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The Complete Guide to Video Testimonials for Businesses
Social proof is powering multiple stages of the modern shopping experience. Customer reviews on Google, Facebook, Yelp. Product reviews on Amazon and Ecommerce sites. Expert video reviews for every product under the sun on Youtube.
Buyers trust their peers first.
In today’s information-heavy environment, buyers need easy and reliable ways to make quality decisions quickly. Social proof is that shortcut.
For business, video social proof is the future. The next evolution. Watching a previous customer explain in detail their fantastic experience at your business has an unmatched impact on your prospects.
But, making that marketing vision a reality comes with strategic challenges.
When we talk to business owners who don’t have a video testimonial strategy there are a few common objections:
- I don’t have the time
- I don’t know how to efficiently collect good video testimonials
- Too expensive
- The video quality will be bad
- I don’t know what to do with the videos
- How will video testimonials help grow my business?
To guide you and your business, we’ve structured this guide to offer solutions to these common objections.
Learn how to tackle these challenges. But just as important, we will explain why review content is so influential today. No marketing strategy is complete without it.
What is a video testimonial?
Video testimonials usually take the form of happy customers talking through their experience with your business in their own words.
Videos can either be recorded by:
- The business owner
- A professional video team
- The customer themselves
Video testimonials are another form of social proof, similar to a customer rating or review. Prospective customers use testimonials to form confidence in their decision-making - is this business the best choice to satisfy my needs?
Why video testimonials work
All review content provides prospects with the critical information they need to make buying decisions. Rachel Botsman talks about the concept of a “trust gap” when we explore the unknown.
The trust gap is a classic barrier to entry.
As shoppers, we need something more to help take a step into the unknown. We need something solid to trust the outcome will be positive. Today, that “something” is feedback from fellow peers explaining why your business is a good choice.
Reviews and testimonials are usually final objection handlers.
Today, trust flows horizontally to peers rather than vertically from institutions (or in this case your brand.)
This is known as “distributed trust”, which we will explain in more detail later in this article.
For example, as a brand, you can say “We have the best coffee in town!”. Regardless if that’s true, it will be taken with a grain of salt by prospective customers. Of course, brands make bold claims, that’s marketing 101. Compare that to ten of your customer’s saying you have the best coffee in town - that’s a whole different story. A set of recommendations like that will be extremely persuasive.
It’s important to note, as of 2020, 83% of the US population lives in cities. As the population migrates, fewer and fewer people have local knowledge. Technology and review content helps our transient society add context around places they have never been before.
Taking all of this as context, video does a phenomenal job building trust due to the intangible, humanistic benefits inherently present in video. Not only does the viewer absorb the words, but the viewer also relates (or doesn’t relate) to the person they see on screen.
They are text reviews with added horsepower.
The evolution of trust
For us, understanding trust is foundational to understanding the impact of video reviews.
Trust has changed over time, evolving to the point wherein the last ten years the majority of people primarily trust their peers when making buying decisions.
First, a quick historical lesson. Over the past 200 years trust has evolved through three major phases:
Local trust: Early civilization through the early-1800s. Trust was based around local communities, relationships, and personal reputation. Before widespread travel, globalization, and corporations, trust was established within communities and passed from generation to generation.
Institutional trust: Mid-19th century saw the rise of institutions: national business, government, cities, financial systems, markets, and as a result: institutional trust. Trust flowed down from institutions and authority figures. Massive corporate wealth and palatial headquarters garnered the respect of the masses.
Distributed trust: With the widespread adoption of connective technologies (FB, IG, Twitter, TikTok, Snap) and a long list of corporate trust failures (‘08 financial crisis, BP oil spill, VW dieselgate, Sony data breach) in the last ten years trust has evolved for the third time to a system of distributed trust. Broadly, we now trust our peers to provide us with the truth around current events through news sharing, commenting, and forums across a wide range of digital properties.
“We’ve stopped trusting institutions and started trusting strangers.” — Rachel Botsman, Author, Leading Expert on Trust and Technology in the Modern World
Why social proof is so persuasive
Businesses establish authority in the age of distributed trust with social proof.
As one of the core principles of influence, as outlined by Robert Cialdini in Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, social proof is defined as “a psychological phenomenon where people reference the behavior of others to guide their own behavior” (NNG). But hasn’t this always been the case? Well, yes. The difference now is access. While 30 years ago you may phone up a couple of friends to ask about a business, today you can see the aggregate opinion of thousands in an instant.
Google’s 94-page behavior report Decoding Decisions (2020), stresses that social proof is in nearly every case proven to be “the most powerful behavioral bias” in the buyer’s journey, stating: “Giving people evidence that other shoppers have already had a positive experience with a brand, product, or service is extremely persuasive.” Any time you can capture your customers’ experiences in writing or video, you should be trying to get that content in front of your prospective buyers.
