5 Clever Ways to Get Customer Reviews That Convert

by Steve Young

Last updated on July 24th, 2017

How do you get customer reviews that help you achieve conversion rates as high as 68.7%?

In today’s consumer centric world, Aileen Lee, Partner at venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, said it best – social proof is the new marketing.

In fact, social proof is one of the key elements in building an awesome brand. And there’s no better social proof than customer reviews.

An experiment conducted by American social psychologist, Stanley Milgram, further proves the power of social proof.

Milgram and his team gathered a group of people to stop in a busy street and look up at the sixth floor of an office nearby where nothing was happening.

group of teenagers looking up and pointing towards something

The results showed that 4% of passersby would stop to join a single person staring up. However, when there were 15 people staring up at the office, that number jumped to 40% of the passersby.

Overall, 86% of passersby would at least look up to see what everyone else was looking at.

In this post, we unveil 5 clever ways to obtain the right reviews that persuade your customers and lead to increased sales.

#1: Find Skeptical Buyers

i will teach you to be richHow does Ramit Sethi, author of the New York Times bestselling book I Will Teach You To Be Rich, achieve conversion rates as high as 68.7% on his blog?

Contrary to most marketers, he will actually ask subscribers to unsubscribe from his email list. As someone who charges a premium for his course material, he wants to weed out those who treat his content as a commodity.

Secondly, he does an incredible amount of research to fully understand his customers’ desires and objections. Ramit says that “when you can truly deeply understand people, even in fact better than they understand themselves, then your sales skyrocket.”

Pro Tip

Get testimonials from customers who were at first skeptical of buying.

Rather than asking for testimonials from your customers who immediately fall in love with your offering, try to look for those that were first skeptical.

For example, as your customers are using your product, send a simple email asking if they were at first pessimistic of the product.

If they were, then you can ask for the actual results that they were able to achieve along with detailed objections that your customers had before choosing your product or service.

#2: Be Like Your Mom

Gary Vaynerchuk has a great talk about the ROI of Social Media and he compares to the ROI of your mother. If you haven’t seen the footage, here’s a snippet from his keynote speech at Inc 500 2011:

The key lesson is to truly and deeply care about your customers.

If your mom was anything like Gary’s or mine, then she knew all about you. She knew what you liked, what you hated, and when to give you some time. And guess what? She never asked for anything back. She only loved you like any good mother does without ever needing or wanting anything from you — only for you to be your best.

Tony Hseih, CEO of Zappos, built a billion dollar company based on this theory. Zappos doesn’t have just happy customers they have raving fans. Early on, Zappos understood the power of word-of-mouth marketing and made it a company focus to provide excellent customer service no matter the costs.

Pro tip

In the end, we need to stop treating customers like metrics and more like people. Treat them right and never ask for anything in return and then reap the benefits.

#3: Give Something Away  

What if you are just starting your business and don’t have any customers to provide social proof? Well, it’s time to get creative and offer something in return for a testimonial.

When Neil Patel started his SEO agency, he targeted major publications such as Techcrunch and Gawker and offered his services for free.


In exchange, he asked for a badge on their websites that linked back to his website. He also used these clients as case studies which allowed him to have the social proof he needed to land even more clients.

He went on to state that although his target market would never reach the level of a Techcrunch or Gawker, seeing that he’s worked with big companies makes it easier for him to close more deals.

Pro tip

Money isn’t your only compensation. Take a tip from Neil and be willing to exchange your services for a raving review. Then leverage that review for more, higher-paying gigs down the road.

#4: Lead the Witness

Sometimes the easiest way to get a testimonial is to simply ask for it. Moreover, you may actually want to write something for your customer.

If you do write a testimonial for the customer, make sure you get their approval (obvious, I know) and that you don’t sound overly promotional.

You want to treat the testimonial like a case study. Talk about the problems that you helped the customer solve rather than talking about the generalities of your product or business.

It also helps if you can provide measurable results.

