Your Client Testimonials are a Hidden Goldmine (If You Use Them Like This)

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Testimonials are more important than just about anything else on your website. If you had a headline that said “We make awesome websites that help businesses grow” followed by 20 testimonials from businesses saying how awesome their new website is and how much they’ve grown…

…and you followed that up with a few samples and a contact form…

you’d be rocking and rolling without a single word more of copy (and that’s coming from a copywriter).

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You really don’t need much else to make the phone ring. But: only if you collect and use your testimonials in the way I’m about to explain.

Step 1: Get the “right” testimonials

Getting them is not enough. You have to get the RIGHT ones, otherwise they’re about as useful as IE5 compatibility.

How do you know if it’s the “right” one? It does the following:

  • Explains the problem the client had
  • Discusses their experience with you
  • Reveals how you solved their problems with flying colors

In sales, they call it “feel, felt, found” language. For example, a good testimonial story might go like this:

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I know how you FEEL. I paid thousands for a website that basically collected dust, and didn’t get me a single customer. I FELT frustrated, not to mention that the customer service of the company I used really stank. They were always giving me extra charges too (what’s up with that?).

Then I FOUND Gina Freelancer, and she changed my life. I love my website, and it’s bringing me more business than any other marketing channel I have out there. Use her services!!! I am so glad I did.

Now, your testimonials may not literally contain the words “feel, felt, found” – but they should follow the same flow.

Here’s a brilliant example from our creative agency’s new PSD to HTML / WordPress branch, called Reliable (feel free to check out our site for great examples of testimonials too):

“They nailed it, flawlessly.”

[FIRST, THE PROBLEM…]

Over the years we have used several coders & services to handle our PSD to WordPress / HTML / CSS work. After some ongoing frustrations with one of our regulars, we stumbled across Reliable PSD. Right out of the gate we handed over one of our most complex designs to see what they could do.

[NEXT, THE EXPERIENCE & HOW WE SOLVED THEIR PROBLEM WITH FLYING COLORS…]

Within minutes of submitting our project, Reliable PSD responded with a few basic questions about our project and then they were off & running. A few days later we received a preview of our files and WOW. They nailed it, flawlessly. These guys didn’t bombard us with questions & emails or continuously throw the ball back in our court. They took the bull by the horns and tackled this project full-speed ahead…

We are HAPPY CAMPERS and will be submitting our second project immediately. If you want it done right, these are the guys to hire.

Tommy O., Designer & Art Director

Do you see how it starts by explaining the problem the client faced before meeting us, what they experienced with us, and how we solved their problem with flying colors?

This testimonial nails a couple of other big selling points, too, that we’ll talk about in just a sec. But first…

How to get awesome testimonials

  1. Give your customers a great experience (how you treat them dictates what they’ll write about)
  2. Fulfill all of your promises that you made to them
  3. After doing steps 1-2, and the project is done, ask!

Right after the project ends is the best time to ask. Your clients are brimming with gratitude (assuming you completed steps 1 and 2), and what better way to channel that than into a testimonial?

But HOW you ask is also important. We like to say something like this in the email that wraps up the project:

By the way, would you mind writing us a testimonial about your experience working with us?

While we’re growing fast, we’re still fairly new, so a testimonial from a fellow designer may help others take the leap and give us a try 🙂

Only if you’re comfortable of course!

And if you’d like to do it, if you feel comfortable sending a headshot as well that would be perfect.

No pressure!

Thanks so much,

Here’s why:

  1. By framing the question as their whole experience working with us, we’re asking them to think about the whole process from start to finish. This leads to some very “meaty” replies.
  2. We give them a way out. Some people, no matter how happy they are, would just rather not write reviews. I’m not sure anyone has ever taken us up on this though. Often, just letting people know that you understand if they’re uncomfortable does the trick.

Step 2: Get the most out of your testimonials

First, you want to carefully read the testimonial a few times over and get very familiar with it. Then, pick out the BEST quote, and set it aside.

If your client didn’t break the testimonial up into paragraphs, go ahead and do that for readability.

Next, pick 1-3 additional lines that are powerful and BOLD them.

Now, when you post your testimonials to your website and in your other marketing materials, take that isolated quote and put it first. Make it bigger and bolder than the rest of the text.

Most people will only skim the testimonial headlines and read just a few lines here or there (this is where the bolding comes in – you’re giving skimmers the info they need, fast).

