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Best Practices for Customer Reviews and Testimonials

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Are you looking for a proven way to gain consumer trust and increase conversions? Don’t ignore the power of customer reviews and testimonials.

After all, if you’ve got many other satisfied buyers, then whatever you’re offering must be pretty good, right? That’s why social proof is vital.

In the digital era, customer reviews and testimonials are among the first things most people look for when considering a purchase.

According to Statista, almost 70 percent of consumers read up to six reviews before purchasing.

Incorporating authentic, positive reviews into your ads can set you apart from your competition and show your audience your worth.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss six strategies for successfully using customer reviews and testimonials to promote your business. Plus, we’ll cover legal tips to keep in mind when using customer testimonials.

Why You Should Use Customer Reviews and Testimonials

Reviews and testimonials work a lot like word of mouth. Slick visuals and sales materials may not entirely convince you. However, a positive comment or recommendation from someone you trust may be all you need to make a decision to buy.

Customer reviews work in the same way. They’re valuable to your business because consumers trust online reviews from strangers more than those from their friends and family.

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When you use customer reviews in advertising material, you eliminate the middle step of consumers combing the internet for information.

Instead, you build immediate consumer trust with these user-generated descriptors of your service or product.

Where Customer Reviews Are Generally Used

Customer reviews are usually displayed on a company’s website. They may appear on the home or about page or a dedicated page.

Many brands, like Amazon, use reviews on their product pages—a popular approach on many websites.

Amazon customer reviews.

E-commerce stores often invite consumers to submit images and videos (user-generated content), which is an effective way to market products.

Then there are multiple review sites like Yelp!, Trustpilot, and Feefo.

Now that you understand the power of customer reviews, let’s move on to some best practices.

1. Make Sure Your Google Business Profile Is Filled Out

If you want a free way to build credibility and increase visibility, you could do much worse than setting up a Google Business Profile (GBP), formerly Google My Business.

When consumers search online, your GBP appears when people are looking for a similar product or service. By viewing your profile, potential leads can see customer reviews and star ratings and make an informed decision about buying from your business.

Google business profile for a restaurant.

You can optimize your GBP by including relevant information, like:

  • Hours of operation
  • Contact information
  • Photos of your business
  • Pictures of your products

This information helps potential customers find you easily and better understand what your company has to offer.

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With your GBP set up, what’s the best way to request customer reviews? We’ll discuss that next.

2. Ask Your Customers for Reviews — The Right Way

Asking customers for reviews is essential to your digital marketing strategy. However, don’t bug buyers for reviews or annoy your customer base. There’s an art to asking for customer testimonials. Below are some methods:

  • Email follow-ups: Sending an email may well be your best bet. Research shows that most consumer feedback comes from sending out post-purchase emails. You can request feedback in two ways: by adding a request with your dispatch email or by sending a separate email a little while after the purchase. To make it easier, provide a link for your customer to follow and take them straight to your review page.
  • Incentivize: Offer incentives such as discounts or freebies as a thank-you gesture for leaving a review.
  • Personalize your request: Don’t send out generic requests for reviews. Instead, take time to customize each message and show that you value your buyer’s opinion.
  • Checkout review requests: Ask at checkout or on your thank-you pages. Blend your review requests seamlessly into your business by inviting customers for feedback at checkout. This type of survey gives your customers a chance to comment on the entire shopping experience and can be extremely valuable to your business.

3. Respond To Negative and Positive Reviews

The customer reviews are flowing in. Great!

However, what happens when those testimonials aren’t all glowing? Then you take them in the same spirit you would a positive review. As tempting as it may be to ignore them or get defensive, it’s essential to respond professionally and empathetically.

Before you answer a negative review, consider the comments carefully:

  • Is there something you could have done better?
  • Can you change any of your processes and ensure the same problem doesn’t occur again?

In that case, the buyer has done you a favor, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time.

Here are some more tips for handling negative feedback:

  • When you reply to your customer, start by thanking them for their feedback and apologizing for their negative experience.
  • Next, offer solutions or ask for more information so that you can address their concerns. Alternatively, explain what measures you’ve implemented to stop the issue from recurring.
  • Respond quickly. The faster you reply, the better impression you give. Whether the feedback is negative or positive, responding swiftly to consumers enhances trustworthiness, reliability, and customer satisfaction.
  • Finally, don’t dread negative feedback. It can be a learning opportunity and give you added credibility. Yes, really! Research shows that too many positives may seem fake.

On the flip side, remember to respond to positive reviews! These customers took to share their positive experiences with others, so show them some appreciation!

If you’re unsure how to reply, Google has a list of suitable responses, which you can use as a starting point.

4. Focus on Quality Reviews as Well as Quantity

Having dozens or even hundreds of five-star ratings might look impressive at first glance. However, if those glowing reviews don’t offer any real substance, they don’t give any value to potential buyers.

