We all know testimonials are a cornerstone of trust and credibility for any school or district.
Yet, so often, the testimonials we see on school websites feel incomplete, with very little supporting information. They lack the weight to influence prospective parents, students, and alumni to do more.
Nearly everyone checks reviews and testimonials before making a commitment, including choosing a school — 92% of consumers read online reviews and testimonials when considering a purchase, and families are no different. When everything counts, that little extra boost from an amazing quote, review, or testimonial can have a big influence on the decision-making process.
Supporting testimonials can increase conversions by 34%, which can mean more inquiries, more registrations, and more engagement for your school.
Enriching the details of your quotes can dramatically increase their impact — the more information included, the more credible they become. Let’s look at seven essential elements that can elevate the quality of your testimonials for your school or district.
A headline to a testimonial?
Yes, headlines are important because they introduce the essence of the testimonial in a single line. It serves as a quick snapshot of what’s to come and makes it easy for prospective families to skim through and get a general idea.
When crafting a headline, think about the key takeaway from the testimonial and try to make it engaging and specific to the content.
For example, introducing a section of reviews or testimonials with a headline such as “What Our First-Year Parents Are Saying” will emphasize that these sentiments come from your parent community and reflect what they think about your school.
It’s subtle, but Bonn International School’s profiles are introduced with a header; a question that tees up the response smoothly. Before we read the text, we already have the context to make a stronger connection.
2. Add Text
It may seem obvious, but your testimonials should include text instead of just a star rating. While star ratings provide a quick, easy-to-digest evaluation, they don’t tell the full story. Besides, anyone can leave a 5-star review, but the text allows for nuance and personality, making the testimonial much more informative and trustworthy. After all, 72% of consumers say positive testimonials and reviews make them trust more.
Imagine you see two ratings: one is a 5-star rating, and another is a 4.5-star rating accompanied by a detailed review that discusses excellent faculty support and a nurturing learning environment. The latter is likely to be more impactful, despite the slightly lower rating.
Pro Tip: Aim for a text length of 30 to 50 words. Too brief, and you'll lose meaningful content; too long, and you risk losing the reader's attention.
3. Include a Professional, On-Brand Photo
We’re all visual people. When it’s possible, add a picture of the person giving the testimonial to make the statement feel more personal and genuine.
In a side-by-side comparison of testimonials, one with a photo and one without, the one with the photo almost always feels more relatable and trustworthy. Visual content is more than 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content. So remember to choose clear, professionally-taken photographs where the person looks approachable and friendly.
A grainy, poorly lit photo can have the opposite effect, and the same goes for an image that’s too informal. Even your testimonials should be on brand and have a consistent look and feel.
Harrow School’s photos look great, professional, and even cropped similarly to create a consistent viewing experience.
4. Attach a Logo
A logo serves as a seal of approval, affirming that the person giving the testimonial has a genuine affiliation with a particular institution or organization. This small but impactful visual element adds a layer of legitimacy.
Imagine two testimonials. One comes with a recognizable logo next to the person's name, and the other doesn't. Chances are, your eyes will be naturally drawn to the one with the logo, and you'll find it more believable.
Make sure it's clearly visible but not overwhelming in size. The goal is to support the testimonial, not overshadow it.
Mount Lebanon School District has earned many prestigious accolades over the years, and with each distinction, they’ve included the organization's logo. While maybe not a quote or testimonial, it still works as supporting proof of the education experience they provide.
5. Use Their Full Name
Why does the full name matter? As opposed to just initials or a first name — or even just “parent” — using the full name of the person gives the testimonial another layer of authenticity and accountability.
"John Doe" feels much more real and believable compared to just "John," "parent," or "J.D."
Pro Tip: Place the name close to the testimonial text and the accompanying logo or photo to create a cohesive visual experience.
6. Include Titles and Relationships
Including the person’s title or relation to your school adds context and indicates why their opinion is relevant. For instance, knowing that a testimonial is from a mother and father and attributing the title of “John and Jane, parents of Sally ’26” can drive home the idea that they are, in fact, the parents of a real student.
Similarly, testimonials accompanied by prestigious titles can add an extra degree of credibility. If you’re looking for a testimonial about the recent updates to your campus’s Makerspace, try to find a parent who is also an engineer. If you’re looking to collect a quote about the opportunities provided by your district’s music program, perhaps there's a parent who is an accomplished musician.
When you’ve got a world squash champion on staff, you’ve got to flaunt it, right? Berkshire School makes the right move and puts the credentials and a quote of its star coach for all to see.
Remember to keep it concise. A lengthy title can distract from the actual testimonial. If it’s too long, consider abbreviating or finding a short-form descriptor.
7. Add Keywords
Incorporating relevant keywords not only helps in search engine optimization (SEO) but they also catch the eyes of readers and make skimming easier. Keywords highlight the aspects of your school that resonate with your community. Reviews that contain a specific keyword are 50% more likely to convert because they resonate more with potential families looking for specifics in a school.
Using keywords like “inclusive environment,” “excellent faculty,” or “advanced curriculum” helps prospective families quickly identify what they value in a school.
This is a perfect example from the Boy's Latin of Philadelphia— its quote and keywords work together to show up in a Google search!
Just remember to integrate these keywords naturally into the testimonial text so they don’t appear forced. For example, if you’re interviewing a parent or teacher, ask them to repeat the question in their answer and ask leading questions to try to extract the answer you’re trying to get. It’s OK to bend the rules— just be sure to get your subject’s approval before anything goes live!
To maximize the power and credibility of testimonials on your school’s website, each of these elements adds a layer of depth and authenticity, making your testimonials more compelling and effective. More detailed testimonials can lead to more engagement, whether it's in terms of tuition, donations, or community engagement. Happy quoting!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Connor has spent the last decade within the field of marketing and communications, working with independent schools and colleges throughout New England. As Finalsite’s Senior Content Marketing Manager, Connor plans and executes marketing strategies and digital content across the web. A former photojournalist, he has a passion for digital media, storytelling, coffee, and creating content that connects.