The Ultimate Guide on How to Get Testimonials (and Use Them Smartly)

57 amazing comments

how to get testimonials

We really need to focus on how to get testimonials.

It’s extremely important.

Last week I was working with a mate to design an advertising campaign for his iPhone App and during that process something that came up was how essential good testimonials are.

Here’s some things you might not realize:

  • Testimonials increase sales and sign ups
    If you use them smartly you’ll be able to get more people on your mailing list or purchasing your product.
  • You need the right ones
    If you collect the wrong customer testimonials or put them in the wrong place you can actually do more harm than good.
  • The way they are displayed matters
    If you display them poorly or emphasize the wrong things you’ll put people off.

In this post I’m going to give you an overview of how to get more testimonials for your blog, website, App, book, product or real-world business. I’ll also show you how to use them smartly.

Note: This is a topic similar to what you’ll find in our Special Ops course. Make sure you’re subscribed to this blog to get notified of when it opens up again.

What is a testimonial and what makes it amazing?

Before we talk about how to get testimonials let’s take a quick look at a definition and talk about what makes one amazing.


A testimonial is a truthful endorsement whereby someone testifies to the quality of a product, person or service. – I just made that up.

As an example, if you go to my About Me and You page you will see that I have a few testimonials from readers that I grabbed from Twitter. These act as a public endorsement that helps people to appreciate that this is a safe and trustworthy site.

You’ll notice a few things in that definition:

  • It has to be truthful
    I think making up testimonials is unethical but it also usually gets seen through and thus serves to make your site less trustworthy, not more.
  • It is an endorsement
    A testimonial really has to be coming from someone who is personally willing to endorse your product or website. That means they should have used it.
  • It should mention the qualities
    It’s not really good enough for that person just to say they’ve tried it; they should also say they liked it and why.

You might also notice that it doesn’t have a fixed form (like a written quote) but we’ll get more into that later on in the article.

How to get testimonials (amazing ones)

Let’s move on to the juicy part: how do we get more testimonials and, more importantly, how to we make sure they are amazing?

1. Use Twitter and its archives

Okay so Twitter is an amazing source of testimonials for almost any type of blog or online business. People go there to vent, socialize or praise things so (if you’re doing things well) you’ll notice a steady steam of people saying nice things about you.

Testimonials that come from Twitter also have the added benefit of looking more authoritative because everyone knows that a Tweet is public and thus the thing must have been good for them to say it like that!

You have three options here:

  • Wait for them
    Wait until you see someone say something good and then take a screen shot of it.
  • Ask for them
    If you need testimonials about a specific thing it is totally okay to ask people to give some feedback on X area of your site or service.
  • Search the archives
    There are some great tools like BackTweets, SnapBird and TwimeMachine that let you search for old Tweets so you don’t have to scroll through all your Tweets. (Note: Some of these services require you to log in through their website which means they get access to some parts of your Twitter account. Make sure you do your research before using.)

Once you have found the good Twitter testimonials you then take what is called a “screenshot” or “screen grab” of that conversation.

  • On a Mac: You can take a screenshot by pressing Command Shift 4 and then using the little crosshairs to select the area you want to save. It will save the selection to the desktop.
  • On a PC: Just use the Snipping Tool in Widows 7 and above by going Start > Snipping Tool I keep the Snipping Tool in my toolbar for quick use.

Twitter actually has some guidelines on how to display these things.

Chris Ducker and StrongVPN

Above is an example of a Twitter screenshot that I am using in an upcoming post about VPNs where Chris Ducker recommends Strong VPN for while I am away traveling. As you can see, you can use this for more than just direct testimonials.

My favorite iPhone App Zombies, Run! also has a really nice way of displaying Tweets down the bottom.

2. Conduct a survey and ask for testimonials

You might remember an old post I did on how to conduct an blog survey. This is a fantastic way to get testimonials from people who have a lot to do with your business.

