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How to ask for testimonials from your customers and students (+ Templates)

Customer testimonials are one of your most powerful marketing tools. Learn how to ask for testimonials, including testimonial request templates.

Which do you trust more: A billboard on the highway or a recommendation from your best friend?

OK, those are two pretty stark opposites. But when you're marketing your online business, it's a solid comparison to keep in mind. 

People trust recommendations from other people way more than they trust traditional advertising. And you can leverage that trust by making customer testimonials a part of your marketing strategy.

All you have to do is figure out who to ask for testimonials . . . and how . . . and when. Plus, the best ways to incorporate those reviews into your marketing materials.

Phew.

Don't worry -- in this article, we'll cover all of that, from finding your happiest customers to creative ways to share their testimonials. 

First, let's go over what exactly makes testimonials such an effective marketing tool.

The power of customer testimonials

"One customer, well taken care of, could be more valuable than $10,000 worth of advertising." – Jim Rohn, business philosopher

Customer testimonials can be more effective than even the most amazing, creative, and beautifully written sales page copy.

Here's why: Only a third of people say they trust the brands they buy from. Consumers trust each other more than they trust brands. And 76% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from family and friends. 

Social proof -- showing customers' results and use of your product or service -- shows potential clients what sets you apart. That's why online coaches like Shalena D.I.V.A. feature client testimonials on their websites: 

Sales page testimonials and reviews work especially well for higher-priced products, like expensive online courses and annual memberships. Research shows that conversion rates rose by 380% when reviews were included on a higher-priced product’s landing page.

With all of these stats in mind, it's clear that customer reviews and referrals can be powerful tools. So, how do you get quality testimonials to use in your marketing materials? Keep reading to find out.

How to ask for testimonials (and actually get them)

The number one rule of getting customer reviews for your online business: Don't be afraid to ask. When you ask the right customers the right questions at the right time, you can get great testimonials to use in your marketing.

First, figure out the best time to ask your current customers for testimonials. Jon Schepke, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at Reputation.com, recommends requesting testimonials right after customers have completed a purchase or at the end of a project.

That said, if your course or service takes some time for clients to see results, you may want to wait a bit longer before making your request.

For example, Austin of The Impeccable Investor helps clients learn more about the stock market, so it takes some time for them to see returns. 

He offers a Discord server for his community to share their results from his courses. Austin then features those results on his testimonials page:

If you don't have a Discord server or Slack community, though, how can you find happy customers willing to leave you a positive testimonial? 

Many companies use Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys to measure customer satisfaction. 

NPS helps you quantify the customer experience by asking your customers, "On a scale from one to ten, how likely is it that you would recommend [brand] to a friend or colleague?"

Based on their responses, customers fall into three categories:

  • Promoters (score 9-10): Loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and happily refer others.

  • Passives (score 7-8): Satisfied customers who are unenthusiastic.

  • Detractors (score 0-6) Unhappy customers who may fuel negative word-of-mouth.

You can email out NPS surveys after a customer makes a purchase or completes a course. 

If a customer gives you a nine or ten, they're a promoter, meaning they're the most likely to write you a glowing review. Reach out to those customers and ask them for a testimonial.

Depending on how you want to use the testimonials, there are a few different types of reviews you can ask for. 

A quick-written testimonial works well if you want a short, broad quote about your customer's experience. You can also ask more detailed questions for more in-depth testimonials. For example, if you're selling online courses, you might ask your students questions like:

  • Why did you decide to sign up for the course?

  • What were your obstacles before signing up?

  • What was your most valuable takeaway from the course? 

  • How has the course changed your business practices/mindset/etc.? 

If you have specific questions you want answered, a testimonial form through Google Forms, SurveyMonkey, or JotForm works well, too.

However you decide to collect feedback, make sure you get your customers' written permission to post their testimonial on your website, like in the form example above. 

You can also ask your customers to hop on a five-minute phone call to share their feedback. Then, turn your notes from the call into a written testimonial. Just double-check that the final wording is okay with your customer before you post it.

You can even ask clients to film a short video testimonial, which can be especially useful for local businesses with in-person services and clients. (We'll share more on how to use video testimonials in the next section.)

Last but not least, don't forget about review sites and social media. Direct satisfied customers to your social media platform of choice, such as Facebook or LinkedIn, or ask that they leave a review on Google, Yelp, or another review site

If you find a happy customer on a review site, though, don't copy and paste their testimonial onto your own site. Most review sites have a clause in their terms of service stating that reviews and testimonials are owned by the user and licensed to the website.

Instead, you can link to those review sites on your website, or reach out to those customers and ask for written permission to use their testimonials on your website.

You may be tempted to incentivize customer testimonials with a gift card or discount, but be careful. A lot of review sites don't allow you to offer money in exchange for reviews.

Plus, the best reviews are unbiased, honest ones because they help prospective customers make the right decision for them. 

If you do decide to reward customers who review you, disclose that in the testimonial. Honesty is, as always, the best policy.

Before we move on to putting testimonials into action, here are a few testimonial email templates you can use. Make sure to customize the testimonial for your brand, product or service, and tone of voice -- these are just a starting point.

1. Online course student testimonial request

Congratulations on completing [product name]!

Hopefully, you've [solved pain point] by now.

I have a small (really, I promise) request for you.

It's my life and business goal to help [group name] overcome [pain point] -- people just like you before you signed up for [product]. 

Would you help your fellow [group name] find the [product type -- e.g., online course, digital download, etc.] they need by letting me feature your feedback?

