Incentives for feedback/testimonials


I've recently released a couple of information products and would like to get feedback about them from my customers (testimonials would be even better!).

Simply sending a nice email and asking for feedback yielded zero results, so I'm wondering if I could offer some incentive, e.g. an Amazon gift card. I've read about a company which had great success with getting feedback that way from people who cancelled their service.

Has anyone tried this? Does it sound like a good idea?


asked Nov 22 '10 at 13:39
Alex Aotea Studios
665 points

7 Answers


Don't ask for testimonials, ask for honest feedback. Depending on how high touch your market is, you can do this through email or even by phone. You can email a handful of people and say you'd love to talk to them for a few minutes by phone.

When you find people who are giving you the kind of feedback that you think might turn into a good reference or testimonial, thank them profusely and then say, "Hey, I really appreciate your feedback. Would you mind if we featured this on our website?"

Be sensitive to the type of person you're talking to. Consumers may not want their name used. People who work for large companies may be afraid of getting in trouble if you use their company name. The most cooperative testimonials come from independent consultants who are trying to get their own name out there, and they may love to be featured on your website as long as it includes a backlink!

Don't even dream of offering people an incentive to reply. No cash, no Starbucks cards, no Amazon gift certificates. The minute you start doing that, they'll weigh the cost of participating vs. the value of the prize, and they probably won't participate. You want them to participate out of love for your product.

Good luck!

answered Nov 23 '10 at 14:42
Joel Spolsky
13,482 points
  • Thanks for the response Joel. – Alex Aotea Studios 13 years ago
  • Joel, based on your (or your team's) experience, does this work better on the phone or via email? (as getting people on phone is pretty hard :)) – The Dictator 13 years ago
  • 95% of the time, email is perfect. At least in my industry (software for software professionals!) – Joel Spolsky 13 years ago
  • this is a great answer. – Kim Jong Woo 12 years ago


Dont just offer a reward for each feedback. Ask the users to write a blog post so that you not only get a testimonial plus a backlink.. Select few using lucky draw or something..
you will get more testimonials and some backlinks..

answered Nov 22 '10 at 15:50
Neo Syne
75 points
  • Good idea about blog posts Neo. However, my customers are business analysts, and I've found only a handful of business analysts who blog. – Alex Aotea Studios 13 years ago


I find this is like getting blood out of a stone, two customers with whom we have close consulting relationships allowed it, but other than that no luck. I offer their maintenance renewal for free (about 2,000-3,000 USD), still no joy. It's not that they dislike the product, it more seems to be an issue that they don't find our web site professional enough. So, the plan is a good redesign on the site so it's somewhere they feel they want to be featured. That might be the question to ask, is your site somewhere that customers want to be featured?

answered Nov 22 '10 at 20:43
David Benson
2,166 points
  • Thanks for your response David. My plan was to get feedback first, and ask for permission to publish if it would make a good testimonial, so I don't think my web site is an issue at this stage. – Alex Aotea Studios 13 years ago
  • Still, a very good point. Some people may have a reputation to maintain. – Clint 13 years ago


Testimonials are a great asset. You have to make it as painless and as easy as possible. Did you just ask for feedback or did you give a set of specific questions? I have found the questions to be valuable as they get you the info you want and are generally easier on the user as you provide the framework. You can even ask that they answer questions, you compose it, and they sign off on it. I have not tried that last approach but might.

I got about a 25% response rate on the feedback when I asked for it. I used it on my site (see link below and under the about us section) but have not had much luck getting people to do google reviews (which can help with search engine results, especially with googles increased emphasis on google places).

answered Nov 23 '10 at 02:07
172 points
  • Adam, thanks for sharing your response rate. I like the idea of making it easy with specific questions, that's something I should try in the future. – Alex Aotea Studios 13 years ago


Never pay incentives for feedback/testimonials; it kills trust. If people are not naturally providing feedback, or even when you're explicitly asking for it, you need to work on your WOW factor. Nobody talks about ordinary products or services.

Moreover, you may not be sincere enough in your asking. First, thank them for being a customer and tell them how grateful you are for their business. Be human. Sign off with:

  • have a great day Tom
  • enjoy your weekend Dave
  • hope you and your family have an awesome and relaxing Thanksgiving
  • take care Lucy
  • basically anything that doesn't sound like an automated response
Make them feel like their feedback is extremely valuable to you and the community. Nobody wants to put in effort if it's for nothing. State that you'd like to feature or publish their comment and associate with it their full name, city, state, URL, etc.

Finally, you must ensure that your emails are being delivered. Maybe nobody is reading your requests because they are in the junk mail. This can be a very technical topic beyond the scope of this forum.

As an alternative to email, you may want to physically mail your request with pre-paid postage or instructions on how to submit a testimonial electronically.

answered Nov 25 '10 at 00:37
695 points


Instead of gifting people to provide feedback, considering whehter to create a contest with a prize.

For example, instead of giving $10 for each of a targreted 100 responders, consider a raffle to contest participant of something that your demographic might place a high value, e.g., an ipod touch, ipad, or mac if you cater to teens (or parents of teens).

Make sure in your contest rules what questions they must answer (i.e., the feedback you're seeking) and include terms/conditions for how their submissions will be used and winner(s) selected.

Good luck!

P.S. By the way, this is also an approach when you want something to spead through social media - unfortunately no the case when only targeting/prior existing customers as in this question.

answered Nov 25 '10 at 02:36
128 points


Try a very simple test. Send that email again, and make it very simple.

  • Explain why you value input.
  • Promise (and deliver) anonymity
  • Ask closed questions with simple yes/no or 1..5 type answers. Just a few.
  • ...and then an 'Is there anything else you'd like us to know' kind of open input
  • Let people leave contact details if they're willing for you to ask about their answers

Most people are still not going to respond. But if you make it quick, easy and anonymous then a few will, and you'll start to learn something. Gradually you'll get quotes, stats and even testimonials - the latter from people who've given you permission to contact people.

Even more important, you'll also get some 'anti-testimonials.' Those are opportunities to change - and a precious chance to turn a dissatisfied customer into an advocate.

answered Nov 25 '10 at 03:34
Jeremy Parsons
5,197 points
  • Thanks Jeremy. My email was actually even simpler than that, so to me your answer means that I should include *more* in it. – Alex Aotea Studios 13 years ago

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