We all know that hearing a recommendation from a friend goes a long way in getting us to try a new service or restaurant or just about anything else. And, testimonials are the online equivalent of this more personal recommendation. Yet, we often fail to get them right. Do you ever go to a website and read testimonials that feel fake or contrived? The secret is to solicit the right kind of testimonial.
Before you invite the accolades to start rolling in, the most critical step in getting a good testimonial is to do good work. If you want folks to say truly believable and positive things about you, you need to focus on good relationships with your collaborators and clients. Without that, nobody is going to have anything believably good to say about you.
1. Find existing testimonials
Done some good work? Most likely, some great testimonials already exist out there. Take a look around on social media and review sites. You might be surprised at what you find. (I had a ton of recommendations on LinkedIn. Maybe, for you, it is a review site like Yelp or even Facebook.)
2. Always ask permission
If you are particularly keen on something that someone said, you want that review on your website. But, not so fast! Please, please, please ask permission. Some people might not expect to have their Yelp review quoted on your website. Let them know exactly how you want to quote them (do you remember every review you’ve ever written?) with a nice email that tells them you are flattered by their words, would like to share their review, and even add a line that says “Here’s how I’d like to quote you..” This is also a great time to ask for a photo.
3. Ask the right questions
Good testimonials are clear, interesting, and give a sense of time and place for the person talking. (As much as they humanize you, you want to humanize them.) Unfortunately, achieving this sort of testimonial on a review site is a lucky happenstance, if it happens at all. And so, you don’t want to just rest on your laurels here. You’ve got to get out there and ask your clients and customers for testimonials! And, asking the right questions will help get the ideal quotes.
How do you get clear, interesting, and timely testimonials? By asking good questions. (Stay away from simply asking “Can you send me a testimonial.”) For us, a good set of questions would be something akin to:
- Did you have any hesitations about a new website before we began our project together?
- How do you feel about your new website?
- What results have you seen from your new website? What are its most important contributions to your business?
- Would you recommend working with us to others? If so, why?
4. Embody Kaizen
Don’t expect something for nothing. We also ask, “What could we stand to improve on?” Why? This might not elicit good fodder for testimonials, but you might as well be constantly improving.