If we review the previous testimonial, you’ll see that we’ve done this:

[Isolated Headline] “They nailed it, flawlessly.”

Over the years we have used several coders & services to handle our PSD to WordPress / HTML / CSS work. After some ongoing frustrations with one of our regulars, we stumbled across Reliable PSD. Right out of the gate we handed over one of our most complex designs to see what they could do.

Within minutes of submitting our project, Reliable PSD responded with a few basic questions about our project and then they were off & running. [BOLDING FOR SKIMMERS] A few days later we received a preview of our files and WOW. They nailed it, flawlessly. These guys didn’t bombard us with questions & emails or continuously throw the ball back in our court. They took the bull by the horns and tackled this project full-speed ahead…

[BOLDING FOR SKIMMERS] We are HAPPY CAMPERS and will be submitting our second project immediately. If you want it done right, these are the guys to hire.

Tommy O., Designer & Art Director

And the best placement for testimonials is:

Any time your website makes claims about your services, present them with a testimonial that backs up what you’re saying. It’s evidence that what you’re saying is true. (It’s like in high school when you had to cite your sources – same concept.)

On the Reliable site, we don’t even have a “reviews” or “testimonials” page. We just spread them throughout our content.

I think doing this is the most important thing you could do. Once you have enough to spread around your site, then you can have another page that’s dedicated just to reviews as well.

But it’s MORE important to present them with your bold claims about who you are and what you can accomplish.

Step 3: Use these precious gems in ALL of your marketing

Spread them around your website, include them in your direct mail, you could even take a great headline and place it in your email signature.

You want everyone to see that everyone thinks you’re awesome.

I’ll leave you with just a few more notes:

  • Yes, many top designers and agencies don’t have testimonials on their site. That doesn’t mean they’re not using them. The whole world is calling them “top designers.” So they are still using testimonials. You need to as well.
  • It’s uncomfortable to ask for them, no matter how many times you do it. Ask anyway.
  • It also feels really darn good to get them, no matter how many times you do. There’s really no better feeling. You’ll likely even be moved to tears now and then.

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  1. Having reviews on your website definitely helps to get a lead! No doubt about it. It’s very interesting now how users google reviews of a company before to even get in touch. This means they are interested but if they read good ones it will boost a sale. Great article David!

  2. Thank you so much David. There are some great tips here! I have one page dedicated to testimonials but I love the idea of spreading them throughout the site. Adding headlines and bolding segments are great ideas. I’m going to work at getting some fresh testimonials and exploring these avenues! Thanks again.

  3. Thanks David for your advice. I already have a number of testimonials for my design work but haven’t had them structured in the way you have described. It totally makes sense. I too dot them around my site and think this is a more organic way to show off your successes. Even better – put them next to the piece of work for extra punch.

  4. Thanks for the tips. I like how you mention to sprinkle it throughout the website rather than on one testimonial page.

  5. I love it thanks so much for the great advice. I’m actually working on a project where my client has almost 200 testimonials and she does exactly what you’re saying, BOLD all over the place. Even after entering every one of her testimonials I never thought of using bold on my own testimonials!! Thanks again 🙂

  6. Hi David,
    Thanks for the tip. I haven’t thought of putting excerpts in bold for the skimmers. I also notice that people are reluctant to upload a picture, so I used a generic image. Thanks again.

    1. Hey Lara, we do the same 🙂

      We used to dig through stock photo websites for hours to find photos that didn’t look so staged, and then I discovered on Flickr you can do a search for “woman face” or “man face” and search for photos that are okay for commercial use and bam!

      Very natural looking photos that represent the client.

      David

  7. Hello David, love you article! Great advice on testimonials.

    I will try to try some of the out for future testimonials as well as any that can be used on existing ones.

    Kind Regards,

    Anders


    Anders Sundstedt, M.Sc. | Founder | Director | Designer
    Animator | After Effects Artist | Illustrator | Motion Designer

    SUNDSTEDT® ANIMATION
    Glasgow, UK
    http://sundstedt.se

  8. Hi David,
    Thanks for the tips. I use testimonials on my website BUT I had not thought of the BOLD statement first technique. Will have to try that.
    Thanks again.

    1. That plus breaking testimonials up into small, legible paragraphs is key. Glad you could walk away with that 🙂

      David

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