It doesn't take an army to create video content anymore. Sure, there's power in professional-quality lighting, sound, and production value, but customer testimonials contain the most value just by being honest and telling a good story.
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"Lots of people are creating video content and throwing it up on LinkedIn, TikTok, Instagram, and wherever, so the status quo is pretty low," explains Alexander Ferguson, co-founder of TeraLeap.
"Authenticity reigns, so the more authentic it feels, less produced, you can actually connect even better."
And in marketing, that authenticity can be your best weapon. "Written content, written case studies...can be inherently untrustworthy," Alexander says. "They know as a marketer you probably wrote that, you massaged the words, and people are skeptical."
But put the face of a real person in front of them, and suddenly the case study comes to life.
"Having that face. It’s rooted in our biological nature. Look at how we communicate. I think 97% of it is nonverbal."
Episode 519 is also chock full of practical tips—how to do social sharing, whether you should use closed captions, and where exactly in the marketing funnel testimonials are most effective.
Listen to the entire show from the link above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode.
George Thomas: Are you sitting here thinking about video testimonials because you saw the title and you're thinking to yourself, "But George, video is difficult." Ladies and gentlemen, it's time to reframe that conversation in your brain, because video doesn't need to be difficult, and you need to know that. I have to say that as the host of the Marketing Smarts Podcast, because as you listen to the rest of this episode where we talk about video testimonials as a tool for B2B growth in 2023, Alexander is going to talk about what keeps him up at night, some ways to get started, some hurdles along the way, how to build and streamline the entire process, because video is key, testimonials are a piece of this.
Alexander Ferguson is here to help us along the way. I'm super excited because I like when people talk good about us and I love me some video. Alexander Ferguson is co-founder and chief marketer at TeraLeap, helping B2B and tech companies market and sell their products faster by leveraging the power of video testimonials. After 13 years of helping over 500 organizations create thousands of marketing videos, Alexander is on a mission to share that customer stories are the best marketing investment for growth. We're talking to you, B2B marketers. You can use video testimonials for growth. Without further ado, let's hear what Alexander has to say and journey down this conversation of video testimonials as a tool for B2B growth in 2023 and beyond. Ladies and gentlemen, Marketing Smarts listeners, let's get into the good stuff.
Alexander, I'm excited. The audience always knows that I start these excited, but I'm actually really excited today because I love video. Video is something that since 2013, before video was cool, has been ingrained in the daily life of creating videos for how-tos, marketing videos for brand awareness, sales videos with one-to-one videos. Now today we get to talk about this topic that is video testimonials for B2B growth and how it can be a tool for the Marketing Smarts listeners.
We're going to go through a great journey, but I do want to dive in and just ask you this fun question. It's just fun. Not that anybody ever really loses sleep, but maybe they do, we'll go ahead and with the question. Alexander, what keeps you up at night when talking about video or video testimonials?
Alexander Ferguson: Video testimonials are customer stories the way I look at them. I believe they're one of the greatest marketing assets you can have. It really frustrates me that the traditional way to get them takes too long and it's very complex for most organizations and marketers, which means that it rarely gets into the mix. Often, it's somewhere on the list, but it usually gets bumped down, and then again, and again. It's on people's minds, but they never get around to it, or rarely, to be able to build up a good library. I'm like you're missing out, and it really gets to me.
George: I love that because the word streamlined comes to mind. How can you streamline the process? By the way, listeners, we're going to get into the question of how to get started. I'm pretty sure that my brain might go off the beaten path when we get to that getting started and then double down on how the heck to streamline the process, but before we get there, I want to go ahead and give you a chance to talk about… We make time for what is important, so why are video testimonials so important for B2B marketers to be paying attention to?
Alexander: I've been in the video world for over 13 years, and I've worked with hundreds of organizations making lots of videos, thousands of videos. But it's usually the video of whatever they wanted to make, and it's hit or miss. I'll say in most cases they miss, they don't move the needle because it's something that you were excited, that seemed interesting at the time, or whatever, except for customer stories and testimonial videos.
Even the average ones perform better than most other types of videos because it has the customer in it, it's using the words that your other customers want to hear, it's the journey, it's the pain points, it's the problem, and it just resonates better than most other videos, being able to covert and actually move the needle in your marketing efforts.
