In today’s crowded marketplaces, whether consumer or business-to-business, it can often be difficult to know if you’re making the right decision. How are you to know that the apparently perfect people carrier you’re about to buy has persistent brake failure and an unidentified rattling sound somewhere in the boot? Which website designer will bring your brand vision to life, and which will turn it into a dog’s dinner? Who can tell whether the photo of the luxury holiday complex at which you’re planning to spend two weeks next summer has a major building site just out of shot?

Reviews, of course. For many of us they are the linchpin of our purchase decisions, bringing reassurance that our money and time will be well spent. The Internet, of course, has made access to customer testimonials easier than ever; whereas a matter of decades ago we would have taken a punt on a product in a brochure, we now feel compelled to get on our screens and check what others have said about it first. With 60% of consumers looking at online reviews at least weekly, a recent survey by Podium suggests that 93% of them are influenced by online reviews.

Yet the abundance of reviews in itself can be confusing, and scrolling down a screen of written reviews – some of which verge on being essays – can cloud rather than clarify judgement. There is always a part of us who wonders who the people are behind the views, and what axe they have to grind; we have all heard about authors using online anonymity to review their own books, and how do we know they haven’t just asked all their friends to post positive reviews? Is that disappointed customer at the new local restaurant who found a caterpillar in their salad actually a neighbouring restaurant owner sabotaging the competition?

This is where video testimonials come in. They work in a number of powerful ways:

They capture attention more effectively than text

  • According to Zabisco, 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text.

  • Viewers spend 100% more time on pages with videos on them than those without, says MarketingSherpa.

They remove anonymity

  • No more wondering about whether testimonials are fake or exaggerated; if a customer is prepared to have their views videoed, the chances are they are being truthful.

They show real life people you can relate to

  • Videos help us connect emotionally with the stories being told and the people telling them; seeing faces, identifying with feelings, hearing voices rich with the emotion they are conveying all draws us deeper into the message than text alone.

  • Testimonials provide context; the viewer can judge whether this is a person who is likely to demand the same sort of standards as themselves. They help divert attention from the kind of marketing speak that people have become wise to these days, and instead put the spotlight on the customer. Seeing somebody who has already made the purchase decision you’re about to make and who isn’t being paid to speak positively about a brand or service is more likely to build trust amongst new customers.

Customers’ preferences for ‘real’ people are borne out by research done by digital insights company Toluna, who found nearly 50% of respondents said adverts featuring ordinary people resonated most with them compared with adverts featuring celebrities or actors.

Video converts to sales

  • According to web tool company Unbounce, using video on landing pages can increase conversion by 80%.

  • SEO expert Neil Patel says that viewers are 64-85% more likely to buy a product after watching a video of it – so showing real people demonstrating a product is arguably even more powerful.

Video testimonials can be used on websites and social media to influence customers – both areas where we know viewers are already receptive to, and indeed active with video. On Facebook, video content is shared 12 times more than text and link content combined, according to research from M Booth and Sprout Social, and Cisco’s Visual Networking Index indicates that by 2019 global consumer video traffic will form 80% of all consumer Internet traffic. So if you’re sharing customer videos with your Facebook friends, you can count on them spreading the word even further.

Video surveys are a great way to get video testimonials. You can use Plotto’s video research tools to do this and then place them where they will increase viewer traffic and uptake of your product or service. If you’d like a little inspiration, here are some great examples of how testimonials can work.

Seeing and hearing women talk about their hair brings their challenges – and solutions - to life:

 Oracle, who provides John Lewis’ ecommerce platform, is endorsed by John Lewis’ Director of IT Delivery:

A great B2B example: Yum Yum videos secures a compelling video testimonial from a happy customer:

Happy customers talk about Apsara acne care:

Magic Flask demonstrates how you can merge different customer reviews to produce a compelling video testimonial:

Aldi uses a testimonial from a current employee to appeal to prospective employees:

Main image taken from http://www.magicflask.us video example

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