.
Shopify is an e-commerce platform that helps entrepreneurs start, maintain and grow their businesses. If you browse through their testimonials, you’ll notice they use the interview tactic, which gives their clients a chance to share their personal business stories. By the end of each interview, the customer gives a detailed description of how Shopify helped them launch their businesses, offering other readers a first-hand look at exactly how helpful this launching pad can be.
At the bottom of the page, there’s also a smart tactic for encouraging small businesses to get their feet wet and learn more about what Shopify has to offer. It’s a subscription sign-up that’s cleverly titled, “Be the next Shopify success story.”
Why it works: Interviews give us an enriching, personal dive into a customer’s experience. Plus, the subscription sign up gets an A+. Talk about an inspirational jolt for entrepreneurs.
ChowNow, an online food ordering platform that helps local restaurants connect with hungry customers, has a flawless testimonials page. There’s a quote from a manager, PR manager or owner of each featured restaurant, as well as a video that gives us a first-hand look at the successes these businesses have had with ChowNow.
Why it works: ChowNow’s testimonials page has a beautiful design, but its format is what really matters — all vital information is readily available. For those who are quickly browsing the testimonials as a whole, you get the name of the client, the type of food they serve and a quote from an employee. For those who want more in-depth information on each experience, there’s a video on standby.
The Testimonial Takeaway
Remember: Your No. 1 goal with each customer testimonial should be to improve your reputation on the internet, and your No. 2 goal should be to increase your conversion rates. The more positive feedback you get from past clients who are willing to share their stories on your website, the more likely potential clients will be interested in taking action.
Developing a positive customer testimonial may take some planning, but the review will write itself if you give your clients a memorable experience with your company. Keeping your bottom line goals in mind, remember the importance of building relationships and serving as a trustworthy provider of attractive products or services. This will help your readers — who likely have an interest in your business — keep your company top of mind when thinking of a brand that’s top-notch, successful, respectful and dependable.
Of course, customer testimonials are just one tool in your marketing arsenal. To brush up on all the other ways to communicate with clients and tell crazy-good stories, subscribe to our newsletter today.
Editor’s Note: Updated June 2022.