Basically the way it works is that you send out a survey by email using Survey Monkey and as a final question just ask something like, “Would you mind giving my site a short testimonial?

blog survey
A screenshot of a survey being created in Survey Monkey.

It’s good practice to ask permission wherever possible so make sure you email people and let them know that their photo and quote will be used on your website if they consent. Of course, you only need to email someone if you have selected their testimonial for your website.

There are many WordPress plugins and tools that allow you to do this on your blog but, personally, I think it’s better to use email as it gives people more privacy and room to write what they really feel.

3. Use quotes from emails that people send you

In my Gmail I have a separate label for any email that I get that I think might be useful for a future testimonial.

gmail label

Whenever someone sends me a suitable email I just move it to my Testimonials folder/label. It’s a great way to create a place where you have easy access to things that might be useful in the future.

As I mentioned above, you always need to ask the permission of the person before you use that particular person’s email in public. That is very important.

Email testimonials look really good because, like Twitter, it shows that someone has taken the time out of the natural progression of their day to send you an email about your website or product.

I’ll have more on how to display these properly below.

4. Use comments that people leave on your blog

If you have been using my strategies to get more comments you might have a lot of little gems just laying around on your blog.

Sometimes it can be hard to use these because they are often very specific to the post that you’re pulling them from. For example, if they’re complimenting you on your post about flying saucers it will be kind of hard to use that as a general statement about your authority as a quantum physics blogger.

Again, use the screenshot technique above to grab the whole comment and give it some context. All the better if they have set up a Gravatar to display their profile photo.

testimonial blog tyrant

Above is an example of a comment that can be used to get a testimonial that I pulled from my last post about how to start a fashion blog. It’s quite general and so could work well.

Again, if you don’t get many comments you could always add a little note at the beginning of your post asking for a few more in relation to getting some testimonials.

How to use your testimonials smartly, grasshopper

Now that we’ve covered how to get testimonials we should move on and talk about where and how to use them smartly.

Why do we need to use them smartly?

As with most things in blogging, it is a real waste of time if you get something good (like traffic, subscribers, etc.) and then lose them because you don’t use them properly. Testimonials really only have the desired effect if you use them in clever ways. In fact, if you use them badly you can often really damage the way you are perceived.

1. Use them at friction points

One of the things I talk about in Special Ops (again, subscribe if you want in) is that you need to place the right testimonials at places where people need to read them.

For example, if you have an expensive product that you are selling you should try to use testimonials that talk about how much value the product adds or how affordable it really is once you start to use it. This helps people overcome the friction point of not wanting to pay too much money.

crazy egg testimonials

On Crazy Egg’s pricing page they use a lot of material talking about money back guarantees but they also have this testimonial about increasing conversions. That translates to more money.

Try to think about some other places on your blog where people might get “stuck” and find a testimonial for that spot.

2. Design them professionally

Sloppily designed testimonials really act to cheapen your website. It’s important to make sure the design fits in with your overall brand while still ensuring that the testimonial makes an impact.

Let go

The above screenshot is taken from the website of Pat Flynn’s book Let Go (has anyone here read it?) which I think is a really cool design for displaying testimonials. They are all added at nice places and the design fits perfectly with the flow and professionalism of the rest of the site.

3. Include the necessary elements

When you display a testimonial it is not enough to just show the actual text or praise itself. That stuff needs to be accompanied by some critical elements that make the testimonial complete.

  • A photo
    Without a professional looking image of the person the text looks dead or made up. People connect to human faces.
  • A website or business
    Sometimes when you just have the person’s name it looks a little made up. By adding a website or business URL you are giving it more legitimacy.
  • A location
    This is not always necessary but it is sometimes quite useful to show the person’s location. For example, if the testimonial is for a shop in California it is pointless to have someone from India giving it a review.

These are the main ones that I have found to be useful but I’d be interested to see if you can think of any more things that you look for when deciding whether or not an endorsement is legit.