George: I love this so much. Whenever I get the chance to interview smart people, my brain goes in all these different directions. It goes to just a life lesson of it is way better to get other people to talk about you than for you to talk about yourself, and we're really hooking into that. Then just understanding that in today's society video, being able to be lazy, sit back, have a cup of coffee, and watch something is much more advantageous than having to read about it.
Here's the thing. My fear is that somebody will say, "We're going to do video testimonials," and it's going to be kind of this old blague, maybe potentially horrible thing, and we don't want that for the listeners. So, what elements should the listeners be paying attention to for growth-focused video testimonials, what should they consist of?
Alexander: Customer stories. I used that word earlier. I really feel it's all about the story. We can talk about the quality of the video itself in a moment, but I feel like you have to start with the story itself. I feel like there are three key elements to a good hero story, or the story with your customer. The before state, the problem they were experiencing before they were working with you. Then being able to let them see the journey of how they started to do battle with that challenge or that problem using your solution. Then the after state, the results.
Of course, I love things like Lord of the Rings. If you don't really get the entire arc, if you just get, "They're great," we do need that statement of, "I fully endorse and love this company," that's fine, we can use that, we want that. But it's the entire arc, seeing the pain and frustration that your customer had that other prospects resonate with, that's whole pain agitation, it actually can help in so many other areas of your marketing efforts to pull your prospect along into now I see why and how you solved it. That's what I see the crucial role of these customer stories moving that needle in your marketing efforts.
George: I love this, the idea of it's getting to that story, it's creating that arc. I think about how at the beginning do you use the words to get them to aggressively explain the pain that they are having in their life, and then almost towards the end it's like if you were leaving a raving review for the Rolling Stone magazine, what would that look like, and then allowing them to gush at the solution that you then provided as a company or a person or whatever it is.
You mentioned quality, so I'm actually going to swing back and go off the beaten path for a second. This does come down to a thing of a lot of people, marketers, will get stuck in the mud around it has to be ultra-produced and it has to be 8K and we have to pay $5,000 a video. Talk about the quality or the way that you can actually achieve this that might be different than what the Marketing Smarts B2B marketers are thinking of right now.
Alexander: The traditional way of capturing these that people generally think of is we have to send out a whole crew and we have to do high production value. Actually, I used to do those, and I get it. They're wonderful in their own right, but that doesn't scale. We need, as marketers, a library of all of our raving fans telling their stories. Unless you have hundreds of thousands of dollars that you can just throw at customer stories, then it doesn't work.
When you look at the quality of the video, I think we all have seen a decrease in the customer's expectation for video quality. The standard is pretty flat because lots of people are creating video content and throwing up on LinkedIn, TikTok, Instagram, and wherever, so the status quo is pretty low. Authenticity reigns, so the more authentic it feels, less produced, you can actually connect even better.
That's not to say that you want to have a grainy, dark, you can't understand them because the sound is not there video. That doesn't help you either. But when you look at the effort that it takes to be able to create a super high-quality video, and then you get maybe one done a year or every other year, compared to let's change the landscape a bit, let's get good quality that is on brand and that you don't cringe at being able to share with others but actually scales, that's a much better route.
The top things that you're looking for are can they hear the person clearly, can you see them nicely, is there good lighting, etcetera, and then if you're able to tell a good story, then you can roll with that.
George: I love this because there's almost a framework starting in my brain that marketers could pay attention to. That would be you need great sound, you need decent lighting, good video, amazing story. If that's the direction that you move into, then you'll probably be okay, and you don't have to spend a bazillion dollars.
Let's just dive into what I'll call the almost deep end of the pool. How can marketers get started with creating video testimonials that empower growth? Of course, I don't want to forget, I want to go off the beaten path after we talk about getting started. I'll circle back around because I really want to talk about this streamlined potential process that they might be able to put into place. First, before you streamline anything, how the heck do we get started?
Alexander: The simplest thing I would say, next time you're with your customer, if you're around them or you go on sales visits, etcetera, whip out your smartphone and record them, ask them a few questions, be able to capture them right there in the moment. If you're at a conference and your customers are there, your smartphone is a powerful device that actually rivals most pro cameras these days. If your customers aren't local or you don't see them that often, you can use a solution like ours at TeraLeap, where we ship out video kits that power up their smartphone to studio quality, and then you can conduct a remote recording. Technology is amazing these days, you can capture that. Either way, my recommendation is that you build it into your customer journey process that anyone gives a high NPS score rating, so your sales team, your customer success team, your marketing team is looking for those flags of here's a great customer, dig into it, reach out, and capture their story as just part of your regular process.
