The unparalleled power of the testimonial and how to go about creating them.
Customer Stories are arguably one of the most effective forms of content. Here at 90 Seconds, they’re certainly one of our most popular – accounting for an average of 34% of all services purchased across all sectors. Why? In the same way we check out Airbnb reviews before traveling or check out Rotten Tomatoes before deciding on that night’s movie choice, third-party endorsement plays a paramount and extremely influential role in decision making – whether you’re a B2B or B2C customer, with 88% of customers stating they trust testimonials as much as they do recommendations from family or friends.1
Traditional advertisements sing a brand or businesses’ praises and while we’d like to believe these are approached with the utmost honesty, it’s difficult for the discerning consumer to truly trust in this; however, if an independent party sings its praises for us, then it’s all the more believable. Therefore, with trust from unbiased sources being far more naturally cultivated, it comes to stand that using existing customers in your brand communication and video marketing is a powerful way to gain a competitive market edge and drive conversion. But don’t just take our word for it – consumers trust UGC style content almost twice as much as content from brands, as revealed by AdWeek2. Its power is unparalleled and customers who end up on an e-commerce site through a UGC-style video, like a customer story, are 184% times more likely to purchase and when they do, they’ll spend approximately 45% more3.
Customer stories are of immediate relatability to prospective customers, not only highlighting the features of your product or service, but because in theory, it’s someone else doing the selling, they bring clout and trustworthiness to a business – irrespective of audience, industry, or segment. Thirteen percent of marketers’ name case studies as one of the primary forms of media used within their content strategy4; however, when surveying B2B marketers specifically, this percentage rises to 75%5. Why is video an especially powerful tool here? By showcasing a successful customer journey, you in turn help to visually illustrate this for other potential customers – a gentle but effective way to nurture leads. Customers receive the benefit of another brand’s positive experience, which can help overcome initial reluctance while increasing understanding of the value your business brings to its consumers.
So, you’re sold on the concept and if not, re-read the above (!) and now you just need to select what customer to feature. At 90 Seconds we’ve identified this as the number one challenge businesses face when moving ahead with customer stories – exactly what brand to profile. The answer isn’t a simple one.
First and foremost, consider selecting many different customers and producing multiple forms of testimonial content. By selecting different brands across the spectrum of industries or niches within a particular industry your business services, you showcase the depth and breadth of your appeal. If you go down this route, be sure to select an array of clients that represent all the buyer personas across your target markets.
We also know that consistency is key – for maximum reach and engagement on social, businesses should post 18 videos in a month6. To some, that might seem a lot, but if you’re sharing on social media, algorithms favour the constant and consistent voice. If this figure seems daunting, consider this – businesses and brands that created 51 videos (or more) grew from 13% to 46% in 2020 alone7. When you consider the multitude of content you can produce and share on social media, directly from the 90 Seconds platform at any time, coupled with other elements of your video marketing strategy, such as UGC and People Story content, this number is all the more achievable.
If you don’t have the option of showcasing a multitude of customers, consider selecting a customer you’re particularly proud of – a big brand that many are aware of can bring clout, or perhaps a smaller customer that you bent over backwards for and who has an interesting story to tell.
Namogoo, an Israeli technology platform that focuses on minimising disruption to a customer journey, showcases how to do this brilliantly in this example featuring popular fashion retailer, Kurt Geiger. Simplifying an otherwise complicated offering, Namogoo have been able to – very simply and clearly – demonstrate the brilliance of their business and the benefits to using their software in a compelling way – minimising loss of revenue. An otherwise complicated, niche product being used by a global and iconic brand – one that is immediately identifiable (to the well-shodden individual of course).
Tableau, a software technology company, also went down the ‘big name’ route by showcasing their partnership with BMW in this case study that showcases the value they brought to one of the world’s most iconic and luxury automotive brands.
While bigger isn’t always better, size certainly matters when it comes to capturing prospective customers’ attention and converting leads into sales.
Another strong option is to showcase a customer who experienced a unique or interesting problem which your business resolved effectively. By selecting a customer that shows off your greatest achievements, you’re guaranteed to get a glowing recommendation, as well as more likely for them to agree to spare the time to go above and beyond as an advocate for you. In turn, you show prospective customers your out-of-the-box solutions and demonstrate superior experience.