4. Don’t forget video, voice and other formats

The last thing I want to talk about is that nowadays there are a lot of different ways to use testimonials that might actually mean that they have a bigger impact.

For example, if you can get someone to make a short video about how much they loved your product or blog you’ll find that it has a really big impact. It is visual, compelling and not as commonly seen.

Can you think of a format that has been doing this really well for year?

Yep.

Late night television informercials.

Have a look at what I think is one of the most compelling sales videos you’ll ever see – the Total Gym with Chuck Norris.

As you’ll notice, the video is littered with people talking about how much weight they’ve lost, how toned their abs have become and so on. I’m never really sure whether or not these people are paid actors (that is illegal in Australia as far as I know) but that kind of visual testimonial acts as a very powerful form of social proof and this video does them very well.

Sure, I might not be able to become Walker Texas Ranger but maybe I can become like that dad who lost 15 kilograms in a year.

Try and think about different formats that your testimonials can take and implement them in places where it might have a dramatic effect.

How do you get testimonials?

I’d like to open up the comments now and find out how you get testimonials for your blog, product or service. Do you ask for them? Have you tried any of these strategies successfully? Please leave me a comment.

Top photo: Β© Bowie15.

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57 Comments. Join in. *Closed after 30 days*

  • Rahat

    I’ve seen the sales of my eBook drastically increase after I added testimonials with the images of the people giving it.

    Here’s a tip for the readers:

    I manage to get loads of testimonials by sending an auto-1 week followup after they’ve purchased my eBook.

    Maybe you could do something similar with your products.


    1. Ramsay

      Great idea. How does it work exactly?


    2. Graham Hays

      Wonder if this would work for all products. I have follow up calls and emails after I launch websites for clients. Are we talking about the same thing? I am interested in the format of your email. If your willing to share I am interested.


      1. Ramsay

        Graham one thing you can try is asking for a review on Google+ or Facebook or whatever in your invoices when you send the final bill.


        1. Graham Hays

          Thanks, I will do this!


  • Rahul Kuntala

    Hey Ramsay,

    Nice write up!

    I recently launched a freebie to my blog visitors.

    And I know I want testimonials from REAL people, here’s what I did.

    I sent an email to my list with the subject line “Get A Do-follow Backlink By Giving A Testimonial”

    You know how it works πŸ˜‰

    Cheers,
    Rahul Kuntala


    1. Ramsay

      Where did you put their back link?


      1. Rahul Kuntala

        On my blog post Ramsay. Here.


  • Patrick

    I think you’re right – learning how to get testimonials IS really important. I’m amazed this isn’t covered more often tbh.

    I noticed a huge jump in the number of email sign ups after adding screen grabs of Twitter, Facebook and Email testimonials to my About page.

    I think I prefer those social media type of testimonies over ones that have been written to specifically ‘impress’ a prospective customer/lead…

    What do you reckon?


    1. Ramsay

      Hey Pat.

      I agree mate. They look more organic. Much easier to trust.


  • Darius

    Great post, what do you think about using paid video testimonials? In the US it is legal. Would it do more harm than good if people can’t tell it is done by an actor or actress?


    1. Ramsay

      Why doesn’t that surprise me that it’s legal there? πŸ˜‰

      I wouldn’t do it. Personally I think it’s dishonest.


      1. Darius

        Agree, but for those like me who start out with no sales or clients and wasn’t given a chance yet you could work for free to get testimonials or you could fake it to you get real testimonials. But I always recommend the honest route first.


        1. Ramsay

          I recommend doing some free work to build up those initial testimonials.


  • Sylvia

    Wow, the timing of this post is just spooky! Just 20 minutes ago I sent out some emails to customers that bought my ebooks to request a testimonial. I have been putting this off for months because I was nervous about asking. Shouldn’t customers OFFER a testimonial or shoot me a quick email to say how much they loved what they purchased? On the flip side, what if they didn’t like it and now that I’m asking what they thought, maybe they’ll ask for a refund? (I have a 100% satisfaction record and don’t want to jinx it.)

