Business owners need to know the difference between testimonials and reviews.
They are not the same, after all, with both offering a host of unique benefits to your business and its reputation.
If you have used the two terms interchangeably in the past, you might be surprised to find out just how different they are!
Testimonials and reviews are both valuable forms of customer feedback. But how they are provided, used, and beneficial to businesses is what sets them apart.
We explain the differences between testimonials and reviews below, along with their uses, benefits, and how your business can get more reviews and testimonials from customers.
What Is A Testimonial?
A testimonial is a personal endorsement, created by a customer for a business to use.
Testimonials can be written or in video format, but in most cases you will see them as written statements.
Testimonials are provided by satisfied customers, usually to be displayed on a business’s website.
Due to this, testimonials are a form of positive feedback for other customers to see that backs up what the business claims to offer on its website.
A business will naturally sell itself to customers using its website. But without any hard evidence, the claims can lose effectiveness.
This is where testimonials come in – to endorse the business and inspire trust, credibility, and confidence.
As testimonials are provided by customers for the business to use on its website, testimonials are collected and owned by the business, typically by requesting them from customers.
What Is A Review?
A review is a type of online feedback, created by a customer to share their experience using a business.
Reviews can feature a written statement and star rating, sometimes with photos and videos of the product or experience.
Customer reviews are posted on review websites for other customers to see. The feedback can be positive, negative, or mixed.
Due to this, reviews can endorse the business or not, which can improve or harm the business’s reputation.
Positive reviews will inspire trust and confidence while negative reviews can make a customer doubt the quality a business delivers.
As customer reviews are provided on third-party websites and platforms, they are not owned or managed by the business.
Despite that, it’s possible for businesses to request reviews from customers.
Testimonials Vs. Reviews – The Differences Explained
To summarize the above, here are the key differences between testimonials and reviews:
- Testimonials can be a written statement or video while reviews can have a written statement and star rating accompanied by photos and videos
- Testimonials are positive feedback while reviews can offer positive, negative, or mixed feedback
- Testimonials are posted on a business’s website while reviews are posted on third-party review websites
- Testimonials are owned and managed by a business while reviews are owned and managed by the review platform
- Testimonials are created to endorse a business while reviews are created for personal reasons
The Similarities Of Testimonials And Reviews
Now that the differences between testimonials and reviews have been covered, what are the similarities between the two?
It goes without saying that testimonials and reviews are both forms of customer feedback since they are provided by customers.
Another similarity is that testimonials and reviews are usually written statements.
Both testimonials and reviews offer social proof of the quality and trustworthiness of a business’s products or services, posted online to be available for other customers to see.
A business can also request testimonials and reviews from their customers, as well as showcase both of them on its website for marketing purposes.
Why Do The Differences Matter?
So why do the differences between customer testimonials and customer reviews matter?
Put simply, the differences between testimonials and reviews matter because both forms of customer feedback offer individual benefits for improving and building your business’s online reputation.
Testimonials and reviews have different marketing purposes and persuasive influence over customers, which also makes it important that your business uses both of them correctly and effectively.
The Benefits Of Testimonials For Your Business
Customer testimonials mainly benefit your business’s website.
In short, they can influence potential customers to use your business by providing real evidence of the positive experience customers have had using your business.
- Testimonials can inspire trust by backing up what your business claims to offer on its website
- Testimonials can make your website look more professional
- Testimonials can positively influence the buyer decision process and increase sales
- Testimonials can help your business establish a closer relationship with the customer or business that provided the testimonial
The Benefits Of Reviews For Your Business
Customer reviews benefit your business’s overall online reputation since they feature on other websites – not just your business’s website.
They can influence customers to use your business, but also increase your online presence and authority.
- Reviews can inspire trust in general and improve your online reputation
- Reviews can make your website look more professional
- Reviews can be used on your website to back up what your business claims to offer
- Reviews can improve reach and authority (local SEO and website rankings)
- Reviews can improve online appeal by generating a high star rating
- Reviews can positively influence the buyer decision process and increase sales
- Reviews can help your business establish closer relationships with its customers through review responses
How Your Business Can Make The Most Of Testimonials
As the main purpose of receiving testimonials is to support the high-quality products and services your business promises to customers, your website is where your business can make the most of them.
Some business websites have a page dedicated to testimonials while other business websites choose to showcase their testimonials across various pages.
Despite that, pages dedicated to testimonials tend to receive the fewest visits of all website pages as most customers “expect” website testimonials to be in favor of the business.
To be most effective, testimonials should be short and to the point, typically highlighting a specific point about your business, and accompanied by the customer’s full name.
It’s also important that your business displays an appropriate number of testimonials on its website.
A single testimonial might not be convincing enough while ten or more testimonials in one section can come across as desperate.
