Getting Awesome Testimonials for Your Early-Stage Startup
Struggling to get better testimonials for your SaaS product? Learn what questions to ask to get powerful customer testimonials to improve website conversions and support your sales team.
May 3, 2023
Marketing & Brand Manager
In the early days of your product, credibility makes selling it way easier.
But what really makes something “believable?”
Social proof is one way to help with that and testimonials are a simple way to capture it.
Let’s talk about the different types of testimonials and how they can create credibility for your product.
How testimonials fight skepticism
When you don’t have testimonials on your website, people will wonder…
“Does anyone even use this thing? And if they do, is it any good?”
Here's how people may think and feel when they view your homepage.
Levels of believability
“Does anyone even use this? I don’t see any testimonials or companies”
“Hmm. These testimonials are kinda generic. And I’ve never heard of any of these companies.”
“Oh dang. They use this!? Maybe I should share this with my team.”
“This is exactly what I’m dealing with too! I’m gonna sign up for a free trial.”
“Wow. I wonder if I can get those results? We should give it a try and see!”
Notice how the person’s inner dialogue slowly gains...
Confidence that it’s a product used by companies they trust
Fear of missing out on getting better results with their team
Clarity it’s for them and will solve their problem
This is why getting great testimonials from customers is key to improving conversions on your website.
So what separates the bad testimonials from the great ones?
Poorly written testimonials can cause skepticism
We all start somewhere with getting testimonials for your product.
But when testimonials are vague, it can still create distrust.
What can this look like?
They don’t mention your product or brand
They don’t mention a problem your product helped solve
They don’t share results your product helped them get
I did a little digging to find an example for you.
I found this on an AI company website:
It has no mention of the company, any type of results, or even mentions who said it.
Is this even a real statement by a real person!?!?
What causes this problem?
1. Asking questions that are ambiguous or too open ended
If you send a simple request via email, don’t just say,
“Can you send me a quick testimonial about the product?”
This question can make people feel uncomfortable or put them on the spot. They won’t even know what to say. You need to give them guidance.
Bad testimonial survey questions
What do you like about our product?
Would you recommend it to a friend?
Can you give us a testimonial?
What do you think of our product?
2. Asking too soon
Avoid asking for a testimonial in the onboarding process.
They haven’t even used the product yet!
30 days out is probably the earliest you could ask. 90 days is probably the sweet spot for most products. That way they have time to use the product, get it implemented into their workflow, and actually see some results.
Always take into account the context of your product, your customers, the industry, and time it takes for results to happen.
Testimonials that resonate and build trust
Great testimonials commonly mention
A specific problem that your product helped them solve
How previous solutions didn’t work and how your product is better for them
The benefits the product has created for them
A capability it gave them that they couldn’t do before
Peace of mind with the product they’ve never had before
How it’s helped their team (feeling or metric)
How it’s grown their business (metrics)
So what can great testimonials look like?
Why it works
Product is mentioned
Talk about how easy the product is to use
How fast the product can create results
How it has specifically helped their team
Why it works
Product is mentioned
Talks about support documents being helpful
Conveying how it helped them be more confident in their work
Portrait of person
Verified by third party (G2)
Why it works
Big recognizable brand
Shared problem they had before
Portrait of person
Better questions create better testimonials
Being specific is the key to getting the testimonials you are hoping for. Use the list below to craft your own starter template to test with your customers.
Try to keep your questions to less than 10. Five is kind of a sweet spot if you’re just getting started.
If you find that one of the questions doesn’t give great results, take it out or switch to another one.
Consider creating custom questions if you know more about the customer and want them to share a specific story. This could also lead to creating a case study.
Testimonial questions to start with
What was the problem you were trying to solve when you started using [product]? How did it help solve it?
How has [product] compared to other solutions you have tried in the past?
How has [product] helped you achieve your business goals?
Can you describe a specific feature or functionality of [product] that has been particularly helpful? Why has it been helpful for you?
What benefits with your team or business have you seen since implementing [product]?
How has [product] improved your team's productivity or efficiency?
Would you recommend [product] to anyone else? If so, why?
Always ask this:
“Do you grant us permission to use your answers as testimonials in our marketing materials?”
Just need a simple yes or no. If they say no, you still learn something from their answers, but shouldn’t share them publicly.
The problem with metric questions…
“Can you share any specific metrics or results that demonstrate the impact of our [product] on your business?”
Odds are they won’t know this off the top of your head. Asking for specifics like this on the spot can be hard for any team and can catch them off guard.
They may have not been even tracking this number before using your product.
Metric-based testimonials are harder to get. But it can be really powerful.
Get metrics before and after if you can
Joel Klettke of Case Study Buddy has a great video presentation on this topic if you want to dive deeper into having a strategy for this in regards to case studies.
Being intentional about tracking these things with a specific customer can solve this problem.
If you have someone onboarding with your product, see if you can get them to share their current metrics related to your product during onboarding.
Check in every 3 or 6 months or so to see if progress has been made and ask for permission to use in a testimonial.
Ways to gather testimonials
Sending out a survey via email
Below I have an example of how we set up a Typeform survey we use with clients at Headway. We’ve made small improvements to it over the years. As we understand what questions work best for us.
Consider curating and sending these surveys individually. They could be done via email, but consider how much this testimonial would be worth to you and treat it that way.
If you’re a B2B SaaS company with bigger contracts or a complex product that has a thorough onboarding process, you should go this route with custom questions based on their unique story.
I would even recommend doing a private video interview to record and capture the story. A zoom recording is good enough for that.
If you don’t have an extensive sales process, you can batch with similar questions and send to many customers at the same time through email.
If you have some big name customers, go for the video calls too! You can always turn those into text-based testimonials.
Using notifications within your product
This may not be the best way, but it is an option to gather attention and ask customers if they are willing to share their experience. This could be done within your product notifications area or support messaging.
Your product may already have public reviews out there. G2 is like Yelp for B2B software. People can leave reviews. Your product may already be on the platform getting reviews. You may also find people talking about your product on social platforms. When you find them, reach out and ask for permission to use them.
Testimonials also reveal new insights and patterns
Testimonials are an easy way to learn how people talk about your product. The words they choose to use and the stories they tell are valuable for your entire product team to learn from. They can inform messaging improvements for future campaigns.
Talking to customers is at the core of product growth.
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