For example, on the Unbounce homepage, there is a quote from Nemo Chu, Director of Customer Acquisition at KISSmetrics, that reads “I use Unbounce every day and have over 100 landing pages. We’ve doubled and tripled conversion rates and I love being able to ship without engineers.”


While Unbounce didn’t write this for Nemo, the testimonial has more weight because it includes actual results.

Compare the above testimonial to a more general one that reads “I use Unbounce every day and have over 100 landing pages and love being able to ship without engineers.”

Not as impactful, is it?

Pro tip

If happy customers seem shy about writing a review, ask if they’d like you to draft one for their approval. In most cases, they’ll say yes—and thank you for making their life easier.

#5: Timing, Timing, Timing  

Have you ever been asked to leave a review for a mobile app immediately upon launching it? It’s like the app read your mind and knew that you were only launching the app so you could tell the world how much you love it.


A better way to ask for a review would be to wait until after the user has done what he/she needs to do with the app.

For example, in the FIFA app on the iPad, they show a review request after you win a Championship League.

It reads “You just won! You are awesome… would you like to leave us a review and tell the world how much you love FIFA 2012?”

FIFA catches you right at the moment that you are most excited about the game.

Knowing WHEN to ask for a review plays a crucial part in getting more reviews and more positive reviews.

Pro tip

Be smart about when you ask for your review. Don’t rush it. You want to time the review perfectly to when the customer is in his/her best mood and most willing to write a review.


With the many options that customers have today, businesses can separate themselves from the competition by showing the right social proof.

Using any of the five tactics outline above, you will be able to get the right testimonials that lead to more conversions.

What do you think? What’s one way you like to get testimonials from your customers? Do you think I missed anything?



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Steve Young

Steve Young is the Director of Product Marketing for SmartShoot, a marketplace that connects businesses and individuals with freelance photographers and videographers from around the world.

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  1. Anonymous says:
    October 31, 2016 at 6:19 am

    Amazing! Its actually awesome piece of writing, I have got much clear idea about from this piece of writing.

  2. Robyn says:
    February 27, 2014 at 7:57 am

    “…Stop treating customers like metrics and more like people.” BAM!

    I really, really enjoyed this article, Steve. I even had some “lol” moments, which was totally refreshing. It was interesting to hear about FIFA’s strategy – it’s definitely clever of them to wait until their customer is psyched about the game.

    I also try to survey my customers in the most relaxed way possible. I use an app called Feedbackstr, which gives me the option to print out flyers, hang up posters, and order little plastic displays for my tables and cash registers. It was always really important to me to not pressure my customers… It’s better to give them space and the flexibility to submit their responses at their own convenience. I include QR codes and URLs in all of my flyers, which gives my customers the opportunity to reach the survey via smart phone (QR code scanner app) or short URL (browser). I believe it really differentiated my company from all the rest in the high-competition industry I work in. It’s amazing how much has changed just by showing my customers that I care… I mean, how easy is that?

    Once again, thanks for the no b.s. article. It was nice for a change!

  3. Bizutik says:
    January 3, 2014 at 4:31 am

    I really like your article. I run a shop and costumer service is very important part of this job. Happy client will come back to me. I find your tips really interesting.

  4. Lalitha says:
    September 25, 2013 at 11:02 pm

    Good ideas here. I always ask my clients for a testimonial – I put the request in the text of the email I send out with my invoice, to make sure I ask automatically. I give them the choice of placing a review on my Facebook page (though I understand this function will disappear soon), emailing me something to put on my website references page, or recommending me on LinkedIn. I provide links to the first two so they can see what to do.

    I would not allow direct posting onto my website in case of spammers. I’ve not had a bad review yet (apart from “you didn’t rewrite my essay”, which kind of reflects more badly on the client!) so I am not worried about that.

  5. Jenni K says:
    September 20, 2013 at 5:29 am

    Super Great article. Some very crucial points for marketers. Like many others, I also liked asking for reviews when in positive and enthusiastic state from your customers.

