Don't Take My Word for It! 6 Traits of a Successful Customer Testimonial

Customers don’t care about your marketing claims, but they might listen to other customers. Here’s how the right reviews can boost sales for your business. No matter how much time you spent crafting and refining them, your product pages, web copy and marketing content are all filled to the brim with crap. That might sound a bit harsh, so let us...
Don’t Take My Word for It! 6 Traits of a Successful Customer Testimonial

Customers don’t care about your marketing claims, but they might listen to other customers. Here’s how the right reviews can boost sales for your business.

No matter how much time you spent crafting and refining them, your product pages, web copy and marketing content are all filled to the brim with crap. That might sound a bit harsh, so let us elaborate: No one is falling for your marketing claims anymore.

This article is a few years old, but Kevin Daum from Inc. wrote about the growing sentiment against marketers, specifically how much people dislike the profession. Marketers, advertising professionals, brand affiliates, promotional agents — it seems they’re all a dime a dozen these days. They all have a message to share about how you should grow or improve your business, and they all have company blogs, personal blogs, partner blogs, probably even marketing blogs for their pets.

What does all this have to do with your approach to marketing? Absolutely everything.

Consumers Are Kings

Consumers now hold most of the power when it comes to digital engagement. A prospect can drop out of your online sales funnel as quickly as they dropped into it — in an instant. So, you have less time to capture people’s attention and, to top it off, your marketing jargon is falling on deaf ears.

Customers don’t care if you claim your product is the “best in class” or can do something better than any other product on the market. Why? Because they can fact-check your claims within seconds from anywhere, anytime.

Whenever you make a claim or promise, you need to back it up with clear, specific proof. One of the only ways to build trust in this area is to deliver customer reviews or testimonials where people can share experiences they had with your product or service.

Customers may not trust you, but they will certainly trust someone else just like them, who bought something for the same reasons they did.

What are customers saying about your business? Find out now with a FREE Online Reviews Report.

The Power of Testimonials

Think we’re the ones spewing waste, not you? Consider these stats:

  • 97% of consumers relied on online reviews for local businesses in 2017
  • 85% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation
  • 90% of customers read fewer than 10 reviews before forming an opinion about a business
  • 73% of consumers say positive reviews make them trust a local business more

“What an outrage,” we hear you cry, “all those numbers are from the same source!” Well, buckle up, because here are more:

  • Customers will spend 31% more with a business that has “excellent” or higher reviews
  • 97% of B2B buyers say user-generated content such as reviews is more credible than other types of content
  • 64% of software buyers will read at least six reviews before making a purchase decision

The takeaway here is simple: User-generated content, reviews and testimonials provide a more credible and trustworthy appearance to prospects. You can make marketing promises all day, but it won’t make a difference if you cannot back up your claims with proof from past customers. That’s why testimonials are more important than ever.

The 6 Traits of a Successful Testimonial

Keep in mind, there are many forms of testimonials, and not all of them need to be on your company blog or website. You can have testimonials elsewhere, too, such as on a partner page or social media sites.

Whatever the case, testimonials work to build trust and lend credence to any claims you make about a product or service. A whopping 72% of buyers will take action only after reading a positive review about a company or product.

What goes into an effective testimonial? What will resonate with your customers? These examples will help you craft a strategy for your small business.

1. Short & Sweet

Most audiences aren’t going to stick around and read long testimonials and reviews. It’s why YouTube product reviews are so popular: People prefer watching video to reading.

Keep testimonials succinct and to the point, with a maximum of 90 to 100 words at most. We know that doesn’t seem like a lot of time to establish a message, but with impactful language, it can be. Besides, prospects are going to scan testimonials on a landing page or product page, not read them in their entirety. Feature testimonials and reviews that are quick and easy to read.


ChowNow excels at this by delivering short and sweet write-ups accompanied by a customer-focused video.

2. Placement & Structure

Where you put testimonials is just as important as what’s in them — especially on a business website. You want them visible, but not to the point that they take the attention away from the rest of the information about your company.

The standard practice is to create a separate testimonials page to show off customer reviews. If you decide to do this, make sure that page is compelling and interesting — otherwise, your customers won’t spend much time there.

exterior company
The Exterior Company did this best by including

media content above the traditional text testimonials. Notice the video reviews near the top?

3. Authenticity


Yes, we all know companies have gotten away with fabricating testimonials and reviews. But avoid the temptation to go over to the dark side. Keep your testimonials authentic, and refrain from giving people a script to follow. Instead, opt for sources who are willing to speak candidly or even bluntly. See Code Academy’s “Stories” page for inspiration.

4. Unfiltered

It may sound odd to tell you not to edit reviews or testimonials before you post them on your site — especially since you likely go over all your other website text with a fine-toothed comb. But testimonials work best when they are authentic or “real” in tone. A casual writing style and even typos help demonstrate a real person or customer is behind the keyboard.


99Designs set this up by allowing customers to publish and share their own reviews and testimonials on their site. They can even give a star rating.

5. Responsiveness

This tip goes back to the authenticity factor we talked about earlier. Whenever possible, be sure to respond to customer reviews and testimonials. If they’re positive, you should obviously thank the customer for buying from you and for leaving kind words. However, don’t shy away from responding to negative reviews, too. An appropriate response can make all the difference.

Never take a combative or aggressive approach to negative responses. Stay humble. If a customer completely trashes your product or service, maybe point out a few ways they — or you — could remedy the situation, along with an apology. Other people will see these interactions, and it will work in your favor.

6. Specificity

When choosing testimonials — or asking for them — look for specificity in terms of gains or improvement. Someone saying, “We experienced a huge improvement” is less impressive than someone who provides numbers to back it up. A better example would be, “We saw an X-percent increase, which led to Y.” This is especially true in the B2B market, where your customers want to see a measurable value proposition before spending any cash.

decadent cakes
On Decadent Cakes, there are no statistics or numbers involved, but you can see customers specifying

the type of cake they ordered and how pleased they were with it.

Go Forth and Conquer!

If you only take away one thing from this article, it’s that your marketing copy is nearly useless today, even in B2B fields. Customers expect you to back up your claims with honest-to-goodness proof. In fact, they will take the words of an anonymous internet commenter to heart before they fall for your marketing claims.

Don’t get discouraged, however. The best way to combat the problem is to post customer reviews, testimonials and other user-generated content on your site. Just ensure the testimonials you feature follow the tips and guidelines listed here, and you’ll be well on your way to success.

Lexie Lu is a freelance web designer and writer. Her ideal morning includes some HTML code and a cup of coffee. She writes on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter at @lexieludesigner.

Manta can help you take control of customer reviews and boost your online reputation. Get started with a FREE Online Reputation Report.