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Testimonials are one of my favourite types of video, as I personally believe they are the most powerful. I shop for 90-95% of everything online and I use reviews/testimonials to guide my purchase decision. Last month, I needed a new blender; thus, I went online and bought the one that had the best reviews. Why? Because I don’t mind paying a little bit more than I planned, or for a brand I had never heard of, if my peers rate the product. And I am not alone, around 78% of consumers trust online reviews as much as if they were from acquaintances. This demonstrates how powerful written reviews are, but video testimony in ten times more powerful.

Testimonials are: Authentic, Credible and Informative

As I said, I believe video testimony is one of the most powerful forms of video and yet they don’t need heavy investments. It is within the grasp of every company to get testimony from loyal customers and it is possible to make great content in-house. They key is to ask the right questions.

What makes video testimony so powerful is the very personal and believable quality of it. If we see an anonymous review on a company website, that review is not particularly believable, but you put someone in-front of a camera who is willing to talk about your service or product in a positive light, it will help in bringing in and securing sales.

Good Testimony

  • Outlines benefits
  • Substantiates your claims (facts and figures)
  • A relatable subject/person. There’s no point in having Hugh Hefner talking about diapers, well unless it’s adult diapers

Why Testimonials?

If I were to sum up in three words why you need to use testimonials, the three words would be: trust, persuasiveness and reputation. In the advent of the Internet age, a bad Amazon or Trip Advisor review can result in mistrust in a business, persuade people not to become customers and damage reputation. Why not taking the initiative and creating positive testimony that can create trust, persuade people to become customers and enhance reputation? After all, you work so hard to produce a great product, deliver a great service and generally keep your customers happy, why not show the world?

What really sets a video testimony apart from a written review is the emotional connection. The ease with which people can write testimonies, positive or negative, online means that there are often phony reviews out there created by people with agendas, or who are not invested in the product or service at all. It’s incredibly hard to judge the honesty of written reviews. However, when you put someone on camera it immediately changes the dynamic.

In my opinion, video testimony is the most powerful sales tool you can ever use and the beauty is it is relatively cheap and easy to make. We all have the capability to do it and I will tell you how.

In terms of making a testimonial, I am going to tell you two things that are key. The first is that if you have a budget, you should outsource it to a professional production company because that   quality they can deliver will really show. They will bring quality equipment and years of experience that will transform the visual look of your testimonial to above and beyond anything you can hope to achieve in-house. It’s not just the look, but the skills in directing the shoot to get the best testimony possible. The experience an expert brings is particularly evident when it comes to editing.

Now, obviously I am aware that a lot of small businesses don’t have the budget to hire professionals and this is another reason testimony is amazing. It one of the easiest and most cost effect types of video marketing formats to make. With some basic research, homework and equipment, you can make your own.

How To Make Video Testimonials

Casting

First things first- You need to speak to your loyal customers and find those who would be willing to endorse you on film. What you will find is that many of your customers think you and your product or service is great but that they are camera-shy. The other problem you will encounter is people that just freeze up or act completely unnaturally on camera. You need to find that outgoing individual who is willing to go on camera and is relaxed in doing so. This is absolutely essential because whoever is giving the testimony has to elicit emotion in order to build trust from those watching the video. Faces can’t lie.

You want a customer who is relatable to your other customers, i.e. your quintessential customer. They have to be genuine. You need their permission to use the footage and you need them to be enthusiastic because this comes across four-fold on camera and falls flat without it. You can’t pay those that appear but you can offer freebies, discount or a gift as a thank you. After all, if they help you bring in more business they deserve to be rewarded.

If you are a brand new business, or have a brand new service/product, give away samples on the condition that people give you testimonies for the free samples.

Equipment

Everyone has access to a digital camera with video function. The quality of recording compared to that of even just 5-8 years ago is exceptional. What lets the camera down is the ability to record good audio. If you can, get a top-quality microphone, like a Rode microphone, which aren’t too expensive and all you have to do is just connect it to the camera using a standard jack. Another strategy to record good audio is to use a good Dictaphone or Zoom recorder. Make sure you sync the audio on the Dictaphone/Zoom recorder with your camera by having someone clap in vision while you record, you can later sync them up while editing. A very cheap tripod will do a good job for you, as you just lock the shot off and don’t need to pan or tilt. This means that you don’t need an expensive fluid head tripod.