Why consumers love video
Watch time for beauty videos on YouTube is up 75% in the last year. Recipe video watch time is up 2.5x. “Study skills”, 3x. Gardening videos in Vietnam, +90%. (Think with Google)
For any topic, anywhere in the world, people turn to video to help solve problems.
Video watch time has increased 249% in the last 5 years and 84% in 2020 (presumably an effect of the pandemic keeping more people indoors and online).
Adweek reports that 1-in-2 Gen Zers say they “can’t live without YouTube.” Video provides audio and visual stimulation that enhances the amount of information you are able to absorb compared to reading a body of plain text. Video is more human. We can read tone and body language, understanding more than simply what is said.
When you can actually see a product in use or a customer’s testimonial coming straight from their mouth, you are living vicariously through that person for a moment. Their experience is your experience. This is known as the self-reference effect, which says “that people are more likely to remember, learn, and even be persuaded by information that is relevant to them.”
If you like what the customer has to say, and you relate to that person, chances are you will trust their feedback.
A few more positive videos and you’ll likely be stopping by to make a purchase.
WIDEWAIL TIP: Consider how well the personality and demographics of the testimonial subject match your target customer. If you’re marketing to new mothers, prioritize video testimonials from customers that match the new mother customer profile. The ability for your prospect to relate to the customer in the testimonial is a significant advantage offered by video
And if you know what you are looking for, a video’s content is going to be way more important than production value.
This is something that can be defined as the “YouTube Effect” - today’s consumers grew up watching low production quality videos full of useful information, so these kinds of DIY recordings actually tend to get more engagement and be more trustworthy (Garin Hess).
Of course, with video testimonials, and marketing content in general, the goal is to convert viewers to leads and ultimately customers. According to BigCommerce, when a consumer interacts with review content they are 58% more likely to convert.
If your company is able to collect videos, especially testimonials, they can be put to work to boost conversion rates across your online presence.
If you have to pick one place to put video testimonials for the most impact, pick product details pages - as close to the point of conversion as possible.
Where else you should put video testimonials to boost conversion:
- Associated product pages (listings pages)
- Case studies
- Social media
- Industry review websites
According to Wistia’s 2021 State of Video Report, the conversion rate on CTAs with videos associated has “increased over time, from 8.6% in 2016 to 12.7% in 2020.”
It all starts with engagement, and we know users are watching videos at an ever-increasing rate. The key is getting social proof in front of your potential customers at key decision-making moments.
How to leverage video for your SEO strategy
Ah, the ever-moving target of search engine optimization. While there are no hard-and-fast rules to this, many experts’ observations of the algorithms indicate that video content can elevate search engine ranking.
To put a fine point on it, video testimonials are not first and foremost an SEO strategy. But, if you’re collecting testimonials and putting them on your site to boost conversion, as a bonus you can assume a slightly positive impact on search rank.
Additionally, getting video content on various video hosting platforms (YouTube, Facebook video) will immediately increase the breadth of your brand’s online presence, helping search rank. Remember, YouTube is the second largest search engine on the internet so that is the obvious place to start.
For your website pages, a big factor in search rankings is depth of content.
Ways Google measures depth of content:
- Variety of media types (are there quality videos and images to supplement your text?)
- Amount of incoming traffic
- How long users engage with your page (time on site).
- Amount and quality of backlinks to your content
If you place videos prominently where you can get users to watch them, you will likely increase their time spent on your page, which Google loves to see.
When uploading videos to your site, make sure to embed them in a way that does not weigh down page speed. Long load times will hurt rankings. There are a number of options for hosting and embedding, and we would recommend checking out these 8 video optimization tips for faster loading times.
How to Collect Great Video Testimonials
Three strategies to consider:
Option 1: Hire a film crew and recruit customer(s) to be interviewed
Hiring a professional crew with advanced skills and equipment is what you will need to produce a clean, high-end, professional look. With a professional crew comes a professional cost. Quotes can range from $3,000 to $20,000 per video. For those catering to enterprise or would benefit from looking established or well funded, working with a professional team is a popular choice.
Given the cost and time necessary to produce a high-end video testimonial product, most companies likely will only be able to afford a handful of testimonial videos a year. The reality is that these videos age quickly and over time become increasingly less representative of the current state of your business. In addition, hand-picking a customer can be an arduous task and there is really no telling if the person you pick will shine through on camera the way you intended, so production may be more work than anticipated.
Professional videos work well as high-funnel brand showpieces. Widely applicable, they give prospects a taste of what your business is all about. For lower-funnel activities, professional videos will be of limited value, not providing the trustworthy, approachable customer testimonial content buyers will find helpful when making the final call.
Option 2: Communicate directly with customers, asking them to record themselves
If you want to go the user-generated content (UGC) route for organic, authentic recordings, you can send requests directly to your customers. Ask them to record themselves giving a testimonial and send a video back to you to post online. Today everyone has a phone with a camera, UGC leverages this access.
