15 Minute Freelancer

18. How to ask for (and use!) better client testimonials

May 14, 2021 Louise Shanahan Season 1 Episode 18
15 Minute Freelancer
18. How to ask for (and use!) better client testimonials
Show Notes Transcript

Ever feel awkward about asking a client for a testimonial? Never quite sure what to do with them when they arrive? In today's episode, we're going to fix that! You'll get:

  • tips on how to make asking for testimonials as painless as poss
  • the 9 exact questions Louise asks to elicit testimonials that are a bit more useful than "that was great, thanks"
  • three ways to use your testimonials to add extra persuasive power to your website and marketing copy

You'll also find it all nicely summarised in this handy FREE pdf, along with even more tips and details: https://mailchi.mp/thecopyprescription/testimonialsmadeeasy

(That pdf also includes a link to the frankly delightful video Louise uses when asking for testimonials and referrals.)

Louise Shanahan is a freelance health copywriter and content marketer. She's on a mission to help others build a freelance business that feels easy and works for them – in weekly snack-sized bites.

Keep in touch!

Twitter: @LouiseShanahan_
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Welcome to 15 Minute Freelancer, your snack-sized guide to being your own boss and building a business and life you love. I'm your host, Louise Shanahan. My LinkedIn bio says I'm a freelance health copywriter. But for the next 15 minutes, I'll be tickling your ears with practical strategies, behind the scenes stories, and nuggets o' wisdom so you can create a freelance business that works for you. Whether you're just starting out or you've been self-employed for a while, I'll be right here with you to help me navigate the ups and downs of freelancing life. So, grab a coffee relax and join me for 15 minutes of freelancing fun. Don't forget to hit subscribe! 

Good morning freelance friends. How are you? It's a sunny Sunday morning as I'm recording this. I'm just back from the gym, which is one of the things that I like to do to feel energised. It's my me time. I get to just tune out the rest of the world. Lifting weights is sort of my version of meditation, so I've really missed it while it's been closed over the last six months or so. And it feels really safe. Everything's very spaced out and well ventilated, and there are cleaning products everywhere. It's actually quite heartwarming to see these big muscley dudes fastidiously wiping the dumbbells after they've used them. 

Anyway, we are not here to talk about the gym. We are here to talk about building our freelancing muscles. And today, what I want to share is how to ask for testimonials. Before I get into it, I do want to say that I actually have a free PDF, which summarises a lot of what I'm about to say. It's aimed at my health copywriting clients. But I think it might be helpful for you too, even if you are not a health copywriting client, if you're looking to be a bit more intentional about how you ask for testimonials, or you just want to see the extremely cute video that I send to my clients to ask them for testimonials and referrals. It's a bit of a brain dump. I could wait and redo it so it's perfect. But I think it will be helpful for folk now. And I'm trying not to let perfect get in the way of done. So here you have it! One day I might redo it with proper 15 Minute Freelancer branding or something. But in the meantime, you can grab the existing version at the link in the show notes. 

Okay, so why are testimonials important? Why would we put ourselves through the agony of asking people to write a review of our work? Well, you probably know the answer to this. Whether it's a new website or a steak dinner, customers love to see what other people think before they buy. Nothing draws a crowd like a crowd. Testimonials are a major part of how we sell our services to future clients and make them feel confident and excited about their decision to work with us. I think there are three big ways to use testimonials. 

The first is maybe the obvious one: you can grab testimonials to sprinkle in some social proof, write your website proposals and your social media feeds. And that's a much more powerful way to have someone else do the selling for you. You know, you could say you're the ideal the best freelance gardener in the UK. But who knows if that's really true, you could just be saying that. If a client on the other hand says that their rose bush has never looked better since you got your shears on it, then that's obviously going to be a lot more meaningful and believable to future clients. 

You can also use testimonials to swipe voice of customer data. Now this might be familiar to the copywriters among you. If you are not familiar with what that is, this is basically when you lift the phrases, ideas and concepts that your happy clients keep mentioning in their testimonials, or their feedback, so you can drop these into your copy and make it extra compelling because you're using the language that they use. So for example, when I was rewriting my website, copy a while back, I was planning to emphasise the fact that I write personality filled copy, copy that sounds just like you. But when I looked at the testimonials, I saw that while clients did like that, most of them were mentioning that the process of working with me was very easy. That was something that came up over and over again, that they liked the process that I used. So while both messages are definitely in there, they both have a place, it made more sense to lead with what seemed most important to clients because I could assume that future clients they want to work with will value the same thing. So it can help you decide the order of your messaging when you're writing web copy and that sort of thing.

The third thing is to gather feedback on what's working and what's not so that you can improve your messaging and your services. So if we think a little bit broader than just testimonials, and maybe include client feedback forums or surveys, you'll get all sorts of nuggets about what people like about working with you, and maybe where there's some things that can be improved. You don't necessarily have to share that in anything public that just helps you decide where you maybe need to tweak some things to improve your service. And that all goes towards creating a service that people really appreciate and keep coming back for. 

Now onto the hard part: before you can use testimonials, you have to ask for them. This can be quite hard I think maybe because we feel awkward asking or maybe our clients feel awkward replying or they're not sure what to say, or they're just busy and they forget. So it can be helpful to be a bit strategic in the way that you ask for feedback.

There aren't really any rules here, you can note down feedback as you work together when you finish, maybe just in a random email that someone sends you. Or you can be a bit more structured about it and ask for a testimonial or ask for feedback in a survey. If you have an email newsletter, you might pay attention to what people are seeing in the replies, you can do polls on Instagram and LinkedIn, if that's where a lot of your clients are, and you think that might work. 

