Testimonials are easy right? Just email a few of your friendly clients and have them write up a good word, slap them on your website and then you’re done right?

Well, though you can certainly do that, let’s not pretend that there aren’t good testimonials and bad testimonials. Just like doctors, contractors, phones, cars, shoes, you name it, there’s good and bad. So what’s the anatomy of a really good testimonial?

Component 1: Relevance

The first feature of a really good testimonial is relevance. Relevance has to do with how the testimonial relates to your marketing position. Does the testimonial relate to your core service or product lines? Is it speaking about the business you have today?

It is very easy to simply fill out a page with numbers and numbers of testimonials but don’t forget that your prospects might actually read them and when they do read them, guess what? They matter. At minimum, consider leading with your most relevant testimonials.

Relevant testimonials talk about specific services that you’re wanting to pitch to new prospects. They’re consistent with projects that you’re currently bidding out and they align with the copy that you have on your website that talks about who you are. Here’s an example for a plumbing company that includes fixing clogged sewers as an offering:


Component 2: An identifiable source

For my next component, the testimonial should come from an identifiable source. What do I mean by that? Well, by looking at the testimonial, it shouldn’t feel anonymous. If the person who wrote the testimonial is from a particular company, and you’re at liberty to do so, include the business name and the person’s title.

Do you have permissions to use last names? Do so. Location? Do so. In an ideal situation, “identifiable” testimonials will allow prospects to see that these are real people at real companies or in real places. In fact, in theory, someone would even be able to find the person who wrote the testimonial on LinkedIn or Facebook, further reinforcing that the testimonial is legitimate. Here’s an example testimonial for my web design agency:


A word of caution: Sometimes for legal reasons (generally for B2B) and privacy reasons (more the case with B2C) it’s harder to get testimonials with more identifiable sources. Some companies or individuals won’t have any concerns with being identified, so when this is the case, and you’re legally safe to do so, capitalize on it.

Component 3: Specificity

Next, good testimonials have a degree of specificity. As is often the case, showing an example of what not to do may be helpful here. Here’s an example of a non specific testimonial.

“Dr. Jones is a great doctor. I really liked my visits to his office and how he was able to help me with my problems. I would highly recommend Dr. Jones to anyone looking for a primary care doctor.” - Jamie S., Brooklyn, NY

What does this testimonial tell you about Dr. Jones as a primary care physician? Approximately nothing! The testimonial is so vague that it leaves the reader with nothing to grab on to and with nothing sounding distinct, it’s left with no compelling power. Here’s a better example:

“Dr. Jones is an incredibly caring physician. I hate the traditional run around with practitioners eager to get you out of the door so they can get to their next patient. Dr. Jones is different. He takes the time to really understand, asks a lot of questions, and then take the appropriate time to diagnose the situation. I couldn’t recommend him more.” - Charles M., Brooklyn, NY

How about this one? What does this one tell us about Dr. Jones? Well, here are a few things:

  • He’s caring
  • He doesn’t rush through your appointment
  • He asks a lot of questions
  • He wants to get to the bottom of the problem

Imagine if you were a prospective patient of Dr. Jones. Doesn’t this give you a lot more information? Specific testimonials are important because they allow your prospective client, customer or patient to get a sense of what their experience with you will be like. Make sure to avoid the vague and favor the detailed when selecting testimonials.

Component 4: Imagery and formatting

My last component for a really good testimonial is to use images and good formatting. Images of either a person’s face or of the logo of a business will help your testimonials stand out and keep your readers from a wall of text.

Using proper formatting will also help with readability. Formatting includes: the readability and color of the fonts you choose, white space around your testimonial and around the testimonial parts and variant formatting for the source line of the testimonial. Here’s a good example of well-formatted testimonials from Suffescom Solutions.


See how easy it is to tell who wrote the testimonial and where one stops and another starts? Don’t bury your awesome testimonials in a wall of text that makes your prospects instantly overwhelmed. Use good formatting and you’ll find prospects much more interested in what others are saying about you.

Bonus Feature: Consider leading with a few video testimonials

As our world becomes increasingly complex, internet browsers are looking for ways to get what they need faster and when it comes to a review about your company, listening to a 30-60 second video can feel quicker and less mentally taxing. You can also get a lot more from a video testimonial - as they say, a good amount of communication is nonverbal. There are simply things that a client or customer can say or do in a video testimonial that are much harder to do with plain text.

Here’s another good example of Iceberg web design company’s clean looking video testimonials:



Well, there you have it. What are the features of a really good testimonial? An identifiable source, relevance, specificity, imagery and formatting. With these features in place, you’ll up your odds with connecting with your prospects and in turn, closing more deals.

Did you find this post helpful? Did I miss anything? I’d love to hear from you.

Author Bio: Joe Ardeeser is the owner and operator at Jordan Crown - a web design agency in the Seattle area that specializes in professional web design services. Joe founded his company 10 years ago and they provide premium marketing websites to medium to large-sized businesses. Joe’s greatest enjoyment comes from business development- whether that’s improving the company’s sales process or figuring out how to bring on the highest level of talent. Connect with him on LinkedIn.