Once you have recorded your footage, it’s time to edit it and most laptops come with basic editing software. On a Mac it’s I-Movie and on a PC it’s Movie Maker. If you can afford it, you might want to consider

downloading the latest version of Final Cut for Mac or Adobe Premier Pro for either Mac or PC.

Location

It is ideal to be able to film your testimony in your clients’ professional space. Make sure the scene is well lit and the framing of your shot is interesting with no noise interference and the background as interesting as possible. If the footage is shot against a flat back wall, it will look amateurish. Another great location to film is a conference or tradeshow where there is lots of potential for filming locations and subjects.

If it’s not possible to go to the client’s location, or for your clients to come to you, it is possible to set up a video record using Googlehangouts, GoToMeeting, WebX or Zoom. All of them are pretty good with their own benefits but I would say GoToMeeting is probably my favourite. I recommend recording the interview using the screen record function in Quicktime on a Mac. I find the image quality and audio very good. You would then want to edit this material into a package using some nice graphics and title cards so that it gives it a degree of professionalism but people recognize it is recorded over the Internet. 

What is in a great testimonial?

You have your contributor, you have your location and you have your equipment. What now? Now you’re the director of the scene. You need to ask the questions that will elicit the exact response you want in order to make your testimonial. If you want the public to know about your new product, then create a list of questions around this. Keep asking the same question in a different way until you get the response you want. You really want to get passion form your subject so ask them about their thoughts and feelings. Chances are that your product or service helps solve a problem- ask your contributors about this. Ask them how it makes them feel not having that problem any more and how your company helped achieving this. You really want to highlight your unique selling point here.

Script- Don’t write an exact script as this is unnatural and will come across that way. Rather jot down some bullet points of what you would like the subject to talk about. Keep asking a question a different way to get the response you want.

Remember: you want to elicit emotion so that people will have an emotional connection and allow the viewer to believe the words of the person giving the testimony, thus building trust with your brand. Get the subject excited and enthusiastic about what they are talking about. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT!

People have to be genuine. Think about any infomercial you have seen on TV: you can immediately tell actors from genuine contributors. If you can spot a phoney, so can your customers.

Not only do the people have to be genuine, but the responses have to be genuine. If every single second of your testimonials is people waxing lyrical about how amazingly perfect everything is then it looks selective, staged and fake. I’m more likely to value a 4/5 star review where someone acknowledges how good something is but still recognizes where improvement can be made. It’s like going for a job interview where people always ask you where your shortfalls are. I know it can be difficult, counter intuitive and may seem unnatural, especially to the old school of business people, but trust me because it works, you just need to be careful how you frame it.

For example, in my last job, the company I worked for provided medical software for hospitals. I collected video testimony from four of our biggest customers and 90% of what I asked them was something like:

  • Why did you choose this company?
  • What do you like about the software?
  • How has it made your life easier? Etc.

I also asked questions that could elicit less positive responses. Remember that these are questions your new potential customers will want answers to as well:

  • What were some of the problems you had to overcome?
  • How could the software be improved?

Make sure you have the contributor repeat the question back as your voice will be edited out!!

When to make a testimonial

The short answer to this is ASAP and fairly regularly. HOWEVER, be warned about churning out too much testimonial content. What is unique about testimony is specifically the fact that it is a unique, impartial and true testimony from a member of the public endorsing your product. If you start churning them out ten a penny then their uniqueness and authenticity becomes diluted.

Keep them current. If you have just launched a new product, service or pricing structure, speak to your most active and loyal customers and ask for their feedback and if they would willing to provide this feedback on camera. As long as your customers aren’t very introverted, they will hugely appreciate that you value their thoughts and opinions.

SEO Of Testimonials- Answer A Question

So you have decided that the best form of video content for your business is testimonial. Great choice. I am huge advocate of testimonials for a variety of reasons.

