Social Proofing: How to Ask for a Testimonial (And Use It!)
June 9, 2022
As a business owner, it’s vital to have testimonials on your website —and basically throughout all your marketing content and social channels. In today’s economy, consumers want to feel like they can trust the brands and businesses they purchase from. Social proofing your copy and content helps your clients gain confidence and makes the decision-making process so much easier for them.
Plus, testimonials can help with SEO and storytelling, especially if you can turn your client’s answers into case study marketing assets.
But, do you know how to ask for a testimonial, and even more importantly, where to put it once you get it? In this episode, we’ll talk about the many ways you can ask for testimonials from your clients, where to display them, and how to use them to showcase your previous clients’ experiences so your leads and overall audience feels excited to move forward and work with you, too.
Curious about testimonials and how to use them? Here’s what was covered…
Why social proofing via storytelling is a powerful conversion tool.
Why business owners should prioritize getting and using social proof
How to ask for testimonials from your current and former clients
How to incorporate social proof on your website, sales copy, and more places
How testimonials can help you improve your website SEO
How to map out your customers’ journey with your testimonials
You heard it here. Social proofing quotes you don’t want to miss.
“81 percent of consumers say they must be able to trust a brand or business before they are really able to make a purchase” [02:49]
“…every single touch point is a possibility to ask for some type of feedback from their clients. Even the initial onboarding and kickoff period. That’s when you can ask questions that determine the current state of readiness or awareness, the issues or pain points your clients are facing.” [09:25]
Erin’s homework assignment for this episode
Go get testimonials! But seriously, if you’re not sure how to go about doing that, I’ve got a great option for you. The Testimonial Toolbox will help you create systems to ask for testimonials so social proofing your web and sales copy will be a breeze. This short course will give you the solid footing you need to get stellar responses from your clients now and into the future.
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Learn more about your host: Erin Ollila believes in the power of words and how a message can inform – and even transform – its intended audience. Her favorite response to almost any marketing question is “It depends!”, but she’ll always explain why and how you can make the best decision for your business.
When she’s not helping her clients by writing strategic and SEO website copy, she’s encouraging them to focus creating case study marketing assets that can serve them in the long term. She graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing, and went on to co-found Spry, an award-winning online literary journal.
Stay in touch with Erin Ollila, SEO website copywriter:
Want the full transcript for this episode about social proofing? You won’t miss anything with this!
NOTE: This podcast was transcribed by an AI tool. Please forgive any typos or errors.
Erin Ollila 00:00
Social Proof. As business owners, we all understand how important it is to get product reviews, and stellar testimonials from our clients. And as consumers, we know that when we see other people, especially if they’re people that we recognize within our business fears, saying kind things about a product, or a service or a person they’ve worked with, it makes us feel more competent to purchase that same service or product, because someone else is telling us about their experience. We’re hearing the specifics of what the transformation was like for them, or maybe what the deliverable was or end result. And we get excited, we see that information. And we think, Well, I’d like to have that same thing myself. So social proof is so important in business. And we know that but yeah, as an SEO website, copywriter, when I meet with my new clients, whether they be the done for you clients, or if it’s just a copy coaching call, and we talk about what to strategically put on the web pages, and where what I find out is the testimonials that they have are subpar at best, and so many people don’t have enough testimonials from the people that they’ve done business with. Now, does this mean that the work that they’ve done with their clients or the products that they’ve sold are not good? Absolutely not. What it does mean though, is they’re not prioritizing, getting in touch with their clients, asking for a testimonial, and being clear and direct about what they need from the testimonial. I am kicking off this short series on the client experience by talking about the end result first testimonials. I just recently launched a product called the testimonials toolbox, because I really wanted to help people learn how to collect and organize, store and actively use testimonials in their marketing. And before I could develop the program, I did a lot of research on why social proof and testimonials were important on both positive and negative social proof. And really what made consumers tick. And one of the key data findings that I found was from Edelman research. And that’s 81% of consumers say they must be able to trust a brand or business before they’re really able to make a purchase. 