Before SEO, advertising and paid media, your popularity in business grew and travelled through word of mouth. Your best customers would spread the good word about you; you'd hear personal recommendations from those who had previously used your products and experienced your services. People who loved what you did - satisfied customers - and wanted to share it with others. Β The pinnacle of social proof, customer testimonials.

So how better, in the modern age, to generate 1-to-1 social proof, than to make a compelling video testimonial featuring your happy customers? If a picture is worth a thousand words, you could imagine how powerful an authentic video testimonial would be for your business.

Creating customer testimonial videos can seem like a daunting task, but with a bit of preparation, you'll be filming and editing like a pro in no time.

Why are customer testimonial videos important?

Just as negative online reviews can do severe damage to your business' reputation, real and authentic customer advocacy is imperative for improving conversions, sales and growth. When someone is browsing your site and considering a purchase, a well-executed and well-placed testimonial video (particularly for high-consideration or expensive services like coaching) can go a long way in convincing someone to buy.

Testimonial videos have the power to establish brand credibility and provide a sense of intimacy and friendliness (which can be hard to achieve with text-only reviews). Many brands are now spending more money, time, and effort on video testimonial production to create higher quality video, aimed at converting prospective leads into potential customers.

Imagine: you're comparing a particular piece of bedroom furniture online. You find it in 2 different online stores at the same price. Which store would you choose - the store with dozens of video testimonials and written reviews, or the store with just a couple of suspiciously generic phrases like "beautiful furniture" in the reviews section?

Obvious, right? Video marketing is important, and video content is increasingly being utilised in more and more business marketing strategies.

Video testimonials are becoming more important in marketing strategies. Source: Wyzowl

So how do you plan for a successful customer video testimonial? It all starts with goals, objectives and establishing trust.

Real customers and real stories

One of the most important principles of creating great customer testimonial videos is making them look natural and authentic. Genuine customers are far more convincing than paid actors.

The worst thing you can do is plan to create a video testimonial to try and appear more trustworthy, and then pay an actor to fake the whole thing. Your customers will smell out BS from a mile away (and thus your customer testimonials fall short) because only real customers will be able to talk about your products and services based on personal experience, rather than a video testimonial script written by someone else.

If you think viewers can't tell the difference between real people and actors playing a role, you're in for a shock. Real customers and authentic testimonials give the audience a sense of unity with the brand and help build trust.

Let your customers be their authentic selves and tell their stories using their own words. Outline the approximate questions you are going to ask. If the customer recording a testimonial video for you genuinely loves your product or service, they won't need a script.

Check out the video testimonial below for an example. Shannon, who runs an interior design company, talks in-depth about how FreshBooks software saves her from accounting difficulties.

The video review is warm, naturally filmed, has high-quality sound production, crisp post-production editing and Shannon gives off a personable, friendly vibe to accompany her story and positive feedback. She's not giving an interview, but rather talking to a friend in a casual setting.

Structuring your testimonial video

You'll want to plan out how your video testimonial will look and feel. You don't need a word-for-word script, but consider what questions you'll ask your interviewee and how to structure your marketing videos around them.

Great video testimonials shouldn't be more than a couple of minutes long.

Keep in mind where you'll be showcasing the video testimonial. Will it be on a landing page? At a conference? In a pitch deck? In an ad campaign?

And if you don't know where to start, consider the following (broad) video structure for your testimonial video:

  • Intro
    Some context as to who they are, then more info about the customer's pain points that led them to your product/service.
  • Middle
    What compelled the customer to choose you? What (or who) else had they considered? Why you?
  • Conclusion
    How you helped solve their problem, what life looks like now (without the pain) and how their needs were met.

It's worth preparing and sending the client a brief list of questions to prepare for what awaits them.

A sample questionnaire might look like this:

  • What was the problem or pain you initially faced, that led you to try our product or service?
  • What would have happened if you didn't find a solution to this problem?
  • Why was the #1 factor that led you to choose us?
  • How has our product or service helped solve this problem?
  • What results have you achieved since using our product or service?
  • What do you like most about our brand?

It's good practice to briefly acquaint the client with your plans for the shoot and help them get ready: what to wear, where to look, etc. The main thing to remember is that the result of the shooting should look relaxed, so it is important not to overdo it.

Donaldson Plastic Surgery in Ohio is a great example of how to best use video testimonials on your website to build trust with prospective customers. Rather than posting regular patient feedback with before-and-after photos of surgical results (claiming they value the privacy and confidentiality of their clients), the clinic created a page and filled it with customer video testimonials.

Donaldson Plastic Surgery displays video testimonials on their website.

One thing to get right and optimise if you're adding review widgets or video testimonials to your site, is your site speed and the larger browsing experience. If your site is already sluggish, adding additional videos and widgets isn't going to make for a great user experience.

Tools like Pingdom and GTMetrix can help you assess your site performance.

In some cases, especially if you have a large online store and are struggling to optimise additional content, it may be worth using a headless commerce approach.

Good shooting techniques

Worldwide experts have developed different interview shooting techniques over the years. You don't need to be a master with thousands of dollars of gear to walk away with high-quality production, you just need to learn the fundamentals and put them in play.

Indy Mogul put together a great resource (below) on how to shoot cinematic interviews.

Here's the breakdown:

  1. Scout the location
  2. Camera placement
  3. Use a key light
  4. Use a backlight
  5. Consider background light
  6. Light with practicals
  7. Set decoration
  8. Set up a second camera (optional)
  9. Audio setup (record high-quality sound)
  10. Talking to your subject

What are the nuances to consider when planning a shoot?

It is important to arrange the right environment for shooting your video testimonials. In many cases, it's a great idea to film the subject in their own workplace, especially if there is good lighting. It not only adds to the authenticity, but your interviewee will feel relaxed there.

Set up may be more challenging off-site, so if it's not an option, you can always invite them to your office. This way, you can prepare for the shoot as much as possible.

You should pay attention to the composition of the video. The main subject (your client) must be in focus, with nothing to distract from them. Add graphics, overlays, text, and other visual elements if they non-intrusively add to the overall video testimonial. This will help make the videos more visually interesting and professional.

Always take a look at what kinds of video testimonials other brands you respect have produced. Find a few videos you really like and copy their overarching structure, take inspiration from their aesthetic or use them as a basis for your own storyboard.

It may be tempting to use improvised tools to shoot your video reviews (and you may be able to get away with using an iPhone or two), but instead, it's highly recommended to use professional, high-quality equipment.

You may only have one chance to get a video testimonial from this client, and you don't want to look back on the footage on your camera roll the next day and find it unusable.

If paying for a professional videographer is out of the question, consider renting (or borrowing) a digital camera and tripod instead. To save money, aim to shoot several customer testimonial videos (or a bunch of content) in one day.

Your efforts and money spent on filming will be fully justified with high-quality output. You're worth it!

Video testimonials: are they worth the effort?

Should you make a customer testimonial video for your business? Well, it depends!

Where video testimonials shine, is when they're embedded on high-friction pages inside your marketing funnel. Where a written review isn't enough. Where customer consideration is lengthy, and where you really need to show, not tell, to win business from your target customer and prospective leads.

At Cloutly, we help businesses use video in their marketing efforts alongside written testimonials. If you're a local business that relies on getting more reviews on Google My Business (because people search for you there), then it's arguably going to be a better use of your time and resources to continue asking for those kinds of reviews.

If you're ready to turn a customer experience into a powerful testimonial, it's never a bad idea to film a highlighted customer testimonial as part of a case study or featured product/service.

And if you're looking to drive more written reviews from your loyal customers along the way... well, consider checking out Cloutly.