Testimonials help build trust, authority and make it clear what kind of clients/customers you want to work with.
Anyone can get a testimonial and add it to their website but getting an effective testimonial can be difficult.
In this episode, we’ll cover…
- What makes a ‘bad’ testimonial
- What makes a great testimonial
- How to get the kind of testimonial that connects to your target market
- What questions you should be asking your clients to get the perfect testimonial
Time Stamps: In a rush? Get to the section you need to below!
0.54 – Benefits of testimonials
2.15 – How testimonials can help attract your ideal clients
2.42- Examples of bad testimonials
5.15 – What kind of testimonial should you be looking for?
8.32 – Avoid web designers with bad websites
12.32 – How to get the answers to these questions without emailing
16.10 – Marcus Sheridan and the power of three
Useful Resources and Links
What To Do Next
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Episode Transcript Below
Welcome to episode 17 of the Make Your Mark online podcast. Today we’re going to be talking about how to get client testimonials for your website, but before we get into the show, this podcast is sponsored by the Make Your Mark online membership. This is our signature membership community where we help personal brands build and grow a successful business website. The doors for the membership are now closed, but you can check out the details at makeyourmarkonline.net and you can join in the wait list and we’ll notify you as soon as we open the doors again in January. So let’s get on with the show. So we’re talking about testimonials. What kind do you need or how to get them. Isn’t that right?
Yeah, it’s absolutely vital that you have some kind of proof of the work that you’ve done in the past. I mean, they help you build trust instantly depending on the type of review, they allow you to show results that you’ve gotten for people who’ve worked with you in the past, which is another great thing that people look for when they’re on your websites and they can actually help you elevate your level of authority. So if you’ve worked with people in the past, their authority is quite high and they’re quite respected in the industry and you’ve got testimonials from them, that can immediately allow you to kind of increase your prices and charge a lot more than your competitors. So they also help on that level as well. They also help you showcase the types of clients you want to attract. We noticed this for ourselves because we like to work with personal brands and we mainly feature, examples of websites we’ve built for personal brands and the testimonials that people have left. So yeah, it really, really helps build trust and authority and allows you to position yourself differently.
Yeah, definitely. And people forget that don’t they? Because I think people just like to collect testimonials and particularly the showcase and the types of clients that you want to work with, some people have testimonials that were given sort of five, 10 years ago from there.
Yeah. Next door neighbor Barbara type thing and your clients or your ideal clients have probably changed a little bit since then. So that’s a really good point. But I think the big question is, and we get asked this quite a lot, is do you people actually trust these reviews these days? I mean, it seems like everywhere you look, everyone has these big boastful testimonials that only promote themselves. I mean, do people actually trust them?
It’s true that not all reviews and testimonials are created equally. They’re not all as effective as one another. And that’s the problem I think, especially for anybody starting out in business. You just want to get some testimonials on there and that’s fine. If you need to ask a friend or a family member, do a little bit of work for them in exchange for a testimonial. Then fine, if you’re just getting started, but if you have an established business and you’ve got reviews like, “Oh, I really enjoyed working with Martin. He’s very friendly and professional and I would highly recommend.” These are the kind of reviews that you don’t want on your website. They don’t offer anything in terms of content or contacts at all and they don’t allow the reader, the visitor on your website to imagine what it’s going to be like to work with you. That’s one of the biggest problems.
Yep, that’s absolutely true. We do see those kinds of fake testimonials all the time. Don’t we? The kind of often nothing and just say, “Oh, this person was really friendly and professional.” And yes, kind of the minimum that I would expect from working with any company. So it’s-
Does that mean the people that haven’t left you a review, don’t think you’re professional or friendly?
Exactly. So it’s not really that impressive as it. If someone says that you’re professional and friendly.
No. But I do feel as though, there’s so many review websites out there like TripAdvisor, like Yell, like all of these other places that have an abundance of these types of reviews. Everyone just cares about the star rating on these websites. I just need five stars. I just need more than 4.5 stars and I want to get my scores up so an abundance of these reviews helps on those websites, but it doesn’t help on your website. We need some actual value here because you don’t have a star rating that everybody uses and funnily enough, every testimonial that you add to your website just happens to be five stars. That’s just … Because you’re not gonna add a three star review to your own website and that’s where this trust thing comes in and that’s why people have a problem sometimes and why sometimes people glaze over when you have 15 reviews that say you’re professional and friendly.
