How to Give and Get Exceptional Testimonials, Part One

In an age where we’re faced with too many choices, testimonials help us trust enough to make a decision to buy. Are you using this powerful tool in your business?

Testimonials work because you’re not tooting your own horn — others are doing it for you.

In this episode, Pamela Wilson sits in for Sonia once again, and reveals the story arc that makes testimonials believable. She covers the six “magic” questions that generate powerful testimonials, courtesy of Sean D’Souza.

They are …

  1. What was the obstacle that would have prevented you from buying this product?
  2. What did you find as a result of buying this product?
  3. What specific feature did you like most about this product?
  4. What are three other benefits of this product?
  5. Would you recommend this product? If so, why?
  6. Is there anything you’d like to add?

In this episode, Pamela talks about …

  • The three types of testimonials — and which type is the easiest to get and most versatile to use
  • How to create a sense of connection between your prospective buyer and the person behind your testimonial
  • The best time to “harvest” testimonials (hint: look for “peak happiness” moments)
  • How to make gathering testimonials an automatic part of your marketing efforts


The Show Notes


How to Give and Get Exceptional Testimonials, Part One

Jerod Morris: Hey, Jerod Morris here. If you know anything about Rainmaker Digital and Copyblogger, you may know that we produce incredible live events. Well, some would say that we produce incredible live events as an excuse to throw great parties, but that’s another story. We’ve got another one coming up this October in Denver. It’s called Digital Commerce Summit, and it is entirely focused on giving you the smartest ways to create and sell digital products and services. You can find out more at Rainmaker.FM/Summit.

We’ll be talking about Digital Commerce Summit in more detail as it gets closer, but for now, I’d like to let a few attendees from our past events speak for us.

Attendee 1: For me, it’s just hearing from the experts. This is my first industry event, so it’s awesome to learn new stuff and also get confirmation that we’re not doing anything completely wrong where I work.

Attendee 2: The best part of the conference for me is being able to mingle with people and realize that you have connections with everyone here. It feels like LinkedIn Live. I also love the parties after each day, being able to talk to the speakers, talk to other people who are here for the first time, people who have been here before.

Attendee 3: I think the best part of the conference for me is understanding how I can service my customers a little more easily. Seeing all the different facets and components of various enterprises then helps me pick the best tools.

Jerod Morris: Hey, we agree — one of the biggest reasons we host a conference every year is so that we can learn how to service our customers, people like you, more easily. Here are just a few more words from folks who have come to our past live events.

Attendee 4: It’s really fun. I think it’s a great mix of beginner information and advanced information. I’m really learning a lot and having a lot of fun.

Attendee 5: The conference is great, especially because it’s a single-track conference where you don’t get distracted by, “Which session should I go to?” and, “Am I missing something?”

Attendee 6: The training and everything, the speakers have been awesome, but I think the coolest aspect for me has been connecting with both people who are putting it on and then other attendees.

Jerod Morris: That’s it for now. There’s a lot more to come on Digital Commerce Summit, and I really hope to see you there in October. Again, to get all the details and the very best deal on tickets, head over to Rainmaker.FM/Summit.

Pamela Wilson: Welcome back to Copyblogger FM, the content marketing podcast. Copyblogger FM is about emerging content marketing trends, interesting disasters, enduring best practices, along with the occasional rant. If you’re a loyal listener, you probably picked up on the fact that I am not Sonia Simone. My name is Pamela Wilson, and I’m the Executive Vice President of Educational Content at Rainmaker Digital.

Sonia asked me to sit in for her this month, and I’m so pleased to be here with you. I manage the Copyblogger blog along with our Editor-in-Chief, Stefanie Flaxman, and I manage the educational products we offer on My Copyblogger, which include our Authority advanced content marketing training program and our Copyblogger content marketer certification program.

In today’s episode, we’re going to talk about testimonials — why it’s important to make gathering testimonials a part of your ongoing tasks. I’m going to follow up on this topic in the next episode of Copyblogger FM. We’ll talk about another aspect of testimonials — an aspect that not that many people talk about, which is why it’s important to give testimonials and what you gain by giving a testimonial to another business. It might surprise you, actually.

