If you’ve ever bought, subscribed, or considered something based on the experience and recommendation of a friend or colleague, you know the power of testimonials to attract new business through testimonial marketing.

The reason isn’t mystifying

Businesses of all stripes provide information about their products and services and why people should choose them, and people certainly need such information to make informed decisions. Yet testimonials provide trust and credibility because they’re third-party social proof, and proof of their importance and effectiveness in testimonial marketing bears out in the numbers.

According to a 2023 consumer survey by BrightLocal, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and this trust is evidently growing. In 2020, BrightLocal found that 79% of people trusted online reviews, and veterinarians cite such numbers as applicable to veterinary practices and testimonial marketing.

In an April 2023 article for Today’s Veterinary Practice, for example, Dr. Arathi Vinayak (DVM) cited a recent survey showing that 71% of human patients use online reviews as their first step in finding a new doctor. Though few pet owner-equivalent studies have been done, Dr. Vinayak writes, “We can assume that similar human decision-making would be used in the veterinary setting.”

Because of the power of testimonial marketing, findings in our free 2023 State of Veterinary Marketing report unsurprisingly show that while veterinary practices have long relied on word-of-mouth advertising, online testimonials now factor much more heavily in practice marketing plans to attract new clients in an increasingly competitive market.

To put testimonial marketing to work for your practice, this blog covers the essentials, from how to gather testimonials and the strength of the problem-solution format to channels to use to make the most of your testimonial marketing.

Gathering Testimonials

Cultivating reviews from existing clients involves more than simply asking for a review either in person or through email communications. Cultivating reviews also involves timing, personal connection, and setting client expectations.

The Best Time to Ask for a Review

Ask immediately after an appointment while a client’s feelings about the appointment are still fresh in their mind.

Connect the Request to a Person

Have someone at your front desk ask a client if they would like to submit a review. This way, the request is connected to a person versus a task, which encourages clients to follow through.

Tell a Client What to Expect

If you’ll be emailing a client a link to a review site, for example, tell the client when to expect the email so they know to look for it.

Other Ways to Collect Client Reviews

  • Send an email blast to all your clients. Mass communication templates like those included with AllyDVM Client Communication + Retention Software make this simple.
  • Ask on your Thank You page if clients make payments online.
  • Ask clients to rate their experience using AllyDVM Net Promoter Score, which gives you the option to display your NPS rating on your WebDVM website.

A significant key when asking for testimonials is to understand the four different types of pet owners. Each have their own ideas and values relative to pets and understanding the differences factors into testimonial marketing.

To help simplify the above, download our free Veterinary Client Reviews Kit with tools and resources to effectively collect testimonials and save time doing it.

Your kit includes:

  • 5 Ways Good Client Reviews Help Your Practice—how testimonials help you get new clients, strengthen client relationships, and serve practice efficiency.
  • How to Ask Different Pet Owners for Client Reviews—a breakdown of the four different types of pet owners and recommended approaches when asking them for testimonials.
  • How and When to Ask for Client Reviews, including the best time to ask for a testimonial and five tips for encouraging client testimonials.

In alignment with the third kit component, you also get Han email template that you can customize and send to clients after an appointment, because we know you’re busy.

>> Get your free kit today

Look for Problem-Solution for More Effective Testimonial Marketing

Most pet owners fundamentally make veterinary appointments because of pet problems or concerns. So, as you gather testimonials, look for testimonials that speak to solutions, such as a testimonial about how your veterinary team made a pet feel relaxed and at ease during an exam or treatment where that pet may normally object to exams and treatments. Straight-praise testimonials are always great and help support morale at your practice. Yet problem-solution testimonials speak much more specifically (and therefore more impactfully) to why a prospective client should choose your practice over competitors.

The Problem-Solution Format Applies to All Forms of Testimonials

Though testimonials can differ in focus, the problem-solution format can commonly be found in some of the most effective forms of testimonials, including:

The Heartwarming Recovery Story

  • A pet’s journey from illness to recovery thanks to the care and expertise provided by your veterinary team.
  • A senior pet’s return to mobility thanks to an innovative treatment.
  • A rescue pet nursed back to health by the compassion, skills, and dedication of your team.

Procedures or Treatments

  • How your team spotted and addressed a pet condition before it became worse for a pet and costlier to treat for the pet owner.
  • A pet owner’s initial reticence toward how their pet may react to a dental procedure, and how your practice smoothly completed a procedure with no stress caused to the pet or pet owner.
  • How your practice helped a nervous pet owner understand how to confidently administer pet diabetes injections at home and further supported them with takeaway client education handouts.

