How to ask for and make use of amazing client testimonials

Amanda Dykstra • October 12

One of the best ways to get new clients is to have testimonials from happy clients. How do you go about getting those testimonials? Once you have them, how can you use them to market your business?

Table of contents:

Why do testimonials work?

Psychology.

Testimonials tap into two key psychological phenomena: Social proof and Authority bias.

Social proof: We’re more likely to do something if we see others doing it. If we see that other people have been happy with a service, we’re more likely to believe that we will be happy as well.

Authority bias: We’re more likely to trust someone if they are seen as an authority figure. And what’s a better way to establish yourself as an authority than by getting rave reviews?

“Testimonials give you credibility beyond what you can say about yourself. It’s always better if the words come from a happy client” - Andy Strote (@StroteBook), agency founder and author of “How to Start a Successful Creative Agency”.

“Client testimonials - when used correctly - are a powerful signal of credibility and proof. They are stronger than your own claims, because someone else is speaking on your behalf.” - Matthew Fenton (@WinningSolo), Founder & Chief Soloist of WinningSolo.com.

How to ask for testimonials

There are two ways you can ask for testimonials:

  1. Reach out to your happy clients and let them know that you would appreciate a testimonial. The best time to reach out is after a project is completed and the client is happy with the results. Matthew Fenton suggests you can say:

“If you were pleased with my work and you have a moment, would you be able to provide a short testimonial for use in my marketing? Any specifics you could share about my strengths and results would be appreciated.”

  1. Turn the nice things clients say about you into formal testimonials. Pay attention to what clients say about you on social media, in emails, and when giving you feedback. Angela Tague (@AngelaTague), freelance content marketing writer and founder of WebWritingAdvice.com recommends reiterating a few of the words they used in their praise and keep the ask short. For example:

“Thanks so much for complimenting me on my attention to detail and knowledge of this subject matter. Would you be open to sharing those ideas in a short 2-3 sentence testimonial for me?”

Tips for getting testimonials:

Andy Strote recommends providing clients with some talking points or highlights from your work together. This will help your clients focus their thoughts and give a more concise testimonial.

Some clients might encounter writer’s block. If that’s the case, you can offer to write a draft and send it to them for approval. You can also provide them with examples of your other testimonials for a guideline.

You should always get written consent before publicly displaying a testimonial. This shows that you value your clients’ privacy. It also helps to build trust and avoid any misunderstandings down the road.

Testimonials that convert:

Testimonials can be extremely powerful for driving sales and growing your freelance business. For testimonials to work, they need to be specific and relevant. Prospects need to see themselves in the testimonial.

What should a testimonial include?

The more information a testimonial has, the more credible it is. Try to include these key pieces of information:

  • The client’s full name
  • The client’s job title or company name
  • A photo of the client - This helps to add a personal touch and humanizes the testimonial.
  • A quote from the client - Make sure the quote is specific, detailed and relevant to your target audience.

Bonus: A headline above the testimonial - Matthew Fenton suggests including a headline to the testimonial helps make the story you want to tell ultra-clear.

“If you can’t include the full name, title, and employer, it’s often best not to use the testimonial at all. Nobody cares about a testimonial from some guy named “Dave W.” with no other identifying information.” - Matthew Fenton

How long should a testimonial be?

Shorter testimonials are more effective than longer ones. This is because they are more likely to be read than longer ones. In addition, shorter testimonials are easier for readers to digest and understand.

“Ideally, a testimonial should be two to three sentences and cover a few points” - Andy Strote

Where to use testimonials

On your website:

One of the most effective ways to use testimonials is to feature them on your website. This makes it easy for potential clients to see how your business has helped others. Put testimonials on your most popular pages such as your homepage, about me page, and contact page.

Choose testimonials that are relevant to your target audience. They should also focus on specific aspects of your work. Andy Strote suggests putting testimonials with relevant portfolio samples. If you’re showing work from ABC Corp and you have a testimonial from them, put them together.

Should you have a dedicated testimonials page?

The downside to having a dedicated testimonials page is it’s often one of the least visited pages. If you spread them around your most popular pages they are more likely to be seen by visitors.

“I’m not a believer in a dedicated testimonials page, because it forces the viewer to click away to get proof. Instead, make it easy for them. Include testimonials on your home page, services page, and contact page, and anywhere else that it makes sense” - Matthew Fenton

Use testimonials in new pitch decks, emails, social media:

Andy Stote recommends not only using testimonials on your website, but also using them in new business pitch decks, cold call emails and social media. Therefore, you should be always collecting testimonials. Matthew Fenton also says you can never have too many. Even if nobody reads them all, the fact that you have so many sends a signal of its own.

Asking for testimonials from your clients should be a regular part of doing business. If you’re not already requesting client feedback, we hope this article has inspired you to start! And if you have been asking for testimonials but haven’t been using them as much as you could be, hopefully this post has given you some good ideas on where and how to use them to grow your business.

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