The most common video testimonial I’ve seen consists of a title card displaying a question and then a customer answering. This format is easy to do, but it’s also one of the least impactful.
Even when the customer has a good story to tell, the title cards create regular “breaks” from any action. As a result, there’s little to no flow, so viewers aren’t as engaged as they could be.
Anyone who’s not deeply invested in evaluating your offering can be lured away. That’s especially true if you post the testimonial on YouTube or other social media platforms. A ton of other content (including with all those cute cat videos) will be competing for viewers’ attention. You’ll have to engage them from the get-go.
Below are my suggestions for creating a more engaging and persuasive video testimonial.
1. Do away with the title card questions
As previously mentioned, you sacrifice impact when you depend on title cards in your testimonials. In addition to my other arguments: you’re stuck “telling” rather than “showing.” As a result, your customer’s experience with your product/service is an abstract idea in viewers’ minds.
So, first aim for a testimonial that can flow smoothly without title card questions. If that sounds daunting right now, don’t worry. A little advance planning (described in the tips below) will help you.
2. Plot a storyline for the video testimonial in advance
Talk to the sales representative involved (as well as customer service) to find out details about your customer’s situation. Use those details to craft a story outline about the customer’s journey to success using your offering.
Just this background information usually won’t be enough to fully create a story. You’ll have to have a quick “pre-interview” with the person or people you select. That way, you can fill in any information gaps in your story. You can also confirm the facts of what happened.
3. Think of how to make viewers curious
One thing that will keep viewers engaged with your video is invoking what marketing expert Andrew Davis calls the “curiosity gap.” When you invoke a question in their minds, many people’s need for closure will cause them to stay engaged.
One example of this principle at work is in the book “Pre-Suasion.” Marketing, business, and psychology professor, Robert Cialdini, wrote about discussing puzzling marketing “mystery stories” with his students. Once, the bell rang before he’d presented the answer to that day’s puzzler. Usually, his students began packing up five minutes before the bell. This time, they remained firmly seated even after the bell sounded. Cialdini wrote, “They would not let me stop until I had given them closure on the mystery.”
4. Have more than one interviewee
Video testimonials that feature multiple people tend to be livelier than those with just one person. The interviewees don’t have to be together on the screen; switching from one interviewee to another just brings more energy. A representative of your company can be one of the interviewees if you can’t find anyone else on the client’s side.
5. Ask interviewees questions about how they felt
Usually, we think of businesspeople making decisions via spreadsheets, statistics, cost-benefit analyses, etc. But the truth is, even business decisions are influenced by emotions. After all, good business relationships are built on positive emotions such as trust and respect.
So, include questions about how the customer and their team/co-workers/employees were affected emotionally rather than simply asking them for just the facts (with all due apologies to Columbo). Prospects are more likely to be drawn in when they hear interviewees saying e.g., “It was like a huge weight lifted off our shoulders.”
6. Use b-roll
Video of your customer just sitting there and talking can keep that customer’s story from feeling “real” to viewers. B-roll of your customer’s business and/or your company working with the customer can make the story feel more authentic and engaging. The b-roll can also support what your customer is saying in the testimonial, adding more credibility and depth to the video.
You might be reluctant to ask customers to allow you to get footage of their business. You’re probably imagining a camera and lighting crew disrupting that customer’s workplace (and causing them to regret ever agreeing to do a testimonial). But you can shoot footage using just an iPhone and areas with great natural light.
Also, the process doesn’t have to take a lot of time, especially if you prepare a list of the shots you will need for the video. Finally, you might have the option of using stock footage for some shots.
7. Don’t start the video with logos or customers explaining what their business does
This probably will be the most painful tip for many businesses. From what I’ve seen, quite a few believe that a shot of their logo makes for a great opening. But the hard truth is, your logo won’t hook viewer attention and engage interest.
It’s like writing a case study: it’s supposed to be about the customer’s experience, not about you. This is especially important to remember if you’re going to upload your testimonials to a social media platform like YouTube. Those cute cat videos aren’t going anywhere. So, get to the point and display your logo at the end of the video instead.
However, if the video would be confusing without it, leave your logo at the beginning. Most video scripts can be written in such a way that this won’t be necessary. However, rare exceptions can exist. And if the video is housed on your website, you have a bit of leeway (though I’d still recommend jumping into the story or testimonial and leaving the logo for the end.
Also, having customers describe their business at the video’s beginning takes precious seconds away from the real substance of the testimonial. If this information is important for viewers’ understanding, try superimposing a quick text explanation at a strategic point.
Leveling up your video testimonial will take more effort than the title-card question method. But that effort will increase viewer engagement and the chances of the videos achieving their objective: drawing prospects closer to you on their buyer’s journey.