That’s why it’s crucial to prioritize quality over quantity with your customer testimonials and reviews. Instead of simply asking satisfied customers for a rating out of five stars, take the time to reach out with specific questions about their experience buying from you.

What does a quality review look like? Let’s start with the fundamentals first.

According to Gartner research, great customer reviews are:

  • Specific: Reviews should cover product information and highlight features the reviewer liked or didn’t like.
  • Verified: Give the review legitimacy by including the customer’s name, job title, and purchase status.
  • Unbiased: Ensure reviews don’t have an agenda, which can influence the review’s integrity.
  • Recent: Reviews shouldn’t be more than six months old, according to Gartner.

Use a free survey site and ask questions like:

  • What did they appreciate most about your product or service?
  • How did you go above and beyond their expectations?
  • What was communication like throughout the transactions?
  • How easy was the buying process? Could you do anything better?

Questions like these don’t just provide consumers with helpful information. They also help you identify areas of your business where you could improve.

5. Make It Easy for Customers to Leave Reviews

How do you make it simple for customers to leave reviews? Just follow these steps:

  • Ensure you have a presence on relevant review sites such as Yelp, Google Reviews, or Tripadvisor.
  • Keep your profile up to date with accurate information about your business, including hours of operation and contact details. Consider linking to these profiles from your website or social media pages.
  • Ask for customer feedback through email surveys after their experience with your business. One way to do this is by sending follow-up emails after a purchase asking for feedback. Include links to review sites to simplify things.
  • Give them a nudge. Sometimes your customer just needs a reminder. For example, if a customer hasn’t left a review, send them an email with a direct link and explain the importance of reviews to your business.

Customer reviews are one thing, but how do you gain customer testimonials?

Requesting Customer Testimonials

When you have a satisfied customer, it’s an excellent time to request a customer testimonial. These can be in writing, or you could ask your customer to record a video about their positive experience.

Gartner suggests you can make your happiest customers “feel special” by sending custom-made invitations requesting feedback. Additionally, you could give them incentives like discounts, prize draw entry, or a small gift.

Displaying Customer Reviews and Testimonials

With your collection of reviews hopefully growing, it’s time to include your most useful ones on your website or GBP. If you have a brick-and-mortar store, then Google has a marketing kit so you can print off your best reviews and display them.

Remember social media, too!

6. Leverage Social Media as a Review Platform

Do you know one of the first places consumers visit to make their views known? Social media.

It doesn’t matter if their experiences are positive or negative. These days, many shoppers are keen to share their experiences online.

That’s an excellent opportunity for you.

Here’s how to leverage your customers’ reviews on social.

  • Choose your platform(s): First, decide on your platform. For example, YouTube is ideal for video content, and Instagram is perfect for image-based content. Don’t overlook the other platforms, though. It all depends on where your audience is.
  • Display them prominently: Once you’ve collected customer reviews, prominently display them on your website and social media channels. This provides social proof and also encourages others to leave their thoughts.
  • Use video testimonials: Video testimonials offer a unique advantage over written reviews because they allow potential customers to see and hear from actual people. This adds a level of authenticity that’s difficult to achieve through text alone. Additionally, when done well, video testimonials create an emotional connection between the viewer and the customer sharing their stories.
  • Use live stories: Why stop at video stories? Patrick Ward of Rootstrap suggests doing a livestream with a satisfied customer. Ward says this approach builds trust and allows the reviewer to give authentic reactions.
  • Create templates: Want to save time and brand your customer reviews simultaneously? Then use a template. As Melissa Kandel of the little word studio told Forbes, using customer reviews as branded content lets you promote your products/services while remaining authentic to your regular customers.

7. Follow Legal Tips for Customer Testimonials

Editor’s Note: For any questions regarding the law, please consult an attorney.

When sharing customer reviews, businesses must ensure that they follow legal guidelines. Failure to do so can lead to serious consequences and tarnish your brand’s reputation.

You can be held liable for false or unsubstantiated statements made through endorsements and for failing to disclose material connections with your endorsers. Therefore, you must disclose any special relationships between you and your endorsers.

Here are some legal tips and customer testimonial guidelines to remember when posting customer testimonials on your website or social media pages.

1. Disclose Your Relationship with the Endorser

Employees who promote your product must disclose that they are your employees, and business owners must create a policy that states this. Share this policy with employees, shareholders, and investors within your business.

One way that endorsers can disclose their connections is to include tags or hashtags on social media promotions. For example, here’s a Tweet with the #ad hashtag so you know it’s promoted.

Endorser customer review tool.

As another example, Amazon requires that all Amazon Associates (business owners and bloggers who earn referral fees by placing links to products for sale on Amazon.com on their own websites) disclose that they are an Amazon affiliate and receive payment when users pay to purchase a product from their promotion.

