Believe it or not, your best sales rep doesn't work for your company.

In fact, your company's most convincing sales pitch comes from your loyal customers.

Customers trust traditional business communication — like marketing, advertising, and sales — less than ever before. In fact, 55% of consumers no longer feel they can trust companies, and 79% of shoppers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Today, you need word-of-mouth recommendations and testimonials from your customers to convince someone new to give you their business. But how do you ask for a testimonial? Below, we’ll cover the basics, then share proven email templates that will earn a “yes” from your customers.

Free Download: 45 Customer Referral Templates

To fully take advantage of testimonials, you need lots of glowing reviews and testimonials to do the work for you. Take the following steps for asking for a customer testimonial.

1. Get the timing right.

First, do an analysis of your customer base and the journey they take with your product or service to determine when might be the optimal time to ask for a testimonial. Ideally, you ask for testimonials after the customer experiences success with your product or service — so they're happy with their results and with your working relationship when they sit down to write or film a testimonial.

If you work at a marketing agency, the ideal moment might be after you help your client exceed their goals one month. If you work at a SaaS company, the ideal moment might be after the customer has been using your product for 30 days. Do some investigating with your team and your customer health data to determine what moments signal that a customer is experiencing success before you send your first request.

The end of the quarter or year might be another good opportunity to ask for a testimonial, depending on the types of projects you work on. We've included an end-of-the-year template below that you can use before your customers' holiday out-of-office messages are turned on.

2. Determine if you want to use automation or send requests manually.

Depending on when you determine the best time to send the testimonial request to your customers, you might find email automation to be a better fit for requesting testimonials from your customers.

For example, if customers are using a free software tool and aren't interacting much with customer support, it might be a better fit to deploy an automated email send when they reach that moment of success with a product.

However, if you're a customer success manager or account manager working with customers closely on a regular basis, it might be better for you to determine when is the optimal time to send the request based on your conversations.

3. Give customers a reason to say yes.

No matter who you are, if you're a human being with an email address, your inbox is probably inundated with messages on any given day. So if you want your valued customers to actually read your email — let alone submit a testimonial — you need to give them a reason to say yes.

An easy way to do this is by providing an incentive for submitting a testimonial — like a gift card of their choosing, or company swag. If that isn't possible for you or your company to do, write out a compelling request email (hint: use one of the templates below) to explain how you will both benefit from their submitting a testimonial to convince them.

4. Provide multiple options to make it easy for them.

Give your customers the option to write or film their testimonial for your website.

Personal preference or accessibility might make different methods of submission easier for different customers, so make sure you're enabling customers to give you a glowing testimonial, no matter what the format. You can give them the option to:

  • Film a short video in the comfort of their office.
  • Write 2-3 paragraphs summarizing their successes (be sure to provide prompts or questions).
  • Do a “social media takeover” where they share their testimonial on your company’s Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn profiles.
  • Participate in a live interview on one of your social profiles.
  • Be an invitee on your podcast, if you have one.

You can also consider taking a more involved approach. You can offer to come to their office with a camera crew and set up a formal interview that way. In a remote environment, you can also film a testimonial via a Zoom meeting. One of your colleagues will have to be the interviewer, and remember to come prepared with a list of questions.

5. Pose simple questions that yield customer quotes.

What your customers say can impact the effectiveness of the testimonial on your prospects. By posing effective testimonial questions, you're challenging your customer to get closer to the heart of why they're satisfied with your service. In doing so, their testimonial is much more likely to resonate with prospects who may "see themselves" in the review.

Open-ended questions work best so that you can avoid one-word responses. Choose questions that not only reflect on their sentiments about working with you but also draw out their story: the pain that led them to search for a solution, what made them choose you as a provider, what they hoped to gain, and what their experience was like along the way. Click here for an example.

6. Prepare a testimonial page on your website.

If you haven’t already, start preparing a testimonial page on your website. The testimonial page can be either a long page with all of the testimonials, or a gallery or grid that links out to individual testimonials. If you’re not sure how to get started, check out these testimonial page examples to get inspired.

We recommend highlighting something different about your product with each testimonial. For instance, one of your clients might be located internationally, showing that your product is available in different languages. Another testimonial might be from a small brand, showing that your product is a great fit for smaller businesses.

Each testimonial is, again, a chance for your potential customers to see themselves in your current customers and envision themselves benefiting from your product.

