You can see the full interview above, but in this guide, I’ll discuss the topics in more detail and provide some tips on generating customer reviews, creating video testimonials, and using live streams and recorded videos to improve the overall customer experience.
Video Versus Text
Video can significantly increase your conversions when compared to simple text.
The eye is drawn to imagery much more than it’s drawn to text.
If you’re reading this article right now, there’s a good chance that you, just like myself, have no issue reading long-form guides and articles.
You may be dismissive, therefore, of the role that video plays.
After all, how many times have you searched for a recipe, guide, or even an answer to a simple question, and have overlooked all video results for something simple and text-based?
I do it all of the time. Sometimes, I just want a quick answer and don’t have time or patience for the lengthy disposition that seems to punctuate every YouTube video (“hey, what’s up guys?”, “remember to like and comment”, “this week’s sponsor is…”).
Other times, it’s late at night and I don’t want to be bombarded with audio in case I wake everyone in the house.
But the goal of video is to capture the majority, not the minority; it’s there to tell a story and sell an idea, not to provide a simple answer.
In all instances and for all people, it appeals much more than simple text.
When you’re bored and flicking through Facebook, do you stop in your tracks when you see a wall of text? Unless it’s posted by a close friend…probably not.
But when you see a video or an image, it piques your interest, and for the next few seconds at least, it has your attention.
This is the power of video and the goal of video marketing experts like Bernadette and e-commerce veterans like myself is to hold that attention and turn it into a lead.
Video Reviews And Video Testimonials
Video can be used in several ways.
You can post video testimonials to highlight specific uses of your product and create some social credibility, a topic I discussed a couple of months ago with expert investor Matt Higgins.
Alternatively, you can tell the story of your brand or showcase the benefits of your product/service.
Video testimonials can touch all bases…when used properly.
As an example, let’s imagine that you’re selling naturally flavored water and use some of the profits to supply water to people in need.
A testimonial can relate this brand story and message, it can describe the taste, aroma, and packaging, while listing the all-natural ingredients and providing social credibility.
It’s an unboxing video, brand story, and video review all in one. That’s what makes video testimonials so powerful, but to have that effect, they need to be utilized properly.
What Is The Anatomy Of Success?
Bernadette is an expert in video content marketing and has helped to create countless video reviews, brand stories, and more.
She knows what works and what doesn’t, and she told me what a successful video review contains.
What follows is a series of key points highlighting the elements that should be included in your customer testimonials and the ways they can work for you.
1. Relatability Is Key
The more relatable a video testimonial is, the higher its impact will be. If you’re a 20-something woman with dark and clear skin, you’re not going to relate to a 60-something man with white and rough skin when it comes to beauty products and skin creams.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a face cream, hair product, or even a gadget for your smartphone, people relate more when the reviewer looks like them or is similar to them in other ways.
As a brand, your first step is to determine what your average customer looks like and to build your videos around that.
Ask yourself why they are using your product, what benefits it is providing them with, and what demographic they fall into. A brand that solely targets baby boomers shouldn’t create videos aimed at Millennials and vice versa.
In a previous This Week With Sabir episode, I sat down for a discussion with Paul Butler, during which we talked about assumptions and the damage they can cause.
Many businesses assume they know who their customers are. They assume they have an idea about their main demographic, and they build their marketing around this.
In that interview, Paul talked about the YMCA and a meeting in which he asked people what they thought the YMCA’s main competitor was. Many thought it was the local gyms, but in actual fact, the YMCA offers so much more than a typical gym and is never really in direct competition with them.
Look at your analytics and sales data to get a better read on your customers. You can learn how old they are, whether they are male or female, and what demographic they fall into.
This is incredibly useful data and helps to paint a picture of your perfect customer, which you can put to good use when creating customer reviews and optimizing your content marketing.
2. Transparency And Authenticity
Bernadette notes that when you use leading comments like, “Tell us something that you love about this company” users are less likely to respond.
It’s a tactic that many marketers employ, as they want to push for positive reviews and are concerned that being open and vague will produce negative reviews.
In actual fact, this tactic is more likely to frustrate and deter potentially positive reviewers.
They want to leave their own opinions and don’t like being coerced.
If you’re struggling to get genuine video testimonials, you can work with StoryTap.com, which automates this process and makes your job much easier.
You’ll get the video reviews you need, and the platform will ensure these are relevant, suitable, and will improve your social credibility.
You can also work with influencers and established online personalities.
These videos can give your brand a push, put it in front of a new audience, and give customers a recognizable face when they visit your site.
However, you need to be very careful when paying for video reviews.