And be sure to focus on clear, tangible results. Keeping specificity in mind, cut to the chase and use your testimonial to showcase exactly how you’ll bring benefit to further customers using exact numbers to help prospective clients’ quantity your solution and understand potential ROI. This Cisco case study featuring VTNZ does just that, explicitly stating that through Cisco’s services they’ve saved 20% on costs.
So, you’ve chosen your selected customer, but how do you convince them to move out from behind the screen to feature on it on your behalf? This is the second biggest issue we at 90 Seconds see brands face in producing this form of content. While a written case study might be an easier sell to the customer, video really is the only way to go. With 77% of consumers who have watched a brand’s video testimonial stating it played a major role in their decision to purchase8, and videos being easily shareable, it’s the single most effective form of brand advocacy.
Firstly, timing is key – end of year? Steer clear! In the middle of an acquisition, best avoid. In general, sooner rather than later is better and customers’ voices are best captured when their experiences are fresh on their mind. A great time to ask is during your routine follow-up call or email when checking in to see how their experience is going. If it’s going well, they’re more likely to give you a testimonial and if not, it’s a great opportunity for you to provide exceptional customer service and course correct. According to the Content Marketing Institute, the best results come from implementing a system that allows you to request and receive testimonials at scale9 – hence why usual follow-up procedures present the perfect time.
Who first established a relationship with the customer? Who has the best rapport? If this was the initial point person in the sales cycle perhaps they’re best to ask. Or consider passing this task upward – CMO or CEO. The more senior a stakeholder, the more flattered the customer may be by the seniority of attention.
While it may be tempting to leave the question open-ended, in today’s time-poor, fragmented, and frazzled age, people are more inclined to commit their time and attention if they know the specifics – for example, ‘what I’m requesting is one hour of your time, at your convenience, to talk about your experience with us.’ At this point in time, it can also be helpful to share examples of other testimonials, so the customer is confident they’re in good company.
The Content Marketing Institute also advises seeking specifics and producing case studies and testimonials that aren’t just complimentary, but specifically informative. Aim to extract examples of how your product or service has benefited your customer, whether that’s cost or time saving, or specific organisational benefits10. This also helps provide your customer with a clear idea of what you’re requesting through their participation.
Make their decision as easy as possible – complexity makes it harder to achieve agreement[xi]. Today what may be simple like a simple request may be received or perceived in a way that is far from it. With brands often having testimonial policies, clear lines on brand ownership or guidelines as to how and where their logo, voice and collateral can be used, a simple request can end up being rejected outright with a customer fearing involving overprotective brand guardians, such as the PR or Legal team. Make their life as easy as possible by outlining very clearly what you’re after and how and where the testimonial will be used, assuring them they will have full approval… Music to the legal department’s ears – even more so if your legal representative is copied and across the request and you’ve sat down in advance to talk through and troubleshoot any potential red flags they see being raised by the other side.
You may even wish to go one step further and make your request impossible to say no to by offering templated scripts or glossaries of any terms or technical jargon you wish the customer to use. The simpler for the customer the more likely they are to commit.
A final tip, incentivise. While a truly satisfied customer may well be willing to give their time for free, to get a brand to jump through potential hoops (legal, PR as mentioned above) then consider offering some form of incentive. Whether that be a discount on their next purchase, or a free product or service add-on, a small gesture can go a long way and communicate respect as an acknowledgement of their time and attention.
While no approach is guaranteed, the power of a customer story is unparalleled and therefore, worth every effort. Combined with other forms of video, customer testimonials increase brand engagement by an average of 28%.12 A whopping 93% of customers read reviews before buying a product or service13 and according to the Demand Gen Report, that figure rises to 97% when referring to B2B consumers, who cite customer testimonials as the most reliable form of content14. It therefore comes to stand that customer stories should be the foremost pillar of your video marketing strategy. By embracing the above tips on how to not only create the most impact customer stories, but convert customers to talent, you can ensure you remain ahead of the competition and aggressively pursue market share.
As the world leader in video content creation having produced over 40,000 videos for some of the world’s biggest brands – Amazon, Deloitte, Unilever and Marriott to name a small few – we are the ideal partner for businesses looking to create content that cuts through the clutter and connects with your audience. Speak with us today around how you can create your own Customer Stories that serve as a catalyst for the creation of more.