Being a digital marketer means you’re constantly pulled in different directions—you’re beckoned by blog posts, social media, PPC ads, forum posts, and a million other types of marketing.
How do you know where to spend your time?
The obvious answer is that the tasks with the best return should take up most of your time. I’m here to tell you that creating and publishing video testimonials is one of those tasks. In fact, it’s very near the top of the list.
You might not think that the video testimonials you come across on YouTube and social media are all that special. But they really do work, and there are sound psychological and sales principles behind why they do.
Let’s start with the basics of why you should be spending time creating video testimonials, and then get into some of the more difficult questions, like whether you should hire professionals or what to do if your customers don’t have great stories.
What Is a Video Testimonial, Exactly?
In short, a video testimonial is a video of a customer or client praising a company. In most cases, they talk about how that company’s product or service has helped them solve a problem. They might discuss who they are, how they use the product or service, and what they like about the company.
Here’s a video testimonial for our own service that will give you a good idea of what to expect:
As you can see, it’s a pretty simple idea. But their simplicity belies the fact that video testimonials are some of the most valuable pieces of marketing content around.
Why Should I Make Video Testimonials?
In short, because they’re fantastic marketing tools that convert like crazy!
It’s one thing to run an ad that emphasizes the features of your product or service. It’s another to let people see how that product or service improves real customers’ lives. In an age when consumers aren’t very trusting of companies, hearing from fellow consumers makes a big difference.
People don’t trust companies—they trust other people (and they trust online strangers as much as they trust their friends).
This trust goes a long way toward helping consumers make purchase decisions. It’s an example of social proof, the belief that causes people to imitate the behavior of others. So when you show one person that another found success with your company, the first person is likely to assume that they’ll experience success as well. Social proof is a major force when it comes to decision-making.
Testimonials of all kinds leverage trust and social proof, and that makes them one of the best ways to convince potential customers that they should buy your product or service. Think about the last time you spent time researching a purchase decision; did you look at customer testimonials or user reviews? There’s a good chance that you did, and it’s largely because social proof is so important.
What About Written Testimonials?
Of course, you can take advantage of social proof and connect with your customers using written testimonials, too. But videos have distinct advantages over text-based testimonials and reviews.
Most importantly, videos create emotional connections with viewers. And emotional connections are absolute gold to marketers. This connection is mediated in large part by human neuroscience.
Mirror neurons activate when we see someone experiencing an emotion, causing us to feel the same emotion. When a potential customer sees someone who’s happy about using your product or service, they experience that happiness as well.
Text can have a similar effect, but it’s tough to beat video for the degree to which people empathize.
Video also transmits information much faster than text; it takes more time and effort to get the same amount of information from a written testimonial.
This is one of the reasons that people tend to prefer video over text. Research has shown that this preference holds in both executives and run-of-the-mill consumers. Just about everyone—including your target market—prefers to watch videos instead of reading.
Most people are more likely to share videos, too, which means your video testimonial will have a wider reach than a text-based one. You’ll need to make sure your video testimonials are absolutely top-notch if you want people to share them. But using a video instead of text is a great first step.
People connect with videos. Written testimonials can be of great value too—but video is likely to result in better information retention, stronger social proof, and more social sharing. All of these factors make video testimonials difficult to match.
Aren’t Video Testimonials Expensive?
They certainly don’t have to be. Multinational corporations have the resources to spend thousands on their testimonials; they use professional equipment, hire video editors to add text and graphics and promote their content all over the internet.
But getting started with video testimonials doesn’t need to cost a fortune. While we recommend using the nicest equipment available, you could get started with a smartphone and free software.
In fact, using free software is a great way to save money no matter what level of video production you’re comfortable with. There’s a vast array of high-quality video-editing software that you can use without spending a cent.
And with many A/V rental options, you can get a solid camera and lighting setup without breaking the bank (you might think that the lighting in your location will work, but we recommend getting a nicer light setup to improve the look of your video).
Of course, you’ll still have to put in the time to prepare, film, and edit a great testimonial. There’s no getting around those requirements. But if you do some research beforehand, you’ll be better prepared to take on much of the work yourself.
If you decide to continue with the production of video testimonials, you may be more willing to spend money on the equipment and staff that will help you make a top-quality video.
Do I Need to Hire Professionals?
In short, no. You don’t.