7. Ask if they'd be willing to refer someone in their network.

This strategy can lead to a few different results. It might feel more natural in a conversation via phone with your customer to ask if they know any other professionals in their network who might benefit from the work you've done with them. (Ideally, this conversation takes place after helping your customer achieve great results — use these tips for asking for a referral.)

If your customer says "yes," use the steps in the article above to secure a new customer referral.

If your customer says "no," they don't have a referral they can introduce you to, you can pivot to the testimonial request. "Well, I'd love for more people to learn about the great work we've been doing together. If you don't have anyone to connect me with, would you mind leaving us a review so other people can read about our partnership?"

Whichever outcome, you'll get a positive result that will (hopefully) generate new customers.

8. Let them know you’ll link back to their website.

Whether the testimonial will be posted on your website or on one of your social media channels, be sure to link back to your customer’s website. You’ll want to do this for a few reasons:

  • A backlink can be an incentive to SEO-savvy customers.
  • If they’re not SEO-savvy, you can let them know it will help with their Google rankings.
  • Other customers will see that you provide backlinks and might come to you first so they can leave a testimonial.

When you ask for a testimonial, you can let them know you’ll be providing a backlink and pushing out the testimonial via your social media channels. This sort of publicity may win you a “yes” when you’re requesting testimonials.

9. Give them the option to keep their testimonial short and sweet.

The truth is, the “no’s” you’ll receive could be due to time constraints. Always give them the option to give a short testimonial. For instance, you can tell them to give you one to two sentences, which can be doable for even the busiest of executives.

There are also more creative ways to ask. You can tell them to:

  • Write their thoughts about your company in less than 240 characters — the length of a Tweet. You can then post that Tweet and tag them on it.
  • Jot a few words that describe your products or offering.
  • If your brand voice is casual, ask them to choose 2-3 emojis that describe before and after they started using your product.

10. Customize your email request template.

The templates below can get you started, but make sure you're taking the time to customize them for each customer relationship before pressing 'send.' You've taken the time to build up rapport with them, so make sure the email makes sense within the context of your relationship by customizing it.

To get you started with this process, check out some of our most effective email templates for getting a customer to submit a testimonial.

Request for Testimonial Email Templates to Use

You can use these tried-and-true email templates no matter what relationship you have with your customers.

1. The End-of-Year Request

Why It’s Effective

This testimonial email request works because it catches customers at a moment where they might be winding down for the year, and thus have more time to answer your testimonial request. They’re also likely summarizing their performance metrics for the year, and if they’ve done well, they can bring that information into their testimonial.

2. The Formal Request

Why It’s Effective

This testimonial email request congratulates the customer first, then seals the deal by providing an incentive. The best part is that it works at any time of the year and even suggests the success the customer should talk about in their testimonial.

3. The Casual Reply

Why It’s Effective

You’ll want to use this email after you’ve been in direct contact with your customer for a while. It’s effective because you’ll be striking the iron while it’s still hot. You’ve achieved something together; the next natural step is to share that with other potential customers.

4. The Incentive Offer

Why It’s Effective

This email template is effective because it works for any customer — you don’t have to think long and hard before sending this one. (For instance, you don’t have to go fishing for your customer’s performance data.) The downside is that it can come across as less personable, but the upside is that it offers an incentive straight away, making the request difficult to resist.

5. The Automated Send

Why It’s Effective

Quick, easy, and automatic, this email request for a testimonial works because it allows you to collect testimonials at a mass scale. It’s a great fit for companies with a large customer base. While it might be worth reaching out directly to high-profile customers, you can use an automated email like this to gather testimonials from a larger pool of clients.

6. The Quote Capture

Why It’s Effective

This testimonial request email is fantastic because it provides prompts right in the email. It also references an earlier conversation, so that your testimonial request doesn’t feel like it came out of the blue. Use this template if you briefly chatted with a customer to ask them verbally for a testimonial.

Customer Testimonials Will Fuel Your Flywheel

Marketing can't do all the heavy lifting alone. Social proof in the form of testimonials and word-of-mouth referrals is invaluable to your company's growth. A customer testimonial strategy will fuel your flywheel, turning your existing customer base into evangelists.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in January 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

Free Resource: How to Reach & Engage Your Audience on Facebook

45 Free Customer Referral Templates

Originally published Aug 30, 2021 4:00:00 PM, updated August 30 2021

Topics:

Customer Reviews and Testimonials Customer Service Tracking Software