There’s nothing like a testimonial from a real-life customer to convince your skeptical prospects to do business with you for the first time.
Testimonials show prospects how real people have used your product or service to get real results.
Testimonials break down your prospect’s defenses because they’re easy to believe, especially compared to regular marketing copy.
After all, testimonials come from a genuine customer — someone just like the person who’s reading your page.
- How can you go about getting good testimonials?
- How should you ask for them?
- What format should you use for your testimonials?
This post will answer these questions one by one, and I’ll use testimonials I’ve gathered as examples.
Testimonial formats: The Online Standard
When you think of testimonials, your first image is usually something like this:
This is a standard long-form written testimonial, but it includes some important elements.
First off, there’s a story element that’s easy to follow. Nancy talks about what her situation started as, and how interacting with the product changed her situation.
These “transformation stories” are essential to a good testimonial.
The testimonial also features a photo of Nancy, and the name of her company.
In an age where we read stories about manufactured reviews and paid testimonials, having a photo and company name help prove that the testimonial is real and trustworthy.
Questions to ask to get a good testimonial
One way to elicit a good “transformation story” from customers is to ask them a very specific set of questions.
With a nod to Sean D’Souza’s post on Copyblogger.com, Six Questions to Ask for Powerful Testimonials, I asked the people featured here these questions:
- What was your situation before you purchased the course?
- What was the core problem you wanted to solve?
- What hesitation did you have about purchasing the course? Were you reluctant about anything?
- What results did you get from the course?
- What are three specific features you enjoyed about the course?
- Would you recommend it? If so, why?
- Anything else you’d like to add?
I let people know that they could pick and choose from the list above, and didn’t have to answer each question.
Asking questions similar to this will help you get responses that fall into a nice story arc —”Here’s where I started, here’s what I did, here are the results I got.”
And because people love stories, your testimonial will be more pleasant to read, or — as we’ll see below — to watch.
Testimonial formats: The Video Response
Whenever you can, ask happy customers to create a video testimonial. These are incredibly powerful!
Your prospects can look your customers in the eye and hear them describe their experience with your product in their own words, with body language, facial expressions, and voice inflection all helping to support the story.
For more on creating effective video testimonials, take a look at this resource:
Testimonial formats: The Before and After
Another powerful element to feature in a testimonial is a “before and after” view of the results your customer was able to achieve.
If your product or service gives your customers a physical or visual transformation that they can show, your prospects will be able to see the results you offer with their own eyes.
In this testimonial, Alison Cummings shares how she completely transformed her offering, starting with who she was targeting, to her company name and website.
The examples Alison provides prove the transformation:
Bonus tip: How to keep your testimonials organized and accessible
Get into the habit of gathering testimonials after every product you launch, service you offer, or course you teach.
If you do this diligently, you’ll begin to build up a bank of testimonials you can use whenever you’re putting together a sales page, an email campaign, or a series of ads.
To keep testimonials organized and easy to find when you need them, select a single location where you’ll file them. This could be:
- A Google doc
- An Evernote notebook
- A Word doc
Be sure to ask for a headshot from customers who provide especially good testimonials. Get permission to use their words, too.
What are the courses they’re talking about?
The training and information that Nancy and Allison talk about in their testimonials can be found inside the BIG Brand System micro-courses:
- Discover how to choose the best fonts to represent your business and brand with my inexpensive Beautiful Typography micro-course.
- Figure out what to name your business and how to come up with an effective tagline with my Business Name and Tagline micro-course.
- Develop a gorgeous color palette that will communicate what your business is about — all by yourself — with my Brilliant Brand Color micro-course.
- Pinpoint your target market with my easy-to-use Ideal Customer Finder micro-course.
Note: this article was originally published May 15, 2013 and has been updated with new information.