70% of those people indicate that trusting a brand is way more important now in this current world that we live in than it has ever been in previous times. And that really is important because there’s a lot of misinformation and distrust in general in our world. So we as business owners really want to make it as easy as possible for our clients or our leads, let’s say to be able to make decisions. And by having testimonials on your website, your social channels, your emails, and in many other marketing assets that you have, you’re making the decision making process so much easier for them. But I want to address one thing here, when we think of testimonials, a lot of the times people think of things like very exciting stats such as after working with this coach, my business income increased by $30,000. Or when I implemented these things, my finances had a 70% increase on conversion or whatever the stats might be. But I want you to pause for a second sure if you can get quantifiable data from your client as part of your testimonial. Absolutely 100% get it but when you start working on testimonials and collecting them to use in your business, I want you to approach this process slightly different and I’d love for you to think of testimonials as a storytelling tool. Princeton neuroscientist Harry Hasson said something to the effect of and I’m probably paraphrasing this incorrectly here. But stories activate parts in our brain, that the listener of the stories is able to receive the message and then internalize and personalize what that story is for their own person. You know, so for example, if they’re reading a testimonial about how someone’s photography session was eye opening to them and how it really made them self see themselves in a different light by seeing the photos that the photographer took how the photographer really put them at ease all those kind and wonderful things. The person who’s reading that review may think to themselves, yes, I want to feel at ease. I want to work with a photographer that makes me feel comfortable. I want to be able to look at these images of myself and see myself in the best light If possible, I don’t want to be self critical, I just want to see this beautiful person. And know that the photographer really pulled that person out during the like photo shoot, and just using that as an example. But it is important when we approach our testimonials from that storytelling standpoint, to take a little pressure off of ourselves, realize that those juicy killer stats are really as much as they’re great. And I’m not trying to say that quantitative stat stats are not helpful. They are I love them, too. But I think that they’re also marketing ploys. Right, they’re the trick that makes someone want to buy. And if you approach your own testimonial sourcing as Hey, can I get the best story from my clients? Can I get the best details about our work together, you’ll be able to take that information that they share with you to color it down into an incredible testimonial, and maybe even take that information and turn it into a case study. So again, if the pressure is on, and you’re feeling nervous, or maybe you’re not even approaching testimonial collection, because you’re worried about not getting those juicy figures, no, that there are things you can do to actually get quantitative numbers. And that really depends on the entire industry. But know that you can approach it strategically, and come at it more of a conversation. So the details that you share, could actually be more strategic overall in your business. Which brings me to the very first point of this episode, how to ask for testimonials. Now if you go through the testimonial toolbox, you’ll see that there are multiple approaches that you can go through to get testimonials from your clients. But what I really want to drive home here is this is not a one size fits all approach. If I were to tell you the best way to get a testimonial would be on a video call as you’re reviewing your work with your clients. Yes, that might be for some people, but it’s not going to be that way for all businesses, right. Some businesses may be selling products, and they may or may be very valuable, but they’re not going to get on a call with all of their clients. So know that going forward. There are many ways you can get testimonials from your clients. Just a few quick examples, you can do it in a regular email. If it’s products, this is probably the most preferable easy way to do it. Figure out the timeline on which you should be asking for reviews. You know, for things that are time or holiday specific, you’re going to want to ask for a review within a week. So that way you can then share that testimonial with your audience during the time that the offer is valid, or during the holiday as an example for everything else. I think you really need to look at the product specifically to see what does the client or the excuse me, what does the consumer at this point need to do in order to make a determination on how they feel about this product? You know, if it is something that they need to use for a set period of time in order to see results? Well, then it would be silly, if you’re asking for a product review before those results are to be found, right. So if they need to use something for 30 days, ask for the product review at day 40. So that they have little time to try out the product and make their own determination on how well it worked for them. If it is a product doesn’t relate to how long they have to use it, maybe it’s about 10 days, so that way they were able to receive the product, especially if it was a physical product. And they are able to make a determination and then response. So again, here’s where it’s important to know your own business. Because as much as I’d love to advise you right now, the product itself is going to be the determining factor on when the review is requested. But now we’re moving it into testimonials. And there are various touch points in service based businesses where testimonials can be requested. I always try to get my clients when I’m advising them on testimonial collection to consider that every single touchpoint is an a possibility to ask for some type of feedback from their clients. Even the initial onboarding and kickoff period. That’s when you can ask questions that determine the current state of readiness or awareness, the issues or pain points your clients are facing. And you can use those as like opposites when you’re taking the end result to say, when we first started to working together client Phil, like after we work together client experienced and