Every one has seen them before – the speech bubbles on the Internets’ sales pages. The happy faces with text next to them. And most importantly: one of the most convincing elements for getting clients online: Testimonials.
They may have already influenced you in the past in making decisions as to what and what not to buy online. Without you consciously being aware of it. Because what they do is add this level of realness. Which, more often than not, works without you even reading them closely.
So testimonials are a must for your website, especially when you are working closely and intimately with your clients. But also if you’re selling a business book.
And of course there is a layer that goes deeper, a more concrete requirement for testimonials than “just being there”.
Guess what: if you send an email to your client after your series of 5 coaching sessions, asking for a testimonial, they are most likely not to give you the most helpful answer, even if they praise you to the skies. Because ideally a testimonial doesn’t only say “Coach Jane Doe is super awesome and changed my life”. Ideally a testimonial takes the reader on a journey. We’ll show you the best structure for that journey below.
For suggesting a journey to your current readers, it’s not enough to write “Hey, could you send me a testimonial?” You have to take your (former) client on the journey again, by asking him/her concrete questions that give you answers you can work with. The following questions work great, and we’ll show you why.
For this section we’ll simply assume you are offering coaching sessions. Of course you can modify the questions so that they also work for workshops, online courses, etc.
Note: you can download a fillable PDF and Word template to use for your clients:
What was going on in your life before working with me?
Let’s start at the beginning. And for your potential future clients (present readers), that might be exactly where they are right now. So you definitely have their attention if they find themselves in this particular situation.
What brought you to book a session?
Once your reader identifies with your former client (because he has the same problem that your former client had), he is probably still in doubt about booking your services or participating in your workshop. If you manage to get your former clients to tell you how they made the leap, your readers might become motivated to do so as well. It’s great if you get answers like: ”there was this particular day where I was struggling with the problem and I said to myself: ENOUGH! Today I am going to commit to transformation. Then I booked the sessions with you”.
How was your experience during the session?
The next doubt most prospective clients will have, and your testimonial can help to overcome, is: “Is that guy maybe a total creep and won’t working with him be super awkward?” It helps a lot when your former happy clients send you some sentences about how great and comfortable you made them feel during your sessions.
What benefits did you gain from the session?
Here we come to a very typical part of a testimonial, which is rarely omitted. But still, we want to make sure our former happy clients also write a sentence or two about how they benefited. This is often the part you can emphasize in your sales page, e.g. by making it bold.
Would you recommend the session to others?
With a bit of luck, and by asking the right questions of course, your former clients will write a call to action to anyone who is reading the testimonial. How great is that?
Can I use the testimonial on my website with your name next to it?
And finally, ask for permission to use what the person just wrote you. There’s a 99% chance that they’ll say yes, because they assume you’re gonna be using it anyhow. The good thing when asking this so concretely is that you can collect all the information you need at this point. Because testimonials are only as powerful as they are trustworthy. So consider adding the following elements to the written testimonial, and ask for them at this stage:
- Full Name
- Country of residence
- Profile Photo
- Link to social media accounts (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn)
- Link to website
The more tangible the person is, the more authentic the testimonial will be, and the more effect it will have on your sales. I’m not saying you need all of those, and depending on your field of work it might even be counter- productive to ask for all of them. But find out the ingredients that apply in your case, and do ask for them specifically.
Putting it all together
After you have asked your former client all those questions, you will get an email reply or a filled out form with separate, not necessarily connected, paragraphs. So what you need to do is edit the chunks of text into one smooth testimonial. Feel free to shorten sections if it’s getting too long, or also delete some things that are not relevant.
Then, to stay credible, of course send the edited version back to the original testimonial author, and ask if you can use it on your site like this. This is important, because we don’t want to make testimonials up. But of course we want to optimize them without losing authenticity. Editing and asking if the edits are ok guarantees exactly that.
The last thing to do is publish them on your website with all the additional information that you are allowed to publish. Image, name, age, etc…
Make them stand out visually, so it is clear for the visitor that this is a statement by a real person. If you are not allowed to or don’t want to use photos, use an avatar image.
And regarding the placement: they work best when placed within the sales context. Exactly at that point of a sales page where visitors might think “wow, that sounds too good to be true, there must be a catch to it…” – that’s when you want to pull out that convincing testimonial.
Download the template
We’ve put together a non-branded PDF and Word template that you can use for your own business. Get it here: