Video testimonials that feature real people who share their real names and real situations make up some of the most compelling and credible marketing and advertising today. Unlike printed quotes (sometimes combined with customer photos) video testimonials are not easily faked. People also look for ways to research their purchasing decisions with less effort. Video provides an easier, and often more credible, way to disseminate knowledge. As a result, video testimonials remain one of the most important tools to maximize your marketing efforts.
Here are 6 ways to use video testimonials to grow your business along with some great examples and bonus tips at the end.
1. Quote-Based Video Testimonials
When people first think of testimonials, what usually comes to mind is a quote from a customer. For as long as they’ve been around, going as far back as the early 1900’s, this has always been the most common approach for testimonials.
With quote based video testimonials you can use one or more quotes from a single happy customer, or create a mash-up video that contains multiple quotes from several of your raving fans.
The most effective quote based video testimonials are authentic and seldom scripted. This authenticity is found best through a more “organic” conversation with your customer. A question and answer interview works far better than telling a client exactly what to say and can provide you with even more long-term value. In depth conversational interviews with customers (on camera) are great for building a library of short quotes that address common reasons why some people might be hesitant to purchase your product or service.
Video testimonial quotes are brief and succinct, so they are easy to weave into sales videos, video pre-roll ads, TV commercials and other types of video content.
To present the largest volume of evidence for social proof or social influence in the shortest length of time, a mash-up of customer quotes may be the best approach to video testimonials.
Example: Mash-up of several different video testimonial quotes
Example: Video testimonial quotes combined with sales video
Example: Video testimonial quotes from one person with b-roll
2. Story-Based Video Testimonials
From the Ancient Greeks to First Nations, the world’s cultures have passed down history and knowledge through the art of story telling. Humans are wired to appreciate a good story. Stories engage, inspire and encourage people to think and take action. Learning someone’s “story ” is also the strongest way to build trust and credibility.
Perhaps the most powerful form of video testimonial is one that is story-based. A story-based video testimonial allows us to connect and become emotionally attached with the person in the video. It usually involves the customer allowing themselves to be more vulnerable about their personal circumstances with the audience. Often, this can be about a particular transformation that has taken place because of the customer relationship with your company, your product or your service.
Story-based video testimonials are a “show & tell” experience for the audience where we see the customer experiences just as much as we hear about them. This form of video testimonial frequently takes on the approach and feel of a short point-of-view documentary film.
While this type of video testimonial can be the most time-consuming to produce, it is often the one that reaches “viral video” status due to its ability to connect with people on a deeper, more meaningful and emotional level.
Example: Toyota customer adventure story
Example: Senior’s home healthcare support story
Example: Two customer stories combined with sales video
3. Indirect Video Testimonials
The previous two forms of video testimonials (quotes and stories) have customers who are explicitly talking about you. In this next type of video testimonial your credibility is not spoken about directly. Instead, it is inferred or implied. In an indirect video testimonial you gain credibility from another person or organization without them directly talking about you. In this case they lend their voice to a common cause that you both share. The audience then assumes that because the person or organization supports this common cause then they must also support you.
This can be useful in leveraging the support of people and organizations who otherwise would be forced to decline participation due to conflict of interest or competitive affiliations.
For example, you might have a tire store who has the local police address legal requirements for tires. That same tire store might also be able to receive comments from other related but non-competing organizations and businesses about dealing with bad weather driving conditions. This could include insurance companies, towing companies, legal firms and others. In each case, these organizations might be reluctant to speak about the credibility of the tire company but they could easily speak about their own areas of expertise. This can in many cases create an “implied” testimonial and credibility due to their affiliation with your company in the video.
This form of “dual-purpose” or “joint-venture”video can be a great strategic way to position yourself in the marketplace as a respected expert alongside of other people and organizations with whom you would like to be associated. It can be initiated as a direct video project in partnership with each other or as a more indirect approach in the form of an invitation to participate in a project for common good. In either case, you are leveraging the credibility and influence of other people by “piggy backing” off of their experiences.
To some this might almost sound a little “parasitic” or negative in nature but there are many successful videos that leverage this formula. Not-for-profit organizations for example can easily solicit participation in a video talking about a common cause versus someone talking about how much they contributed financially and why they contributed to the not-for-profit.
Example: Patients, doctors and community leaders speak about the importance of support for healthcare and the hospital – helps to raise funds for the RIH Foundation
Example: A cancer patient survivor talks about her reasons for participation in the “Run for the Cure” – helps to raise funds for the Canadian Cancer Society
4. Celebrity Endorsement Video Testimonials
As you have already seen, several of these video testimonial types can be mixed and matched together depending on the people you have at your disposal and the direction you would like to take. This next form of video testimonial is no exception.
Celebrity endorsement video testimonials can be both direct or indirect and can contain one or more people who are well-known to the target audience. The purpose of involving a celebrity is to attract or transfer some of the trust that people feel towards that person over to you.
Often, with this type of video testimonial, a secondary benefit can also exist. That same celebrity may choose to help you reach a larger audience by leveraging their own contacts in the form of social media, websites, subscriber base, etc. in order to help distribute and send out the video.
Example: Direct endorsement video by a well-known person
Example: Indirect endorsement video with several well-known people
5. User Generated Video Testimonials
No good discussion about video is complete without touching on the importance of UGC. Short for user-generated content, UGC is the term used to describe any form of content such as video, blogs, discussion form posts, digital images, audio files, and other forms of media that was created by consumers or end-users of an online system or service and is publicly available to others consumers and end-users. User-generated content is also called consumer generated media (CGM).
According to Mary Meeker’s 2015 internet trends report, UGC is exploding across all media platforms. Facebook users watch more than four billion videos a day (an increase of 33% from 2014). According to a recent study by Reevoo it was found that 70% of consumers place peer recommendations and reviews above professionally written content.
The psychology of social proof is also a pivotal part of content marketing – people are automatically drawn to a product or service that they know others already engage with and trust.
As marketers, instead of just creating content, we should also be creating opportunities for our users to create – inspiring and meaningful experiences of their own. There should always be unique opportunities for customers to engage with you and submit their personal experience and thoughts. When a customer submits a video that they have created to review and recommend your product or service your business has achieved something very special.
An example of creating an opportunity for user generated content can be found in our story example (section 2). By creating the video for Toyota we created an opportunity for others to submit their stories to become the next Toyota Adventurer.
6. Unsolicited Strategic Marketing Video Testimonials
While obtaining video testimonials from your customers should be a top priority you may also want to look at the marketing value of giving testimonials. We’ve coached many clients to achieve successful marketing goals through giving testimonials to their vendors, marketing partners, and key organizations they would like to support.
It’s not often that a company receives an unsolicited written testimonial let alone an unsolicited video testimonial. When it does happen, that company often shares it with pride on their website, in their Facebook posts and through their other social media like LinkedIn and Twitter.
This strategy can dramatically alter a company’s ability to influence key players in their market. It strengthens relationships and often creates a reciprocal effect with referrals and appreciation. And, it makes you feel great about doing it too! There’s nothing like the smile you see on their faces or the surprise and appreciation you hear in their voices when they watch their unsolicited video testimonial for the first time.
Several of these videos can be recorded at the same time and in the same place to thank multiple companies and organizations. This can make it extremely cost-effective to target several of the relationships you wish to reinforce.
So, think about this strategically. Is there someone you fear might be lost to a competitor? Is there an organization in your market that has an audience of potential customers ideally suited for you? Has this same organization benefited you in any way where you could create an authentic video testimonial (making sure that your company is also subtly but clearly promoted)?
Imagine a realtor giving a great video testimonial to a newspaper or radio station. If the video was done well, that newspaper or radio station might put that video on their website’s home page. This could be extremely high-value advertising space on a high-traffic website absolutely free!
Another great way to use unsolicited video testimonials is to help support important not-for-profit causes you believe in. It provides them with an exciting marketing and promotional tool. For you, it can attract clients who feel a kindred spirit in the support of that important cause.
Example: Unsolicited testimonial from a mining company to a bank
Example: Unsolicited testimonial from a recruiter to a not-for-profit
Bonus Tips for Creating Great Video Testimonials:
- Keep the filming and the environment nonthreatening, relaxed and fun. This will translate into content that is more natural, engaging and compelling.
- Prepare questions that help your subject to recall the buying cycle, buying process and initial reasons for hesitation.
- Record more footage with your customer than just what they are saying. Record b-roll footage of them smiling, shaking hands and interacting with you so that you can use this for illustration purposes and have more professional video options.
- Use proper lighting and sound equipment. There is nothing that ruins the impact of a video faster than poor sound or poor lighting.
- Finally, don’t ever assume you have enough – gathering testimonials should be a regular, ongoing effort. The same testimonial showing up on your homepage year after year is boring. Swap in new testimonials every few months. (You wouldn’t want repeat visitors to see the same testimonial each time they visit your site.)