Gathering Heartfelt Testimonials: Integrating Client Praise into Your Content

If content is currency, then the weight of kind words matters.

Testimonials can persuade, entertain, and showcase your tribe in action, giving prospective clients confidence from those who've once put their confidence in you. 

But like every client, not every testimonial can be a home run.

The quality of testimonials often depends on a number of factors, such as:

  • your reviewer’s energy level (end of a long Monday, first day post-launch)
  • current location (busy Starbucks, cramped airline seat)
  • enjoyment of writing (when the words don’t come easy, it can be hard to reveal excitement)
  • enthusiasm for you and your work (if you pleasantly solved a problem, they’re more likely to naturally gush)

Testimonials are nuggets of content gold that should be mined, collected, and melted down into your content so that it can bring richness to your brand’s presence. 

Words about your work can demonstrate each client’s emotional experience, rather than simply the linear process, for getting things done. Said best by Aileen Lee of Kleiner Perkins Caufiled & Byers, "social proof" (i.e., case studies, recognizable logos, and testimonials) have the ability to convert on confidence alone. 

How do heartfelt testimonials work for you? 

They can bring... 

• the types of projects you want more of
• a high reputation among a certain niche (e.g., wellness coaching, systems optimization) 
• higher conversion rates by 34% ("100 Conversion Optimization Case Studies")
• a greater awareness of how your process works from people who've worked through it

Stoking the flames of happy clients and customers is more than just asking for someone to rave. It’s about unraveling your brand’s emotional appeal – what it stands for and how it solved a pain point – and using it in a strategic way that lets you do more of what people already love.

Here are a few tips for gathering heartfelt testimonials and making wise use of them in your content.

1. Keep a single, sharp question in your back pocket.

Asking for a testimonial is an art form. Between the right time and the right questions, you want to get in, get out, and get the best praise your client has to offer without asking for too much work on their end. 

One of the biggest faux pas when it comes to asking for a testimonial is creating a comprehensive questionnaire that covers each and every aspect of the project you’ve finished, from first step to last. While it can be helpful to collect answers from a Google Form or a Typekit, it helps to be discerning in the quality and quantity of the questions you ask. 

Since you want to extract the most heartfelt reaction with the smallest time investment, go bare bones with a single question bolded in the body of an email. By making it easy to hit the reply button and fire off their first reactions, you’re cultivating the richest emotional response right off the bat. Here’s a peek at one of the questions we keep handy: 

What was the best part of working with us, and how did it make you feel? 

By removing the burden of writing and sending a longform testimonial, your client will feel at ease to express their enthusiasm naturally, without being weighted down by an arduous question and answer process.

2. Bake positioning into your questioning.

Pairing our question with our positioning is no accident. Since Lexicontent is founded on the belief that emotion and feeling is the heartbeat of all content, it makes sense for us to prompt our clients to share their emotional response along with their results. 

Here are a few kind words we've heard in passing: 

“I got goosebumps when I saw the final version – it felt like my voice, but better!" 
“You finally made me feel liberated from the burden of telling my story. Since I didn't have to spend hours worrying about my positioning, I could simply do the work of bringing my business to life." 
“I could truly focus on giving my client the best branding package possible, without worrying about their content sitting idle in the background, or stalling their launch.” 

If you have a tagline or piece of messaging that you use throughout your marketing efforts, how can you tie it into your testimonial question to provoke a response that feels on-brand? 

3. Capture candid moments of expression.

We love to capture testimonials through candid moments of praise. During conference calls mid-project, at the end of a revision, or prior to official launch, our clients will drop words and phrases about our work that often stop us dead in our tracks and bring immense perspective to the work at hand. 

Since we record most of our calls through UberConference and Skype, we simply need to re-listen to the discussion, transcribe their direct quote, and ask if we can borrow their candid praise for our site.

Since it came straight from them – unfiltered – this strategy works well because there’s zero heavy lifting on the client’s part and we get to save testimonials in realtime, which saves us an extra email.

4. Offer a testimonial swap.

If you work closely with creative partners and allies (for example, if you’re a copywriter who works with designers, a designer who works with illustrators, or a brand strategist who works with web developers), ask if they'd be willing to do a testimonial swap with you. You’ll both benefit from having some shining words from a trusted source, and you can certainly vouch for each other’s processes.

This is a great “quick win,” since you both understand the value of a great testimonial, and can speak to the inner workings of factors clients look for, such as personality traits, a sense of humor, and ease of access. A great testimonial has a boomerang effect, so the words you write have a good chance of coming back to both of you in the form of more projects that you can work on together.

5. Place testimonials where you want your past clients to speak for your future ones.

When you’ve received a glowing review, be sure to collect them in one central location: a spreadsheet, a dedicated folder in your inbox, or an Evernote notebook are just a few examples. 

Preferably, this space should be somewhere that you can drop testimonials into like a bucket, and revisit when you’re in the mood to add a little extra client love to your site.

Always ask your client for permission to trim or make small edits to their testimonial when necessary. Once you've done so, pair it with an area of your site where it makes the most sense. For example, you can add a one-line "impact statement" somewhere on the front page, an expanded paragraph as a sidebar on your testimonial page, or right next to your email newsletter squeeze page. Testimonials can also be helpful when it comes to breaking up large blocks of content.

If you offer products or services, be sure to stack a testimonial right above or next to your “buy” button. You’ll help convert readers based on emotion, rather than rationalization alone, while making strategic use of your online real estate in the process. 

A great testimonial can help you do more of what you do best. It can also help your clients make decisions in less time, and with more heart.

When prospective clients hover over your “buy” button, hearing someone else's voice speak the truth can truly make all the difference.