Video testimonials are some of the most powerful marketing and sales tools you can include on your website.
But they’re not always easy to make.
We recently filmed a testimonial with Wanderlust, one of our customers, and we learned a lot in the process about great video testimonials. We did some research, experimented with our own process, and came up with this list of seven best practices to keep in mind when you’re filming.
Read on to see what we learned and check out the resulting video testimonial at the end of the article!
1. Use High-Quality Equipment
It’s tempting to use whatever you have on hand to record a video testimonial, but it’s worth taking the time to get high-quality equipment. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on a cinema-quality camera. But you also shouldn’t record a shaky video from your iPhone.
If someone at your company owns a mid-range or high-end DSLR, this can work well as a video camera. Thomas Stirr has a great article on things to consider if you go this route, from frame rates to memory cards.
You can also rent high-quality video equipment from camera shops. Many shops and A/V equipment suppliers rent out equipment that will result in higher-quality video testimonials than anything you have on hand. Get in touch with local shops and ask about what they recommend for filming interviews.
To save money using the rental approach, we recommend recording several video testimonials in the same day or over the course of a few days so you don’t have to rent the equipment again.
Be sure that in addition to a good camera, you use a stable tripod and microphones that record high-quality sound. Lavalier microphones are great for interviews and testimonials, because they cut down on ambient noise and record voices clearly.
2. Prepare (But Don’t Use a Script)
Recording a video testimonial without any plans on what your customer will say is a recipe for disaster. You need to have an idea of what you’re going to talk about when you start the process.
But at the same time, using a script is a sure way to make the testimonial sound stilted and unnatural.
Finding a balance between being prepared and improvising is a skill that takes practice. But it’s crucial, because your customer’s brand and personality are what make the testimonial so effective.
We recommend coming up with a list of questions to ask the subject of the testimonial and sharing them before you record the testimonial. It’s often best to structure the interaction as an interview, where you ask questions and the customer answers (you can edit it later to make it more testimonial-like).
You should also send these questions to the subject of your testimonial so they have an idea of what you’ll be asking them when the day comes. You don’t have to stick to your list—and in fact, you shouldn’t. Be conversational and respond to what your customer says with follow-up questions. The list is just a place to start.
What kinds of questions should you ask for a video testimonial?
This next point will guide you.
3. Focus on the Why
This is the ultimate video testimonial best practice.
Potential customers watching your video testimonials don’t want to know about features. They can look those up on your website.
Instead, use your video testimonial to discuss one customer’s pain points and problems, and how your product or service helped solve them. This is the kind of testimonial that will connect with real people looking for solutions to real issues.
Ask questions that get at emotions. Why did you start looking for a solution to this problem? What was the most frustrating part of running your business before you found our product or service? What does our product or service allow you to do differently?
Remember that customers want to hear about benefits, not features. Laura Clampitt Douglas has a great article that goes into great detail on the difference between features and benefits. We recommend reading it before writing your first batch of questions.
It’s also important to avoid yes-or-no questions. These kinds of questions aren’t going to get useful responses, and make it difficult for you to ask follow-ups.
Now seems like a good time to mention that not every customer should have a video testimonial. It can be tempting to get as many testimonials as possible on your website, but resist the urge. Video testimonials are about sharing stories—and if a customer doesn’t have a story beyond “we use this service and it’s helpful,” you might be better off looking for another subject.
Establishing a narrative with concrete problems, solutions, and benefits is what makes for a powerful testimonial.
4. Build an Emotional Connection
Facts and statistics about your business will be convincing to some people. The fact that your product increased productivity by 30% or that your service reduced costs by $50,000 are important. But before you appeal to your potential customers’ heads, you need to get to their hearts.
That’s where emotion comes in.
If your audience can connect with the emotions of your testimonial subject, you’ll have a very powerful marketing tool. This is why it’s so important to get to the emotions underpinning the testimonial.
Seeing that one of your customers was frustrated, overwhelmed, or struggling, and that your product or service made helped them get closer to the ideal they’d hoped for, is very convincing to potential customers.
Remember this when you’re planning your questions, conversing with your customer, editing your video, and throughout the rest of the video testimonial process. It’s easy to get facts about a customer’s company—but getting personal insights is what drives conversions.
5. Keep It Short
With all of the best practices above, it’s easy to get carried away with your video testimonial. You could easily chat with a customer for an hour or more about how your company has helped them reach their dreams. And that’s fine.
But when you’re done editing, the video should be short. Two to three minutes is a good goal to shoot for. That might not seem like nearly enough time, but remember that viewers don’t have a long attention span: they want you to get to the point so they can get on with their lives.
After editing, everything in the video should contribute to the message you’re trying to convey. Go through the video one sentence at a time and ask if it would have the same effect without that sentence. If it would, edit it out.
6. Add Graphics and Text
A simple video testimonial can be powerful, but adding graphics and overlay text can make it even better. The added visual interest not only keeps viewers engaged, but it’s also a good way to share facts and statistics or highlight points you want to emphasize.
Many post-production apps will let you do this; you can use high-end apps like Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro, or something simpler, like iMovie or OpenShot.
If you don’t have a graphic designer on your team that can take on a task like this, you may want to watch professionally made video testimonials to see the techniques they use.
7. Use Good Filming Technique
Some people spend years developing their technique—you don’t need to aspire to that level of skill, but you should at least read up on what makes for good interview filming before you get started.
B&H provides a number of good tips in this video:
It’s crucial to get the right setting—interviewing your subject in their workplace is a great idea, especially if there are locations with good lighting. A professional environment where your subject is comfortable will get you the best results for your testimonial.
Composition is especially important; the “long-sided” interview is a commonly used technique that will give your interview a professional look.
Having a good amount of B roll can be very helpful; it adds a sense of realism and more visual interest to your interview. Your interviewee might already have some good B roll that you can use in your video, so it’s worth asking ahead of time. If not, you can shoot your own.
Adding graphics, overlays, text, and other visual elements is another great way to add visual interest. They’re not totally necessary, but as we’ll see in a moment, they can add to the professionalism of a video testimonial.
Perhaps the best way to learn filming technique for your video testimonial is to watch great testimonials online. Keep reading to see some of our favorites.
Putting It All Together
Keeping all of the advice above in mind while you’re creating a video testimonial isn’t easy. There’s a lot to think about.
But when it all comes together, the result showcases what your company can do in an inspirational way that connects with your customers. After a lot of work, we took the advice above and created this testimonial video for our own service:
And we’re very proud of it!
Video Testimonials Are About One Thing
In the end, all of the best practices above come down to one thing: making your video testimonial connect with your potential customer. You can use all of the fancy production technology you want, but if your testimonial isn’t making a connection with your customer, it’s not going to get you business.
Which is why it’s a great idea to get feedback from the audience of your videos. Send your finished testimonial out to a few of your customers to gauge their reactions. Get feedback and tweak your formula.
With some practice, you’ll have video testimonials that connect with your audience and turn them into loyal customers.