How to Gain New Customers Through Testimonial Advertising

Talk is cheap? Not to a tradesperson.

For plumbers and electricians, mechanics and contractors, word-of-mouth referrals have long been the gold standard for customer acquisition. Tried and true, the influence of this traditional form of recommendation — built on trust and personal experience — remains one of the most important factors in informing customer decisions.

As more and more people search online for services, the same local trades who for years have relied on in-person, word-of-mouth recommendations are presented with a new opportunity to use customer testimonials to grow their business. That’s where testimonial advertising comes in.

Testimonial Advertising

Testimonial advertising has become an innovative way to extend the reach of personal recommendations, amplifying one positive experience into a referral to hundreds and thousands of potential customers.

This article is designed to equip local trades with the knowledge and guidance to leverage testimonial advertising effectively. That means understanding how to collect, craft, and capitalize on testimonials, turning customer success stories into one of your most powerful tools for attracting new business.

What is Testimonial Advertising?

Before we get into the details, though, let’s define testimonial advertising simply as the use of a positive customer experience to promote your services. This approach transforms happy customers into brand ambassadors, using their genuine enthusiasm for your work to influence potential clients.

Testimonial Advertising Examples

There are several different types of testimonial advertising, and each of the different types can be tailored to meet the preferences of diverse audiences and fit various platforms.

Here are some of the most common testimonial ad examples:

  • Video Testimonials: These are powerful visuals of customers sharing their experiences. Video testimonials can range from informal, self-shot videos on a smartphone to professionally produced stories that capture the customer’s journey with your service.
  • Text Testimonials: This refers to customer quotes and written recommendations that can be published on your website, social media, or review sites. Text testimonials are typically direct quotes from satisfied customers, accompanied by their name and photo to add authenticity.
Testimonial Advertising Examples
  • Social Media Posts: Customers often share their positive experiences on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. Reposting a customer testimonial on your brand’s social media channels amplifies their reach and impact.
  • Case Studies and Success Stories: These detailed testimonials go beyond simple praise, providing an in-depth look at how a customer used your service to overcome a challenge, complete with data and outcomes.
  • Influencer Testimonials: This refers to endorsements from influencers, celebrities or industry experts who have used your service and share their experience with their followers. Influencer testimonials will often blend testimonial and influencer marketing.

Each of the different types of testimonial advertising mixes the old-school charm of word-of-mouth referrals with the more modern approach of digital marketing, but the principle behind using the influence of customer testimonials remains the same.

The Power of Customer Testimonials in Building Trust

So, why does customer testimonial have such influence?

The effectiveness of testimonial advertising is grounded in our tendency to seek social proof when making decisions. When people are uncertain, they look to the behaviours and opinions of others to determine their own.

Beyond offering social proof, testimonial advertising also taps into the authority principle: Recommendations from credible, relatable sources carry a lot of weight. People are more likely to be influenced by those to whom they have a positive association.

How Do Customer Testimonials Work?

The combination of these two factors means that testimonial advertising has the potential to build an emotional connection with potential customers, through:

  • Relatability: Seeing or hearing from someone with similar needs or problems helps potential customers visualize how a product or service could work for them.
  • Trust: Personal stories from real customers are perceived as more authentic and trustworthy than traditional marketing messages from the brands themselves.
  • Evidence: Positive outcomes and experiences shared in a testimonial serve as proof of a product’s effectiveness, reducing skepticism.

It shifts the narrative from your company speaking about itself to real customers sharing genuine experiences. This transition from self-promotion to peer recommendation is critical in building trust with potential customers.

Data Supporting the Effectiveness of Testimonial Advertising

But don’t just take our word for it. There are mountains of empirical evidence emphasizing the influence of testimonial advertising on:

  • Purchasing Decisions: BazaarVoice surveyed more than 30,000 global shoppers to find 88% of consumers use online reviews to make purchasing decisions.
  • Consumer Trust: Nielsen reports that 92% of people will trust a recommendation from a peer, and 70% trust a recommendation from someone they don’t even know.
  • Conversion Boost: According to a study by Social Fresh, testimonial advertising is the most effective form of content marketing, with an effectiveness rating of 89%.
 Power of Reviews

These statistics highlight not only the widespread trust in testimonial advertising but also its direct impact on customer acquisition. The simple truth is that testimonials stand out by offering authentic, relatable, and trustworthy perspectives on a product or service from a real customer that a potential customer doesn’t get from traditional advertising or marketing campaigns.

