Think back to the last big purchase you made. How did you decide what to buy and who to buy it from? If you’re like most people, you probably talked to friends or read reviews. These methods of social proof helped you feel confident that you were making a good purchase. You can give your potential students the same confidence by collecting and sharing student testimonials.
We’ve already done a whole series on feedback and why it’s important, but testimonials are a little different. A testimonial is a statement endorsing your program or class. While feedback may be positive, negative, constructive, or neutral, a testimonial is always positive. To put it another way, feedback is about improving your program, testimonials let you tell people how great it is.
We’ll show you how to collect student testimonials and how to share them to help promote your classes.
How To Ask for Student Testimonials
95% of people say that reviews influence their purchasing decisions and this is true whether reviews are positive or negative. So it’s in your best interest to collect evidence of positive experiences and share them on your website, in your printed course catalog, or on your social media profiles.
Some of our more general advice on collecting feedback applies here. You can solicit student feedback by:
- Making the general statement that you’re open to feedback (and maybe providing a link to a place where students can share their thoughts.)
- Calling or interviewing students directly
- Sending out a questionnaire
Don’t know what to say when asking your students for a testimonial? Use our template below to get started!
Can we ask you for your help?
We hope your [class name] class with [instructor] was even better than you expected. Would you be willing to provide a testimonial about your experience in the class?
If you’re willing to write a couple of sentences for us, here are a few questions that might help get you started.
We’ll share your thoughts on our website and social media so potential students can find classes they’ll enjoy by hearing from real people who have taken them. Don’t worry, we’re not looking for flawless prose. We’re just excited to hear about your real, positive experiences with our program.
Thank you so much for your time. We, and our future students, really appreciate it.
P.S. Testimonials with photos feel more personal and trustworthy. If you can, we’d love for you to share a photo of yourself to post alongside your testimonial. Thanks again!
Who to ask for testimonials
The best way to make sure you get strong, positive testimonials is to start with your evangelists. These are the students who you know have had a really great experience with your program or class. They may have already brought along friends or family. Maybe they’ve dug deep into a subject and keep coming back for more classes.
If you have students like this, ask them directly.
You may collect written testimonials, or invite students to share a video of them answering your questions. And speaking of questions…
What to Ask Students
Unlike more general feedback requests, when you’re collecting testimonials you’re looking for stories about positive experiences. The best way to get these stories is by asking specific questions about what students liked, enjoyed, or appreciated.
Try asking questions like:
- What did you like best about this class?
- What did you learn in this class?
- How will you use what you’ve learned?
- What was your expectation of the class and how did we meet or surpass it?
- Who would you recommend this class to?
Encourage students to restate the question in their answer and to call classes by their title or subject area. For example: “What I liked best about the [class name] class was…” or “I will use what I learned in the Excel Basics course to…”
How to Solicit Testimonials About Specific Topics
If you’re especially interested in a specific aspect of the class, you can write questions that help guide students to mention those elements.
For example, at CourseStorm, we pride ourselves on our impossibly simple student registration software. We could ask our customers a question like: How did CourseStorm software simplify your registration process? Or how much time did you save by using CourseStorm software?
You might ask:
- How did the instructor bring their real-world experience into the classroom?
- What did you like best about the online course platform?
- How did the instructor and setting build a sense of community?
Don’t Forget to Ask for Permission to Share!
Make it clear to students that their testimonials may be published and shared. Also, ask for permission to share their name and photo. Testimonials with names and photos attached feel more authentic. If you’re serving a small or tight-knit community, potential students may even know some of your former students personally, which can add an extra level of trustworthiness to your testimonials.
Why You Shouldn’t Use Testimonials From Other Platforms
Plenty of third-party sites encourage people to review and recommend products, services, and businesses. Whether you should reshare these reviews on your own website is another question.
Take a look at Facebook, your Google Business Profile, Yelp!, and other customer and product review sites. You may find testimonials about your classes on these pages. Some don’t mind if you repost reviews. Facebook will even let you embed reviews from your page onto your website. Just click the three dots icon at the top of any review and you can get an embed link.
Google, on the other hand, discourages the reposting of reviews. And some people believe they have a good reason. Reposting reviews from Facebook or other third-party sites might not be the best choice for your course marketing. If students are looking for reviews of your courses, they might be disappointed, or even suspicious, if they see the same review in multiple places.
So, if you shouldn’t repost third-party reviews, how can you use them? Positive reviews from other sites can help you identify people who have good things to say about your class or program. Consider following up with them to get a testimonial for your site.
Where to Share Student Testimonials
Once you’ve collected testimonials, your next challenge is to share them. Here are a few places you could share testimonials to promote your classes:
- On your website home page, course pages, or category pages
- Social media testimonial posts
- Marketing emails
- On YouTube
- Fundraising letters or postcards
Remember to include a name and photo wherever possible.
Best Practices for Sharing Student Testimonials
You might be tempted to edit a student testimonial. Don’t do it. Changing even one word could make you look dishonest. You’re better off using the testimonial as written or asking the student to adjust language that doesn’t quite work.
It is okay to shorten testimonials as long as you don’t change the spirit of what was said. If a student writes three sentences about the course, and you only have room to share one sentence, that’s totally fine. In fact, shorter is usually better.
When choosing which testimonials to share, aim for novelty. A testimonial that says, “The community spirit in this class felt like a warm hug on a cold day,” is quirky, and likely more memorable, than one that says, “Everyone was really nice.”
We recommend that you don’t provide any incentive for a testimonial beyond offering a great class and experience. If you do offer some sort of discount or other reward, stay transparent by mentioning that as part of the testimonial.
Student Testimonials Can Support Your Program Goals
Whatever your goals for your program, student testimonials can help you achieve them. Sharing real stories from students builds social proof, which can lead to more registrations. First-hand accounts from diverse students can help community members picture themselves in your courses. Student testimonials help establish your program as a valuable part of the community.
If you’re not already using student testimonials to support your program, now is a great time to start.
CourseStorm can help provide an experience students will want to brag about. Our course registration software makes registering for classes simple and seamless. Contact us for more details or start your free trial now.