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How to Generate Customer Testimonials

There are all sorts of ways to provide social proof on your website, from subtle hints in the copy (‘our most popular product’), to displaying activity visually (e.g. a graph of new members this week), to showing a person which of their Facebook friends already like your site.

One of the most powerful (see what I did there?) forms of social proof is the testimonial: real words from real people about how much they like your product or service. When creating new content for one of Endis’s sales websites we knew that testimonials would carry a strong punch. The product attracts loyal customers, and is also the best selling product of its kind in the UK. Any praise from its customers would form significant persuasion to new customers in a competitive market.

How we gathered glowing customer praise

Endis hadn’t been collecting testimonials as they went along, so we devised a way to collect them from scratch. We went for two birds with one stone, aiming to generate some longer case studies at the same time.

We emailed their mailing list a link to a 60-second survey with only three questions. When they submitted their answer(s), they were given the option to respond to a second, slightly longer survey, respondents to which would be entered into a prize draw.

The response was enthusiastic and bountiful. Some of the things we learned about this method were:

Honesty is best. No one likes to be tricked. We told them why we wanted their feedback (to publish the best ones on the website), what we would gain (testimonials and case studies), what they would gain (profile on the site, their feedback read by the company, and the chance to win a prize).

It’s all about the customer. The benefits to the customer were crystal clear. The survey had to be in their interest or not at all.

We all want to be heard. Some say it is the greatest need of the human soul. We assured all respondents that their answers would be considered by the company, which they were.

Allow real answers. We asked people what they really thought, including what annoyed them about the product. My guess is that the knowledge that they would be listened to combined with the freedom to rant if they wanted is what led to such a high response rate to the first survey.

Everyone loves a prize. There was a strong take-up for the second survey on the back of the first. The prize must have helped (although very few people gamed their answers purely to land in the draw).

Make it easy. Three simple questions on a basic web form, you don’t have to answer them all, takes about 60 seconds. If you fancy the prize, ten simple questions, again only the ones you want to, about 5 minutes.

The exact questions are so important. Once we had the raw answers, we shaped them into testimonials and case studies. The questions had to be such that they drew out pithy recommendations, as well as encouraging case study content. Questions could not be too general, or easily answered in one word.

So that’s how we gathered a pile of genuine social proof. Endis not only came away with glowing testimonials and up-to-date case studies, but also a detailed set of feedback about their product from loyal customers. Could that be useful for you too?

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