2nd Base - Reach Product Market Fit

How to Create Impactful Customer Testimonials

Customer testimonials are key to effective marketing. Here you find customer testimonial examples and a customer testimonial template.


Customer case studies, interviews, quotes, and references are so critical for early marketing success, that they deserve a dedicated section. The first step when you start doing marketing for your solution should be to interview your best customers (or honestly, interview as many customers as possible). In this section I’ll provide a very specific guide that will help you do this, and use it to fuel many critical parts of your marketing engine, like:

  •         Press releases
  •         Website content
  •         Landing pages
  •         Email and advertising copy
  •         Downloadable case studies
  •         Video testimonials

Your testimonial interviews are also used to validate and complete your value proposition assumptions. You can use it to finish your messaging framework. Do customers echo what you think your superpowers are? What language do they use when they do so?

Customer interviews that lead to testimonial write-ups and usable/useful quotes are fundamental. Here is a proven approach that has been used by many companies to get going (I used this at Microsoft for global product launches, and with Atera when they started with no marketing at all).

Step 1: Sourcing your interview suspects

Who are your raving fans? Start with these. I usually ask the sales leader or founder to introduce me as the new marketing leader to their best customer and ask for a favor. As the new “marketing guy” I want to hear from the customers themselves how our solution is creating value for them. The conversion rate of these requests to actual completed interviews is close to 100%. Your customers love it when you ask them for help.

I typically set aside about 30 to 45 minutes for these, and use Zoom or another virtual meeting platform to record the conversation. Make sure to ask permission to record. I share that it allows me to focus on the dialogue vs. taking notes.

Step 2: Interviewing your testimonial prospects

After you introduce yourself and share your intention to learn from customers how they benefit from your solution, and what we can improve on, make sure to ask permission to record the call. I always mention that I might write some of our conversation up to use for marketing purposes, and if I do, I will ask them to review and approve before I would use any of it. I don’t mention creating a testimonial just yet, as I honestly don’t know if the conversation will lead to a testimonial worthy interview.

Here are some "proven" Interview Questions to use for your interviews. This proven approach will help solicit quotes, insights, and input for your messaging framework. While I like to hit on most of the below questions, make sure to have a conversation, and not just rattle of one question after the other. It’s a good best practice to ask “Why” questions to get to the important challenges, benefits and outcomes. For example, “Why is that important for you/your business?”, “Why was this an important outcome?” and “Why do you think this happened?”.

Introduction

  1. Thank the client for making the time and verify how much time the client has for the interview.
  2. Ask if this interview can be recorded so you can focus on the conversation.
  3. Confirm that the materials will only be used publicly after approval by the client.
  4. Note that some questions may feel repetitive. This is by design to get to great quotable answers.

Customer background

  1. Start with some background: What makes the customer’s business unique?
  2. How is the company doing? Growth? Number of clients?
  3. Who are your (the customer’s) clients?

Using your solution

  1. How long have you been working with <our solution/company>?
  2. What services does our company provide you? How would you describe the “job-to-be-done” that our solution performs for you?
  3. How were you doing this work before using us?
  4. What problems were you trying to solve by engaging us?
  5.  How did you find us? Did you search for specific words in Google?
  6. What other options did you explore? Who else did you consider?
  7. Why did you choose us?

Experience working with you

  1.  Who have you worked with at our company?
  2. What is it like working with us so far?
  3. Describe our team’s work for you.
  4.  How do you feel about the quality of the work that’s been performed?
  5. Have there been challenges along the way? How did we resolve them?

Outcomes and ROI

  1. What are the benefits you’ve realized from using our Solution/Service?
  2. Has our service helped with team productivity or morale?
  3. Do you have a story that illustrates the value? Something that happened (or did not happen) because you use our solution?
  4. What other benefits do you expect in the future?
  5. What would you say to someone else who is considering our service?
  6.  Bottom Line: What has our solution done for you?
  7. Is there anything that you would consider us the “best” or “only” at?
  8. What does the use of our solution mean to you personally?
  9. What else would you like to share with us, or is there something else we can help you with?
  10. Thank them for the interview, and ask if they would be open to another conversation at some point in the future.

Step 3: Creating the materials

After you finish the interview, consider having the recording transcribed. You can use any transcription service. I like to use rev.com with its nice user interface where you can explore the transcription later and jump to the audio fragment at any point in the conversation. 

You can now use your transcribed file to send to a copywriter to turn the interview into a testimonial write-up. In addition, I like to capture all the individual quotes and “map” them to the various personas and value prop “pillars” that we will use in our marketing materials. Filling a “grid” like this will help you fill your messaging frameworks with 3rd party quotes to support all parts of your value proposition, for all the audiences you plan to market to. 

ICP

Personas

Value Prop 1

Value Prop 2

Industry X

Persona 1

Quote 1

Quote 2

 

Persona 2

 

Quote 3

Industry Y

Persona 1

Quote 4

 

 

Persona 3

 

Quote 5

 

Step 4: Get approval

I like to share the draft write-up in Microsoft Word format, so that the interviewee can provide comments or suggestions by using “track changes”. Here is an example to use for the email: 

Hi [first name],

Thanks again for taking the time to speak with me about how [the solution] is helping customers like yourself. I learned a lot and think prospects and customers would benefit from your comments as well. So, I took the liberty to write it up.

I'll not use any of this without your consent of course. Please review the attached and let me know your thoughts/comments.

Thanks!

Stijn 

I have a very high “conversion rate” to approved/published testimonials using this process. While occasionally someone involves their legal department to get sign-off, and that can delay or block things, 95% of the time I get approval, sometimes including a small edit or comment. People love seeing themselves in print, and the fact that you listened to them and take it so seriously to write it up, goes a long way to them wanting to see this published even more than you do. People also love to help others, and this is a way for them to show their appreciation for your team.

Step 5: Publication and amplification

Of course, the previous steps don’t count unless you get the story published. You can publish these on your website on a dedicated page with customer success stories, or as blog articles. Now you can share them in your newsletter, or even a press release.

Customer testimonials, and the quotes that are part of them are ideally used in many of your content assets. From landing pages, emails, nurture campaigns and your website to a potential investor deck or analyst briefing.




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