The direct communication approach will save time and money when compared to working with a professional crew. User-generated videos also have the advantage of believability and authenticity - characteristics that drive conversion more than polish, dynamic music or high resolution. However, it does require staff to manage outreach and customer communications.
Here’s a sample email template we recommend to get your outreach started:
Thank you for shopping with [insert business]. We hope you had a great experience and are enjoying your new [insert product]. Your feedback means a lot to us. Please consider recording a video testimonial here: bit.ly
[Name] at [Business]
While DIY recordings are generally more trustworthy to the average consumer, the lack of control you have over the recording process could result in a large variation in video quality. Expect to throw away some of the content.
User-generated video is a numbers game.
In order to take advantage of the strategy, you will need a lot of videos coming in.
Option 3: Automated video review generation software
An expansion of option 2, option 3 is UGC video testimonial collection using an automated process.
The primary shortcoming of user-generated video testimonials is the likelihood of bad, unusable content. Unavoidable, but remedied by a high volume of incoming review content. Generating so much video content that throwing away the bad videos has no impact on your ability to market with customer testimonials.
An automated video review generation software can help collect a library of testimonial videos.
By integrating with your CRM or other customer data software, requests can be triggered at an appropriate time (i.e. post-transaction) to ask for a video testimonial without anyone on your team having to take the time or even think about it. Even better, you could automate the process with conditional triggers, like to only ask customers who left five star reviews to record video testimonials (While review-gating is not something we condone for collecting public reviews on Google, Yelp, etc., video testimonials are internal assets for your team to use and there’s problem avoiding adding negative videos to your content library).
Like option 2, this route will save a lot of money compared to hiring a professional video production team.
Automating this process instead of asking customers one by one means an increased volume of submissions. With a constant flow of user-generated content at your fingertips, you are equipped to frequently produce great online marketing materials.
How to automate video testimonial collection
With an automated review generation software, messages can be sent to customers asking them to leave a review once a transaction is complete. The best way to do this is by integrating video review software with your CRM (or similar database). Once the transaction is markered complete a review request is sent.
The basic messaging should be simple: thank the customer for shopping with you, ask if they would be willing to leave a review, and link to where they can do that.
There are a couple of methods used to send these requests to customers.
A common approach is email -- effective but runs a higher risk of getting diluted (spam, competitive inbox, etc.)
Alternatively, we recommend leveraging SMS messages. With a 98% open rate, customers are much more likely to see your request in the first place. Text works well for video because the customer can easily record their review directly on their mobile device.
How to make the collection process easy for your customers
The maximum number of video reviews your business is able to collect is equal to the number of transactions you have in a month. Sending a request to every customer will maximize your opportunities.
Next, to increase conversion the message needs to be delivered where your customers are paying attention and where it is convenient for them to leave a review - the phone.
Further, making it as easy as possible for the customer to get from request to submission increases your chances of success.
All of this put together, the best option is to use an SMS-based request. When a customer gets a text message straight to their cell phone, they can conveniently record and submit their video review on that same device.
Alongside a simple technical experience, you will also want to use clear language to guide your users through the video review process. You can instruct them on how to record their video (getting their face in the frame, angle, lighting, etc.) and provide some pointers on what to say.
- Introduce yourself
- Share your experience
- Tell us what you like
In this case, simple is not necessarily a bad thing. The goal is to reduce friction wherever you can through the process to increase the submission rate.
What to do with video testimonials
It’s time to put video testimonials to work.
Library of videos in hand, now the real work begins. Impactful social proof is all about getting the voice of your happy customers in front of buyers at key decision-making moments.
Remember, your reputation is a living thing. Prospects want to know what it is like to do business with you today, not last year.
If you can keep a stream of video testimonials coming in, have a plan to publish and update your videos frequently.
Embed videos on your website to establish credibility and persuade potential customers to convert on targeted pages. You can start with your homepage, which is often where a visitor’s first impression of your brand is formed. Social proof can quickly establish trust and keep a visitor on your site.
Testimonials are also great on product pages - after a user has read what your product is and all of the features included, a testimonial can help them see that these features translate to tangible benefits that your past customers can speak to. Even if you don’t have space to embed or link to a video on a page, you can always utilize pull quotes from a video testimonial to serve reviews up as text.
Lastly, video testimonials will help build trust in the purchase process and your business. Your prospective customer will gain confidence from the positive comments about specific staff members, allowing them to take the next step toward completing the transaction. Anywhere you can share this message on your website is sure to help improve conversion rates.
Videos are excellent ammunition for social media posts.
With video engagement rates 27 times higher than text content, it’s a no-brainer that marketing teams want to get videos published as much as possible. The challenge has always been the cost and turnaround time to produce videos.
