Smart companies create customer testimonials. Why? So their potential customers can hear from (and relate to) people just like them. They learn why they should buy a product and how it could be beneficial to solving their problems. Customer testimonials can do a fair bit of the legwork of a marketing and a sales team, helping to convince leads and move them further through the funnel and closer to a closed deal.

But these days, customer testimonials need to be better, more engaging, more interesting than they ever have been before. Attention spans are short (only 8 seconds long!), and audiences want content in a format that they find engaging, human, and relatable.

A customer testimonial video entices your audiences, offers them a human story and a real person to connect with through voice, body language, emotion, and empathy. But what goes into a customer testimonial video? What are the secrets to crafting a strong video?

That’s exactly what Tim McManus from video production company Hed Hi Media spoke about at this year’s Viewtopia, the Video Marketing Summit. The company has created over 230 customer testimonial videos since its founding in 2014, and this experience has given them a lot of insight for you to take advantage of! Take a look at these five key points from Hed Hi’s session:

What is a customer testimonial?

First things first, let’s figure out what a customer testimonial video really is, and how it can be used. As Tim says, this type of video is an unbelievable tool for your customers as they’re trying to explore what your company offers as they progress through the journey. Don’t think you’re limited to using them in only one place or in one part of the marketing and sales funnel; these videos are useful in the early research stages as an introduction to what you do and why you’re valuable, as well as near the bottom of the funnel as a reiteration of your service and what other customers are getting from you. Take a look at this example of a customer testimonial video that Hed Hi created for Marketo:

Hed Hi created this video in an interview style, making sure it had high production value that represented the Marketo brand well. They also included memorable sound bites, and jazzed it up with b-roll footage while highlighting the value proposition of the customer who was being interviewed. The other thing Hed Hi was sure to include was imagery of Marketo software on screen, so viewers would know what the product would look like when they used it themselves. The soundtrack and motion graphics were also used to create a compelling, almost cinematic feel—because when you’re talking to the best marketers in the world, you want a very polished experience and message that matches the level of the software you’re selling.

Pro Tip: The Hed Hi team offered pro tips throughout their session to keep in mind when making your own customer testimonial videos. The first tip is: keep your testimonial video under 2 minutes long. 90 seconds is usually the best and most effective length, with this optimal break-down:

  • The first 30 seconds should establish who the customer is
  • The next 30 seconds talking about the problem they faced
  • During the final 30 seconds, discuss how your product solves their problem

Why is it important to produce a customer testimonial video?

Maybe you haven’t done too much video marketing. Or maybe you only use it on social or for top of funnel campaigns. Do you really need to create videos that offer customer testimonials? Yes! Here are some of the many reasons why, according to Hed Hi:

  • 89% of marketers say video is the most effective content marketing tactic
  • Using the word ‘video’ in an email subject line boosts open rates by 19%, click-through rates by 65%, and reduces unsubscribes by 26%
  • A great customer testimonial is what most B2B buyers are searching for once they land on your site
  • 65% of your audience are visual learners

Pro Tip: Don’t be scared about creating your own customer testimonial videos! Everyone can start doing it right away—after all, you’re already likely carrying around a camera in your pocket, so start small if you need to. Talk to your customers and test the effectiveness of video for yourselves. Once you get going and want to make your testimonials shine, you can always hire a video production company so they can manage all the things you’re either unfamiliar with or don’t want to deal with. Or, you can even hire a video production expert full-time on your own team; that way they’re always ready to take on interesting, educational, and creative video projects for your company. Just keep in mind: you get what you pay for, so start small if you need to, but consider all the benefits you could get from video experts.

Who should you get on camera?

Now, you may be excited to start creating your own customer testimonials, but don’t jump in all willy-nilly and throw everyone you can get a hold of on camera. You can be strategic about it so you don’t waste your customers’ time or your own (or your budget!). Tim says there are three things to consider when choosing who to get on camera and whose story to focus on:

Metrics:

Choose a customer who has a tangible win with your product, including empirical evidence of what it gained them. It’s easier for your top salespeople to sell your product using your testimonial when there are strong metrics behind the story. If you want to sell to the executive level at any company, they will want to see the ROI of your product, and these metrics can help.

Industry leader:

If you can get a customer with name recognition, that will provide massive value as your enterprise salespeople use your testimonial to sell your product.

Approval:

You may not have thought of this point during your planning stages, but it can be a deal breaker, so make sure legal teams have approved the use of the content and interviews, so you aren’t producing something that can’t be used.

Pro Tip: When you’re creating your testimonial video, avoid showing multiple people at once. Instead, interview each person individually, and blend the segments together during the post-production phase. This way you can avoid what often happens when one person is talking in a group setting: someone always looks down at their shoes or simply looks unengaged.

Check out this testimonial that was created for Marketo. C-level executives of GE Healthcare were chosen to be on camera. They offered up tangible and impressive numbers, and the content was approved quickly so Marketo could take advantage of the great asset.

When can you make these videos?

You’re busy. Your customers are busy. You both have a million things to do and hardly any time to spare to sit down and chat about the wonderfulness of your product. So how do you make it happen? The Hed Hi team has some great suggestions for when you should be looking to film your customer testimonial videos:

During conferences:

If you’re holding a conference or event where your customers will be participating, this is a perfect time to snag their testimonials while they’re there and already thinking about you! Set up a side studio at the event and interview 10-20 people who are already primed and in the frame of mind to talk about the subject matter and your product.

