Testimonials vs. Feedback

Reviews matter. We trust reviews to help us buy everything from a cup of coffee to a new car, and your organization’s products and services are no exception to this rule. Testimonials are the evidence that backs up all the claims you make on your website, and they are often the deciding factor that tips a prospect from “potential client” to “current client.” Sounds simple...  testimonials are important, and you should go get some.

Well, not so simple, which is why we’re dedicating an entire blog post to the testimonial process. Asking for testimonials can be awkward and doesn’t always result in a website-ready endorsement. There will be times that your request for a testimonial is met with feedback - valuable in its own way, but not necessarily appropriate for your website. Other times your request is met with radio silence. To make sure you have the best possible chance of receiving excellent testimonials, as opposed to feedback or silence, you need to A) understand the difference between testimonials and feedback and B) ask the right way.

What is the difference between testimonials and feedback?

Basically, testimonials serve to promote your business while feedback serves to improve it. Testimonials are client statements that highlight what your organization does well and help convince potential clients that your organization is the right choice for them. A good testimonial is positive and specific. Think less, “This organization did a great job! Thanks, guys!” and more, “I loved working with Kayla. She was always responsive and her work led to a notable increase in sales. I’d recommend this organization to anybody, and I wouldn’t hesitate to work with them again.”  

Feedback, on the other hand, is a client input with the sole goal of improving your organization. Feedback is a vital component of evaluating how your organization works and what needs some attention to produce a better product. You should solicit feedback from every client and take it seriously - even if it bruises your pride a bit. You shouldn’t, however, always put it on your website. By its nature, feedback is often critical and draws your attention to what needs to improve. Not exactly the message you want potential clients to focus on, am I right?

If you aren’t careful, you can find yourself asking for a testimonial and getting feedback. Is it better than complete silence? Of course. But, in an ideal world, you’ll get both. Fortunately, incorporating a few simple techniques into the testimonial request process will ensure you get the testimonials your clients want to see on your website.

How should you ask for a testimonial?

Asking for a testimonial is simple. After you’ve had time to build a relationship and demonstrate success (for an ongoing client) or upon delivery of a final product (for a project-based client) take a few moments to send an email thanking the client and asking for a testimonial. Don’t wait too long - you don’t want to give the client a chance to forget about how awesome you are! And don’t bury your request in a laundry-list of housekeeping requests and reminders. If you fear that asking for testimonials will fall to the bottom of your to-do list - or fall off the list entirely - consider using a testimonial gathering service, like Testimonial Engine. These services will create a simple survey, email it to your clients, and share the results to your social media channels. It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Finally, don’t be embarrassed to ask. Your clients almost-certainly understand the importance of testimonials and have likely asked for a few themselves.

How can you ensure a client responds with a testimonial - not feedback?

Be clear and don’t be afraid of supplying your clients with some direction. Your clients are busy people, which is probably why they hired you in the first place. Asking for a testimonial and washing your hands of the process is increasing the chances you end up with either nothing at all or feedback that isn’t suitable for your website. There are two main ways you can provide direction: with questionnaires or an example.

Questionnaire:  Attach a brief questionnaire to your email requesting a testimonial, and directly ask for the information that you know will resonate with future clients. You’ll have to do some editing to combine the answers into a testimonial for your site, but you’ll make the process easier for your clients to complete.

Example: Write up a sample testimonial for your clients to refer to when writing their own testimonial. Pro tip: write a sample tailored to your client’s specific project. They might just give you the go-ahead to use your version on your website.

If you’re doing good work for your clients - and I’m sure you are - then don’t underestimate the value of testimonials. And don’t let asking for them fall off your radar. If you would like to talk more about how client testimonials can support your digital marketing efforts, get in touch. The marketing experts at Spring Insight are happy to discuss how your organization can put its best digital face forward.

Editor’s note: this post was originally published in July 2015 and was updated in May 2019 for accuracy and to include new information.

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