How to Get Persuasive Testimonials from Clients [email request template] Getting Persuasive Testimonials from Clients [The Ultimate Guide]

Remember that one kid at school who always rocked up to casual clothes day in the school uniform?

As soon as you saw them you thought “I’m so glad mum reminded me to wear casual clothes today...”

The reason you feel this way is because of a deeply rooted psychological phenomenon called social proof.

If you do not fit in with a group of people, chances are, you will eventually be excluded.

“What makes testimonials so powerful?”

(And why the exclusion of that poor kid in school uniform is all thanks to cavemen…)

In modern society, this is not a big deal, but many years ago, when tribes were the leading social structure of human societies, it meant certain death.

As individuals our ancestors were superior to us, they were survival experts with impressive physical ability and extensive knowledge on a wide range of subjects which helped them survive the harsh wilderness.

But even so, no human is self sufficient, most people have a select few things they are good at, and rely on those around them to make up for their areas of weakness.

This is one reason why ‘fitting in’ is so deeply ingrained into our psychology and one way marketers take advantage of it, is with testimonials.

Another reason social proof plays such a big part in our lives is that it saves us time…

There are 3 styles of learning:

  1. Finding out yourself (I touched the stove, but only once!)
  2. Watching others (I saw my sister touch the stove, so I never touched it)
  3. Listening to others (Dad told me not to touch the stove, I believed him, and I never touched it)

Finding out something for yourself is the most powerful way to learn (which is why demos and trials are such good selling tools).

But watching and listening to others makes up the vast majority of our learning.

According to Dr. Joel Hoomans, humans make thousands of decisions everyday. So there is simply not enough time to test out everything for yourself.

Let’s launch into a slightly extreme example of this…

Say a giant, Saber-Toothed Tiger is chasing your tribe. The path ahead splits in two, you don’t know where either pathway leads and you certainly don’t have the time to check.

Everyone ahead of you begins running towards the left path, you trust that at least a few of them know that going left is the better option and follow.

You may have been down the right pathway before and know it’s a safe option. But if everyone is going left, it still makes sense to follow the crowd. It’s safe to assume they have been down both pathways and know the left pathway is a better choice.

In most cases, such as the example above, conforming to social proof is a rational decision, but it can also cause people to accept a belief too quickly without speculation. This behaviour could result in an outcome to the example above where all involved run themselves off the side of a cliff.

Although social proof reflects sensible reasoning by considering information possessed by others, formal analysis shows that it can cause people to converge too quickly upon a single choice, so that decisions of even large groups of individuals may be grounded in very little information.

Large groups have a tendency to conform to a choice grounded in very little information, this is sometimes called herd behavior, however that’s a whole nother kettle of Saber-Toothed Tigers…

“When is the best time to ask for a testimonial?”

If you receive any feedback from a client, this is your golden opportunity to reach out to them and ask permission to display their comments publicly.

I would always wait until the end of a project to ask for feedback from clients and most would tell me they were happy to leave some feedback.

However, small business owners are busy people. It would often be weeks later after multiple follow ups before I got any kind of testimonial from them.

After experiencing this multiple times, I learned a few very useful strategies:

1. Ask for feedback at the peak of your clients satisfaction —

It’s likely there will be multiple occasions where your client is very pleased with your work. Do not ask at the very beginning of a project but at least half way through, once they have a good idea of what it’s like working with you.

2. Make it as easy as possible —

I often send a little review package in an email [Download the free template here]. With a link to our customer feedback survey and a few different review sites… I have a secret trick for Google review links that fills in a 5 star rating automatically, they can change it of course but it’s good encouragement! 😉

3. Bring a camera (or the latest smartphone) to every meeting —

This one is HUGE! A tripod is a great too, but not necessary. First ask to take their picture, photo for your testimonial, CHECK! Then take a few photos of their building, staff, product, etc. These photos always come in handy for social media. But the major key here is video testimonials, don’t stress about preparation, good enough is perfect!

“What should I do about negative reviews?”

I do not suggest removing negative feedback unless it is completely unwarranted.

Use negative reviews as an opportunity to address objections and untrue comments. This presents you as a compassionate business with open communication channels that cares about their customers.

Do not try to counter every single point they have made or respond with a huge wall of text explaining yourself.