How Your Business Can Make The Most Of Reviews
Reviews are shared by customers on other websites with the potential to improve or harm your business’s reputation.
This makes it important to not only leverage reviews for their benefits, but manage the reviews you receive.
Like testimonials, your business can make the most of reviews by showcasing them on its website.
Used this way, reviews can offer the same persuasive influence as testimonials by backing up the good products and services your business claims to offer.
By requesting reviews to get more positive reviews, your business can climb local search rankings (and ranked listings on review websites), as well as become more visibly appealing to potential customers through the high star rating positive reviews will generate.
Your business can also take advantage of customer reviews by actively responding to all reviews – positive or negative.
This can showcase your business’s level of care and appreciation for its customers, as well as generate loyalty.
How To Ask For Testimonials
To get testimonials to use on your website, you need to request them from customers. And since you will be posting them on your website (ideally with the customer’s name), you also need to ask for their permission.
The good news is that testimonials are generally requested from satisfied customers – which can increase the likelihood that the customer will be willing to provide a testimonial.
Despite that, testimonials need to be professionally and effectively worded (short, to the point, and free from extraneous details), meaning that it is often best to suggest an example to customers or provide an example template.
In general, the first step to get a testimonial is to look for customers who have written a positive review or expressed satisfaction using your business (in-person or by email, for example).
The next step is to politely ask them for a testimonial with their permission to use it on your website, suggesting an example that the customer can follow.
How To Get More Reviews
Reviews are different from testimonials as you can receive them without knowing.
Despite that, requesting them from customers is the best way to get more reviews so that your business can take advantage of the benefits.
Getting reviews from your customers can be done in a variety of ways: by asking for reviews in person, requesting for reviews using emails and follow-ups, and by displaying logos and banners (online and in-store) that may encourage your customers to write a review for your business.
Unlike testimonials, however, customer reviews need to be new and relevant to be the most effective, which requires requesting reviews from new customers as much as possible.
The downside here is that actively requesting for reviews from your customers will also increase the risk of your business receiving a negative review – something that can quickly harm your business’s reputation.
In addition, using conventional methods to request reviews is also difficult and time-consuming, increasing the time it takes to get more reviews.
The Most Effective Way To Get More Reviews For Your Business
If requesting testimonials and reviews from customers sounds like a lot to manage, that’s because it is.
But while testimonials are generally easier to get—since it mainly requires reaching out to your satisfied customers—the same can’t be said for positive reviews.
It’s not recommended for businesses to directly ask for positive reviews. Your business can request reviews from customers, but the feedback you receive is up to the customer.
This is where ReputationStacker can empower your business to get more reviews.
The automated service streamlines the review process for your customers, generating positive reviews while reducing the number of negative reviews your business receives.
How? ReputationStacker asks your customers about their experience with a single-question email or text.
The funnel automatically prompts satisfied customers to write a review while redirecting unsatisfied customers back to you so that you can handle any issues before they turn into negative reviews.
Simple, but effective. And with the easy-to-use widgets ReputationStacker provides, you can even showcase your best customer reviews on your website—like testimonials—providing your business with the benefits of both.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Testimonials Reliable?
Testimonials are endorsements a business uses on its website to increase credibility.
But as it’s expected that testimonials used on a business’s website will be positive, this can reduce how convincing they are to customers.
This makes it important that testimonials are created by real customers and used with their permission.
Testimonials should always be displayed with the customer’s full name, but can also include additional information such as the customer’s photo, location, or occupation.
What Is A Testimonial Template?
Even though a testimonial needs to be provided by a real customer to be legitimate, it should also be short and to the point for the endorsement to be effective and presentable when used on a business’s website.
This means that, when requesting a testimonial, businesses should ideally guide the customer on how to write their testimonial by suggesting a short written example or providing a template.
This ensures that the customer’s testimonial can be used, as well as effective enough to inspire trust and confidence in other customers.
Which Is Better Testimonials Or Reviews?
Testimonials and reviews are beneficial to businesses since both can help a business’s reputation.
But while testimonials are used to increase the credibility of any claims made on a business’s website, positive reviews offer far more benefits overall.
Reviews build trust and confidence but also help improve SEO, making businesses more authoritative and discoverable.
High star ratings, generated by positive reviews, can also make businesses more visibly appealing to customers, benefitting online appeal and sales.
Despite the benefits of positive reviews, however, negative reviews have the opposite effect, which makes it all the more important that a business does everything it can to get more positive reviews.
Ian Kirby has been working in digital marketing for over 15 years. Having worked both with and for digital marketing agencies and in-house with multiple companies, he has a specific interest and expertise in online reputation management, online reviews, and the implementation of business systems. Ian’s writing, videos, and interviews have garnered millions of reads, views, and listens.