Testimonials vs. Endorsements

There is one final point of clarification to make before we get into the practical advice behind crafting and placing testimonial ads, and that’s to do with distinguishing between testimonials and endorsements.

While both serve as forms of recommendation and are sometimes used interchangeably, they differ mainly in their source and perceived level of authenticity.


  • Come from genuine customers who have directly experienced your service.
  • They might be incentivized with a discount or a gift card but their feedback is rooted in real experience.
  • Require permission from the customers to use.
  • Viewed as more genuine and authentic by other customers.


  • Usually associated with influencer testimonials, especially using celebrities with a significant following.
  • Often involves compensation.
  • Require legal agreements or contracts.
  • Can sometimes be considered as less trustworthy.

The line blurs with social media influencers, whose recommendation might straddle the categories of testimonial advertising and endorsement based on their follower count and the nature of their review. Regardless, it’s the authenticity that makes testimonials a powerful tool in marketing campaigns, as it conveys real experiences from real customers, making them highly relatable and trustworthy.

Step-by-Step Guide to Crafting An Effective Testimonial Ad

Now that we’ve defined testimonial advertising, identified what makes it effective, and distinguished it from endorsements, let’s look at how to create an effective testimonial ad that resonates with your audience and amplifies your brand’s message.

 Guide to Testimonial Ad

Step 1: Determine Whether To Use User-Generated Content or Seek Out Testimonials

The first step in crafting effective testimonial ads is to differentiate between User-Generated Content (UGC) and requested testimonials.

UGC refers to testimonials that customers have voluntarily posted online, such as on social media or review websites. These are organic and unsolicited.

Requested testimonials, on the other hand, are obtained by directly asking customers for their feedback or reviews, often following a purchase or service experience.

Understanding the source of a testimonial is crucial because it informs how you approach the collection, editing, and presentation processes. Each type has its own set of advantages and challenges, but both are valuable in creating compelling testimonial ads.

Step 2a: Select and Edit UGC Testimonials for Maximum Effect

When working with UGC, it’s not simply a matter of copy and pasting. You have to think about how specific testimonials might resonate with your target audience. Here’s how you can achieve this:

How to Select Testimonials:

  1. Look for testimonials that are specific to a product or service;
  2. Make sure it highlights the unique benefits of your product or service,
  3. Judge the likelihood of it resonating with your audience. (For example, if most of your landscaping clients are from upscale neighbourhoods, avoid using a student’s recommendation for their rented property.)

Hot Tip: Authenticity is key, so prioritize testimonials that feel genuine and relatable.

How to Edit Testimonials:

  1. Maintaining the original message’s integrity, if you need to edit for clarity, length, or relevance.
  2. Ensure any edits do not alter the testimonial’s meaning or misrepresent the customer’s opinion.
  3. Always aim to keep the testimonial as close to the original as possible to maintain authenticity.

Step 2b: Request and Collect Testimonials

Sometimes, direct solicitation is necessary to gather impactful testimonials. This can be as simple as asking a happy customer to post a review online, but to ensure an effective testimonial, you can ask them direct questions — in-person or through a form.

How to Solicit Testimonials:

  1. Choose customers who have had a positive experience with your product or service and who can articulate their satisfaction well.
  2. Frame your questions to elicit detailed and specific responses.
  3. Ask about the problem they faced, how your product or service provided a solution, and the benefits they’ve experienced.
  4. Motivate customers to share their personal stories by making them feel their feedback is valuable, but avoid providing a script. Authentic testimonials in the customer’s own words are far more compelling and credible.
  5. Emphasize that their detailed experiences will help others make informed decisions.

Hot Tip: You want to show appreciation for a customer’s time, but you don’t want their testimonial to be inauthentic. A nominal discount or small gift can balance these two competing interests effectively.

Step 3: Ensure Authenticity in Using Customer Testimonials

Whether you’ve collected a testimonial from a review site or conducted an interview with a satisfied client, it’s important to further ensure the authenticity of their recommendation.

  • Verify the Source: When using UGC, confirm that the testimonial comes from a real customer experience. This may involve checking purchase records or communicating directly with the customer.
  • Obtain Permission: Always get explicit consent from customers before publishing their testimonials in your ads or marketing materials. This not only respects their privacy but also strengthens the credibility of your ad.
  • Don’t Misrepresent: As we’ve already mentioned, it’s okay to edit a testimonial for length, but be sure to avoid altering the message in a way that misrepresents the original sentiment.
  • Be Transparent: If a testimonial is part of a promotion or if you provided an incentive to solicit a recommendation, make this clear to your audience.