    I finally decided most people are just too lazy, er, I mean, busy, to do this without being prompted.

    On my About page I used a quote from a magazine editor who sought me out and said she was impressed with my insights regarding my niche (business plan writing).

    BTW that’s one of my tweets on your About page! Too cool!


    1. Ramsay

      Let us know how you go with the asking/receiving.


  • Jamie

    One big tip I give people is to use testimonials as hesitation busters, and to ask leading questions in your surveys so that you get the types of testimonials you’re looking for.

    For example, if someone is concerned that they might not have time to do your course, you could ask course participants, “How will the time you spent working the course save you time and make you extra money in the future” or something like that. Because then they talk about it.

    Then, when put this testimonial on your sales page/website where they are already thinking about the time involved.

    It’s pretty awesome. πŸ™‚ Leading questions rock for getting even more powerful testimonials.


    1. Ramsay

      Jamie! So good to see you here. πŸ™‚

      What does it feel like to visit Blog Tyrant again? πŸ˜‰


    2. Rochelle

      Ohhhh! I like the leading questions idea.

      I have thought briefly about testimonials, but have been a bit chicken in regards to asking people for them, and then worried they say H-no, you can’t put them on your site. Ha ha ha. I need to put my big girl panties on and get this going!


      1. Ramsay

        Go for it.

        No one cares as much as you.

        That’s what I tell myself


  • Zakari

    I created a twitter account for my website which hasnt even gone live yet!
    Why?
    Mainly for testimonials!
    On my twitter i advertise the grand opening date of my website and in the mean time i help people with their specific questions pertaining to my niche (which is the same thing my site will do).
    Already i have at least 10 fantastic testimonials to use!

    So great tips!

    -Zakari


    1. Ramsay

      Nice idea!


  • Bernadett

    Hi Ramsay,
    in one of your posts I read this:
    “There is a marketing rule that says that the more choices you give people the less likely they are to make one. I have found that this applies to surveys quite well. [Tweet this quote]”

    Could you share your business aim in this connection, please?
    1. What is the role of [Tweet this quote] in business viewpoint?
    2. How do you select (on what basis do you choose) the sentece you want to be shared?
    3. How many of your blog-readers tweet it?

    Thanks your answer in advance.


    1. Ramsay

      Hi Bernadett.

      1. Generally it’s just a way to give people a new way to promote my article. It works well because it’s in the body of the post as opposed to at the end or beginning where everyone is used to seeing it.

      2. Just anything that is short and widely applicable.

      3. Sometimes not many but in some old content the quotes get re-tweeted for months and months. Good way to send traffic back to old posts.

      Hope helps.


  • DNTMb

    lol, it’s masterpiece article. Spark my ideas how to reuse comments from my customer.

    Thanks a lot.


    1. Ramsay

      No problems.


  • Chris Lovie-Tyler

    In the early days of freelancing, I did a bunch of free jobs in return for testimonials, and it paid off. I got some great testimonials, and it helped me get further work.

    Now, when I get to the end of a job, if a customer is raving about the work I’ve done, I’ll ask them for a testimonial. They’re usually more than happy to give me one.


    1. Ramsay

      That’s the way to do it!


  • Chris Lovie-Tyler

    Should have said, too, Linkedin recommendations are another source of testimonials.


  • Brian

    Great info on something I’ve always wondered about but hadn’t thought too hard about. Thanks for getting the thinking part started for me Ramsay.


    1. Tiffany

      Heya Brian! I just left a comment below yours. I’m confused about how you got your dazzling gravatar to show up next to your comment. I HAVE a gravatar linked to my website… I thought… but it doesn’t show up here. How’d you do that?

      Wait a minute! Maybe I misspelled my website above. Aw man. How mortifying if THAT was the problem. I’m about to find out…


  • Tiffany

    Whoops! I am the unfortunate soul who didn’t have a gravatar in my accidental testimonial. But I DO have one – after being vehemently scolded by Pat Flynn – and it is in use on MY website. But I don’t know how to get it to show up on YOUR website when I leave a comment. Anyone know how to make this happen?