With user-generated content, you have plenty of video at your fingertips. There are many kinds of videos you can source from customers, from testimonials to tutorials to general lifestyle content. And you can always edit a variety of content together to tell whatever story is appropriate for your campaign.
An excellent example is this video below where Dolan Auto Group sourced footage, all filmed on mobile devices, from their employees to show how they spend their family time:
In addition to organic and on-site efforts, paid social ads can help expand your reach. Since user-generated content is typically not as polished as an advertisement, it may not stand out as an ad so much in the newsfeed. This is what you want.
On top of that, the actual content lends itself to being more persuasive since a customer sharing their own experience is likely to be genuine and relatable.
Here are some tips for your video ad strategy:
- Get to the point. You want to convey your message to a viewer as soon as possible. Don’t make them guess what the video is about or they may keep scrolling. Show off your product instead of leaning on lifestyle marketing.
- Use closed captions. You can’t bank on a mobile user having headphones or their phone unmuted. Captions enhance the user experience and help double down on getting the point across.
- Monitor performance. Set goals, keep track of your videos’ engagement metrics, and always be optimizing.
What if a customer’s video isn’t great?
With a large volume of video testimonials coming in, you may get a few of questionable quality but there can still be some value in them. Perhaps you don’t need the whole recording but you may be able to splice snippets to get some shareable nuggets out of it.
If the entire video is visually unappealing but there is some great information shared, consider repurposing pull quotes in text or use a video/audio tool like Descript to turn audio transcriptions into animated text videos.
Tools you can use to process video
Video editing tools generally fall into two categories: professional and non-professional.
Tools that offer a wide range of customizable features and unlimited creative freedom.
Professional video tools:
Final Cut Pro by Apple
Premiere Pro by Adobe
Media Composer by Avid
Pros: Ability to use advanced techniques and effects. Custom branding. More control over export settings and formatting.
Cons: Longer learning curve. Does not include features like automatic transcriptions or built-in text animations, trying to achieve such effects through custom techniques takes a lot of time. More expensive.
Built for non-video professionals with easy-to-use editing tools. In many cases, these tools work well for creating social media content, even if you have pro video editing skills. Social is more about getting more content out the door quickly, and these tools help make that possible.
Non-professional video tools:
Descript: This tool ingests your video and automatically creates a transcript, enabling the user to edit the video by editing words within the text like a Word doc. For social media, where captions are vital for engagement without audio, this is an incredible tool. What would take hours with a pro tool takes minutes. For testimonial videos, audio testimonials, or podcast content, Descript is the best option.
Animoto: If you are trying to create a quick video for your social or website that has animated text overlain video, Animoto is the way to go. Thinking a video of your top 10 lipstick products will help sell more? Great. Grab some photos and text and Animoto will make the assembly and animations quick and easy.
Adobe Rush: Rush is an easy way to get started with Adobe video products. It’s fast to use and has a mobile app for editing on the move. It’s free to start so you can give it a shot and see how it works.
Pros: Great for the marketer. When advanced techniques and branding are not necessary these tools save a lot of time (learning and editing). For video testimonials, in which normally there will be one clip and limited cuts, a more straightforward tool will get the job done as well as needed, faster.
Cons: In general, you trade customizability for speed. The ability to customize fonts and other brand assets may be limited. If you are after a very polished look, pro tools will do better.
Best tool for video testimonials: Descript.
Normally, for a video testimonial, you will need to trim some dead air off the ends of the clip and add captions for reading on social and product pages. Descript does this very fast, it's easy to use, and only $15/month.
What metrics to watch for video success
Video hosting platforms and social media empower you to track the effectiveness of your videos. Some baseline metrics you can look out for are:
View count: How many people are seeing your video?
Play rate: Out of everyone who saw the video, how many watched it?
Social engagement: How many shares, likes, comments, and reactions did your video get?
Clickthrough rate: If there is a call-to-action or link associated with the video, how many viewers clicked it?
Watch time: How much of the video are people actually watching and where are they dropping off?
Throughout your video’s life, watching these numbers can help determine if there are any optimizations you can make to that video’s placement to increase impact, or if there is anything you can learn for the next video you publish.
Additionally, keep track of the products/services mentioned in the video and/or the demographics of the subject. Over time you may be able to assess which customer profiles resonate with your target audience, building trust with those most likely to buy.
Widewail is the trusted reputation management partner for small businesses, regional groups, and enterprise organizations alike, supporting notable names like Lexus and Jim Koons Automotive Companies. Specializing in review generation and review response, Widewail helps local businesses grow by boosting search visibility and influencing prospects at a pivotal decision-making moment in the buyer’s journey.
Hundreds of businesses across multiple verticals use Widewail to automate review generation and outsource review response. Learn more about accelerating your reputation management strategy with Widewail.