Reviews vs. Testimonials [Differences + What’s Best for Your Business]
Words — both good and bad — travel far.
So, what your customers experience and then talk about with their peers (online/offline), sets the tone for your sales graph.
Plus, customer feedback is important for businesses to better understand their needs, wants, and desires. This key information can then be used to improve the product or service you're offering and make it more attractive to future customers.
You may have seen ads for a new car model with a statement like — The features that set this vehicle apart include: X, Y, and Z. This means that the manufacturer has taken customer feedback into account when designing the car. In fact, they want to know what features are most important to potential customers so they can make sure to include them in their product lineup.
Interestingly, customer satisfaction plays a much bigger role in influencing consumer behavior than price and other factors. That's why most companies look for repeat business — they know that happy customers lend credibility to their brand and are less likely to defect to competitors.
In this article, we explore the key differences between reviews and testimonials (the two forms of customer feedback) and a few ways you can land more poppy words of customer appreciation.
Reviews vs. Testimonials — What’s The Difference?
Length And Detail
Reviews are to-the-point assessments that allow customers to share their opinions and experiences regarding a product or service. They provide a quick summary of the customer's viewpoint — enabling potential buyers to make informed purchase decisions. Plus, this conciseness allows quick scanning, efficient information gathering, and comparison of multiple products with ease.
They often focus on specific aspects — like quality, durability, functionality, and customer support efficiency. For example, reviews are critical in eCommerce as they offer insights from previous customers, helping you weigh pros and cons. They can be in the form of star ratings accompanied by comments that highlight strengths or weaknesses.
On the other hand, testimonials are more detailed and personalized accounts of a customer's experience. They delve deeper into the customer's narrative — providing a comprehensive and in-depth perspective.
They often highlight specific challenges faced and the outcomes or benefits experienced from using a product or service. Service-based businesses utilize testimonials to showcase their expertise and build trust.
Plus, they include additional details like the customer's name, photo, and sometimes their profession or location — making them more credible. Testimonials can be featured on websites, social media, marketing materials, or shared in video format to effectively communicate positive impact.
Source And Platform
When customers want to share their experiences and opinions about products or services, they often turn to third-party review platforms — like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Amazon, Google Reviews. And dedicated review sections on ecommerce websites act as central hubs for customer feedback. If you run an eCommerce or subscription business on Shopify, there are plenty of third-party apps that can help you capture reviews from your customers.
These third-party review platforms are the goto resources for potential buyers and users who are seeking information and insights before making a purchase.
Unlike testimonials, which are carefully selected and displayed by businesses, reviews on these platforms are typically un-curated. They provide a more authentic and balanced representation of the customer's experience, as they include both positive and negative feedback.
Also, while testimonials are a direct testament to the brand and their offering, reviews can often relate to elements that are external. For example, if your business uses a billing system that is unreliable, or if your physical store is located in a mall that does not offer free parking, these criticisms can often show up against your own product or service.
The transparency offered by these platforms allows future buyers to assess the reputation and quality of a product or service. They can gain access to a range of perspectives and consider the various positive and negative aspects highlighted by different customers.
Testimonials are feedback directly provided to a company by satisfied customers. They’re usually obtained through specific requests or surveys. And are displayed on the company's own platforms — such as their website, social media profiles, or marketing materials — to establish trust and credibility with potential customers. A sales-driven organization may also showcase testimonials in their PowerPoint slides to prospective clients.
Unlike reviews, testimonials are carefully handpicked by the company, and usually undergo some level of editing to correctly reflect their strengths. Companies seek out testimonials to gather positive feedback that clearly demos the value they provide.
While testimonials may be edited for clarity or grammar, the core message conveyed by the customer remains intact. The editing process aims to present the testimonials in the best possible light without compromising the brand authenticity. Given that testimonials are pivotal in conversion optimization, marketers typically run a lot of A/B tests with respect to the specific words used, presentation, and associated call to action.
Content And Tone
Reviews provide a diverse range of feedback — from positive and negative to neutral perspectives. This offers a well-rounded view of a product, service, or experience.
Customers share specific details about their experience in reviews, providing an in-depth assessment. They discuss the pros and cons, highlight liked or disliked features, and address any encountered issues. By including such specific information, reviews offer key purchase worthiness insights for other customers or users.
The tone of reviews varies based on individual experiences and writing styles. They also reflect the level of customer engagement and satisfaction they experience. Some convey enthusiasm and satisfaction, praising the positive attributes, while others express frustration or disappointment, pointing out the lacks.
Reviews offer customers a free-speech platform to express their genuine opinions and feelings about a product. This emotional element adds depth and authenticity to the feedback which directly translates into true buying advice — which they may not get any other way (well, because company’s sales reps only shine a spotlight on the pros and almost never the cons).
Testimonials at their core exist for promotional purposes, focusing on highlighting the positive aspects of a product or service. They aim to showcase benefits, value, and success stories associated with the customer's experience, creating a positive perception.
To do so, they emphasize transformation, improvement, or satisfaction, demo-ing how the customer's situation or life improved due to the product or service in focus.
Plus, testimonials highlight measurable success metrics, reinforcing the effectiveness and value of the endorsed product or service.
Testimonials have a highly positive tone — often expressing gratitude and admiration for the company’s offerings. This is precisely why the best and most compelling feedback are carefully curated and edited, to build trust and credibility.
How To Capture More Reviews And Testimonials For Your Business?
Before you start collecting more testimonials and reviews from your happy (or unfortunately, dissatisfied) customers, please make sure you’re respectful of their time and preferences. Make it clear that their feedback is valuable and appreciated.
Let’s take a quick look at a few ways you can increase the likelihood of capturing more reviews and testimonials to promote your business and build trust with potential customers:
- Reach out to your happy and satisfied customers directly and request their feedback. You can send personalized emails or SMSes asking them to share their thoughts about their experience with your product or service.
- Implement survey tools (like Jotform) to capture customer feedback and reviews. This can be done through online surveys, email surveys, or even feedback forms on your website. Make sure to ask specific questions that encourage customers to quickly share their experiences and opinions.
- Offer incentives or rewards to customers who leave reviews or provide testimonials. This can be in the form of discounts, exclusive offers, or entry into a giveaway. Incentives can motivate customers to take the time to drop a review.
- Reach out to the satisfied customers who have provided positive feedback and request their collaboration for creating video or textual testimonials. Offer assistance and guidance in the process — such as providing interview questions or helping with video recording/editing, if needed.
- Simplify the process of leaving reviews or testimonials. Provide clear instructions and direct links to review platforms or testimonial submission forms. The probability of your customers dropping a review is directly proportional to the ease of doing so.
- Get social with your customers on social media platforms. Encourage them to share their experiences publicly by mentioning or tagging your business in their posts. Monitor social media mentions and reviews to respond promptly and encourage further engagement.
- Focus on delivering exceptional customer service and a positive overall experience. Ultra-happy customers are more likely to voluntarily leave reviews or provide testimonials without being prompted. An omnichannel customer service that maximizes positive experiences make customers happy.
- After a purchase or interaction with your business, send follow-up emails or messages to customers. Thank them for their support and encourage them to share their feedback or leave a review. Timing is crucial, so consider sending these requests while the positive experience is still fresh in their minds.
The game is all about happy customers. If you keep your customers satisfied, they're likely to refer you, and it won't really matter which format you use to land chest-puffing reviews or testimonials.
However, it is worth considering the differences here, because each form of feedback has a unique place in your overall business strategy. Review these formats side by side and see what makes sense for your business and for your customers.