Why It’s Important to Make Gathering Testimonials Part of Your Ongoing Tasks

This week we are all about getting testimonials. I started thinking about this topic because last month in the United States, we had our two national presidential conventions. Now, don’t worry, I promise not to talk about politics. I think we all have had enough talk about politics. What I realized when I saw the conventions, though, is that they are basically one long series of testimonials — testimonial speeches that lead right up to the point that the nominee speaks.

All of those speeches that are given by family members and colleagues, they are designed to help sway the minds of the people watching. Testimonials are super powerful. That’s why the conventions use them. They deliver good news about a person, a product, or a service, and I think they’re powerful because someone else is doing the talking.

It’s the difference between a company saying how amazing it is and someone else saying how amazing a company is. It comes down to social proof. With the rise of social media, we’ve seen how others’ opinions can influence our purchases, but this is not a new phenomenon.

The idea that our peers influence our purchases goes way back. I think back to even just my own mother’s generation.

My mother would run into her girlfriends at the supermarket. She would have a toddler in the shopping cart and a baby on her hip, and they might talk about how the strawberries in the produce department looked really fresh or how the bakery down the street had better bagels than the ones in the supermarket. That was social proof in action — and it still works today.

As consumers, we’re bombarded with all these purchasing choices. When we know the products that our own peers have tried and when we know what their experiences have been, that just helps us to make our buying decisions. Social proof is a phenomena where people adopt the actions of others when they’re trying to make a decision about their own actions. Testimonials can make this happen.

I think testimonials are especially helpful when you’re doing business online. People are still a little skeptical of buying something online, especially if they’re making a first purchase with a brand new company. Testimonials from people who’ve used your products or your services can help to reassure those skeptical consumers and make them feel much more confident about buying from you.

The Three Types of Testimonials — and Which Type Is the Easiest to Get and Most Versatile to Use

There are three main types of testimonials. The first one is the written testimonial. This is probably the one you think of when you think of testimonials. They’re written in words. You can read them. They typically have a headshot of the person giving the testimonial, a little photo of their faces. Written testimonials are super versatile. You can use them on sales pages. You can use some in email marketing or on social media. Very versatile and very easy to get.

The second type of testimonial is the audio testimonial. Audio testimonials can be very powerful, especially if you’re using audio to deliver your information like we are here. There’s this immediacy to hearing someone’s voice and picking up on the inflections that they use when they talk that makes audio really powerful.

Video testimonials are a third type. Video testimonials can be extremely powerful. The only recommendation is that you keep them short because people usually don’t want to sit through long video testimonials. Now, if you are starting out gathering testimonials, I highly recommend that you focus on gathering written testimonials. They are by far the easiest to get and the easiest to use.

How to Create a Sense of Connection Between Your Prospective Buyer and the Person Behind Your Testimonial

How exactly do you go about getting really convincing testimonials? For the answer to that question, I am going to turn to two Copyblogger posts, which are my go-to resources for information on testimonials. It’s a series that was written by Sean D’Souza, and I will put a link to both posts in the series in the show notes so you can read them for yourself. The first post is called The Secret Life of Testimonials, and the second post is called 6 Questions to Ask for Powerful Testimonials.

In the Secret Life of Testimonials, Sean recommends something really fascinating. Here’s the thing. In order for a testimonial to reassure people who are deciding whether or not to buy, the person reading the testimonial needs to be able to relate to the person giving the testimonial. They need to feel a sense of connection. The way that you make this happen is to create testimonials that have some kind of a story arc to them. That story arc sounds like this: “I was skeptical or worried or nervous or unsure, but I bought this product — and here’s what happened.”

The important part of that testimonial is the first part. When a skeptical prospect reads a testimonial from a formally skeptical prospect, they’re going to be able to relate to them. Their testimonial will seem more believable then those plain, “I bought this product, and it changed my life,” type testimonial.

The thing is, when you ask people to give you a testimonial, they aren’t necessarily going to hand it over with that beautiful story arc already built into it. In order to get that, you need to ask the right set of questions. For those questions, I’m going to turn to the second post in Sean’s series, 6 Questions to Ask for Powerful Testimonials.