Additionally, disclaimers and disclosures should be in clear, simple language so viewers can’t overlook or misunderstand your message. For example, use the #ad tag or a short statement like “This product was sent to us for review purposes” or “This review was funded by [Company].

2. Ensure That Testimonials Are Accurate

One of the primary rules of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is that endorsements must reflect the honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experiences of the endorser.

The FTC uses the following example to show how honesty about products should be conveyed:

“An advertisement for a weight-loss product features a formerly obese woman. She says in the ad, ‘Every day, I drank 2 WeightAway shakes, ate only raw vegetables, and exercised vigorously for six hours at the gym. By the end of six months, I had gone from 250 pounds to 140 pounds.’ … Because the endorser clearly describes the limited and truly exceptional circumstances under which she achieved her results, the ad is not likely to convey that consumers who weigh substantially less or use WeightAway under less extreme circumstances will lose 110 pounds in six months.

“If the advertisement simply said that the endorser lost 110 pounds in six months using WeightAway together with diet and exercise, however, this description would not adequately alert consumers to the truly remarkable circumstances leading to her weight loss.”

The other aspect of this (illustrated by the above example from the FTC) is that endorsements must reflect typical experiences. If the experience is not typical, it should be disclosed in an easy-to-spot disclaimer. Here’s an example of what this type of disclaimer would look like:

Ensure accuracy of customer testimonials.

3. Get Written Permission From Your Customers

Be sure to keep a paper trail of any endorsement agreements or arrangements that you set up. For example, if a customer agrees to endorse your product, get their agreement in writing (an email is sufficient).

This protects you in case a customer later wants to retract their testimonial. If they’ve agreed in writing that you can use their testimonial for a set time, you won’t have to remove it until the contract ends.

You can include clauses in your terms of service or privacy policy that any user reviews submitted to your website can be used for marketing purposes.

4. Don’t Lift Testimonials From Review Websites

If you see a good testimonial for your product on another site, don’t just copy and paste it onto your own website. Most review sites have a clause in their terms of service stating that users own their content (such as reviews or testimonials) and it’s licensed to the website.

This means that if you copy and paste the testimonial, you are infringing on the intellectual property rights of the person who wrote the review, which is not the best way to treat people who love your product!

Instead, you can use links on your website that go to these review sites or plug-ins that connect to crowdsourcing review websites like Yelp. If you want to have reviews readily available on your own site, use resources such as BazaarVoice.

Curious about General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws? Check out this video:

https://youtube.com/watch?v=XJ1h7mGVLc4%3Ffeature%3Doembed

FAQs

What makes a good customer testimonial?

A good customer testimonial should be authentic. 
The best testimonials tell specific stories about how your product or service solved a particular problem or delivered an exceptional experience. They also include details about the person’s background or situation so that other potential customers can relate to their story.

What are the legal requirements for a testimonial?

It’s essential to make sure that your testimonials are truthful and accurate. You don’t want to make false claims about your product or service or misrepresent what a customer says. This could lead to accusations of false advertising or even lawsuits. Additionally, if you offer incentives (such as discounts or free products) in exchange for a testimonial, this must be disclosed clearly.
Another key consideration is getting written consent from customers before featuring their testimonials publicly. This is typically done via email or a release form that outlines how their testimonial will be used and shared.
You must also be able to support your testimonial with proof and ensure it’s original. 
In addition, remember that guidelines can change, so keep up to date with individual affiliate terms and conditions and FTC changes.

How do I get permission to use a testimonial?

Reach out to the person who gave you the testimonial and ask if they are willing to let you use their words in your marketing materials. Ensure you specify precisely how and where you intend to use their words so they can make an informed decision.
It’s also important to clarify that the person providing the testimonial retains ownership of their words. This means they have the right to revoke permission at any time if they feel uncomfortable with how you use their testimonial words. Clarify that they understand this before proceeding with using their testimonial.
Whatever you do, don’t offer an incentive in return for a positive testimonial, and ensure you’re following legal guidelines.

Conclusion

Regardless of industry or product, you should use customer reviews to enhance your digital marketing strategy.

As more and more searchers look online to determine if a product fits their needs, you’re doing your business a disservice by not having an aesthetically engaging video or image ready to greet them.

By implementing a multichannel customer review campaign, you can demonstrate to potential customers that owners love your product and that you truly understand your audience’s pain.

Highlighting this central pain point through the language and context used by your current customers assures would-be customers that you both understand and solve their needs.

While the strategies for customer reviews we discussed above allow you to provide potential customers with proof points, consider launching an entirely review-based campaign. With a handful of effective reviews, you can craft a narrative that tells your entire brand story, all while increasing visibility and awareness.

Where will you start incorporating customer reviews?

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