When it comes to establishing your business as trustworthy, client testimonials and authentic customer feedback go a long way in convincing people they should work with you or purchase your product. With so many different brands and service providers to choose from, client testimonials are a powerful tool to help potential clients narrow down their choices and make buying decisions.\r\n \r\n\r\n \r\nNearly nine out of ten consumers globally look for reviews before buying a product. With so much trust placed in client testimonials, it's important as an entrepreneur to have a strategy in place for your business to collect them. This doesn't have to be expensive or complicated, and any enterprise, even a sole proprietorship, can start collecting client testimonials to grow their client base. \r\n \r\n\r\n \r\nWhat is a testimonial?\r\n \r\n\r\n \r\nA customer testimonial is a type of review recommending or endorsing a product. They're commonly collected as a written testimonial submitted to your website or a third-party review site such as TrustPilot, but there is a range of highly effective types of testimonials in addition to written reviews. For example, a customer can submit a video testimonial or audio testimonial that you can share on your social media channels, or they might share their positive testimonial directly with their audience.\r\n \r\n\r\n \r\nPaid testimonials with influencers are also popular as a marketing strategy, but in this article, we will focus on real, unpaid, and honest client feedback. \r\n \r\n\r\n \r\nThe power of customer advocacy in growing your business\r\n \r\n\r\n \r\nThere is something uniquely powerful about an authentic, glowing testimonial from a real person. According to a consumer review survey, 76 per cent of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. As a business owner, this means that getting real testimonials in front of a potential client can be as effective as having someone they know personally tell them about how great your product or service is. This is wonderful news for entrepreneurs. There are many ways you can start collecting testimonials and sharing them with your audience, which we will discuss later in this article. \r\n \r\n\r\n \r\nWhy are testimonials effective? \r\n \r\n\r\n \r\nIf you have an online business, data suggests the power of on-site customer testimonials is particularly encouraging. A 2018 study found that product pages with reviews are up to 3.5 times more likely to convert, meaning that visitors to the page are over three times more likely to go through with a purchase rather than just browsing. When those customers convert, having reviews also boosts the revenue per visitor—making each sale more valuable. \r\n \r\n\r\n \r\nAnother reason testimonials are such an effective business marketing tool is they can be free or low-cost to generate, unlike other marketing initiatives such as paid advertising through a marketing consultant. By leveraging the power of customer testimonials, you can expand your business while staying within your business budget for marketing.\r\n \r\n\r\n \r\nFinally, having reviews can be great for boosting your business’s SEO ranking, making it possible for even more potential clients to discover your business organically through search engines. \r\n \r\n\r\n \r\nThe importance of being trustworthy in marketing\r\n \r\n\r\n \r\nWhile an awesome testimonial can help nudge a prospective client towards doing business with you or buying your product, getting the most benefit out of testimonials isn't as simple as filling your website with five-star reviews. It is also essential that your testimonials are perceived as authentic and come from real customers. This means that a very large number of reviews or testimonials that are exclusively positive can have a detrimental effect because it creates the perception that you might censor or deleting negative reviews. \r\n \r\n\r\n \r\nIn reality, many excellent products or services still receive average or negative ratings from time to time. Showing these reviews among the positive testimonials helps to build trust that the positive reviews are real, which is extremely important to consumers.\r\n \r\n\r\n \r\nOver 60 per cent of consumers say they won't support brands they believe to be censoring honest negative reviews, and the same number indicates that they do not tolerate fraudulent or fake reviews. To help your customers feel confident that they can trust the positive testimonials they see for your product, be sure to leave the not-so-positive ones up as well. \r\n \r\n\r\n \r\nThe platform on which your reviews or testimonials appear can also affect how trustworthy they appear in the eyes of consumers. For example, shoppers trust Google reviews more than a brand's website, likely because it's perceived as more difficult to fake or censor reviews on Google. Yelp and Facebook reviews are trusted even less than reviews on a brand’s website. \r\n \r\n\r\n \r\nA tip you can employ even if you get some negative reviews is to respond to them helpfully and as quickly as possible. This way, the customer who left the review feels heard, while other potential customers can see that your business is engaged, values their customers, and offers a high level of customer service.\r\n \r\n\r\n \r\nMost customers claim they don’t typically hear anything back after leaving a negative honest review on a site, so by engaging them on the problem they had, you're potentially providing a level of customer service they did not expect. \r\n \r\n\r\n \r\nThe best time to ask for a testimonial\r\n \r\n\r\n \r\nNow that you know how effective real, trustworthy client testimonials can be for your business, it's time to collect them. However, this doesn't mean you should immediately email every client you've ever worked with or every customer who has ever used your product requesting a testimonial. \r\n \r\n\r\n \r\nAs a general rule, the best time for a testimonial request is right after you've completed your service or delivered your project to the client or, with a product-based business, shortly after they've had a chance to use your product. This is when they're most likely to be excited about their experience, and when their first impressions are freshest in their mind.