Before we can dive into what makes an effective testimonial, let's talk about the types of testimonials that you do not want for your business.
1. Testimonials from people who don't know what they're talking about
Sometimes you'll get clients who are kinda faking the funk- and that's fine. Some people believe in faking-it-until-you-make-it and that's what keeps them going. However, their testimonial may not always be useful.
For example, when I asked for decent sushi places and I got recommendations from people who have never actually eaten sushi outside of California rolls they bought at Walmart. That's not exactly the best testimonial to get.
You can tell someone doesn't really know what they're talking about, because their testimonials are usually vague and filled with words like "good," and "awesome" and "amazing."
"This service was so good!"
"This food is amazing!"
"This design was beautiful!"
"She did such a great job!"
You get the point.
It doesn't really tell you anything.
2. Testimonials that don't match the result
Sometimes people will write you testimonials to be nice, but they may not have received the result that they were looking for.
And that's not always your fault.
Like, if someone was looking to hire you for website design, but what they really needed was a copywriter to help write their sales page.
Or if someone hired you to help put their Instagram account together but what they really needed was business branding.
They might be completely happy with what you did, but it didn't really positively change anything in their business.
You don't want testimonials from these clients, at least, not now. If they wrote you a glowing review on your website design but everything says "under construction" because their copywriting wasn't in place, it makes your work look disjointed and incomplete (even if it's not your fault!)
Your testimonials should put your best work forward, with a way to show the potential client the whole end result.
3. tESTIMONIALS FROM CLIENTS YOU DIDN'T LOVE WORKING WITH
A testimonial from a client you didn't like will attract more clients like that client.
So if you hated working with Joe because he was slow to respond and was always missing deadlines, making you miss your deadlines, you know that this is something that reflects in Joe's business.
And Joe is going to attract people that are just like Joe. People flock to others who they can relate to.
When people see Joe's testimonial on your website and they're one of Joe's people, you're most likely going to have the same experience with that client as you did with Joe.
I believe that all testimonials have some sort of weight to them and when you're using testimonials from clients you didn't enjoy working with, you're going to bring in more clients you don't enjoy working with.
Asking for the testimonial
Now that we've got the "do not do" out of the way, let's talk about getting a testimonial.
Who to ask
Ask your favorite clients. The dreamy clients. The clients that you wish you could clone and duplicate and have a million of.
You know, the client that when you were done working with them, you sent them an e-mail that said, "IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE I CAN DO FOR YOU PLEASE LET ME KNOW," aka please don't go and never ever leave me.
We talked about not asking clients who you didn't enjoy working with, so logically, you want more clients that you did enjoy working with.
You also want to ask clients where you really did something impactful in their business. You helped them get more sales or you completely overhauled a part of their business for them. These are definitely good clients to ask.
When to ask
If you're working on a project by project basis, the end of the first project would be a good time to ask for a testimonial.
If you're working on a retainer basis, I generally wait for six weeks.
Four weeks seems like when they'll get a good feel for your pace and whether they'll keep you.
By six weeks, they should have an idea of who you are and how you work.
You don't need to wait months or years in order to ask for a testimonial.
How to Ask
This is the part that makes most people freeze up because we hate asking for things. But you need to ask for that testimonial because testimonials are as good as cash, especially when it's a testimonial from someone who has a large following or is close to your passion.
There are three ways I ask for a testimonial:
- If it's a project, I will send a closing e-mail and attach a link to the testimonial questionnaire on it.
- If it's a retainer client, I will actually straight up just ask, "Hey, is it okay if I send you a testimonial questionnaire?"
- I ask for feedback through a 6-week check-in survey and then within that survey, ask for a testimonial.
So you might be wondering, "Whaaa? A questionnaire/survey? That's so much work." No, bear with me. Here's the thing- a lot of clients are going to just write you a testimonial that's super vague and says, "She's awesome. She's so great."
You don't want that.
But people are terrible at coming up with things on the fly.
Have you ever tried to write an e-mail or a blog post and then ended up just staring at that blank document with the blinking black line, waiting for the paper to be filled with words?
That feeling of, "I don't know what the write," will come over your client, even if they love your work. Writing effective testimonials is an art, not something that comes naturally.
You must prompt your client.
To do this, create some sort of survey or questionnaire. You can use:
- Google Forms
- Typeform (I use Typeform because it's pretty).
What to ask
Keep this short and sweet. I know you want a gold mine of testimonials to work with, but even when you put the testimonials on your website, you don't want something that's five pages long.
The most effective testimonials are a few sentences long since most people skim through your website, rather than read every word.
So you want to make the most of that 1.5 minutes someone is reading your site.
Therefore, you have to ask questions that can be answered with only a sentence or two.
The more specific your questions are, the easier it is for your client to answer your questions.
Instead of asking, "How did you like working with me," ask "What was your life like before working with me?" or "How is your business different now after working with me?"
For a swipe file that includes the exact questions I ask my clients on my testimonial form and the testimonials my previous clients have given me, click here.
Crafting the testimonial
You're not done!
Just because you got the testimonial doesn't mean that your work is done.
Now you have to piece it together for an effective testimonial. This means deleting the filler parts and highlighting the good stuff.
The tangible results.
That's all there is to it.
Feel more confident about asking for that testimonial?
Let me know in the comments below!