How to develop customer testimonials for your ecommerce site

It's story time

You have online products. You need to let everyone know that you have good stuff. But you are running out of ideas for making your sales copy fresh and interesting. Besides that, you have an unstoppable deadline. If you don’t start bringing in more revenue, you’ll need to close up shop — or put off that dream vacation.

You’re bright, inventive, ambitious.

And in a bit of a jam.

Enter customer testimonials. These customer stories are told from your purchasers’ perspectives. They are stories with a point, featuring a real customer who has experienced your product — stories that will connect with your readers in ways that boring sales messages cannot. And that can inspire more people to buy your product.

Where do you find customer testimonials?

Think of customer testimonials as mini-case studies. Someone had a problem or need and your product was the answer. All you need is a happy customer or two.

Where do you find them? First, look at your sales records to find your most popular products. Then read a few of your customers’ questionnaire responses to jumpstart your thinking.

Haven’t sent any out? Well, get on that. Because from the information on your questionnaires, you’ll be able to extract gems — small snippets that will be a perfect starting place for a story. It’s all right there: the details and personal experiences that will make your stories come alive.

Here are some questions to start with (you will want to word the questions to bring out specific information and details that will make your story memorable). Avoid questions that can be answered with just yes or no. Ask things like:

  • What problem was your customer trying to solve that brought them to you?
  • When and exactly how did they use your product (encourage very specific details here)
  • What product did they use before?
  • What inspired them to switch to your product?
  • How does it work for them now?
  • What are their future plans?

Then ask them for a quote related to your product or service, specifically, what has changed for them and how they feel about that.

How to tell a memorable customer story on your ecommerce site

Every reader is a potential happy customer. All you have to do is tell this one story in a way that inspires their curiosity, connects with their most pressing problems, and shows them that you can solve them, just like you did this customer’s.

Every reader is a potential happy customer.


To tell your story, you’re going to need a few things:

  • Your main character (this, of course, is your customer)
  • The story problem (the needs that the customer had before buying your product)
  • The ending (the point of your story, how your product changed your customer’s life or made things better)

If you have asked the right things in your customer questionnaire, you should have plenty of rich information to work with. Now let’s walk through the process.

Start with a bang.

This is sometimes called the hook. It’s your opening sentence or two. Use it to surprise or intrigue your readers. Tell them something small, something that makes them want to learn more. But don’t give everything away. Tell them just enough to make them curious.

Set your story up.

Now you can go back and fill in some of the details. Where was your customer before they found your product? What was her most important, unfulfilled need? Be very specific with the details. In each post or story you write, you will focus on a different set of circumstances, a different set of details.

Maybe this customer had limited financial resources. Or nerve-wracking project deadlines. Maybe her business’s sales were down. Or she was not getting enough signups for her newsletter. Set your story up so your product has a starring role in helping her solve her problem.

Develop your story.

This is where you get exact. Use the details of what your customer did, how they used your product. Tell a story that your readers can project themselves into. Make it easy for them to jump into the story, to put themselves in your customer’s shoes, to imagine that this could be them.

Show the resolution.

The ending is your most important part — it’s your point, the reason you are writing this story. From the beginning, you have been leading your readers straight to it. By telling how the problem was solved from your customer’s point of view, you are showing your readers that you can help them, too. Your final couple of sentences should give them the payoff. If it feels right, that quote from the questionnaire might fit here: in that buyer’s own words, what it means to be a happy customer.

Of course, you should always get permission from your customer to tell their personal story. Send them a copy to review and approve. And it doesn’t hurt to send them a small token of your thanks — promotional items from your stock, a Starbucks gift card, flowers, or whatever seems appropriate.

There you have it: a blueprint for telling a real-life story about how your product made someone’s life better, easier. And an invitation to your readers to become happy customers, too.

Image by: Michael Casey via Compfight cc