By Emily Fontes

Did you know 95% of people looking to buy a product or hire a professional look for customer reviews first and 70% of potential clients on mobile devices say they are more likely to buy if they can read through reviews before purchasing. The truth is that humans are social creatures; what other people think matters to us. When we see social proof while searching for a product or service, it influences us on both a subconscious and conscious level. If you take a hard look at your own buying behavior, I’m sure you’ll agree that businesses with testimonials appear more legitimate. You know your business will benefit from client testimonials, but you may feel awkward asking for a testimonial from recent clients who are moving through the often challenging times of recovery and new parenting. So what’s a doula to do?

The Magic to Getting Amazing Testimonials

  • Be AMAZING! When clients love you, they want everyone to know about you and they want to see you succeed. Provide a fantastic experience for your clients from beginning to end and they will rave. Find ways to surprise and delight your customers. There should always be surprise add-on that you bake into your fee… a small postpartum gift basket, a handmade rebozo, a meal that you bring to a postpartum meeting. Get creative!
  • Make it EASY for clients to give you a testimonial. The hardest part about writing it out is blank page paralysis. If you provide a framework for the testimonial by asking questions that are easy and fun to answer, you will get more and better testimonials. See below for some ideas!
  • Ask partners and other support people to give their own testimonials. The partner’s experience of doula care is extremely unique. Their perspective can sometimes be even more powerful than expected. Taking the time to ask them specifically also acknowledges their unique position and opinions.

Make Writing Testimonials Easy for New Parents

  • Have the right expectations. If they aren’t sleeping much and are barely getting a shower in every few days, they probably don’t have the brain space to write much of a testimonial beyond “my doula was awesome”. If you want an eloquent and substantial doula testimonial waiting until clients are at least three months postpartum to request it, will likely yield the best results. Postpartum doulas could consider asking around the same three-month mark, even if they are still working with the postpartum client.
  • Create a testimonial request form. This can be done in Google Forms, or your favorite form app software. Make sure it is mobile friendly! Fields to have them fill out: the client’s name, their city, their baby’s name, text areas for them to type answers to testimonial guiding questions (see next bullet point), the option to upload a photo, a release & acknowledgment checkbox (see wording tips below).
  • Ask good questions. You don’t just want a “my doula was awesome” testimonial. You want a meaty, compelling, “make-you-tear-up-this-is-why-I-love-my-work” testimonial. The problem is most people are not natural writers. Here are some ideas for questions to ask, I recommend asking three questions only (consider choosing from these listed here or use your own):
    • What would you say was your biggest fear or worry about birth that led you to hire a doula? Did it play out as expected and how did having a doula help you work through that fear?
    • What, specifically, was the most helpful part of doula support and why?
    • What, specifically, was the most unexpected perk of having a doula?
    • If a best friend was considering a doula, what would you tell them? Is there anything specific you recommend about me?
    • What was the return on your investment in doula care? What part of doula care was most valuable to you?
    • Why did you choose me as your doula? Was there an obvious advantage or anything specific that made me stand out in some way?
  • Release & Acknowledgement Sample: By submitting this form I give permission for <INSERT YOUR NAME> to publish this testimonial both online and in print for the promotion of <INSERT YOUR BUSINESS NAME>. I acknowledge that my testimonial may be used in part or in whole. I give permission for my name, city, baby’s name & photo to be included as they are provided.