maybe you don’t even set up the testimonial in that like exact madlib style. Maybe it’s as simple as at the end saying to your client, hey, when we first started working together, you told me XYZ. How do you feel about that now has anything specifically changed? So again, start all the way at the beginning during the onboarding phase. And then as you’re checking in with them, maybe you’re doing reviews of the service. Maybe if it’s like the coaching industry, you’re doing a checkpoint of like what’s changed over the last three or four sessions that you work together? Use those as light question opportunities. Maybe they’re as simple as saying like, how is this process working for you? Have you seen any changes? Since we’ve started working together? What have you been really excited about, and you do the hard work here, keep a running list, a Google Doc, a notes, Doc, whatever works best for you. Keep them going in. And when it’s time to do the end result testimonial collection, share them with your clients say, Hey, I’ve been keeping notes of some of the kind things you’ve said to me throughout this process. I’d love to have a testimonial from you. And I don’t want you to do much of the work. So I just wanted to share this with you. Is there anything that you’d like to expand on? Do I have permission to use some of this content on my website? Again, making it easy for your client is going to be the number one way that they will create the testimonials and share them with you. And I know at this point, you’re probably thinking like, Wait, you’re saying I don’t have to use a form, I can’t just send out a form at the end of our project, you can, I don’t want you to think that you can’t use forms. Throughout these touchpoints. Sometimes forms are the easiest way to collect information. But you’re going to have to get to know your clients and how they communicate with you best. For example, if you are regularly sending like audio messages with your clients on Instagram, maybe that’s when you ask the testimonial requests, maybe you say, hey, now that I have you talking and like I’m so appreciative that you just said that that project was exactly what you’re hoping for. I’m wondering if you could expand on that a bit, feel free to just, you know, shoot a message back to me over audio, and I’m happy to transcribe it and send it to you for your review. Or maybe you’re on a video call with them and your client, you know, is is comfortable on video, you can always say, Do you have a minute to like repeat that, again, I would love it if I have your permission to have a video of you saying that thing that I can use on my website. So again, get to know how your client likes to communicate, it could be that they have no problem filling out forms, but maybe they trip over their own words while they’re talking. If that’s the case, then you know, give them that homework assignment of filling out a form with some predetermined questions that you’ve asked them. And know that even if you come at this from you know, requesting a testimonial of your client in a way that you’ve been communicating with them most often know that there’s a very good chance you’re going to have to send additional Testimonial Request that you’re going to like have to give them a little nudge and say, Hey, I know you’re busy, I totally get it. I just wanted to check in and see if you notice the questionnaire I sent you. It would really mean a lot to me if you were able to complete that. Or, you know, hey, I know you want you said you wanted to leave me a testimonial, but I haven’t seen it come into my inbox yet. What can I do to make this easier for you? Now I want to make one more key point before I move on from here. And I really encourage you to use these forms or the questions that you ask via email, social media, however you’re asking them, I really encourage you to ask for feedback as well. I mentioned earlier that this episode was going to kick off our client experience series. And the reason I did testimonials first, even though they are the end result of a positive client experience is because the information you gather from your clients, if you’re also asking for feedback can improve the entire client experience. So bringing it back to my earlier point about being able to ask at various touch points, ask questions. If we ask them midway through a project about their overall experience and what’s working for them, or if there’s any friction that they’re feeling throughout the project. Or maybe it’s as simple as like, is there anything I can do better to make this experience more streamlined or easy for you? The answers to those questions will help you for future clients. But they’ll also help you for your actual client you’re helping right then and there on the spa. Because you’re going to be able to pivot if there are any problems and improve the client experience overall. That can save overall you know, positive feelings between this new budding work relationship and it can be part of that testimonial in the end result. Now just to keep things short, I just want to review what we need to think about when it comes to testimonials. Like how do we use them? You know, should you make a standalone Testimonials page? That is a question that I get asked all the time. Before I answer I want to say use them throughout your website. Every single one site that I work on, I have to make a decision about testimonials for each individual one, there is no one right way to use a testimonial. For some clients, they have an extremely strong testimonial. So I will make that it’s only testimonial on the homepage. Other clients may have three very good ones. So you know, we’ll make it a slider, or we’ll make it where like a three column testimonial row on the website on the homepage. And then again, throughout the pages of their website, if they have sales pages, yes, you need multiple testimonials on the sales pages. And those testimonials have to be specific to what you’re selling. Same thing for services pages, whether there’s one main