Click this link for a short survey if you’re willing to share. It should take you two minutes to complete, and it would really help me -- and your fellows -- connect, so I can help even more people [solve for pain point].

Thank you,

[Your name]

P.S.: If you’d like to share your feedback with me directly in this email or didn’t have the experience you hoped for with [course name], that’s totally okay too. I’m all ears. Just reply below and I’ll get back to you ASAP.

Here's how this template looks filled out:

2. Online coaching client testimonial request

I wanted to reach out and thank you for being such a loyal client this year! It's been great working with you on [coaching services you offer].

My goal is always to help [group name] figure out [pain point]  -- people just like you before you signed up for [coaching service]. But I know that signing up for [coaching service] can feel like a big commitment. 

With that in mind, I'd love your advice: What would you say to someone who's considering becoming a client of mine but isn't sure?

Click this link for a short survey if you’re willing to share. It'll take two minutes or less, I promise. Featuring your feedback will really help other [group name] make the best choice for their [lives/businesses/health/etc.].

Thanks so much,

[Your name]

P.S.: If you’d like to share your feedback with me directly in this email, that’s totally okay too. I’m all ears. Just reply to this message and I’ll get back to you ASAP.

Here's this template in action:

3. Follow-up testimonial request

Just wanted to follow up on the note I sent over last week asking for your feedback on [product name]. 

Your feedback is important to me, but it’s even more important to other [group name] who are on the fence about whether or not they’re making the right choice with [product name].

If you're open to sharing your feedback with fellow [group name], click this link for a short survey. It'll only take a minute or two (it's that quick, I promise).

You can also share your feedback on [product name] with me via email -- just reply to this message, and I'll get back to you ASAP. 

Thanks again,

[Your name]

Here's what a filled-out version of this template looks like:

OK, with these templates in your toolbox, you're ready to move on to our next section-- how to use those high-quality testimonials to hook new customers.

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How to use testimonials to bring in new customers

Customer testimonials are like a Swiss army knife. You can use testimonials across your marketing materials to promote your products and services and bring in new customers. 

The most popular way to use testimonials is to add them to your landing pages and sales pages. When you highlight your product's value in your customers' own words, they'll see how much they stand to earn from working with you. 

Testimonials on entrepreneur and mindset coach Becky Mollenkamp's coaching page emphasize the value of Becky's product, her coaching services. 

Another landing page tip -- when you add testimonials to your website, include headshots of your customers. Putting faces to reviewers' names makes the feedback feel more genuine.

If your customers have businesses and websites of their own, that's even better. Linking to their site in their testimonial benefits both of you. They get a backlink, and the social proof on your page has even more credibility. 

Elizabeth Stapleton shares her customers' business names alongside their testimonials: 

Elizabeth sells tools, templates, and coaching for bloggers. By sharing her customers' websites, potential customers can see Elizabeth's products in action.

The Podia Editor makes it easy for creators like Elizabeth to add testimonials to their site. All you have to do is open your site editor and add a new section: 

And if you're not using Podia, you can start with a 14-day free trial today.

But landing pages and sales page copy aren't the only way to leverage testimonials. If you collect full customer case studies, you can use case studies as lead magnets in exchange for visitors' email addresses. 

Author and advertising expert Alana Terry offers five video case studies of her "most profitable Facebook ad campaigns".

The videos promise valuable content for authors who want to advertise on Facebook, and, in exchange, Alana builds her email list. Everybody wins.

Now, let's move beyond your website. If you use social media for your small business, testimonials and user-generated content can make for powerful posts -- especially in video form. 

Video is a major piece of content marketing, with 85% of marketers saying video is an effective way to attract attention to online brands and businesses.

And social video generates 12 times more shares than text and images combined. If that's not convincing enough, people are expected to watch an average of 100 minutes of online videos every day in 2021.

Social media is the second most popular distribution channel for video marketing content, which means your video testimonials belong on social. 

When you share testimonial videos on social, keep them short:

  • The ideal length for Facebook videos is about 1 minute.

  • Instagram's time limit is 60 seconds.

  • Twitter has a video length limit of 2 minutes and 20 seconds per tweet.

  • LinkedIn's maximum video length is 10 minutes.

  • 68% of viewers will watch a video to the end if it's less than 60 seconds.

Your social post should link to your product page or testimonials page. That way, you'll hook prospective customers with the video, then bring them onto your site for more info on the awesome product or service they just heard all about.

All in all, you can use customer feedback almost anywhere you want to promote your business. Don't be afraid to get creative and make your customer's voice a big part of your brand.

How to get (and use) testimonials and reviews

For small business owners, a good testimonial is worth more than its weight in gold. People trust other people's feedback more than they trust brands -- even when those people are total strangers. 

Here's how to collect -- and use -- customer testimonials:

  • Ask your customers for feedback after their purchase or when they can expect to see results from your service or course.

  • Make it easy for customers to share their testimonials through a form, a quick phone call, or a link to a social media platform or review site.

  • Always get customers' permission to share their feedback in your marketing materials.

  • Add testimonials to your website to boost conversions and prove your product's value.

  • Share video testimonials on social media to hook audience interest before linking to your website.

With all of that in mind, you're ready to make social proof a powerful part of your marketing arsenal.

Keeping your customers top of mind is always the right choice -- and when they know you care about their feedback, they'll be more likely to keep sharing it. Now that's what I call a win-win.

A portrait of Rachel Burns

About the author

Rachel is a content marketer for Podia, an all-in-one platform where online courses, digital downloads, and membership websites – alongside their creators – thrive. When she’s not writing, you can find her rescuing dogs, baking something, or extolling the virtue of the Oxford comma.