Pros and Cons: There are a few pros and cons to creating your videos this way. The pros are your attendees are already there, so you get greater output for cheaper. The one con, however, is that you’re probably busy at your own event, and even if you have a video production team onsite creating these awesome videos for you, you’ll still need to supply one or two employees to help with the process.

Pro Tip: If you want to shoot during an event and want great participation from top customers, create a VIP experience during the shoot. Book a site close by, or offer champagne or wine during the shoot so your customers feel like they’re making a big impact and joining the fun of a big production.

Standalone Filming Days:

If you have identified a customer who has a really amazing story to tell, consider making a video testimonial standalone shoot. Go straight to where the customer is located, and spend the time shooting just them.

Pros and Cons: The pros of filming this way are you’ll be able to tell a deeper story, and you’ll be able to highlight your strong partnership with that company. The one potential con of a standalone testimonial shoot is the investment it requires through needing a video production crew for one day for one customer, rather than using an agency for a number of shoots in one day at an event. So make sure if you’re going to create this type of video, pick a customer who has really strong story that is therefore worth the investment.

Pro Tip: Think about where the customer is headquartered because then you will have the ability to plan for great b-roll footage of community landmarks or interesting cityscapes!

How can you produce customer testimonial videos?

As you can imagine, there are a few steps involved in producing amazing customer testimonial videos. It’s important that you complete the steps in order, rather than jumping from one to the next and back and all over the place. Here’s what you need to do:

Step 1: Planning

The planning stage involves getting answers for where you will shoot, who will be on camera, who is the crew, when will you shoot, and other logistical questions that need to be locked down before you can press record. Here are three main things to consider:

  • Questions: Lay out your questions ahead of time to get the stats and information you need out of your interviewees, and plan what your story arc is. Try to keep to the 30-30-30 second rule (30 seconds to introduce your customer, 30 to talk about their problem, and 30 to discuss how your product solves the problem).
  • Interviewees: Plan out who they will be, especially if you’re shooting at a user conference, because people are busy and you could be missing the gold. At an event, you could potentially plan for filming 8-10 CMOs in one day!
  • Location: Figure out where to shoot (and how to get there and back!).

Step 2: Production

The production stage involves the hectic fun of actually filming! You’re on the clock at this point, so everything needs to run as close to the plan as possible so you can get the most out of it. But remember that something will likely go wrong—and that’s okay. If you know this can and will happen, you’ll be better prepared to deal with it. Here are a few things to consider during this stage:  

  • Lights: Make sure your customers look good with the right lighting. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But with the wrong lighting, you can cast odd shadows and make people look a little sketchy. That’s the last thing you want in your testimonial video since other customers are supposed to relate to and enjoy this story!
  • Camera: Shoot multiple angles in HD, so you’re presenting a good, enveloping experience of the story.
  • Action: You need a director who is responsible for the camera and lights and the technical aspects of the shoot. You need a producer as well, who will elicit sound bites from the customer, and who deeply understands the dynamic between you and your customer. That way, the video won’t feel like one scripted, robotic and awkward interview. You can have a real, flexible and strong conversation.
  • Audio: Audio can’t really be fixed during post-production, so you need to make sure you have good equipment and it’s adjusted accordingly. The right audio will help distinguish you as a credible professional or an amateur!
  • Hair and Makeup: Hair and makeup isn’t necessary on every shoot, but it does help to present the best possible side of your customer.

Step 3: Post-Production

This stage is when you piece together everything that you did during production, including fusing b-roll, interviews, audio, and soundtrack all together into one cohesive and cinematic experience. A few things to keep in mind:

  • Transcription: Once you’ve finished production, you can send the content to a transcription agency, who can give you a document of the video’s content. Then, you can go through the content and determine which messages are key and should remain in the video, and what can come out.
    Pro Tip: These transcriptions are also great because they can be used in other ways. If you spend 30 minutes conversing with a customer and come out with a 2-minute video, you can take the rest of the content and turn it into a whitepaper, or a short video blooper reel, or video blogs, for example.
  • Sound bites: Edit to make sure the video sounds good, even if you’re experiencing it with your eyes closed. Does the story line make sense? Once you have this in place, the story stays as is, and you can move forward to the next step.  
  • Creative edit: This is when you layer in b-roll, motion graphics, and music, and select the best camera angles.
  • Upload: Get the file where it needs to be for your own access and distribution, and turn it over to the customer so they can distribute it!

Step 4: Distribution

This stage of creating the customer testimonial video doesn’t need much explanation. It’s when your audiences get to experience the awesomeness you just created! Distribute your video as necessary on all the right channels to get audiences through the marketing and sales funnel, and close lots of deals!

Whew! There you have it! A lot goes into awesome customer testimonial videos, but they’re very worth it. Have you created any that you feel has impacted your bottom line? Will you create your own, or use a video agency on any new projects? Enjoy the process, and remember to thank your customers! If you’re looking for even more insights on how to strengthen your video testimonials, check out this post!

Want to get more awesome insights from Viewtopia 2016? Check out the Video Hub!

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Emily Ross

Emily was previously the Brand and Creative Manager at Vidyard. Today, she’s a UI writer at Intel. Emily loves creating interesting and unique content oh, and food…if you haven’t already noticed, she loves food.