They can come across as fake and contrived. Customers are not stupid, they know that Fiverr exists, they know how easy it is to pay for video testimonials, and they know that the eloquent man or woman praising your product has never actually used it before.
Fake reviews can do more harm than good.
A real video testimonial is not shot with perfect lighting and stationary cameras. It is not narrated by someone with a perfect accent and a faultless script.
Real people tend to shoot with their phones, they often hesitate, fumble their words, and don’t simply recite words that have clearly been penned by a copywriter.
More importantly, a real consumer talking about a real product will often have it with them and will know that product intimately, whereas a fake reviewer is just reciting information contained in the product description.
The general consensus amongst business owners is that fake reviews on platforms like Amazon, Facebook, and Trustpilot are dishonest, but fake video testimonials are somehow acceptable.
It’s as if their only concern is breaching website Ts & Cs and being removed from the platform, and because testimonials are placed on their own website, there’s no such risk.
But it all comes boils down to the customer experience.
For a customer to initiate a purchase, there needs to be a degree of trust.
You made the product, you’re supplying it, and you’re also processing the customer’s payment details. They’re placing their trust in you and relying on the product being safe, the process being smooth, and the payment being secure.
If their first impression of your brand is a blatantly fake video testimonial, that trust breaks down before it has a chance to build. How can they trust that all other reviews are real, how can they believe you when you state that a product is safe and will be shipped within a specific timeframe?
It seems like a stretch to suggest that one fake testimonial can cause all of this distrust, but that’s how the customer’s mind works. In the world of e-commerce, unlike in traditional retail, there is a massive disconnect between the customer and the retailer.
The goal is to bridge this gap and you do this by creating a safe environment and allowing that trust to build.
I know of at least 2 people who will refuse to buy from an unknown website if the product descriptions are sloppy and poorly written. Fair enough, one is a writer and the other is an English teacher, but the principle is the same. In their eyes, how can they trust that a website is secure and legitimate when they can’t even be bothered to hire a copywriter?
Your e-commerce site needs to be watertight because every customer has their own little rules and will dismiss you when these are broken. For the large majority, the golden rule is being honest and transparent at all times.
3. Bad Reviews Can Be Good
The most positive reviews aren’t always the most effective.
What’s the first thing that you do when you visit a user review site like Trustpilot or look at a brand’s reviews on Facebook?
Do you focus on the most positive ones and see all the praise they’re heaping on the company or do you click on “1-star reviews only” and look at the worst ones?
The vast majority of consumers do the latter.
I’m not entirely sure what the psychology is behind this, but it’s a practice that seems to be more common in younger and more internet-savvy consumers, suggesting that it might have evolved from a distrust of 5-star reviews.
After all, not only can video reviews and customer testimonials be faked, but a lot of user reviews and a bulk of the content marketing we’re exposed to on a daily basis is also fake.
For years, companies have been paying fake reviewers to boost their Amazon review scores or give them Twitter/Instagram comments they can use in their commercials.
Many companies are even using sites like Cameo (where you can pay celebrities to give birthday messages and other novelties) and are giving Z-list celebs up to $50 to read a script that praises their product.
Reviews that are even slightly negative can feel a little more genuine because even the best experiences aren’t perfect.
Not everything can be 10 out of 10.
I recently watched an amazing movie that had me enthralled for 2 hours. I loved all of it and would happily recommend it.
Was it perfect and completely, utterly flawless? No.
If you had no idea who I was and didn’t trust my opinion, would I be more believable if I told you that a run-of-the-mill Hollywood action flick was the “film of the century, the best action film since Die Hard” or if I said it was “a great way to spend 2 hours, and a solid 7/10”?
When you’re constructing your own testimonials and not going directly to the source, believability is key. Focus on the customers who always look at the bad reviews and give them something to think about.
By much the same token, you shouldn’t ignore scathing and highly critical reviews. They’re not necessarily the kind of reviews you want on your site, but if customers are producing them and sending them, you clearly have an issue that needs to be addressed.
A negative review can often tell you more than a positive review. That customer bought your product or used your service, and now they are irate or disappointed, why?
They paid good money and they evidently believe that they didn’t receive a good product or service in return.
That’s a problem and it needs to be addressed.
Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to dealing with his employees, but he has always put his customers first and understood that criticism and customer feedback was essential to the growth of Amazon.
There are stories of how he would become frustrated when customers experienced issues and insist they were dealt with. In 2019, a shareholder and customer appeared at a meeting and personally handed Bezos a package she had tried to return to Amazon 4 times.
Rather than asking security staff to remove her, he took the package and apologized profusely.