The 6 rules of responding to negative reviews:

  1. Keep it short and sweet.
  2. Begin with a sincere apology.
  3. Acknowledge your mistake if there was one.
  4. Be proactive and get the ball moving on a solution.
  5. Offer a refund / replacement / refinement.
  6. Reach out and open communication channels, e.g. “We hope to resolve this issue and have contacted you directly.” (If you have no means of contacting them, simple provide your best support channel.

“Brands with perfect reviews look inauthentic… Publically offering solutions to negative feedback will demonstrate a commitment to your customers.” Talia Shani, Yopto (Follow her on Twitter)

Taking just a little bit of time to resolve an issue with an unsatisfied customer will often pay off big time. I’ve seen customers remove their negative comment and update it with a glowing review about how great it was that Company XYZ went out of their way to solve their issue.

6 steps to great testimonials

1. Photographs increase trustworthiness and grab attention.

Research shows that the mere presence of a photo makes facts and statements more believable. The findings claim that even if the photo is irrelevant or the information is untrue, trust is still increased.

The downside of these findings is that none of the experiments were specifically performed with testimonials, it’s always best to test the results from your own site.

I recommend you always add photographs to your testimonials. They transform anonymous comments by strangers into remarks by real life people.

But the best part is that eye gaze cannot be ignored (and neither can arrows), this means that website visitors will automatically look at your testimonials if they are accompanied by photos of the people that gave them.

How quickly can you find Bob? Although his image is relatively small, in a sea clutter — a face sticks out  (Source)

2. Capture objections so you can defuse them.

“There’s always an obstacle, and it’s often something you may not have thought of. So when the customer brings up this obstacle, it presents an angle that’s unique, personal, and dramatic.” Sean D’Souza, Psychotactics (Follow him on Twitter)

Make sure you read (Part 1) and (Part 2) of Sean’s series: The Secret Life of Testimonials

Think about the most frequent objections you hear from customers and plan your testimonials around them.

If you often hear: “It’s too expensive!…” Then find a customer that also thought your prices were too high, but now believes the cost was completely worth it.

Use this formula for creating the best testimonials:

I thought [objection] but now [new opinion] because [desired outcome].

I thought it was too expensive but now I know it was worth every cent because we’re getting more leads than we can handle!

I thought your competitor offered a better deal but now I see how much more valuable it is because of the extra thingamabob included.

Showing a person your customers that had the same objections as them, who are now completely satisfied will hit powerful persuasion triggers.

Leveraging this kind of social proof demonstrates to potential clients that people (just like them) have still achieved their desired outcome despite their objections. This will hit powerful persuasion triggers in their brains.

3. Tell a story

Think back to what you learned in school. I’m will to bet that you don’t remember much of it, I know I don’t… but what about all the movies you’ve watched? People remember a lot more about movies because they tell stories, and people remember stories.

While you collect testimonials you should try to get your customers to tell the a ‘before and after’ story. For example, if you’re a lawn mowing business a happy customer might say:

“Our lawn used to be so unsightly, finding the newspaper the paperboy had haphazardly thrown into our yard in the morning was always a nightmare! Until we called Example Mowers, they arrived the very next day and now our lawn is picture perfect!”

4. Use figures and be precise (social proof article)

Associate professor Malia Mason of Columbia Business School, explains the power in negotiations of precise – as opposed to round – numbers:

“Let’s say… You’re buying a used car from someone, don’t suggest that you’ll pay $5,000 for the car. Say something like, “I’ll pay you $5,125 for the car,” or $4,885 for the car… It signals that you have more knowledge about the value of the good being negotiated.”

If someone says $5,000 for the car and I think, “They hardly have a clue what it’s even worth”… But if someone says $5,212 I think, “Hmmm, they probably researched the value of this model online or something.”

5. Place testimonials strategically

If your site displays past work, include a testimonial from the client it was created for.

Imagine you were in an art gallery full of absolutely rubbish art work, you hated every single thing you saw. But the last painting almost won you over, you weren’t quite sure if you liked it or not…

Then, an old man came up beside and remarked to himself “Absolutely fantastic piece of work.” Chance are his comment will influence your final opinion whether you know it or not.

The next step: case studies

Testimonials are the best place to start when it comes to social proof. But if you’re offering high ticket items you need to present client stories in much more detail.

Set the scene and outlining the problems. Describe the transition phase and how thing began to improve. Demonstrate how your business provided solutions.

Customer success stories and case studies are the next step to building rock solid credibility for your business.