However, it can be worth the expense, especially if you want to create something out of the ordinary that will stand out from other testimonials. As more marketers learn that creating video testimonials is one of the best uses of their time, you’ll need to use more creative methods to stand out from the crowd.
That being said, there’s a trade-off. You can get by without hiring a professional. But if you want to create a professional-quality video without hiring someone to help, you’ll need to spend time familiarizing yourself with the best practices of video testimonials and the tools you’ll need to create them.
You may want to hire a professional for the first few video testimonials you make and then start creating them in-house. Or you could make a tweak to your marketing budget so you can hire out the creation of the videos later after you’ve seen how they work for your particular business.
There are many different ways you can go, but in the end, it’s important to remember that video testimonials are effective marketing pieces that age well, so they’re worth spending time and money on.
What Makes a Great Video Testimonial?
Effective video testimonials aren’t all about high production value. In fact, that’s only a small part of it. More than anything else, what you need is a great story that creates an emotional connection between your viewers and the customer in the testimonial.
You can have all the fancy text and graphics you want, with cinema-level production quality, but if your customer isn’t telling an interesting story, viewers aren’t going to get drawn in.
Of course, that story also needs to be believable, which is why it’s important to make your recording session as relaxed and natural as possible. There are many factors that go into making a great testimonial video, but an interesting story delivered by a believable and relatable narrator is the most important.
It’s easy to get caught up in distractions like B-roll, music, and statistics. And while they can help, they’re secondary to storytelling. The human brain is hardwired to appreciate stories of conflict and overcoming problems. By playing to that inclination, your testimonial will get people’s attention.
There are plenty of other essential ingredients for creating a solid video testimonial. But if you have a story, you’re well on your way.
What If My Customers Don’t Have Good Stories?
If your product or service isn’t one that revolutionizes people’s lives or changes the world as we know it, you might be asking this question. It’s easy to see how a testimonial for UNICEF will move people emotionally. If you’re selling insurance, you might struggle to see how you can create something similar.
But it’s important to remember that the story told in the testimonial doesn’t need to be one that changes the world. All it needs to do is show your customers that your product or service can solve their problems. It might be a very minor problem in the grand scheme of things–but it’s a problem nonetheless, and people want to solve it.
You can see this distinction in our collection of great video testimonial examples. Not all of them are earth-shattering stories. Some just show how happy people are when they find a company to deal with an annoyance.
So where does the emotional connection come in? Customers in video testimonials often share how they felt before they found your company; they may have been frustrated that they couldn’t sync multiple cloud platforms together, or they could have been tired all the time before they started taking a nutritional supplement, or had difficulty managing communication between family members on the go.
Getting your customers to talk about how they felt before finding your company and how they felt after you helped them solve a problem is crucial in creating great testimonials. Customer stories might seem relatively mundane, but there are other people trying to solve the same problems, and you’ll create a strong connection with those people.
How Do I Make A Video Testimonial For My Business?
With all of this information, it might seem like getting started on creating video testimonials is going to be a difficult and complicated process. But one of the best things about video testimonials is that they boil down to something very simple: chatting with a customer about how your product or service helped improve their lives.
In the end, that’s what testimonials are all about.
So to get started, you only need three things: a satisfied customer, a camera, and an idea of what you’re going to talk about. While it’s great to have a really nice camera, you can get away with whatever you have on hand (especially when so many smartphones have extremely nice cameras built in).
And you don’t even have to come up with a huge list of questions; leaving your questions open-ended is a good way to get a natural feel out of the conversation, and it lets your customer talk about what really matters to them.
Start asking some of your best customers if they’d be willing to record a video testimonial today, and you can start creating one of the most effective pieces in modern marketing.
Harness the Power of Video Testimonials
Video testimonials are very powerful marketing pieces. They check all the boxes that you need for great marketing: they tell a story, make an emotional connection, show the benefits of your product or service, and answer potential customers’ questions.
There are very few other types of marketing pieces that serve so many functions. And because it’s so easy to get started on video testimonials, you’re only missing out by delaying any further.
Taking on your first video testimonial project can be intimidating, but with the right mindset and some research, you’ll succeed. And at the end, you’ll have gained a great deal of knowledge about how to continue the testimonial-filming process—and you’ll have gotten a great piece of marketing content in the deal. You can’t ask for much more than that.