  6. ian says:
    September 20, 2013 at 4:51 am

    This is amazing!!! Great post, great Tips, Steve. Your post freshend up my mind! i can’t wait to try it. thanks!

  7. September 19, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    This was exactly what I needed. We’ve been collecting customer reviews for a product that is abotu to go to market and we’ve been trying to figure out how to really utilize them properly. This post nailed it.


  8. Ammar says:
    September 19, 2013 at 7:43 am

    Great article . I like it and I need this info for my self . It is very perfect way to increase the number of reviews .Thank you so much .

  9. Roger says:
    September 18, 2013 at 10:53 am

    Steve, great post! testimonials and social sharing have never been so impactful. Thanks for pulling out 5 awesome tips to shift our mindset and put into practice today! Keep up the great work.

  10. Andres says:
    September 17, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    Beautiful summary. Great real-world examples. Super actionable. Everyone should read this.

  11. josh brown says:
    September 17, 2013 at 9:51 pm

    Great article! Love #2! That is what i strive for. One way I like to get testimonials is simply asking. And asking via a telephone call, not an email. It really shows that you care about it and usually works..

  12. September 17, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    Steve, you provide so many valuable insights in this piece – I must first say, THANK YOU. Also, I can’t help but sit back after reading this and think, “of course, why didn’t I think of that?!” You’ve presented these 5 tips in such an easily digestible manner; I feel empowered to implement them right away, and that’s a great feeling. Thank you!

    • September 18, 2013 at 12:18 pm

      Thanks Kate! Sometimes it’s the obvious tactics that we always forget.

  13. Sandy says:
    September 17, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    I have been trying to increase the number of reviews I have for my sight lately. Thanks for the help. I think I need to restructure the timing. I have been trying to ask soon after my customer received the order, but I think you’re right, I need to wait a minute before I ask so they have had time to enjoy it.
    Thanks for the tips. I’ll put into action immediately.

    • September 17, 2013 at 7:01 pm

      Sandy, love the taking action! Please update me on how it goes (steve at pixelhappy.com)

  14. September 17, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    Really entriguing post. You really broke it down well. It comes don to timing and word of mouth. People are influenced by people in order to build trust.

  15. September 17, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    This is stellar stuff. I think #5 is my favorite! I love the idea of asking for something as simple as a review during that crucial positive state.

    Along the same lines as #4, a questionairre or survey is also a good way to “ask” for the review. One of your questions can be, “What did you like about our product?” There’s usually something they like.

    Great article, thanks!

    • September 17, 2013 at 6:32 pm

      Paul, I love that tip. Great insights.

  16. September 17, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    Social proof is critical, especially when you’re just getting started and haven’t established your brand. Nice writeup and tips.

  17. September 17, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    Steve, I love the post. I troll for good tips like these all the time but had not seen any of the ones you noted in your post so it is like finding the end of the rainbow. And the metrics that are shared really highlight the effectiveness of these tools. Thank you, Doug

    • September 17, 2013 at 6:27 pm

      Doug, thanks for the kind words.

  18. September 17, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    Steve, Love this article! Social proof is huge!

    So many great tips, and take aways! I think I had like 3-4 “ah ha” moments of things I can implement into my business in the near future!

    Looking forward to reading another post from you again soon!

    • September 17, 2013 at 5:38 pm

      Justin, you rock! Thanks for the comments.

  19. Dean says:
    September 17, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    Such valuable insights, thank you Steve! Such a powerful article that will help my business so much more by applying these 5 tips you generously shared.

    Tips #2 and #3 really resonated with me as the place to start. Though I will be then looking to implement the others soon after. Great examples make this post all the better, thanks again Steve!

  20. Andrew Maxwell says:
    September 17, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    Thanks Steve! Great point about treating your customers like people and not metrics. I have found this to be true as well. Everyone wants to connect with someone so why not reach out to your customers!

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