Customer Testimonials: How to Inspire and Solicit Them

BY Jessica Helinski
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Customer testimonials can be great for lead generation, and now is the perfect time to reach out and request them. A major goal with clients should be to help them “grow to the point where their love of your brand is so undeniable that they start telling their friends and family to become a customer — and they become a brand evangelist to millions of strangers on the internet scouring for honest, trustworthy reviews,” writes HubSpot’s Sophia Bernazzani. And those reviews, she points out, are gold: 85% of people trust online reviews as much as recommendations from friends and family, while 91% check online reviews before buying.

Customer testimonials: How to inspire them

First and foremost, you’ll have the best chance of getting positive testimonials if you’ve invested in building relationships with clients. A solid foundation of trust and partnership are key to getting clients to sing your praises. Also, make sure you have rapport going; you might not have luck randomly calling up a client and asking for a testimonial out of the blue. “Instead, if you're constantly engaging with customers who show interest in your brand, you'll find plenty of opportunities to ask them for a review,” she explains. Keep this practice going so your pipeline of potential customer testimonials stays full. 

You’ve also got to focus on the customer experience. What is it like to be your client? You need to consider this before asking for a customer testimonial. Bernazzani suggests keeping in contact often to gauge how customers are doing, and by implementing feedback programs, you can get a clear picture of their satisfaction and encourage positive feedback. She adds that testimonials really are a reflection of your customers’ journeys. “Testimonials are in-​depth looks into customer success stories,” she writes. “They demonstrate what the ideal customer journey looks like and what strategies you should implement with new customers.”

How to use them

Social proof is one way to get customer testimonials working for you as lead generators. Identify 10 past and current clients and ask for testimonials, videos, reviews, etc. Then, craft those into bite-​size pieces for social media sharing. It’s this social proof that can have a big impact. “Social proof is all about the power of the crowd,so make sure you have lots of different examples of happy customers you can share on social media, your website, and at events,” Bernazzani adds. 

Make sure to use visuals. When it comes to catching attention, imagery can do wonders. Using video can greatly boost engagement with audiences, so consider investing in at least a few videos that showcase customer testimonials and bring their words to life. As she points out, “Whether you make your own video with a few pieces of equipment and software or hire a production company, the video will tell your story across different media, on your website, YouTube, and social media, in a unique and engaging way.” 

When seeking and analyzing customer testimonials, focus on the tangible. Others will be more swayed by evidence of a tangible impact made by your product or service. Seek out specifics, such as how the client’s business was directly impacted, which you can do by asking specific direct questions. Also, emphasize trustworthiness. “One problem with testimonials is that even if they sound great, their authenticity can't be verified because there is no backlink to the reviewer's website or social profile,” she explains. So, it’s up to you to make sure that each and every testimonial or review can be traced back to a real person and give leads that needed confidence.

And, don’t shy away from featuring these customer testimonials. There are so many opportunities to share: email signatures, website pages, LinkedIn profiles, blogs, etc. 

Customer testimonials also work best when they tailor to different personas. As Bernazzani writes, “Testimonials are meant to demonstrate success, so many of your potential customers will look for these types of demonstrated successes from customers like themselves.” Be diverse with whose testimonials you showcase to impact a larger audience of potential leads. Additionally, think of the type of personas that you would like to attract and build case studies to draw in those types. 

These, along with Bernazzani’s other tips, give you a comprehensive look at why customer testimonials are so important, as well as the many ways you can use them to your benefit. The more others can hear from your satisfied clients, the likelier your chances to generate more leads: “Once these people start reading reviews and learning more about your company, they might become leads that are virtually free to generate, who are already more inclined to give you their business because they trust the honesty of your existing, happy customers.” Take advantage of the extra time clients may be spending at home to work on those relationships and request those testimonials.