Step 4: Present Your Testimonials To Increase Relatability

Simply posting a written recommendation can be effective, but putting some thought into the presentation will significantly enhance the impact of your testimonial ad. A well-presented testimonial not only grabs attention but also lends authenticity and relatability to your message.

Here are a few strategies to ensure your testimonials truly resonate:

  • Include Names, Faces and Personal Stories: Whenever possible, include photos or videos of the customers along with their testimonials. Make it clear that this is a real person. This humanizes your ads and makes the testimonials more relatable and trustworthy.
  • Leverage Storytelling: A testimonial becomes a success story when you frame it as a narrative that highlights the customer’s journey from identifying a need to finding a solution through your product or service. This storytelling approach can captivate potential customers and evoke emotional responses.
  • Ensure Visual Appeal: For a video testimonial ad, consider the background, lighting, and audio quality to ensure the message is clear and engaging.
  • Make Important Points Pop: When using a quote testimonial, highlight key phrases that speak directly to the benefits and outcomes of your service.

Hot Tip: Don’t limit testimonials to just paid ads or one area of your marketing. Use them on your website, on social media accounts, email campaigns, and even in print materials to ensure they reach a broad audience.

Incorporating Testimonials Across Marketing Channels

The proper placement of testimonials is every bit as important as crafting them. Just make sure that when you integrate testimonials ads into other marketing copy it:

  • Feels organic.
  • Adds credibility to your brand.
  • Engages your audience.
  • Remains relevant to the context of the platform.

Integrating Testimonials into Marketing Materials

Let’s get into that last point and look at how to best integrate testimonials into different marketing efforts so that they’re relevant for that specific audience:

  • Ads: For both digital and print ads, lead with a powerful customer quote that speaks to the core benefits of your service. This could be a direct quote that addresses common customer pain points or highlights a unique selling proposition.
  • General Marketing Copy: Weave testimonials into the narrative of your marketing copy, using them to underscore points about your reliability, quality, or customer satisfaction. This approach reinforces the claims you’re making about your services by connecting those claims to customers describing real-life examples.
  • Social Media: The most effective testimonial ads on social media tend to be video testimonials. If you’re going to go the written route, be sure to include customer photos or at least images of your work on the project being referenced. To really engage your audience on platforms like Instagram and Facebook, there’s nothing like video testimonials showcasing real experiences.
  • Websites and Landing Pages: Featuring testimonials on your homepage and landing pages has been proven to significantly boost conversion rates by offering social proof directly where potential customers are considering your services. A dedicated testimonial page can also provide a comprehensive view of customer satisfaction.
 Testimonials Marketing
  • Email Campaigns: Include testimonials in newsletters or promotional emails to add credibility to your offers. This always adds a layer of trust and can tip the balance for subscribers considering your service.
  • Product Descriptions: Include brief testimonials or quotes that specifically speak to the effectiveness of a product or service, helping potential customers understand the real-world benefits and encouraging them to make a purchase.

By integrating different types of testimonial advertising across these varied channels, you not only amplify the positive comments of your current customers, you infuse authenticity and trust into every interaction you have with potential clients. This is how you transform passive observers into engaged prospects, and ultimately gain new customers ready to experience the value your service promises firsthand.

That’s the power of testimonial advertising and that’s how you can get the most out of it.

Partnering with Harvard Excelerate

As effective as it is when it comes to customer acquisition, testimonial advertising is a tactic that’s integrated into several different elements of an overall plan. It’s one mere component of a larger, comprehensive digital marketing strategy.

For trades looking to attract new customers in highly competitive local markets, partnering with digital marketing experts like Harvard Excelerate can provide the overall strategy that will effectively use testimonial advertising to help your business gain new leads, increase revenue, and lower the overall cost of customer acquisition.

Every area in which Harvard Excelerate specializes — from PPC advertising to social media marketing — utilizes the best practices outlined above to ensure all customer feedback works toward building your brand and attracting new business.

We began this article by challenging the old saying that talk is cheap. Regardless of your stance on the matter, Harvard Excelerate backs its assertions with action — putting our money where our mouth is with a free Digital Marketing Health Check.

This service will provide you with actionable advice on how to leverage all of the unique strengths of your business, including the powerful voices of your most satisfied customers.Don’t miss the opportunity to amplify word-of-mouth recommendations into one of your most effective marketing tools. Take advantage of our free digital marketing audit, today, and start using customer testimonials to build trust, drive growth and turn prospects into customers.

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