George: So good. Looking for the hook, knowing that's where you need to go, the direction to head into, and then now. You mentioned you'll send out a kit, so there's a thing we'll probably talk about, or you can lean into a little bit there, because that's another piece is not everybody has the gear, not everybody has the whatever, and we understand that.
Here's the thing. I have to not forget to talk about this streamline piece, because when you think about video testimonials or video in general, there's capture, and obviously we're going to talk about that, but there's edit, publish, and then promote the fact that you have those as well. How do we streamline this entire process? Just unpack your brain a little bit about video testimonials, capturing, editing, publishing, and promoting the fact that you have these tools for B2B growth.
Alexander: That last half of after it's captured, I think there is so much missed on the opportunity to streamline that process. How much just gets stuck there? I've talked to a lot of marketers that are like, "We have a lot of old footage and we haven't really done much with it." I'm like oh no, you haven't streamlined that part after.
When it comes to editing, what you're looking for is you're not going to share a 20-minute interview, no one is going to listen to that piece, you're looking for the nuggets that get down to a 1-minute or 2-minute video that tell the story arc. You need someone who can quickly be able to look through that raw content, cut it down, and then be able to get it on your website for sales enablement and for people to send it to. But there are so many other use cases for it, and we can dive into that a little bit later, I know that's another question that we'll go to.
It's looking at how do you capture it, how do you get it out into your marketing efforts as quickly as possible, whether it's a freelancer, an agency, a person, a staff member that you hire, you have to have that as part of the process to plan for, not just capturing it.
George: So good. Again, it comes down to do you need to get the gear, do you need to buy the gear, but then that person or agency. It's funny because you're right, the publishing, there is so much confusion for a lot of marketers, "Do we put it on YouTube, do we put it on our website, should it go in our emails, where do we put it?" So, let's just ask the question and get the answer from the expert. Alexander, where should B2B marketers be using these growth-focused video testimonials?
Alexander: Identify where you need to increase trust and improve conversions. That's really what it comes down to is looking at your entire marketing funnel, sales funnel, and say, "Where do we need to increase trust and improve conversions?" When I've looked at all of it, I really see seven major marketing channels and opportunities. I'll share two specifically.
Sales enablement, without a doubt. Especially in the B2B world, in many cases you have a dedicated sales team. Be a hero for your sales team. They need this type of content in their arsenal. Forget the customer references, just give them a library that they know this is going to be perfect for this person, this is going to be perfect for this case, for this problem that this customer is having. They need that arsenal tool to be able to pull it out to say, "This is the exact customer that is just like you, check out this." That's one big one.
The second one is top of funnel, pay-per-click ad campaigns. This is actually where I don't believe a lot of marketers are looking into. I've been heavily investigating into this. We recently did our own campaign on LinkedIn, and we were actually able to get a 4.8X return on ad spend on LinkedIn ads just using customer stories. Again, it's that customer journey, people want to hear these stories. It works really well. You just may not have thought about using your customer in that top of funnel campaign.
George: So many good nuggets of information. That might be the rewind point. Just rewind and listen to those last two sections. It is about capturing, we'll say voice of customer, their story, we'll say the streamlined process that you put in there, and then you said these words… Ladies and gentlemen, I understand this is an audio podcast, you can't see my visceral responses. Even when I use the video of Alexander on our YouTube Live show for clips of this interview, you never see me other than me speaking during that live show. When you said trust and conversion, I had a visceral response where I was like punching the air.
Here's the thing. Marketing Smarts listeners, I want you to think about have you ever, in all of your days, tried to put a video testimonial next to the form on the page where the person is going to convert? Have you ever tried that, where they can watch and hear the pain, see the success, and then the form is to the left or right of the story that they just watched? You should try that and then let me know how it goes.
Alexander, I'm going specific to video, you can tie it into testimonials if you want. In your opinion, why is video so powerful in 2023 (I know it's 2022, but it's almost over, so I'm going to start using 2023) and beyond?
Alexander: Written content, written case studies, if we want to look at stories but video in general, they can be inherently untrustworthy. They know as a marketer you probably wrote that, you massaged the words, and people are skeptical. Even on reviews on Amazon, you're like, "Was that written by a bot or a real person?" It's just not trustworthy. When it comes to an actual face and actual smile, you can't but believe that is a real customer's face smiling.
