What are Testimonials?

Updated June 24, 2022

Customer testimonials are a popular strategy in advertising for businesses, especially when incorporated into a company’s website or social media pages. Effective testimonials are from real customers who use and enjoy your product or service, and in turn help to increase sales.

If you're interested in what testimonials can do for your business, you need to know the types of testimonials and how to use them. In this article, we explain what testimonials are used for, their benefits, how to format a testimonial and some simple ways to get more testimonials for your business.

What are testimonials?

In the world of business and advertising, testimonials are written or spoken statements that praise or recommend a product. Testimonials are usually written by ordinary customers who were asked to share their experience with a particular item or service. Some businesses also pay celebrities to provide testimonials in what is commonly called an endorsement deal. Testimonials are used in a variety of ways, including on company websites, in TV commercials and on product packaging.

Related: Marketing's Promotional Mix: Definition and How To Use It

Benefits of testimonials

Testimonials can be a powerful tool for appealing to potential customers. Here are some specific benefits associated with testimonials:

Increased trust

Testimonials help businesses build trust with their customer base. Generally speaking, customers are more likely to trust the word of a fellow consumer than an advertising pitch from a brand. Authentic testimonials that praise the company and rave about the product can be an effective way of marketing to skeptical customers.

More relatable

Testimonials also help potential customers by associating a face with the product. Instead of originating from an impersonal corporate entity, testimonials are perceived as coming from people who are relatable and human. Customers can find it easy to empathize with the writers of testimonials and can picture themselves using the same product. Adding a human element like testimonials to a marketing campaign is an effective way for brands to connect with the public.

Reduced costs

Testimonials are often a cost-effective form of marketing. Customers who truly love a product and want to support the company are likely to supply testimonials for free. In fact, the best and most trustworthy testimonials are often the ones that customers write in product reviews. A company that utilizes free testimonials may be able to cut down on advertising costs and reduce its marketing budget.

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How to get testimonials for your business

You can use different methods to find and collect testimonials for marketing purposes, including:

1. Provide an option to leave product reviews

One of the easiest ways to gather your customers' impressions of your products is to allow them to write product reviews. Ask your customers to leave a review, including by email, on the product's receipt or your company website. To incentivize your customers to participate, you can offer a discount code, gift or other bonus in exchange for a review. If the process of leaving a review is relatively simple and easy, you are more likely to get usable responses regularly.

2. Contact your loyal customers personally

Ideally, you want your most supportive customers to be the ones writing your testimonials. One way to facilitate this is to reach out to your most loyal customers individually and invite them to provide a testimonial. When doing so, be sure to acknowledge their support and tell them how much their business means to the company. The customers are likely to appreciate your efforts and supply you with positive reviews.

3. Ask good questions

A good testimonial is detailed and descriptive. If your product review system allows customers to leave simple responses like "Great product!" or "Works well," you are not likely to get many longer-form testimonials. To avoid this issue, ask "how" and "why" questions. These types of questions urge the customer to explain in detail how the product has benefited them and why they would recommend it to others. Leading questions like these are more likely to provoke meaningful answers that you can use for marketing purposes.

4. Edit and adapt the results

When using testimonials, it is important to preserve the customer's authentic content. You want to stay true to the original voice, style and emotion, even if you have to make some edits. Most testimonials are edited to remove spelling errors, typos or grammar mistakes. Businesses also might shorten testimonials to make them easier to feature in commercials or on product packaging. How much editing a testimonial goes through depends largely on how the company intends to use it.

What should a testimonial include?

You can present testimonials in a variety of formats, but most will feature one or more of the following important elements:

  • Customer's name

  • Date the testimonial was provided

  • General location of customer by city or state

  • Photograph of the customer

  • Name of the product the customer uses

These facts help to legitimize the testimonial in the eyes of other consumers. Details like the name of the city or state where the customer lives make them seem more like a real person, and thus, more trustworthy.

The body of the testimonial varies depending on the product and experiences of the customer. Ideally, you want the customer to write a thorough review in a positive tone. Specific references to the product's features or capabilities make the testimonial more effective as an advertising tool. Overall, you want your reviewer to share genuine enthusiasm about the product in a natural and relatable way.

Where to use testimonials

You can feature testimonials in several highly effective ways. Some of the most common options include:

  • Company and product websites

  • Print marketing materials

  • Email newsletters

  • Product packaging

  • Television and radio commercials

  • Social media posts

  • Promotional videos

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