How To Get Client Testimonials And Why They’re So Important
Let’s talk about testimonials. They’re super important for businesses and not just because they tell everyone how awesome you are (well, hopefully they do!).
One of the best reasons why they’re great is SEO (search engine optimisation). Here's why...
Testimonials provide a link from your site to someone else’s
This counts as a backlink to their site which is more valuable for them than you. But it’s also a bit of SEO juice for you too. And if it’s a decent client, they’ll likely return the favour through a site credit, blog post or other link. What goes around comes around.
Testimonials can be chock full of keywords
Keywords are vital for your website. And testimonials tend to be full of them. So it's important to place your testimonials in the right places on your site, such as your Homepage and in your Services pages.
For eg, if you’re a photographer for families and babies; you'll have a page for each service. (which is also good for SEO). On your Family Photography page, your keyword may likely to be "family photographer".
Match the testimonial that says “We hired X as our family photographer…” and bingo, you’ve lined up your page keywords nicely.
RELATED POST: How to: Set Up Keywords That Will Rock Your Website SEO
Okay, so we’ve established that testimonials are great for your website. If that was ever a question!
Now let’s talk troubleshooting - how to sidestep the pitfalls and get great testimonials. You want testimonials that are effective on your site, social media and in other marketing.
1. Make getting your testimonial part of the project
Sometimes the first hurdle lies in just getting the damn thing. You forget to ask, the client forgets to give it to you, or you feel nervous approaching the client about it at all.
So make getting a great testimonial part of your project.
Don’t wait until you’re sending your final invoice to mention it. Rather, let the idea sit in people’s minds throughout the project. Then they will be better able to draft a good and descriptive endorsement.
Include a testimonial from the beginning as part of the project. Mention it again in an email during the job. “At the end of the project, I'll send you my testimonial request and invoice…”
Then, when you’re finishing up the project, send the final draft and testimonial request. This is the best time for a prompt and glowing response. The client is happy and loving the final product and everything’s fresh in their mind. Carpe diem.
Do this before sending the invoice. That way, you can add a reminder in the invoice email.
And it’s fine to follow up a couple of times after that, life does get in the way, and people often appreciate the nudge.
2. Make writing your testimonial an easy process
Some clients don’t know how to write a testimonial. They’re not writers; maybe that’s why they hired you. Nobody likes fumbling through something they don’t feel very good at.
So, make drafting your testimonial an easy, even enjoyable, experience.
Highlight some of the key things you did on the project and offer guidance on how to structure the testimonial. Give them a template or a sample paragraph to follow. Surveys are also a good way to squeeze out an endorsement.
I put together a short "pesky testimonials" survey on my site; it works really well for those hard to get testimonials. Most people start filling it out and then feel inspired to re-word the whole thing themselves. Yay.
3. Offer an incentive like a discount on repeat work or new service
This strategy works best when you’re trying to get testimonials for a specific or new service. So, when you send round information about a new product or service, let people know that the discounted rate includes a testimonial request.
People love being asked their opinion on new things. You can market this as feedback and use it as a testimonial.
For example, last year I offered discounted SEO audits to my newsletter subscribers. I was trialling a new SEO service. Part of the deal was giving me feedback on the service and an optional testimonial. It was a good exchange and I got some great testimonials and feedback for my future SEO services.
4. Remind people of the SEO juice they’ll receive
Tell your clients that all your testimonials will be displayed on your site with a live link back to them. The only thing better than a freebie is a backlink these days! As I mentioned above, testimonials link your site to another site (just make sure you use a live follow link).
If you’re the one doing the linking, it’s known as a backlink for the other site. Backlinks are one of the most important (and little known) aspects of SEO. Every backlink counts for Google so let your clients know the value of this!
And if you’ve written a testimonial for someone else and it’s on their site without a link back to you, follow up with them about it. It’s just good manners to share the SEO love around.
5. Ask your client to edit the testimonial if necessary
Yes, you can do this! I’m not talking about editing it for spelling (you can do that yourself) or doctoring the testimonial to say what you want it to (unethical!).
But if there’s a particular service and part of the project that you’d like your client to comment on, then say so.
“Can I also get your feedback on the copywriting I did for your homepage?”, or “I’d like to use this for my new virtual assistant page. Do you mind adding an extra line or two about your thoughts on my organisational and event management skills?”
Most people are happy to help. Almost every time, they’ll get back to you with what you need.
6. Get permission to publish the testimonial
This seems pretty obvious but it’s always to good to get this step in writing. Most people will be happy to shout your praises from the rooftops. And they'll recognise the benefits to their own businesses and be happy for the backlink.
It’s good to say exactly where you’ll be using their testimonial - your website, social media, business brochure, and so on. Ask if they’re okay with a personal photo (it looks much nicer than without) or prefer a company logo. Do they want first names only or their full name? Their position in the company?
And be sure to check the spelling of names, surnames, businesses and websites. Misspelt names is a particular pet hate of mine!
7. Have your client to post the testimonial themselves
A testimonial posted from someone else’s social media account is really powerful.
Client testimonials are great on Facebook pages, for example, especially for local businesses. LinkedIN is another excellent platform for client testimonials. Endorsements and feedback tend to hold a prominent position on social platforms and everyone sees them.
A testimonial is so much more genuine when someone links their own online profile to it.
Social media profiles also love the rating system. A 5 star rating on a business page goes a long way. So, if you can, ask your clients to post on your social media pages. You've got nothing to lose!
8. If it doesn’t happen, let it go
I’ve had one client (and only one, so far) who didn’t respond to my repeated requests for a testimonial. As she had been a bit difficult and demanding throughout our project, this didn’t particularly surprise me. But it was a disappointing conclusion after she had said she was happy with the finished product.
At the end of the day, it’s the client’s decision whether or not to write a testimonial. If they don’t want to, there’s not much you can do about it. But it’s also a good reminder about parting ways on a positive note.
A few months later, that client returned to me to get something edited. I did the job and gave her a friendly reminder that I’d love a testimonial for my previous work. Again, post-job she didn’t reply. It’s kind of crap but that’s just life. I’ll be less available the next time she calls!
9. Post your testimonials prominently throughout your site
It’s great to have 1-2 endorsements on your homepage; it’s usually a site’s most visited page. So, put your best foot forward and show readers how much people enjoy working with you.
As I said above, add relevant testimonials to your services pages. They are also great on your portfolio or work example pages, your contact page, and your email list page.
In short, post your testimonials everywhere that you can!
So, that’s why testimonials are so important for businesses, and how you can make the most of them. I hope this has been helpful in getting some awesome reviews for your website.
Tell me, what’s your biggest issue around testimonials on your site?
Want more small business tips and strategies? Check out my weekly newsletter on digital marketing, web design, social media and "all that online stuff".
About the author: Lilani Goonesena is an Australian freelance writer, SEO copywriter and Squarespace web designer based in Vientiane, Laos. She loves boosting freelancers and small businesses with web design, SEO content and digital marketing strategy. She writes an awesome weekly newsletter on digital marketing, social media, blogging, web design and "all that online stuff". Lilani also blogs at the delectable Eat Drink Laos, just for fun.