services page broken down into multiple parts, secondary services pages. If you have any questions on what I’m saying about secondary services pages, hop back over to that episode that we did in the website pages series. I’ll link to it in the show notes. But I really like urge you to look at what you have for testimonials before making the decision on where to place them throughout your site, and try to match the talking point within the testimonial to what the page itself is saying. Now, when it comes down to that question is should I have a standalone Testimonials page? I still think the answer is like website to website basis. But I think I’d say if I’m just going to give like an overarching answer it would be yes. Make a Testimonials page. Because it may help you with SEO. I don’t necessarily think you need to nest that in your main navigation bar. If anything, you could have it just be a hidden page on your website, or leave it in the footer of your website. But what usually happens with testimonials is your clients will use good key phrases that can help you SEO wise. So for example, if someone were to say, you know, like I loved working with Erin Ollila, because I was seeking out an SEO website copywriter, you know the importance of working with someone who knew how to write, copy and knew how to implement seo keywords into that copy was very helpful for me to make my decision to work with her, okay, and quote and pretend quote here. So the reason why that would work well for me is because it had terms that I’m ranking for already, SEO website, copywriter, SEO, key phrases, all of those things are good for my site. So having them on a page that’s you know, hidden away a little bit in the footer. And having multiple clients say things like that, whether it be someone call me a conversion copywriter, or maybe instead of an SEO website copywriter, they just say SEO copywriter, those are all helpful phrases to just keep on your site. That being said, I don’t think you have to worry about SEO here, I just mentioned it as a potential way that having one page of testimonials is helpful. But don’t go overboard and try to start writing content throughout this page. Just keep it so that way, what your clients are sharing is all on one page. Now we always get asked about where to use testimonials besides the web pages and sales pages. There are so many great places that you can use testimonial and things that are so obvious that I think it’s just so easy to overlook, like blog posts, for example. You know, if someone’s a coach, and they’re talking about like, what it’s like to onboard into a coaching experience? Or what does a coach expect from you when you first started working together like baths, the what the blog post is about? Well, maybe they have a great testimonial from one of their coaching clients that says like, you know, I was terrified to start my coaching experience. I didn’t know what to expect. And I was so worried that I didn’t have the right answers. But Coach so and so made it so easy for me to start working with her. And Cool, let’s just say and that would be a great thing to have in a blog post where you’re trying to inform because not only are you informing, but you are also sharing social proof. They can be used on off platform reviews like LinkedIn recommendations, Facebook recommendations, let’s say you have a business book, you can ask your audience to leave you reviews on your amazon BOOK account so that way other people are able to see the reviews and then even if they’re not within your network, they’ll purchase your book because they’re seeing the other people were affected by your book and that they were excited to recommend it to a larger scale audience. Testimonials can go in the footer of your emails when you send them out. Testimonials can go in case studies, testimonials can go on social media, they can go in your stories, they can go in your reels. Testimonials can also go on podcasts or YouTube channels. So I’m going to put a quick pause here because I want to share it are some reviews that were given recently to this podcast by some listeners that I haven’t yet actually thank them for on air. So first, I want to thank Tara, Sylvia B. Ro, I’m glad I took the time to listen to this podcast, I found it very helpful and informative. Erin has some great ideas, and I’ll be sure to try and put them to good use. Thank you, Tara. And Lady Gray, she sent us a review. And she said holy helpful coffee talk. Erin gives easy to understand copywriting tips that are actionable. So I appreciate both of you so much for listening. I didn’t plan on sharing those reviews during the show. But I’m happy I actually remember to because, you know, reviews help podcast hosts so much because it gives other people the social proof that I’m talking about that, you know, it’s important to listen to us and that what we have is valuable to share with our audience. So if you’re listening, and you haven’t yet reviewed the show, I would sincerely appreciate it. And I really appreciate you both Tara and Lady gray for leaving a review of this show. So again, see how you can just incorporate them into the different types of marketing efforts that you’re you’re taking on as a business owner. Testimonials are really so valuable. I know that you know that. And I just want to encourage you to actually take the step to go out there and get the testimonials for your business. I know that a lot of the times why people like business owners are not taking the steps to get testimonials. It’s really because they see them as important. But they don’t see testimonial sourcing as urgent. Think of it this way. This is the example that I use in my course, when you’re driving your car, you always keep a general eye on the gas gauge to know that you have enough gas right? Now imagine you have a little bit more than a quarter of a take, are you going to make like a mad dash to the gas station to fill up because you only have a quarter of a tank? I mean, for some people, the answer might be yes. But for most