The Nuts & Bolts of Asking for Testimonials

  • Consider creating a standard postpartum check-in email sequence. Since you will probably be texting, calling and visiting in the first few weeks after birth, start the series at one month postpartum, then send a new email every month for the first four to six months. The good news? You really only have to write this once. Then you can set reminders to send it to each client starting off a saved draft email you have already created or use a CRM (customer relationship management) tool like Tave or 17Hats to automate it.
  • Once you have that in place it’s EASY to work the testimonial request into the three-month postpartum email and add it as a “PS in case you forgot” to your fourth, fifth & sixth-month emails too! Need some magic words to tack on to an email? Here you go:
    • Would you be willing to answer three quick questions about your experience with my doula services? I know family life leaves precious little free time so I deeply appreciate your willingness to take a few minutes to share your thoughts. <INSERT LINK TO YOUR TESTIMONIAL FORM>
  • So what about those clients that you never got around to asking for a testimonial? It happens… you’re busy, it’s awkward, you don’t want to feel “pushy”. Guess what? Your clients LOVE you. They want to see you succeed. I guarantee they will be thrilled to provide a testimonial even if it’s been a while. Especially if you make it easy for them. Need some magic words for the “it’s-been-a-while” ask? Here you go:
    • Hi <CLIENT NAME>, I need your help… recently I realized I have been totally slacking updating my website with client testimonials. Would you be willing to answer three quick questions about your experience with my doula services? I know family life leaves precious little free time so I deeply appreciate your willingness to take a few minutes to share your thoughts. <INSERT LINK TO YOUR TESTIMONIAL FORM> I’m so honored to have been part of your birth (or postpartum) story, <YOUR NAME>
  • Don’t be afraid to follow up and ask again if they don’t respond right away. Parents are busy and they mean well but they forget. So if you follow up gently with your nurturing doula spirit, usually they will reply.
  • Consider sending a “thanks for the testimonial” email. Gush over them. Reminisce over their birth. All the feels. Also, include a copy of the text they wrote and ask if they could paste it quickly into DoulaMatch, Yelp or Google My Business.

So Now You Have All These Stellar Testimonials, What Do You Do With Them?

  • Obviously, these are going on your website. However, there is a right and wrong way to do this… first of all, if you have more than 20 testimonials you should have a separate page for all of them. You should also sprinkle them all around your website: on your services pages, on your contact form page, on your home page.
  • How you format your testimonials matters. If you can, pull the best quote out and put it first in a bold big text. Then follow with the rest of the text in normal font size. Photos are a huge part of making testimonials pop, so use them if the client provided one and they are of good quality. Also include the client’s name, city & baby’s name. Example: “Jane Doe, baby Anna’s mom – CITY, ST”
  • Follow the same principles to include your testimonials in all your marketing pieces… brochures, postcards, flyers, posters, etc.
  • Post them to social media. This is a great thing to put into your social media scheduler if you use one. Set the same testimonial to repeat publish twice a year. You can also use them in Facebook ads, Instagram ads or Google AdWords.
  • Testimonials are an amazing tool to make your client stories the focus of your business. After all, your business is not really about you. It’s about the amazing stories of triumph and perseverance of parents meeting and bonding with their babies for the first time and learning how to become a family. Let them shine!

One very important closing tip. I strongly recommend that you not incentivize or compensate people who provide testimonials in any way. In the US, the FTC has pretty strict rules regarding client reviews, testimonials, and endorsements. If you compensate your clients with anything (money, gift cards, goodies) or if your clients have any reason to believe they will be compensated in the future for their testimonial, you are required to include a prominent disclosure everywhere the testimonial appears. By the way, this also applies to businesses who pay to be included in your marketing materials or client packets. You are subject to major penalties if you don’t disclose this. In my opinion, your clients are already your fans and don’t need any incentive to shout it from the rooftops!

About Emily Fontes

Emily Fontes is a website whisperer, brand stylist, and local SEO ninja. She has been a birth professional since 2003 and currently runs the marketing strategies for two Seattle area birth businesses and co-owns a manufacturing business. Emily also coaches birth professionals in marketing through Bloom Business Solutions and the highly popular Grow Your Birth Business online courses. Even though she found her passion in supporting birthing families, her first love was website design, branding, and SEO, in which she has been honing her skills since 2001. Aside from all the birth-y and design-y activities, Emily is an eclectic homeschooling mama, voracious reader, and novice Irish fiddler.