You have a great design portfolio. Your About page is wonderful. Your call to action is fabulous. But something is missing from your website and because it’s missing you aren’t getting as many new clients as you should be getting.
That missing element is testimonials from your clients.
You see, prospective clients love to hear from others who have used your services. Even in the wake of numerous fake reviews scandals, legitimate client testimonials still make a difference.
Put yourself in the prospect’s shoes for just a minute.
Your prospect plans to invest in your web design or web development services. They have a budget, but they need to get the best services they can for their money. And they can’t afford to buy the same service twice if things don’t work out. Naturally, they’re cautious.
Finding out that someone else has successfully used your services is often just what they need to finally make up their mind and hire you.
In this post, we’ll talk about client testimonials. I’ll explain how and when to ask for them, introduce some testimonial gathering tools that may help, and describe some testimonial pitfalls to avoid.
If you liked this post, you may also like Foundations of Customer Service for Freelance Designers, a post which explains how to keep your clients satisfied.
How and When to Ask for a Client Testimonial
Many designers are hesitant to ask for a client testimonial. They may be afraid that the client is really unhappy even when they seem happy. They may feel that asking for a testimonial is bothering the client.
Most clients, however, are happy to say a few nice things about your business when asked.
Most designers miss opportunities to ask for client testimonials. Here are some clues that it’s a good time to ask a client for a testimonial:
- The client praises your work in an email or on the phone.
- You notice positive comments from the client on social media.
- A particular client is doing a lot of repeat business with you.
- A client leaves a positive comment on your follow-up survey.
A client will be more likely to give you a testimonial if you make it easy on them. For example, suppose you receive the following email from a client in response to a completed project:
As always, your work was fantastic. We love the way you translate our ideas into user-friendly design. Plus, we can count on you to deliver on time, every time.
Now, that email would make a great testimonial just the way it is. All you need to do is ask the client if you can quote their email on your website and attribute it to them. There’s really no extra work needed on their part.
Respond with something like this email:
Thanks so much for your kind words. I enjoy working with you.
I was wondering, could I have your permission to quote you on my website? If you don’t mind, I’d also like to include your About page photo with the quote.
As you can see, you’re doing all the work here. The client has already written the testimonial in the body of their email to you. All that’s left for them to do is say “yes.”
Of course, if you are uncomfortable contacting clients directly, there are also new tools that can automate the process and make it easy for you to ask for testimonials.
Six Testimonial Gathering Tools
The software world has also made some strides towards making gathering testimonials easier. There are now tools available to help you gather client testimonials. Many of these tools also track your client satisfaction.
Here’s brief rundown of six different testimonial-gathering tools (in no particular order):
- Client Heartbeat. This tool basically provides a way to measure client satisfaction through periodic surveys that you design especially for your business. Client Heartbeat provides a statistical analysis of the survey results, which includes an activity feed that can show you when a client shares a testimonial. You also have the option to compare yourself against others in your industry. There are three different pricing plans available as well as a free trial.
- Testimonial Monkey. Testimonial Monkey invites your clients to leave feedback and rate your service. This tool integrates with Facebook and Twitter as well as through a customized widget on your own website, so that you can easily share the same testimonials in all three places. The tool also works for e-commerce sites. You control which testimonials are published. There are three separate pricing plans as well as a free trial.
- propers. This tool collects positive social comments about your brand from Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn as well as from email. When you sign in, you see recent mentions of your brand in various social media. You select the ones you want to include on your propers page by dragging them. The basic propers plan was free at the time of publication. Propers plus is available for a low monthly fee.
- GC Testimonials. GC Testimonials is a little bit different from the other tools that I’ve included in this section. This is a plugin that lets you gather and add testimonials and client photos to your website. One feature that I like is the checkbox that requires the client to give you permission to publish the testimonial on your website. As of press time, this widget is free.
- WordPress Testimonial Engine. This tool is another WordPress plugin designed to help you manage your testimonials. The tool allows you to categorize testimonials by the various products and services you offer. The look of the published testimonials can be customized. At the time of publication, the plugin was available for a low cost. I did not see a free trial offer on their website.
- LinkedIn recommendations. Any list of testimonial gathering tools isn’t really complete without including the LinkedIn recommendations tool. This tool lets you contact clients, colleagues, and peers and request a professional recommendation. Currently, the LinkedIn recommendation only appears on your LinkedIn profile. The tool is available with the free version of LinkedIn.
Whether or not, you decide to use a testimonial gathering tool is up to you. But there’s no denying the importance of getting real testimonials from your clients.
Don’t Overlook the Power of a Video Client Testimonial
Video testimonials are brand new, but they are already showing signs of becoming a powerful persuasion tool.
If you have a good relationship with a particular client, consider asking them to record a video testimonial for you.
Ethical and Legal Considerations Surrounding Testimonials
Remember to follow ethical and legal standards when collecting client testimonials.
You may be tempted to pay for a testimonial or to create a fake testimonial. If you’re thinking about this, the bottom line is: don’t do it. You’ll undermine the very trust you are trying to build up.
Fake testimonials are always unethical, and in countries like the United States posting an untrue testimonial is actually illegal.
Client testimonials are considered endorsements and as such fall under the same Federal Trade Commission regulations as reviews. At the SBA.gov site, Caron Beesley explains how to use testimonials in her article titled Using Testimonials, Endorsements and Online Reviews in Your Marketing – How to Ensure You Aren’t Breaking the Law. According to Caron’s article, the three main points to remember are:
- Tell the truth. Endorsements must be truthful and not misleading.
- Claims must be typical. If a client claims something that most clients won’t experience, don’t use it.
- Disclose material connections. You must disclose it if you paid for the endorsement or if products and services were given out.
If you have additional questions about the laws where you are and how they might apply to your design business, consult your legal professional.
How do you go about getting client testimonials? Do you have any tips or favorite tools to add?
Share your answers in the comments.