people, they’ll say that’s okay, I have a quarter of a tank, I can do this tomorrow, I’ll run that errand, then, you know, it’s not that big of a deal. And I think that’s how a lot of us as business owners are looking at testimonial sourcing. We know what’s important. We know what drives business decisions, just like gasoline in a car literally gets us from one place to another. Yeah, we look at what we may have already. It’s like having that quarter of a tank, there is nothing that we’re not staring at the empty, you know, flashing sign on our dashboard that is alerting us that our car is just going to simply break down because there’s no gas in it. So you have to be the person to make testimonial collection and urgent part of your business. And I know this doesn’t seem like the most sexy or exciting marketing effort that you can take today. But I think so often we we look at marketing, and we think of like a grand scale thing. Like we must prep for a course launch, we must create a welcome email sequence, we must rebrand our website. But so much of what makes that positive client or lead experience comes from those tiny moments of marketing. It comes from what you say in those forums. It comes from those those kindly written out emails comes from welcome guides, and it comes from social proof. So if you can make it an urgent tiny matter that you approach soon in your business, I think you’re gonna get to the point where you realize those tiny baby steps that you took by reaching out to old clients, it’s going to be so helpful for you in the future. So my biggest encouragement for you today, if you guys are looking for a homework exercise for me is just to reach out to one or two of the people you have previously worked with. And be honest and transparent with them, say to them, Hey, I’m looking to source more testimonials from my business and use them in my marketing. So future clients feel more confident and comfortable working with me. I loved working with you. I think we had such a nice time together. Is there any way that you have a moment to help me, you know, by writing a testimonial or would you be willing to answer just two or three questions, so that way I can get some feedback and maybe potentially a testimonial that will come out of what you’ve said, like, that’s it. It really can be that simple. You don’t need to overwhelm yourself here. Just reach out to just a few people that you’ve worked with and see if you can get a testimonial from them now so you can start using it in your business. All right friends, I have to say awesome episodes that are coming for you. Next, we’re going to be talking to Megan Dowd and Sharla Isaac about client experience, specifically, how you can support your clients best and give them the best service, as well as how you can use systems in your business so that you have the best client experience from those systems you create. So to conclude this episode, I just want to encourage you all to check out the testimonial toolbox product that I have created. It is a very low priced small course that walks you through so many different facets of what you need to do to set up the systems in your business. So that way you can be requesting, sourcing collecting, organizing, and using testimonials in your own business. What I love most about the testimonial toolbox is that each of the modules are jam packed with good stuff, but they are not overwhelming. I’m not going to make you sit at your desk for hours of a day to be able to figure out how to do this. I’m going to give you all the goods in bite size little lessons, so you can walk your way through it. Some of the feedback I’ve gotten so far about the course is that they were surprised and delighted to see that there was a whole lesson on their on the legality of testimonials, because that was not something that they regularly thought of or heard from people about social proof. Suzanne Polinsky is the CEO of the rock star advocate. She is a growth mindset coach for music industry professionals and she already worked through the entirety of the toolbox. She says I loved the straightforwardness and the streamlined approach in this course, I was able to digest it all in one sitting and walk away with clear steps on how to improve my approach to getting testimonials. She continues by saying if you’re lacking social proof, or feeling frustrated or timid when it comes to getting usable testimonials from your clients, walk yourself through this course to get a plan together for a more seamless client experience that serves them as well as potential leads. So thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Suzanne, for your feedback. I really appreciate it. Susie Oakley is another person who has already worked their way through the entire entire course and she says the testimonial toolbox course was a thorough, straightforward and practical. I also love the Erin shared her Trello board for tracking testimonials. And I am excited to share with you guys that there will be more project management tools added into the course soon. She also says if you want to use testimonials in your business but aren’t asking for them. This course will show you why and how plus give you that kick in the pants to get started asking. Thank you Susie, I really appreciate it. If you are listening, you can access or access the testimonial toolbox. I will make sure I put the link in the notes for easy access. And if you do finish the course please let me know how it works for you. Yes, I do ask for feedback. So I’m asking what worked well what didn’t what I can improve on and how I can just make this course better for everyone who’s listening. There’s about over 400 people right now who are enrolled in the testimonial toolbox so I really invite you to come join them and learn how to systemize testimonial collection and use of testimonials in your marketing in your very own business. All right, that is absolutely all I have today. Folks, thank you so much for listening in and we will be back next week to talk some more copy.