Yeah, definitely. I totally agree with that actually, that there is a difference between TripAdvisor reviews or Yell or whatever it might be, and the reviews on your website you do have control over and it should be about appealing to your potential customer by using those reviews. That’s really interesting. So what kind of reviews are we looking for then?
Okay, so now that we’ve discussed what kind of reviews we’re not looking for, I want you to kind of reframe your mind a little bit really, always remember that people don’t care about how amazing you are. They care more about the results that you can help them achieve. So having 25 reviews on your website that just say you were great is not as effective as having two or three that actually walk people through the story of that client. Actually walk people through the ups and the downs and what’s happened throughout there project and what results you’ve gotten out of it.
Now we don’t want to [inaudible 00:05:49] on kind of a case study here is just a testimonial, but I still want you to think about your client as being the hero of the story essentially, and you’ve probably heard the analogy quite a lot and it is important that you think, this visitor that’s coming to my website, they want to know how this other person, Julie or Bob, what problems were they having before they hired us, what did we help them achieve and what results did they get at the end of it and how are they happier? It’s a tall order actually getting someone to leave your review without some guidance here. And this is exactly why we wanted to record this episode.
Okay. So yeah, you were talking about getting those kinds of reviews from Julie and Bob, but that’s quite difficult to get out of a client, isn’t it? I mean, how do you actually get that good meaty review that’s going to appeal to your website visitor as well? How do you do that?
Well, I’ll tell you what you don’t do. You don’t email them after the website’s gone live or after you’ve finished working with them and saying, “Please can you leave me a few lines of text?”
Like we used to do.
Like we used to do. Yeah. This is the biggest problem. If you are in the routine of kind of emailing them afterwards and just asking a vague question or, “Please would you leave me like a Linkedln recommendation?” That’s fine if that’s what you want, a LinkedIn recommendation or just a general review, but we’re talking about actually allowing your testimonials to act as a little bit of a sales tool. If Bob has had a problem that he’s been struggling with for years and you help him achieve all he’s ever hoped of from his business and his life.
All his dreams came true.
All his dreams came through and is now rich and living on an island. Why would you just say, put his testimonial on your website. That’s great, “It was friendly and professional and it helped me get what I wanted.” You wasted that amazing project that you’ve worked with people on. I mean, especially from our point of view, when we work with clients for months on end, we have lots of different ups and downs and stories to tell and for us to leave a kind of vague review like that it wouldn’t work very, very well. You’ve wasted it. So we actually created a system that we try to use as much as possible and we want to talk to you a little bit about that in this episode, about what you can do to get the answers that you want without manufacturing them, without getting your sister to write them. Actually asking specific questions that you want the answers to that allow you to create a testimonial.
Okay, that sounds really good. So have you got any examples of what kind of questions we should be asking our customers or our clients?
Yeah, I mean it completely depends on your industry and the types of questions that you might ask, but on an overall level, we’re trying to get people to answer questions about, what frustrations they were having, what problems they were having before working with you, what were they really struggling to do that they couldn’t do so they needed to hire you for? And again, this is going to change quite drastically depending on your industry, but for us, for our example, we might say the first question would be, what problems were you having before working with us? Another question might be, why did you hire us? There’re two very different questions there and it’s important that that person answers them individually. For us, we might say, how does your new website solve your original problem? So you’d have to work out what that would sound like for your business.
So if you are a fitness trainer, then how did the new fitness class or fitness regime help you lose all that amazing way that you’ve lost? Another question might be, what results have you got since going live? That might be a question for us. It might be what results have you got since implementing the tips on the coaching call that you had for whatever industry that you’re in? Another question might be how did you find the service you received? So this is a question that sounds a little bit kind of like the previous reviews we’ve been talking about, about actually, what did you like about us? But it actually is a nice question because it allows you to do a little bit of research, what did you like about the service? What didn’t you like about this service?
