3 Common Video Testimonial Mistakes – And How to Avoid Them

by Sam Shepler on January 29, 2016


Whether you’re selling services, software, or anything under the sun, social proof is perhaps the most powerful mechanism to instantly establish credibility and trust with your prospects. This is why for decades, (and even centuries) testimonials in one form or another have been an indispensable resource in the marketer’s tool kit. In fact, 84% of B2B buyers rate word of mouth from their peers as the #1 influence on purchasing decisions. (via Customeradvocacy.com) As more companies move beyond the limits of static text testimonials and written case studies and into the realm of video testimonials, it’s important to remember that not all video testimonials are created equal. Video is a rich, multi-layered medium. While there are more avenues for sensory engagement, if you don’t know what you’re doing, there are also more opportunities to disengage your viewers and have them tune out. Being conscious of these three common video testimonial mistakes, and taking proactive action to avoid them, will ensure you get a customer testimonial that works as good as it looks and sounds.

Mistake #1: Lack of Effective Storytelling


As humans, we’re hardwired to pay attention to stories. And any good story has a beginning, middle, and end –  with intrigue, action, and an exciting resolution.  The best video testimonials have this too – they’re not just a string of nice compliments from a customer. Only nice statements and no story or intrigue makes for a boring and much less useful testimonial. The best testimonials are the ones that are most genuinely useful to your prospect. To be useful, there is a certain amount of context you want to include in the story. Things such as:


  • What was the pain your featured customer was feeling before your product?
  • Why was that pain such a problem… What was it costing them?
  • What’s the context of who your featured customer is? Their industry? Mission?
  • Did they have any initial hesitations about switching to or starting with your product?
  • What was the actuality? What impact and results has your product delivered?
  • How is life different and better now?
  • What’s the overall biggest benefit your product brings?
  • Based on their experience, who else would be perfect for your product? Why?

In the first ten seconds of your testimonial video, it’s essential that the viewer realizes that they share the same (or similar enough) business challenge as the customer you are facing.  If they realize they also have that pain point, they will stick around to see how you solved it.

Mistake #2: Not Showing the Actual Product Clearly, or At All


The best testimonials (particularly for the top of the funnel) are the ones that do “double duty” as customer testimonials and explainer videos at the same time. Nothing is more powerful than your customer giving your pitch for you. Once your message begins to resonate with prospects however, they begin to want more. They’re initially convinced, and now they want to see the product. Especially if you’re using testimonials in a sales collateral function such cold email reach outs, after your buyers are sold on the problem you solve, the next thing they want to know is what is it going to be like to actually use your product? What’s the look and feel? The design? The experience? Remember – The best testimonials are are genuinely useful to prospects.  Don’t make them work too hard to get a taste of your user experience or require them to watch a whole additional video. At minimum, “tease” your UI so they can begin to imagine themselves using it. In this way, you combine what your prospects care about, social proof and product design, in a single video. Now sit back and and watch your sales cycle move faster.


Mistake #3: Ineffective production quality or video style


Your video does not need to be perfect but it needs to signal credibility and align with quality level of the rest of your brand. Poorly produced testimonials just don’t command someone’s attention like a video that is done in an artistic and emotionally engaging way.  That said, it is also possible to swing too far and overproduce your testimonials. A testimonial should be polished, but never feel “staged.” It’s all about achieving a balance of both the yin and the yang… professionalism and polish but also an edgy and wild authenticity. These are the videos buyers love to watch. They’re more entertaining, they’re more human, and they’re more persuasive.
Whether you’re producing a customer testimonial video with an internal team or evaluating a video production vendor as we speak, we hope that these principles will help you frame and vocalize the perfect testimonial your business needs.

Last but not least, here’s a Skyscope example of these principles in action for inspiration and benchmarking. Remember: 1) Tell a crisp story 2) Don’t just tell, show your product in action, and 3) Find the ideal balance of professional and authentic.




Good luck! And drop us a line if you have any questions. We love to talk anything video marketing, but especially customer testimonial videos.