The one thing to remember at the fundamental core of every video you make is to ANSWER A QUESTION. People go onto Google and they type in a question for which they seek an answer. So while you can have the most gushingly positive review ever, if it doesn’t answer a question, then chances are it will not be found. Your testimonial should be titled around this question. For example, let’s say that you run a lunch delivery service called Meals on Wheels, whereby you make and deliver lunches in Manhattan. If one of your loyal customers is willing to go on camera and talk about how good your service is, make sure you position it correctly on Google. The titling of the video is as important as the video itself. Instead of just titling it “Joe Smith reviews Meals on Wheels”, it should be titled “The Best Lunch Delivery Service in Manhattan” and the lead question of the interview for the testimonial should be that. This means your SEO is on point before you even get into the content.

If it’s not a question your target clientele is likely to ask. there is no point in creating the content.

Where to place your testimonies

There are a variety of platforms where you can host your content, which should also be embedded on your website or within your emails, as well as obviously all your social media channels, and I include YouTube in social media channels. Creating a YouTube channel where to host all your videos gives you a great presence and the ability to create a library of linkable content. The other two most common platforms where to host your videos are Vimeo and Wistia. I don’t really have enough time to go into the details of each but there is one major benefit of using both: creating Calls To Action.

The single most important thing I can tell you to do when it comes to distributing your video is to make sure you add an appropriate Call To Action. What do you want them to do after they have watched the video? Go to another video? Go to your product page? Whatever it is, make sure you direct them. The absolute best way to do this is to build in a CTA. This is very easy to do within Wistia and Vimeo Pro accounts.

It is a great idea to have a video on the homepage of your website and have it load automatically. Once you start getting more. you should create a tab and a webpage with a library of material other than just testimony. It is important to catalogue it in an orderly fashion so it is easy for your website visitors to navigate. Conducting A/B testing and looking at video analytics will help you focus on what works and what doesn’t in your content.

If you plan to use video in your email campaigns, I would say that it is a great idea. Using the word ‘Video’ in an email subject line boosts open rates by 19% and the use of videos in email has been shown to more than double click-through rates. Create your video, mould a class email around it with a magic subject line and send it out to your email list.

If you sell a product through a third party selling platform, such as Amazon, you can actually upload your video testimonies onto your product page.

It’s also worthwhile targeting specific groups on LinkedIn and Facebook. For example, if you run a coffee shop in an area of London which is frequented by a lot of mothers with young children, such as Clapham, it would be a class idea to get some videos testimony from your regulars and post the content on relevant forums such as ‘Young Mums London’ or ‘Coffee shops of Clapham’. If there isn’t a relevant group, CREATE ONE. Last year, I was trying to find a group for people who had worked in British TV but now lived abroad. There wasn’t one so I created one and it now has almost 1000 members all over the world and acts as a great resource for British TV companies filming in other countries.

You can also use your new videos in hard copies by taking them along to tradeshows you attend, or internal visual media if you have a store or office.

Wherever you use your video, the text that accompanies it is vitally important. You need to have details of the people in the video, such as name, location—possibly age if it’s relevant—how long they have been using your product, etc.

This text should be SEO-sharp. Make sure you use keywords and hyperlinks to your website if it’s remotely posted, H2 tags, pictures labeled with keywords and the correct Alt text.

This is part is REALLY important. Make sure you title it to include your keyword, but also put it in language that a prospective customer is likely to search on YouTube or Google. For example if you have a dog grooming business in Boston called Boston Beauties and you collect testimony for your business, you don’t want to call it ‘Boston Beauty Testimony’. Nobody is going to search for that. Instead you want to title it something like ‘The Best Dog Grooming In Boston’ or ‘A Review of Dog Grooming In Boston’. When thinking of titles, I always like to think of what I call ‘The Testimony Ten’. Include all or more of these in your testimony titles and you are onto a winner.

  1. Cost
  2. Problems
  3. Versus
  4. Review
  5. Best
  6. Top 5/10
  7. How to
  8. Where is
  9. What is
  10. Why

So, in a nutshell, all of the above is the 101 on Video Testimonials. As I said, it is one of the most powerful video formats yet it can be simple and cheap to make. If you are a very small business with no budget to hire a professional, you can make your own to get the ball rolling.

If you have any questions, please reach out to me and I will be happy to help in anyway I can, from over arching marketing questions down to knitty-gritty technical questions, I am happy to pass on what I know. And if you work in the GTA, or are visiting here, I am always happy to meet people for coffee to discuss everything and anything.

Written by Alex Jamieson

Contact- alex@vcminteractive.com

Website- www.vcminteractive.com