I do have a few tips to make it easier. So number one is make asking for testimonials a standard part of your process, either on their own or as part of your offboarding survey or client feedback form. Number two, make it easy for the person that you're asking people love to help, but they might not be sure what to say. So you've got to lead the response. If you want testimonials that are really compelling, then you have to ask the questions that will get the answers that you need. You can even offer to draft something for them to see if appropriate, you know, a lot of people are quite happy for you to do that, you just need to get over the awkwardness of that one.

Next, I would frame it as a quick favour and thank them for being a client or customer at the same time before making the request. So maybe you might remind them of a benefit that they get from your service or product while you do it. Next, if you're writing a case study, or if you're seeking more in depth feedback, it might make sense to schedule a time for an interview so that you can actually talk to them, and maybe record it, and then that lets you dig into their response in a bit more detail. If you find you're not getting many responses, you might consider incentives such as a discount for future services, or a bonus of some sort, or a voucher. I probably wouldn't think this would be necessary for most freelance services. But if you have a programme or a course or something that's a bit more substantial, you might want to do this, something that's one to many rather than one to one. And you should always ask permission before publishing a testimonial, including the person's name and photo and job title just to make sure that they're comfortable with that. 

And in the PDF in the show notes, there is a link to a thank you video that I made, which has been a fun way to say thank you to clients and ask for a testimonial, and also nudge them to send referrals my way too. I think it makes a lot of sense to combine those two asks, during your offboarding process, when the client is feeling really good about how things have turned out. They will feel good about supporting your business. And they will also look good to other people if they can make a solid recommendation to you. 

One thing I want to note here is there's an important difference in the timing of your testimonial. So let me explain why. I mean. If you ask for a testimonial immediately after finishing working with someone, the feedback will be about their experience of working with you. So it might be something like "I loved working with Louise, she made me feel x y z." If you come back six months later, and ask for feedback again, they will be able to speak to the impact of working with you. So there's might be something more like "working with Louise completely transformed my business for these reasons!" They'll have the results at that point. So when you have both the immediate feedback on the experience, and the later reflections on the impact, your testimonials and your copy will be even more powerful. 

I thought I would share the questions that I actually asked clients when I finished working with them, I just have these saved in an email template so it's all very easy and straightforward. I just send it out once we're finished, sometimes with the thank you video, sometimes not depends on the exact client. So these are in the PDF, so you don't need to scribble them down. You can just take them, you can copy them, you can adapt them as you like, do whatever you like. So here we go:

What was happening in your life when you decided to hire me? 
What were you most excited about before working together? 
What are you most concerned about? 
What impressed you most about working with me? 
What do you wish we'd done more of? 
What would you change about our work together? 
How are you feeling that we finished working together? describe our work together in three adjectives? 
And would you recommend me to a friend?

These are just prompts, you don't have to use them all. I don't always use them all. Some of them are kind of touching on similar things, so you might just tweak and adapt depending on the nature of your relationship with the client, and what you think is going to be most useful. The first few questions there are the ones that are most crucial in helping you understand how your prospective clients are feeling right now. So you can make sure that when you're writing copy, or if you're creating something where you're going to be using your testimonials, you're speaking directly to those hopes and worries that your prospective customers have now. Because they will be feeling the same way that your happy clients were feeling before they started working with you. I hope that makes sense. If you can ask for actual numbers and stats and growth rates and ROI on the impact of your work that's going to be even more powerful. 

You can also ask questions about specific aspects of your service that you think differentiate you from other people, or aspects of your service that you really want to emphasise, so you get the most specific testimonials possible. Because something like "Louise did a great job" is really nice. But it doesn't tell people a whole lot it does it? It's not that meaningful. And just to go back to what I said earlier about how you use testimonials, I think you always want to use them in quite a strategic way. Some people will say that it's a good idea to put a testimonial page on your website. But I don't know that this is the most effective approach. I don't know that if I was hiring someone, I'd want to scroll through a big list of quotes. If they don't even bother to click on that page, it's not really going to do anything for you. I think it's far more effective to use them in a context specific way. 

So for example, if you have a section on your website, where you talk about your process, you'll want to drop in a testimonial next to that, that includes something where a client has said something complimentary about your process, or the results that they got thanks to your process.

Maybe you have a testimonial from a client who said that your service was amazing value for money, or really worth the investment, that would be the perfect one to pop in next to where you're talking about your pricing. So you can sprinkle them throughout in the most sensible place, really. So if you have a testimonial about a particular service, you put that on the bit of your website where you're talking about that service. I mean, it sounds obvious, doesn't it? But yeah, a lot of people don't do that

A final point is to ask for recommendations on LinkedIn. I haven't actually done this myself very much. And I really should. It's much harder to fake these, so they're extremely credible. And if you get a lot of your clients through LinkedIn, it's definitely a strategy that you'll want to include. And it should be a lot easier for clients as well if they're regular users of LinkedIn. So that's one thing to consider. 

As I mentioned, there is a PDF that you can download that will walk you through all of this, I know that's been a bit of a whistle stop tour through testimonials. That PDF will give you more tips on how to lay out testimonials on the page so that they're even more effective, how you can use testimonials for SEO, and how to analyse them to write your copy if you're not a copywriter. Obviously that is my bread and butter so I could talk about that for days. 

So there you have it, how to ask for and use testimonials in your freelance business so you can build trust and credibility, bring your copy to life, and gather insights on how to make your services even better. I hope that was helpful. If you like this, please leave a review. See how I'm taking my own advice here?! And or share with a friend who might enjoy it. Thank you.

You've been listening to 15 Minute Freelancer with me, Louise Shanahan, freelance health copywriter and content marketer at thecopyprescription.com. If you enjoyed this, please hit subscribe, leave a review or share it with a freelance friend. And if you've got a freelancing question you want answered on the podcast find me and say hi on Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram. Thanks, and until next time, happy freelancing!