I can tell you from personal experience, these questions are magical. When people answer them, the end result is a very believable testimonial. If you’re driving or you’re running or cooking, don’t stop what you’re doing to write these down. They are all in the show notes, and the link to these original posts is also in the show notes.

These are the questions. Question number one, “What is the obstacle that would have prevented you from buying this product?” By the way, if you’re selling a service, just insert the word ‘service’ every time I say ‘product’ in these questions. Question two, “What did you find as a result of buying this product?” Question three, “What specific feature did you like most about this product?” Question four, “What would be three other benefits about this product?” Question five, “Would you recommend this product? If so, why?” Question six, “Is there something you’d like to add?”

That last question is surprising, and not everyone will answer it — but those who do answer that last question will often add a heartfelt sentiment that they maybe didn’t fit under any of the other answers. They couldn’t find a place to put it. So it’s always worth asking, “Is there anything you’d like to add?”

The idea here is that you’re going to ask these questions and then use the answers only. Just weave together that story arc using the answers that people provide.

The Best Time to ‘Harvest’ Testimonials (Hint: Look for ‘Peak Happiness’ Moments)

How do you actually do this? And what’s the best time to get testimonials? Let’s talk about that second question first. The best time to get testimonials is when your customer is happy, obviously. It’s like picking fruit when the fruit is ripe.

Now, we all hope that our customer is always happy at every moment, but there are moments, when you think about it, where it’s a ‘peak happiness’ moment. You can look for those moments and use those moments to ask for a testimonial. I think those moments of peak happiness happen when your customer begins to experience your product or your service and see results.

For example, if you’re selling education, a peak moment of happiness might be when the buyer begins to understand and apply what you’re teaching and see results. If you’re selling a service, a peak moment of happiness might be when the customer begins to use the service and experience the benefits. The idea here is to capture testimonials when the moment is right and to make it a habit that you do on an ongoing basis.

How to Make Gathering Testimonials an Automatic Part of Your Marketing Efforts

How do you do this on an ongoing basis? I think the best way to build this reliable source of testimonials is to find a way to automate the process. I’ll give you an example. Inside our Authority advanced content marketing training program, we offer once-a-month coaching sessions that are available only to Authority members. We call them Authority Business Coaching sessions, ABC.

Every month, we sit down with one Authority member on a live webinar. They tell us about their business. They share what they feel is working, and they talk about what their challenges are. Those of us on the Rainmaker Digital team give them targeted advice, ideas, suggestions, and lots and lots of encouragement. People leave those sessions very, very happy.

Part of our automatic follow-up after those sessions is to send them an email a couple of days later and ask for their feedback. The questions that we ask are a modified version of the six testimonial questions I just talked about. When people answer, we thank them for answering, and then we ask them if they would give us their permission to use their feedback as a testimonial.

When they say yes — because they all say yes — we drop the testimonial into a shared Google Document. We label that testimony with the product name that the testimonial is about. We add the person’s name, so we can make sure we spell it right in the future. We drop in their business name and then their contact information.

The beauty of doing this automatically is that, over time, you end up building up this very robust source of testimonials. It’s like a testimonial library that you add to over time. You will find yourself dipping into those testimonials a lot. You can use them to reassure prospective buyers in emails, on sales pages, on social media. They are fantastic social proof for anything that you’re selling.

Great testimonials can become some of your most valuable marketing assets. When your customers tell your prospective customers how their lives were transformed by using your product or service, it’s powerful.

Up Next: Why It’s a Good Idea to Make It a Habit to Give Testimonials

Thank you so much for listening to this episode. As I mentioned at the top of the episode, I’m going to follow up next week with an episode about another aspect of testimonials — why it’s a good idea to make it a habit to give testimonials. That one is going to be fun.

Check out the show notes for this episode at Copyblogger.FM, and since we are all about testimonials this week, how about leaving us your testimonial? Leave a raving or a review, or both, on iTunes, and let us know what you think about Copyblogger FM.

Thank you always for your time and attention. Now, go forth and be excellent. See you next time.