The second piece is words themselves just aren't enough. Having that face. It's rooted in our biological nature. Look at how we communicate. I think 97% of it is nonverbal. You're missing that entire piece by just putting words on a page. It's that nonverbal communication. In addition, it's that voice as well. That is the emotion that comes across through your vocal variety and how you're speaking. That's the secret pathway into someone's brain and that emotional decision-making part of their brain. If they can see that pain and hear it, it helps them to make that emotional decision, which I think most of us make decisions emotionally, whether we realize it or not.
The third reason is we're in a video-first world. We really are. The consumption and creation of video content is just through the roof. If you're not creating video regularly, it feels like there is something missing. When someone comes and starts interacting with your brand, whether it's on social media, whether it's on your website, in any marketing channels, and there's not that visual medium to be able to consume, it feels lacking.
George: So good. To be honest with you, you talked about micro expressions. Well, you didn't say those words. You said people being able to see you. Micro expressions, listeners, if you have not gone down that rabbit hole of how much we pay attention to the micro facial expressions, the truth plane, which is your waist and up, you should Google that. Thanks for the rabbit hole. You can thank me later. Let's get back to the important stuff.
Let's talk about this idea of I heard Alexander and George, we need to do video testimonials, we need to make them growth-focused, we need to pay attention to our customers and get these great stories, they need to be video based. Fundamentally, somebody is going to run into a brick wall and knock themselves out. What are some of the hurdles? I always like to do this in our episodes. Watch out for these potholes, these hurdles, these walls that might get in the way of your success. What are some hurdles to watch out for when we start creating these B2B growth-focused video testimonials?
Alexander: Getting the initial yes from a customer can be a major hurdle, actually getting your customers to agree to getting on video. There are three things that I look at that you need to get right to be able to get them to say yes, to be willing to get on video. We call them the rightfecta. The right person making the ask, the right time to make the request, and having the right incentive to make them say, "Yes, let me give my time and effort toward this."
We've actually created a whole testimonial request guide because this is a common thing that our own customers are facing all of the time. I'll send over a link to that. Each of those three pieces are so crucial. If you just start sending out blast email to all of your customers without really identifying those three pieces, you're going to get a really poor response rate. It just comes down to that. Crafting both the email that is sent and those three pieces is crucial.
George: Ladies and gentlemen, you better steal that, because I know I am. The rightfecta, the three right things to make sure they're in place. By the way, that might be for more than just video testimonials in your marketing, your sales, and your business in general. I love that you went into the hurdle, but I have seen, I've watched a lot of video, flat out just blatant mistakes. Are there any just like by all that is holy B2B marketers don't do this or these things that you've seen?
Alexander: Three things. There's more, but there are three things that popped into my head right away. I heard this stat recently at a Product Marketing Alliance event, 70% of marketing content goes unused. Blew my mind the amount of content that goes unused. I think in most cases it's because of a lack of context for the rest of the organization, the rest of your marketing team, depending on how large you are, on how and where to be using that. That's one big thing that I think about.
When you're creating these video testimonials or other content, make sure that you have the proper context around it of this is the industry, these are the pain points and problems, so that you can easily reference and pull it out, sales teams know how to find it and where to get it at the right time and right place, and the social team needs to post this in the right time and right place, if you want to go back to the rightfecta on the posting this content and using it. That is so crucial, and I see that missed, so that's number one.
A little more on the tactical side when people are actually sharing this and using it, two things.
Not optimizing it for social media platforms. They just post the same video that they embed on their website, which is fine, it's better than not posting anything. But when you're sharing on social, there's three things that you need to get right. You have to have it optimized because most is mobile consumption. Square, we find, works really well, not 16x9 ratio. Closed captioning because most people are scrolling by, not clicking to enable the sound. Closed captioning is a no-brainer.
Number one is a headline inside of the video. That's what I've seen actually helps people stop from scrolling to say, "Should I watch this video?" It's like a billboard. Video is great, it captures people's attention, but if you don't have that billboard at the top that says why they should listen to this, then they might not consume it and engage with it.
That leads to my third and final piece of what mistakes happen. I've been doing this in pay-per-click ads and creating our video content. A/B testing those headlines and those top pieces, creating multiple versions and testing them. Often, it's like here's our video testimonial, let's just post it online and we're good. If you're not testing multiple variations with your video content, you're doing it with headlines, I'm sure, on your website and other places with text, but you need to be doing the same with video.