When you first launch your business, you’re often blinded by passion. You’ve invested a lot of time in it and take criticism personally. In addition, you’re influenced by comments from friends and family.
A customer leaves a bad review for a homemade foodstuff? She obviously has no taste, because Aunty Linda loves it.
As you grow, you become more disconnected from your customers and the experience they have with your brand. Throughout this process, you’re reliant on your own internal processes to notice and fix problems within your business, but your customers will see these problems first.
If your product doesn’t taste good, your customers will tell you directly, whereas management may need to wait for the sales to slump and for additional rounds of product testing before they have a clue what’s going on.
Negative reviews can highlight issues that you have overlooked.
4. Engagement Is Key
I’m an e-commerce veteran, so it might surprise you to learn that I don’t pay much attention to customer conversion rates.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s still very important, but there are two other metrics that I consider to be more important and both are related to customer experience.
The first is Bounce Rate.
Every time a customer visits your website and leaves without clicking an internal link, they “Bounce”. If this happens to 90 out of every 100 visitors, your Bounce Rate will be 90%.
Your Bounce Rate is important because it tells you how engaging your site is and how valuable your incoming traffic is.
Are you only getting junk traffic that clicks a link, visits your site, and realizes it’s not for them? Or are you getting valuable, targeted visitors who actually take the time to engage with your content?
The second metric is Session Time, which measures how long a user spends on your website. Anything under 1 minute is generally bad for an e-commerce website, as it takes longer than that for a customer to check your brand, scan your products, and go through the checkout process.
If most of your users are spending longer than 2 minutes on your site, it means you’re holding their attention long enough to interest them and convince them to make a purchase.
I find that these two metrics are essential for judging the quality of any advertising campaigns you’re running and the legitimacy of any individuals or companies you’re paying.
For instance, if you have someone whose job it is to attract traffic from Facebook and they’re getting 10,000 hits a day, you might be relatively happy with their work.
But they could be picking the low-hanging fruit, the users who are happy to click on ads but are not interested in engaging with content and have no intention to buy.
This is where Bounce Rate and Session Time metrics come in.
Your goal is to get the former as low as possible and the latter as high as possible.
Video reviews, and videos in general, are a great way to do this.
I have seen websites increase from an average Session Time of just 2 minutes to over 15 minutes just by adding a few carefully placed videos. You’re capturing their attention, keeping them there, and using that time to tell a story.
Sure, they might leave as soon as they watch the video, but the longer you hold their attention, the more likely they are to make a purchase and invest in your brand.
5. Incorporate Video SEO
Every aspect of content marketing is influenced by SEO.
It’s a topic that I discussed at length with SEO guru Neil Patel, talking about the importance of blogs, keywords, content length, and more, but SEO is not limited to written content posted on websites and blogs.
If you post your customer testimonials on YouTube, they’ll appear under search results on both YouTube and Google. It’s all part of the same ecosystem and while it’s influenced by different metrics, the methods are similar.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when creating your videos:
Engagement Is An Important SEO Metric
Bounce Rate doesn’t have much of an impact on your SEO. After all, some sites have just one page, and by definition, their Bounce Rate will be 100%.
However, it can be indicative of other SEO problems within your website. The same applies to Session Time, but Session Time does impact your SEO and Google is suggesting that its impact will grow.
It all comes down to how you engage your customers and whether you hold their attention or not. Google wants to give the highest rankings to the sites that have the most interesting and engaging content.
If they’re leaving soon after visiting, you’ve failed.
By adding videos throughout your website, it benefits your SEO in two ways. Firstly, the users who are happy to read your content and spend time on your site, will pause to read a video and that will increase their engagement time, while also making them more invested in your brand.
Secondly, the people who simply scroll at speed and treat your site like a picture book, will stop when they see a video and that will hold their attention more than text.
Overall, your Session Time will improve, your Bounce Rate will drop, and you could see an improvement in your rankings.
Create A Transcript
Adding a video transcript makes your videos more accessible. They can be consumed by people with hearing problems and people who can’t or won’t activate their audio at that time.
More importantly, as far as SEO is concerned, it gives Google additional content to trawl. From this content, it can better understand your site and its potential customerbase, while also collecting additional indexable content.
Create An Appealing Thumbnail
Your thumbnail won’t make much of a difference to your ranking initially, but a good thumbnail will significantly increase your click-through rate and this could improve your rankings in the long-term.
Most content marketers have their thumbnail game nailed down these days, but there are still many users who rely on a single, low-quality, poorly-cropped image taken from the video.
Your video thumbnail should be snapped as a separate image. It should be professional and tempting. You can use texts and other graphics to do this but should avoid misleading clickbait thumbnails.