I’m not saying you have to include all of these different elements in the testimonial, but you might as well get a little bit of honest feedback from your previous clients to ask them, what did you like? What didn’t you like? What can we do to improve? The more questions that you ask like that it shows that you care. Not that you’re just ringing up for a testimonial, it shows you that you’re asking specific questions that will allow you to improve your service. So these kinds of questions are the ones that we’re talking about and they should help you formulate a testimonial that you could potentially add to your website.
Yeah. So we’ve actually had, for my asking these types of questions, we’ve had some really, really good answers that we never would have gotten, just like you said, just from emailing a client. So what problems were you having before working with us? A lot of clients said that they’d had nightmare experiences with the web design industry before and-
… Things that aren’t, and you actually uncover things. You actually discover more things and problems perhaps within your industry or that people are having and you learn so much from these testimonials don’t you? And you start to actually talk to your customers on their level. You really start to listen and understand your customers. So these testimonials are really, really powerful in actually helping you understand your customers and your potential customers. And so they really work very, very well.
Definitely. And this is the important thing as well, is we’re only sort of data gathering at this point. It’s a case of asking the questions first so that we can think about the testimonial second, and this is where we’ve got kind of from asking these questions from a research purpose as well as an information testimonial gathering phase. We’ve got lots of great ideas for content as well. I mean sometimes when we’re in the business it becomes very difficult for us to see it from a brand new perspective, clients perspective. And this is why it’s really important that we ask these questions because it gives us lots of content ideas actually reaching out to people after you’ve worked with them as well. And asking these questions just in general is a good idea. It’s just a great thing for customer service, but we’re talking about testimonials here and it gives you lots of different information that you can use for the testimonials as well as blog content and podcast episode content. Hence, the reason that we’re doing this episode is because of what people ask us this question.
Okay, so I mean we’ve established how good these questions are and that we need to use them, but if we send like a client, someone who’s really busy, like a big list of these questions, it might take a while to get this back up them. What’s the best way of actually getting these testimonials and getting them quite quickly?
Well, what we like to do is shortly after we take a website live, we like to actually set up, a final call with our clients. So we just want to tie a few loose ends. “Are you available at 3:00 o’clock on Tuesday? We just want to give you a quick call.” Or you can do it over video call. We do all our calls over video mainly.” And actually say to them. “Okay, so we just finished the last few bits. This is how you update your website. This is what you do. Let us know if you need anything, but we just wanted to ask you a few questions that we’d like to use in your case study and some testimonials on our website.” Nine times out of 10, everybody’s going to say, “Yeah, of course. Ask me whatever questions you want.”
So you’ve got these questions prepared. You then actually ask them the questions on the call, “So what problems were you having before you worked with us, what were you struggling with, what was keeping you up at night?” Ask them in whatever way that you like, but get the problems that that person was having and the struggles that they were having. And then ask them the other questions as well. The trick with this is to actually write them down or record the call if you feel comfortable doing that. If your client’s happy with you doing that, then record the call or document the answers and then repeat them back to them. “Okay, so you said you were struggling because you couldn’t find a web designer that could build a website within your budget that allows you to have a blog and have all of these fancy features. Okay. So that was the problem you were having.”
Great. You write it down, you repeat it back to them, and then you say, “Okay, so then why did you hire us? What specifically was the reason that you came to us?” And they may say, “I stumbled across a blog post from these people.” And before you know it, you’re creating your own client story with each question that you ask, and by repeating it back to them, they’re not in a haste. They’re saying, “Yes, that’s true.” And you actually go through these questions, create the testimonial, live on the call, and then once you’re done, you just say, “Okay, so I’m going to write this up for you and I’m going to send it to you and I just want you to make sure that you’re happy with it. I’m not going to add anything that you’ve not said yourself, but you ask the questions you want to ask so that you get the answers that you want,” And this works so much better than just relying on them to give you the testimonial.
Yeah, definitely. So these are really, really good points and I think you also have to probe a little bit, don’t you? When you’re on these calls, because we’ve been on calls with clients and let’s say for example, that problem was that they’ve had bad experiences with web designers in the past. You have to say, “Okay, so what effect did that have on your business?” You have to push a little bit further and then they might say, “Well I was wasting so much time and so much money.” And then you start to get to the real core of the problem then. Don’t just kind of take the first answer to the question because they need a little bit of pushing to get the actual answer that’s going to be really good for a testimonial.