There are many ways to reuse it. There are video platforms like Wistia that allow you to even A/B test the video itself embedded on your website so that you can see which performs better. Don't miss out on the opportunity to test two versions and see which one wins when it comes to video as well.
George: So, a couple of things. One, definitely that is a second rewind point. There are tons of nuggets that you need to pull out and make sure you're paying attention to. Especially one that Alexander kind of flew by, and that was taking the time to figure out a way where sales can easily find the tools that you're creating, because so many companies fall down when it comes to that part. The fact that we had a Lord of the Rings reference and a Wistia reference on this episode, let's go. By the way, I'm saying that because I love both of those things.
Moving forward, we're on the top step of the video testimonial Olympics, we have the gold medal around our neck. What in the heck does video testimonial success look like, how do we know that we're killing it with all the things that we've learned today on this episode?
Alexander: I always think in threes, so I'll share the three things that come to mind. One, you have a library of them, you don't have just one. That is success by itself. If you work in different industries, you have different ones talking about different products that you have. You have people that are different ages and representations. You have a library that you can pull from, that is success right there to me. We could stop at that one, but I'll give you two more.
Another one is they're actually being used. I mentioned earlier that I see seven different ways. If you're only putting it on your website and you're like, "I'm sure people find it," no. Looking for identifying those places that you need to increase trust and improve conversions, put that content where it needs to go. Don't miss out on those opportunities.
A little bit more on the tactical side, the metrics that I look at for are these videos working, are these stories performing and converting, three metrics. Watch time, how long they're watching through. Wistia I like them, but Vimeo or YouTube gives you some ratio of how long they watch and click off. Time on page is another one. I see a dramatic increase in time on page when you're putting video on these conversion places because people automatically engage with it and you see that increase, or it doesn't and you know this story isn't working, we need to switch it out, we need to try something different. The final one is what matters, I suppose, conversion rate. Are people actually converting more now that you've added that customer story there to help be able to increase their trust and improve those conversions? Those are the three metrics that I look at.
George: You have to measure what matters, ladies and gentlemen. That's the only piece I'm going to pull out of there, although there was so much good information that you should be paying attention to fundamentally across all of the videos that you do, but specifically today's conversation of growth-focused video testimonials.
Alexander, you've given us over 25 minutes of great value around this topic. One of the things that I love to do, because we've all gone through these journeys, you've helped people with video testimonials, you've created your own video testimonials, you've given a mad amount of tips, tricks, hacks along the way. When you stop and put your video testimonial sensei hat on and start to think about Confucius, what are some words of wisdom that you would want to leave the Marketing Smarts Podcast listeners?
Alexander: Don't underestimate the power of your customer stories. They are a crucial tool in being able to make a giant leap forward in your marketing efforts, helping you hit your KPIs, your metric goals. I know marketers are always looking at what next marketing channel do I need to work on, what tools do I have in my toolbelt to be able to help me hit my goals. Don't underestimate the power of customer stories.
George: Marketing Smarts listeners, did you take lots of notes? I have to ask, what is your one thing, your number one execution opportunity after this podcast? Make sure you reach out and let us know in my inbox or on Twitter using the hashtag #MPB2B.
I also have to ask are you a free member of the MarketingProfs community yet? If not, head over to Mprofs.com/mptoday. You won't regret the additional B2B marketing education that you'll be adding to your life.
We'd like it if you could leave us a rating or review on your favorite podcast app, but we'd love it if you would share this episode with a coworker or friend. Until we meet in the next episode of the Marketing Smarts Podcast where we talk with Brook Sellas about creating B2B social media content that fuels human connections, I hope you do just a couple of things. One, reach out and let us know what conversation you'd like to listen in on next. Two, focus on getting 1% better at your craft each and every day. Finally, remember to be a happy, helpful, humble B2B human. We'll see you in the next episode of the Marketing Smarts Podcast.
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Published on October 27, 2022
Alexander Ferguson, co-founder and chief marketer at TeraLeap, a B2B case study video solution that helps B2B and tech companies market and sell their products faster by using the power of video testimonials. After 13 years of helping over 500 organizations create thousands of marketing videos, Alexander is on a mission to share that customer stories are the best marketing investment for growth.
LinkedIn: Alexander Ferguson
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