    1. Ramsay

      Hi Tiffany.

      Have you seen my post on this topic?

      http://www.blogtyrant.com/gravatar-tips-get-comments-clicked/


  • Chris

    Came here just to see your thank you page, good post from 2 years ago still relevant!


    1. Ramsay

      Ha ha. Get that all the time.


  • Melissa Wilson

    Great post, Ramsay! Thanks for all of the information here. I’ll be launching a website soon so I’ll definitely be coming back to this post when I need tips on how to handle testimonials. Thanks!


    1. Ramsay

      Glad it helped Melissa.


  • Vukasin

    Fantastic idea man. I will implement testimonials in my website in the upcoming days.
    Thank you very much! πŸ™‚


    1. Ramsay

      Good work!


  • Julian Adorney

    Great post, Ramsay! As director of marketing for a start-up I’m always looking for great testimonials, and this page some great tips. I love the idea of keeping a separate email folder for possible testimonials!

    I was wondering, though: so many people fake testimonials and other “social proof” that I think consumers are starting to trust it less. I could even see an unscrupulous company making fake Twitter accounts to ‘endorse’ its product. How can we show customers that our testimonials really are genuine and not elaborate fakery?


    1. Ramsay

      Hi Julian.

      It’s an interesting question.

      I think perhaps the more important point is to ask: how do we know that the testimonials are helping conversions? To answer that, I think it’s a good idea to split test two versions of the same page with and without testimonials and see which performs.


  • Tiffany

    I think I figured out how to use my avatar – thanks to you, Ramsey! Hoorah! Phew! Now on to figuring out this testimonial business. Thanks for another great post!


    1. Ramsay

      Much better!


  • Karl Dennis

    Hey, my main takeaway from this was what you said about targeted testimonials placed to counteract the friction. Wonderful, you opened my eyes to something there.

    Also your an Aussie too? Still in Australia or over here in USA also?

    You made a new follower, Cheers!!


    1. Ramsay

      Hey Karl.

      I’m on holiday in Europe at the moment but heading home soon.

      Glad you liked it!


  • Jennifer

    This is a great idea and something that is far too often overlooked. I haven’t really thought in terms of the importance of testimonials for my startup business. I will be sure to use the tips and tricks you’ve listed to elicit some great ones for my website when it launches.


    1. Ramsay

      Hope it helps!


  • Matthew Kaboomis Loomis

    Hello Ramsay,

    I recently came across someone who used a voice mail from a happy client as a testimonial. They posted the voice mail on their website. The audio quality was good and I thought it worked really well. You could hear the genuine enthusiasm in the person’s voice.

    Thanks for the useful article here.


    1. Ramsay

      That’s a really good place/style to get a testimonial. Thanks for sharing!


  • Arbaz K

    Getting testimonials for a product is not a big problem. The main thing is to make an impact on your audience by showing them the testimonial. Designing the testimonial in a way that it catches the attention immediately is the task that you should focus on!


    1. Ramsay

      Agree. Display is a big part of it.


  • STEVEN J. FROMM, ATTORNEY, LL.M. (TAXATION)

    Ramsey, great post. A lot of useful information. I never thought about some of these ideas like putting a picture or a location with the testimonials. Also making them look more attractive is something I need to do. Thanks for the tips.


    1. Ramsay

      Glad you enjoyed this one too Steven.


  • Matthew Newnham

    Hi Ramsay,

    Great article, thanks. I’ve been coaching my clients on getting testimonials that read more like case studies, but you’ve also opened my eyes to the great value of harvesting live comments from your readers. How natural and authentic – thanks for sharing. I’ll be sure to follow your blog from now on. – Best wishes from Scotland, Matthew


    1. Ramsay

      I think the Tweets really work well. Very organic.


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