So you’ll know kind of what kind of answers you want them to give, but just kind of, really kind of coax them a little bit and ask more questions. Don’t be afraid to ask them, “Well, how did that make you feel? Or was that having an effect on your business?” Ask those deeper questions and you’ll get some really, really good answers out of that.
Yeah. In the past. I mean, I’ve been on the WCC, which is World Class Communication speaking course with Marcus Sheridan and Chris Maa. This is something that Marcus talks about a lot about the rule of three, which is the first answer that somebody gives is usually the surface level answer. It’s only when you ask three times that you really get down to that root cause of the problem.
I know. So it’s like, “Okay, so why did you hire us?” “Oh, well your websites were great.” “Okay, well why did you think that was going to be beneficial?” “Well, I wanted an amazing website for myself.” “Okay, so why is that important?” “Well, because it will allow me to attract my ideal clients.” You get in deeper and deeper and you get in to the real juicy stuff. This is the kind of like proper stuff that everybody wants is just if you just ask the questions, like you said, you’re going to get surface level answers.
Now, those are still pretty good because you’re coming up with the questions yourself, but it makes it more of a conversation. It shows how much you genuinely care about your previous clients. When you’re going that deep and you’re allowing them to uncover their own thoughts and feelings. It might be six months ago that they initially got in touch about our website and they may have forgotten those immediate emotions, those first emotions that they had that made them pick up the phone and call us, and what you’re doing now is you’re bringing those new feelings to life so that they remember and that’s when these people go out and there’ll be like, “It feels amazing that I hired these people. I’m going to recommend them.” And they’re going to be more than happy to let you use this testimonial because you pulled out all of these amazing feelings that they had when they initially got in touch.
This is a very feely podcast episode.
I know. I’m getting emotional right now.
That’s the way we want. We want people to get emotional. Okay. So those are all really, really good points and I think that’s great for actually a written testimonial. How would you go about getting a video testimonial about that? If you’ve interviewed someone, you’ve asked all these questions, would you say, “Okay, that’s great. Would you mind just doing a quick video testimonial just straight after this call?” Or how would you do that?
Yeah, well, video testimonials are absolutely amazing.
Lots of people are afraid of videos. So if you work with people that don’t mind doing them, then literally it is going to be the best thing.
Jump on it.
Definitely. And that’s why it’s so good that we work with personal brands because usually, they’ve got video going in their business and recording in a quick iPhone video is not going to be a problem. It might be different for you and your industry, but more than anything, I mean you’ve got the testimonial there by setting up a call with somebody and asking these questions. All you have to do, what you’re going to have to do anyway is actually put it into a document, something that they can read potentially on a video and the only final step rarely is you’ve got that testimonial in text that you’re going to add to your website.
Why not just send it to them and saying, “Would you mind recording a video?” Some businesses actually hire a video company to go out and sit with the client, actually shoot a video and do it all professionally. So it all depends on what industry you’re in. But for us, our clients generally don’t mind sticking their iPhone on a tripod and actually just reading the testimonial back to you, especially if you’ve gone through the effort of asking these questions and getting to the root cause of why they hired you in the first place and what amazing results that you got out of it in the end. And that’s the important thing. That’s what everybody wants. It’s what results did you get for these previous clients that I can imagine that you’re going to get for me as well? And that’s kind of overarching theme here, is to allow your potential customers to imagine getting the same results for them that you got for your previous clients.
Yeah, that’s a really really good point to end on it. It’s all about how they relate to the testimonial. Definitely. Okay. So I hope you found that episode useful. I thought it was really good there.
I found it useful.
Yeah. I found it useful. I was learning still. I know many of our listeners struggle with this. So maybe now you have a few action points to take away with you. If you didn’t already know, we do actually have a free Facebook group. We’d love you to join it. So head to jammydigital.com/Facebook. We do training, we do free website critiques and we’d love to help you get better results from your website. So feel free to join and say hello. So that’s it for today’s episode. We’ll see you next time on the Make Your Mark online podcast.
Web designer & marketer for small businesses. Martin is an experienced search engine and web design specialist, with over a decade of experience working with large corporations to small businesses.