Recommendations and endorsements are a huge part of decision-making. We are hardwired to put a lot of weight on other people’s experiences, letting their value judgments inform our own.
It’s an attribute that allows us to accomplish more things, in less time. After all, if you can avoid wasting time and resources by making the right choice based on other people’s experiences, then they hold inherent practical value.
Which is why testimonial ads make for such effective video marketing pieces!
In a post-digital-marketing era, where most people have wisened up to traditional strategies, testimonials and reviews are becoming a preferred way to validate potential purchases (Via HubSpot).
Combined with the allure we now know video marketing has over people’s behavior online, using creative testimonials videos becomes a no-brainer. That said, thinking that just about any video you create with this goal in mind will do, is a mistake.
Like any other piece of video marketing content, testimonial ads are more complex than readily apparent. Requiring more than a few conventions to truly be effective.
Today, I want to give you a birds-eye view of these elements and ensure you have what you need to produce compelling and effective testimonials.
Let’s begin, shall we?
What Testimonials Do Best
As you set out to make or commission a testimonial video, it’s important to understand what they are (and aren’t) for.
Testimonial ads are ideal for helping potential customers overcome last minute resistance and hesitation. By presenting someone who already took action (a purchase, a subscription) and is satisfied with their decision, you make it far more likely for others to do the same.
This means is that testimonials work best with “hot” customers, who are already at the decision-making stage of your content marketing strategy. Testimonials that aren’t built this way usually run long and aren’t as effective.
Plenty of other types of videos can work in the early stages of the buyer’s journey. Like company stories for the awareness stage or explainer videos for the consideration stage. But if you go with testimonials, know upfront the type of customer you are targeting, and tailor your content accordingly.
Testimonial Ads Don’ts
Understanding what testimonials are for, and what they excel at, is a significant first step in handling them correctly. Another big one is learning about a handful of elements that can end up breaking your video from the start.
The idea behind testimonial ads is to give pleased customers a platform to express their satisfaction with your product or service. And while having an enthusiastic customer is a boon, hyperbolic expressions can kill your video’s effectiveness.
Phrases like “this X is the greatest in the world” or “X changed my life forever!” will quickly turn people away from your ad. Make sure to edit them out or avoid them entirely.
Misleading information – and outright lies – are just unacceptable.
Making up testimonials damages your credibility in the long run, and the same goes for fabricating or altering the meaning of what was said interview.
Engaging in this sort of practice is not only counterproductive but entirely unnecessary if you are doing your homework.
As we’ll go over in more detail later, questionnaires are a huge part of good testimonials. As such, it’s important to understand that asking leading questions that try to coax specific lines from customers is a big no-no.
Meandering and Exposition
Lack of consistency and focus sticks out in testimonial ads more than anything else.
Runtimes for these videos is very limited, so you need to keep the interview´s scope from getting out of hand.
If you want to go in-depth on your product’s features or any other information that strays from your client’s experience, do so on a different type of video.
Many companies toy with the idea of hiring actors for their video. Especially big ones concerned with corporate image that have the budget to afford it.
While it might seem like a good idea, it is a mistake. People are attuned to pick up deceptions, especially in marketing where it’s so commonplace!
Use genuine customers with real stories, and don’t worry too much about “image”. People are looking for honesty, and the editing process will take care of making your video look and feel awesome.
We’ve covered what they are for, and what to avoid doing with them. Now, let’s go over how to approach the elements that will make your video testimonials amazing and unique!
Making an Amazing Testimonial Ad – Where to Focus Your Efforts!
Whether you are talking about a whiteboard animation, product commercial, or video testimonial, a lot goes into making a quality marketing video that stands out. That said, different elements take bigger or smaller roles depending on which type you happen to be working on.
An excellent way to ensure an outstanding final product is to focus your energy and attention to the most relevant aspects. Let’s see what these elements are for testimonial ads.
Of all the essential cogs that make an awesome testimonial, the questionnaire is often the most neglected. Ironically, it’s also the one that’ll affect every other part of your video.
The interview gives you all the raw material you are going to sculpt your testimonial out of. The better an interview you get, the more you’ve got moving forward into the other stages of production. Developing a well-thought-out, meaningful questionnaire helps smooth the whole process.
Prepare your questionnaires ahead of time using insightful questions covering the critical points you know you’ll want to address in the video. Also, use open-ended questions that invite organic conversation! You want to arrive at your points organically and in ways that the Interviewee will enjoy.
Recording time is an extremely limited resource. Not only are you dependent on your budget, but on the client’s available time! In this sense, showing the questionnaire to the Interviewee ahead of time can also be a great idea. It also helps put them at ease, which improves the recording’s flow.
We mentioned before in passing, but it bears repeating: Always use real people, never actors!
Using genuine people, that’s actually happy having received a product or service from you immediately gives your video relatability and authenticity. Two of the most important – and most difficult to fake – qualities you want on your video.
Many companies have a lot of reservations when it comes to this point, unsure of using people not used to be on-camera. Here’s why you shouldn’t worry about it: A testimonial video’s recording is nothing more than a conversation!
It is all about you and your client sitting down for a while and sharing a few experiences. No more, no less.
If you can give a satisfied customer a platform to share their experience in a stress-free environment, you’ll get what you need for your video. Regardless of on-camera presence.
Whatever kinks there are left, you can always get rid of during editing.
Whether you handle it yourself, or you get someone else on it, the primary goal during the recording of your testimonial is to create a stress-free environment. Remember, the recording process should feel just like a friendly talk!
Of course, there are many other concerns during that process — camera placement, framing, time-management, and even hitting every major point you want to cover.
The thing is, though, that if you’ve been doing your job up until that point, a lot of it will take care of itself.
Recording setup and production details (camera equipment, illumination, setting) should be figured out way before recording. By the same token, a good questionnaire makes sure you get all the material you need once it’s time to record.
That way, your focus while recording is to make the interviewee feel confident and eager to share his/her views and experiences.
Of all the intricate parts that will make up those testimonial ads you are looking for, the editing process is probably the most technically involved and challenging. Certainly, the one you’ll benefit the most of having a reliable video production company assist you with.
While a full profile on how to edit an awesome video would fill numerous books, we can quickly go over three guiding principles that help out a lot.
- Stay true to what your interviewee said! It should go without saying, but trying to edit a different meaning of stuff said during recording is not acceptable.
- Strive to get a good rhythm: Your editing defines the pacing and progression of your piece. Video marketing content works best when kept around the two-minute mark, and you need good pacing for it to feel complete and effective.
- Focus: You know the major pain points and ideas your video has to cover. Let those elements guide what stays, and what needs to be cut out.
Last, but not least, I’d like to make a point about promoting your piece.
Why? You could make the most fantastic video testimonial ad out there. But if nobody sees it, you won’t get anything out of it.
For your piece to be useful, people need to interact with it. Burying it on an obscure corner of your website – as many do – is not a good move.
Choosing the right video hosting platform can make a huge difference in the promotion of your new testimonial ads. If you have a social media presence, definitively use it to promote your new video. Also, running a launch campaign geared to bring more eyes to it is a great way to get the most out of your testimonials!
Honestly, making an effective video testimonial ad is no easy task. Yet once completed, they can become one of your better tools to generate interest and conversions.
All it takes is avoiding the pitfalls and traps that will derail your video’s quality, and make sure to hit all the marks that improve its chances of turning out great!
Víctor Blasco is the founder and CEO of the explainer video company Yum Yum Videos. He's also an audiovisual designer and video marketing expert. Aside from running the business, he loves studying Chinese philosophy and is a real geek for science fiction films and comics!