\r\n \r\n\r\n \r\nFor example, if you're a professional organizer, it makes sense to have your client provide a testimonial when you have just wowed them with a completely reorganized office rather than two months later when life may have gotten in the way and things are a little messy again. You can do this with email automation, so you don't have to manually contact each customer after they complete a purchase. \r\n \r\n\r\n \r\nIt's becoming more and more common for customers to post reviews and provide testimonials, with nearly half of internet users globally posting reviews monthly. As long as you give them the opportunity to do so at an appropriate time, you should be able to collect testimonials in no time. \r\n \r\n\r\n \r\nHow to ask for a testimonial\r\n \r\n\r\n \r\nIf you're already in business, you may already have access to customer feedback that you can share as testimonials. Here are seven tips to generate authentic and trustworthy testimonials for your business:\r\n \r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nSearch on social media\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\nAre you active on social media? If so, take a look at posts you've been tagged in or posts that use your brand hashtag. Your customers may have already shared their love for your product or service, in which case you can ask them for permission to share their post on your social channels or website.\r\n \r\n\r\n \r\nUser-generated content, such as photos or video, is great to share along with testimonials. It helps to build even more trust in your brand, as potential clients can see social proof others are using and enjoying your products.\r\n \r\n\r\n \r\nIf you don't have testimonials on social media yet, it's a great place to ask for them. On Instagram, for example, you can post an Instagram story using the question sticker and ask your followers to share their thoughts on your brand, service, or a specific product. On Twitter or Facebook, you can make a post requesting testimonials from clients.\r\n \r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nAsk to use quotes from emails people send you\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\nIf a client loves engaging with your business enough to send you an email about it, they're likely to be a loyal customer who is happy to let you share their message. Whenever you receive messages from clients telling you how much they love your product or how much value they got out of your service, thank them and ask them if it would be all right for you to share their kind message. \r\n \r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nCheck out the comments on your blog\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\nIf your business website has a blog, the people who regularly read it and leave comments are likely those who believe in your business. Scroll through each past blog post and see if there are any comments there that you can repurpose as testimonials elsewhere.\r\n \r\n\r\n \r\nFor example, if you have an accounting business and maintain a blog where you provide accounting and bookkeeping tips for small business owners, any comments about how helpful they find the information you share can be repurposed as testimonials that will appeal to others seeking small business accounting services.\r\n \r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nDo a testimonial swap\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\nMake a list of other entrepreneurs and businesses within your network, and propose exchanging testimonials. Not only will you get some testimonials out of it, but you'll also likely strengthen your business relationship by returning the favour. \r\n \r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nOffer a free product in exchange for a testimonial\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\nDepending on what type of business you have, you may be able to offer your customers a free product in exchange for their testimonials. You can also offer them a percentage or fixed discount that they can use towards a future purchase from your business. This can be a good option, particularly for new businesses wanting to build up their testimonials.\r\n \r\n\r\n \r\nMany ecommerce businesses have loyalty programs, and loyalty program plugins make it easy to offer rewards such as points in exchange for leaving a review.\r\n \r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nOffer an entry in a contest in exchange for a testimonial\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\nAn even more cost-effective method for you to collect testimonials is to ask your customers to submit one in exchange for an entry in a contest. This way, you're only giving away one product or prize amount for multiple testimonials, rather than to each person who submits one.\r\n \r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nMake it easy to submit a testimonial on your website\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\nHave a prominently visible submission form on your product pages to make sure that customers don't miss it. If you have a service-based business, you can have a sidebar widget for collecting reviews that is visible on all pages.\r\n \r\n\r\n \r\nHow to get testimonials from busy clients\r\n \r\n\r\n \r\nYour customers are busy, and not everyone will have the time to write a detailed testimonial for your business. If you want to collect a larger number of reviews and testimonials, make it as easy as possible for your customers to leave feedback. Do all the hard work for them, so that all they have to do is press a few buttons or fill out a line or two in a testimonial form. \r\n \r\n\r\n \r\nAn effective way of doing this is by submitting a testimonial request email through a review collection service at a set time after their purchase or after their service is delivered. When they open the email, they'll be able to provide a star rating and fill out any prompts you give them directly from their inbox. By removing the steps they have to take to leave you a testimonial, you're more likely to increase the number of testimonials you receive. \r\n \r\n\r\n \r\nWith customer review collecting platforms such as Yotpo, you'll also be able to ask customers to leave a video testimonial. This may be even faster for them than typing something out. And if your client base is young, they're likely to be comfortable filming themselves providing a review. A short, user-generated testimonial video can be a powerful form of social proof, as it would be difficult for a company to fake these on a large scale. \r\n \r\n\r\n \r\nWhether you're a new solopreneur or you've been in business for years, you can benefit from gaining more honest testimonials and sharing them as social proof with new and existing customers. You don't have to be a marketing pro to get started today; just implement one of the techniques we discussed in this article.