asking for client testimonials

How to Ask Your Clients for Testimonials without Feeling Icky

Two questions to wake up that business brain of yours:

  1. How many testimonials do you have on your website?
  2. How well do they address potential customers’ pain points?

Testimonials (and case studies) are the most effective content marketing tactics, according to a 2013 report. They’re a must-have if you want an effective, trust-worthy website.

However, I know there are a lot of you who don’t have many, if any, testimonials—even if you’ve been working your butt off and doing some fantastic work for your clients.

Luckily, the remedy is simple.

You’ve just gotta ask for them.

Requesting a testimonial doesn’t need to be an awkward, icky experience. It’s actually considered a perfectly normal part of running a business. To make it easy, here are a few ways to reach out to past clients and ask for those magic words.

1) Send an exit survey

If you hate the idea of asking for a testimonial, try making it a little less personal with a standardized exit survey. This is a form you send at the end of a project to collect feedback from your client. In additional to testimonials, this is a great way to learn more about what made your clients choose you, which can be turned into effective marketing messaging.

To create an exit survey, you can use a simple tool like Google Forms or Survey Monkey (both are free). To make it look more professional, you could also embed a form on your site with a tool like Contact Form 7 for WordPress.

In the survey, you want to ask questions that will encourage your client to give a decent amount of feedback. No yes or no questions. You also want to keep the number of questions short.

When it comes to requesting testimonials, CopyBlogger suggests these 6 questions:

  1. What was the obstacle that would have prevented you from buying this product?
  2. What did you find as a result of buying this product?
  3. What specific feature did you like most about this product?
  4. What are three other benefits of this product?
  5. Would you recommend this product? If so, why?
  6. Is there anything you’d like to add?

This is a great starting point. As a freelancer, you could riff of these with modified questions like:

  1. What was the obstacle that would have prevented you from working with me?
  2. What did you think about the end result?
  3. What did you like the most about working with me?
  4. What are three benefits that you received from my work?
  5. Would you recommend my work to others? If so, why?
  6. Is there anything you’d like to add?

If they respond with testimonial-worthy content, email them back with a thank-you and ask if they’d be okay with you sharing their feedback on your website. Always make sure you have their permission!

2) Follow up later to check in

If it’s been a while since you spoke to your former client, a testimonial is a great excuse to reach out. You could ease in with an email that asks how the project you delivered is performing, and when they respond that everything’s going well, you can then follow up with an email like this:

“Hey [client], I’m so glad you’re getting good results! I loved working on your project, so it’s awesome to hear that it’s all paying off.

I’m wondering if you’d be willing to share a testimonial on your experience working with me? Those results are fantastic, and I’d love to feature you on my website!”

This kind of email does a few important things. First, it affirms the relationship with the client and builds some good will. Next, it keeps it simple with a quick ask—no beating around the bush! Finally, it suggests what the testimonial could contain: “your experience working with me” and “those results.”

If you know the client is more private and wouldn’t be comfortable sharing their results, keep it to something more general like their experience working with you, or how you helped them overcome a specific hurdle. But by giving some light suggestions on what the testimonial could contain, you’re actually doing them a favor and making it much easier on them to put something together.

3) Offer a testimonial swap

If your client offers a service that you’ve actually used, you could always suggest a testimonial swap. This shouldn’t be shady like “I’ll leave 5 stars on Yelp if you do!” Instead, treat it as a goodwill offering and leave them a review first. Then, you can follow up with an email like:

“Hey [client]! I just saw your listing on Yelp, so I made sure to leave a review because your [food was delicious/service was fantastic/etc.]. I’m actually working on building out my website right now, and I’m wondering if you’d be willing to share a testimonial as well about your experience working with me?”

Swapping testimonials is also easy to do on LinkedIn, since it’s literally built into the system. Leave a testimonial on their profile, and they may reciprocate on their own. If they don’t, don’t be afraid to send an email similar to the one above. It’s very possible they haven’t been on LinkedIn recently and just haven’t seen it!

What if they ask you to write the testimonial for them?

Some people hate the idea of writing a testimonial, but they still want to support your business. If this happens, you have a few options.

First, you could go for it. It might feel weird, but this is a golden opportunity to craft a message that is hyper-specific to what you want to communicate to website visitors. Then, you can send it back to them for approval, and you’ve got yourself a fancy new testimonial.

If that makes you uncomfortable, though, you can always write back to them with a few prompts. Your email might look like:

“Thanks so much! However, I’d really like to capture your own voice, so would it be helpful if I provided a few prompts?

  • What specific part of my work did you like most?
  • What are three benefits that you received from working with me?
  • Would you recommend me to others? If so, why?”

Always say thank you

When your client does send a testimonial, treat it like a gift. A timely email reply is mandatory. Even better, follow up that email with a handwritten note expressing your thanks and reaffirming how great it was to work with them. These little gestures are what turn happy one-time clients into repeat clients and referrals.

The bottom line: Just ask

At worst, they say no. And you know what? That means they probably wouldn’t be a repeat client anyway, and there’s no harm done.

Your clients are busy, and they probably won’t remember (or even think) to send a testimonial on their own. Even if it’s months later, don’t be afraid to get back in touch and ask if they’d be willing to share their feedback. Your work deserves it.


Photo by Dai KE on Unsplash

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