Find out why client testimonials are important for freelancers and creative businesses, how to get good testimonials from clients, where to put them and how to get a competitive edge over other designers.
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Why Testimonials Are Important
First, let’s get into why testimonials are even important. According to a study by Neilson:
92% of consumers say they trust word-of-mouth or recommendations above all other forms of advertising.
When you toot your own horn, that’s one sided. When others do it, it’s actually great marketing for you.
Testimonials are social proof from someone else who’s already experienced working with you. If someone’s never worked with you before, they may be wondering:
- Is this designer reliable and responsive?
- Will this designer take my money and run?
- Is their work worth the money?
- Are they as good as their website makes them appear?
Few people want to be the first—the guinea pig. There is too much unknown.
So testimonials put prospects at ease by establishing credibility and trust.
When it’s you against another designer, good testimonials can give you a huge edge.
What Makes for a Good Testimonial
You want testimonials but you want good ones. Good testimonials are made up of several things:
If you don’t give a client guidance, you might get something generic. For example, “I loved working with Colleen” doesn’t say much.
What about it did they love? Did they love the quality of the work? Did they love how fast I was able to complete the project? Did they love the price? Did they love my process?
The more details they have, the more a prospect might be able to alleviate their concerns: “Oh, good. That testimonial said this designer is reliable. That was one of my concerns. Now I know I won’t have to worry about that.”
Or maybe the testimonial includes specifics about the results. If a prospect is trying to figure out which designer to hire—you or another designer—and your testimonials talk about results and theirs talk about how “pretty” a design is, well, which do you think they will go for?
Clients only care about what the work will do for them, so results—when you are able to get that information from a client—hold a ton of value.
When to Ask for a Testimonial
Now when should you ask for a testimonial?
If the client did not have a good experience working with you, I would not recommend asking for a testimonial. They might feel put on the spot because they might not want to give you one. If they go ahead and give you one, it might not sound genuine because they really weren’t happy.
When a client is super happy about your work, that’s the time to either get a testimonial or ask if you can use what they just said and put it on your website.
It’s also good to follow up later to find out about the results of your work and get some data if you can. For example, for one client, my design work helped them get a 75% increase in RSVPs, a 65% increase in attendance and an 80% increase in revenue. That’s huge! That’s what clients care about.
Now you might say, “But, Colleen, I couldn’t possibly take responsibility for those results.” I hear ya.
The client’s marketing efforts and their messaging play an important role too. But your design work plays a part for sure. So that’s why if I am writing about the results myself, I use phrases like “contributed to” or “helped achieve.”
How to Ask for a Testimonial
Don’t just ask for a testimonial. Make it super easy and set them up for success in giving you a good testimonial and constructive feedback.
You want to make it as little work as possible. You also want to give them a template or guidelines—again, so they don’t say something generic.
Creating a Testimonial Form
For instance, you could create a testimonial or feedback form that you send them to after they pay the final invoice.
If you don’t want to mess with forms or you’re not using WordPress, you can use an external form service such as:
I have a page on my site with a form. When I send the final invoice through my project management system, I can check a box and have that link to the form with a canned email sent to them.
They can fill out the form, which also provides a link to my business Google Reviews page. So they could leave the review there, if they wish. I ask them:
- Why did you choose Gratzer Graphics?
- What was your experience like working with us? How were we different?
- What could we have done better?
- Would you recommend us to a colleague?
- Anything you would like to rant or rave about?
- May we use your comments, with your name, in a testimonial on our website or in other marketing materials?
This not only gives you a testimonial but it can give you insightful feedback about your process and your work. It sometimes can tell you where you might need to improve.
For instance, say someone raves about your “low rates.” Unless you want to be known for that, you might want to rethink your rates for future clients.
Asking for a Testimonial via Email
You could also email them with a canned—meaning prewritten—email script. You can create canned responses in Gmail, or you can just save a draft email that you copy from as needed.
Typically, what you want to say is something like:
Hey, so and so. It was great working with you on this project. I was wondering if you would be willing to write a testimonial about your experience working with me. I’d be happy to offer a link back to your site as well.
Getting Permission for a Testimonial
It’s vital to get permission before posting a testimonial somewhere. Ask for permission and how they would prefer their name to appear.
Maybe they aren’t comfortable with using their full name. If not, ask if you can use their first name with the first letter of their last name.
It’s great if they will allow you to use their full name and company. It’s better if they will allow you to use that along with a pic. That adds more authenticity to the testimonial.
If you can get a video, that’s top notch. Someone not only took time to give a testimonial but they took time out of their busy day to make a video about it. So videos carry a lot of weight.
If you have them fill out a testimonial form, you could set up:
- a field asking right then for permission instead of going back to them later, when they might be distracted by something else or too busy;
- a field for how they’d like their name to appear; and
- another field that allows them to upload a pic or video.
Where to Put Client Testimonials
When it comes to where to put client testimonials, it’s good to sprinkle them throughout your website—on your home page and other pages. Also put the ones that correspond to certain projects on those pages.
Make them stand out! Style them differently, so they get noticed on those pages.
It’s good to also have a Testimonials page where they’re all together, so if someone is specifically looking for them, they are all in one place. They won’t have to go search around the site for them. Not only that, but you don’t know which page they may land on first on your site and which pages they may visit while there.
It’s also a good idea to create a social media post with a testimonial as well and/or include it in your email newsletters, if you’re sending one out.
Get a Competitive Edge With Google Reviews
You can also ask clients to leave a review on Google, your business Facebook page and other places where they will be highly visible.
The great thing about having them in a Google review is that it can result in more click-throughs to your website, if they find you that way. If you’ve got more positive reviews than another designer, then they may visit your website first—if they visit the other site at all. Just be sure to provide them the links to the pages you want the review left on.
Speaking of testimonials, recently in the Design Domination Facebook group, I asked the Design Dominators what nice things clients have said about them. There were so many wonderful comments. Join the group to get in on that and other creative business conversations.