Exceptional Customer Service Experiences

  • How your emergency services or on-call veterinarian went above and beyond and responded with promptness and professionalism to a pet owner’s after-hours call.
  • The story of a new pet owner who was nervous about taking their pet to a clinic, and how the welcoming and accommodating design of your practice set both pet owner and pet completely at ease.
  • The gratitude expressed by a pet owner for a flexible payment option that enabled them to bring their pet in for care.

3 Key Channels for Testimonial Marketing

Though testimonials tend to be effective no matter what channels you use for testimonial marketing, here are three key ones:

  1. Use Them on Your Practice Website

Create a dedicated testimonials section on your practice’s website, featuring detailed testimonials and (where possible and applicable) before-and-after photos of pets.

Before you use a client’s image or name (or feature their pet), make sure the client has agreed to it in writing. While many clients are happy to have images of themselves and/or their pets posted online, there will always be a few who may take offense to your clinic using their image without permission. Getting written photo consent right off the bat can help you avoid awkward situations and better ensure that you don’t accidentally offend or lose clients. Having written consent can also help you avoid being taken to court for publishing an image without permission or having a client demand compensation for using their image and/or their pet’s image.

Use short, impactful quotes from testimonials on your homepage to catch the attention of website visitors, then link them to full quotes in your testimonials section.

  1. Spotlight Testimonials on Your Social Media Pages
  • Share video testimonials on platforms like Instagram and Facebook, showing clients and their pets to engage and attract prospective clients..
  • Create a weekly feature, such as “Testimonial Tuesday,” to regularly engage prospective clients.
  • Incorporate interactive elements where possible, like polls or questions to engage your audience.
  1. Optimize Your Website for Search Engine Ranking

Testimonial marketing is only as powerful as discovery. If prospective pet owners don’t find your practice website in search results, they can’t read the testimonials you’ve collected. So, testimonial marketing includes search engine optimization (SEO) to rank your practice website higher in search results and get your testimonials in front of more pet owners, and for practices, that edge comes by using Veterinary SEO services specifically designed for veterinary practices and proven by specific industry experience.

In addition to the above, display testimonials in your waiting area.

  • Create a testimonial wall to display thank-you notes, photos, and stories from satisfied clients.
  • Utilize digital screens in your clinic to showcase rotating testimonials.
  • Incorporate testimonial quotes into practice brochures and information pamphlets for potential clients visiting your practice either to accompany an existing client or to ask questions and assess your practice.

Handling Negative Testimonials

If your chest just tightened a bit, you’re not alone. Nobody likes negative comments, but they have some benefits.

Negative testimonials can help you identify practice problems that you may not have been aware of, which gives you the opportunity to both remedy them and thank the pet owner for their genuinely valuable feedback.

Testimonials are direct requests to a pet owner from your practice. This means, they stand outside of uncontrollable environments like Yelp and other online review platforms. You don’t have to feature a negative testimonial on your website of other testimonial marketing channel, but a negative comment presents an opportunity to privately communicate with a pet to address and solve the complaint. This can save a client relationship and hedges against a pet owner making their complaint public.

For more about why people make negative comments and how to address them, read Understanding Why Clients Post Negative Reviews Online.

Perhaps the Most Important Thing to Consider in Testimonial Marketing

Beyond their power of social proof to turn pet owners into clients, testimonial marketing gets its power from sheer reach. In a digital world, online testimonials reach far more pet owners than word of mouth can, and if managing it all feels complex, we’re here to make it easy.

We’re LifeLearn Animal Health.

For almost 30 years, we’ve been devoted to one thing—helping veterinary practices operate more efficiently, market more effectively, and breathe easier. To that end, we provide a complete range on online solutions to simplify testimonial marketing (and more) so you can stay focused on patient care, including:

  • Veterinary SEO, with a focus on local SEO to rank your practice higher in search results and maintain rank.
  • Social media management—done-for-you posts made weekly (and more) that leverage 30 years of experience creating relevant, engaging content for pet owners and the veterinary industry.
  • WebDVM custom veterinary websites. With a suite of industry-leading pet health content and online resources to position your practice as the go-to source of trusted information for pet owners, WebDVM websites come with location-based keywords, meta descriptions and more to increase online discovery and thereby visibility for testimonials.

Don’t know what can best support your goals?

We’re here to help you figure that out.

Simply reach out to us, tell us your goals, and we’ll recommend solutions to get you there (no obligation) and even show you free demos of our solutions.

>> Request your free consultation