Use A Strong Title And Description
Your title and description are the main things that Google and YouTube consider when ranking your video.
Research the most searched keywords in your industry, see what your competitors are doing, and create a title and description that is detailed, relevant, and contains the most important keywords.
Don’t stuff it with keywords and don’t sacrifice common sense and coherency just for the sake of a few keywords.
After all, you’re not just writing for YouTube and Google, you also need people to actually click the link once they have found your video.
Make The Page Relevant And Embed The Video First
The page that you’re adding the video to should be relevant to the title and content of the video itself.
This is easily done if you’re using customer testimonials, but if the video is there to tell a brand story or answer a specific question, it’s a little more problematic.
In addition, Google will only index one video from the page and will always choose the video that is embedded first.
If it’s a review page, place the best and most relevant testimonial first. If you’re answering customer questions with long how-to guides, consider adding them to separate pages.
Don’t Post It Anywhere Else
YouTube doesn’t mind if you repost a video a year down the line and you can get away with reposting regularly on social media sites like Facebook.
When it comes to Google, however, you should avoid posting the same video on multiple pages.
If your goal is to gain a high ranking, the video should only be placed on the most relevant page and the rest of the page’s content should be themed around that video.
By placing the video on another page, you’re confusing Google. It doesn’t know which page should rank the highest and the result is that these pages compete with one another.
Adding the same testimonial to multiple pages is okay if it’s there to increase engagement, answer customer questions, and create a little social credibility before they reach the checkout.
But when it comes to SEO, it should be one video per optimized page.
Examples Of Video SEO
As an example of how to use video SEO to your advantage, take a look at the video on this page.
It was filmed live using Restream and was streamed to YouTube, where it remains as a recorded video. Afterward, it was added to this website and the guide that you’re reading right now was written.
This guide covers all of the points that were discussed in the video, including video reviews, customer testimonials, brand storytelling, and content marketing, and it contains thousands of words relevant to those topics.
The idea is that Google will index this page and the video, understand exactly what it’s all about, and then rank it highly for some of the terms discussed herein.
When users search for topics relating to creating video testimonials through StoryTap, this video will (hopefully) rank at the top of YouTube search results and the page will be right alongside it in the Google rankings.
6. Mimic The Retail Experience
The average brick-and-mortar retail store has a conversion rate of 30%. An e-commerce website is between 1 and 2%.
E-commerce customers are more likely to window shop. They’re in the comfort of their own home, they don’t have to trek to the nearest store and walk through the aisles, and so they’ll peruse because they’re bored.
We have all done it.
But that doesn’t tell the whole story and a large part of the reason behind this discrepancy is that brick-and-mortar stores provide more of a complete experience.
If you’re looking for a brand-new gadget, you can feel it, hold it, ask questions about it, and even see it in action. And as any salesperson knows, when a customer experiences a product like this, they are infinitely more likely to purchase it.
Your goal, as a website owner, is to replicate that retail experience on your site. Videos are a great way of doing this, as they provide a real-world perspective for your product. Customers can’t hold it and test it themselves, but they can watch as someone else does those things and narrates their experience.
It harks back to the uncertainty principle, which is something I have touched upon many times in the past: all customers will have some uncertainty when they enter your virtual store, and your goal is to remove that uncertainty.
Answer commonly asked questions, discuss materials/ingredients, talk about potential uses and benefits, and always be clear when discussing shipping times/costs, pricing, and subscription models.
The average e-commerce store doesn’t do these things and that’s why their conversion rates are so poor when compared to their offline counterparts.
How To Get Started With Customer Testimonials
StoryTap may be out of reach if you’re a small business on a tight budget, but that doesn’t mean that customer testimonials are out of reach as well.
In such cases, while it’s tempting to fake reviews using actors and carefully constructed scripts, it’s best to contact your customers and ask them directly.
If they’ve placed an order, you have their contact details, so contact them, ask them nicely, and see what they say.
You’re asking for short testimonials describing their experience with the product. That’s all. You’re not pushing them for a positive review and should never direct them to say certain things or act in a certain way.
If you don’t like the end result, don’t use it. It’s as simple as that. A large number of reviews that are submitted to StoryTap are rejected. It is common practice and can happen for a multitude of reasons.
Sometimes, the videos don’t conform to the brand’s image, other times, the customers forget to turn the camera/audio on or film themselves somewhere inappropriate.
To make your job easier and improve your acceptance rate, focus on the consumers that are more likely to agree to a video testimonial.
If you have reviews on your site, on Facebook, or on user review sites like Trustpilot, this should be your first port of call. Not only have they already expressed an interest in your product and an appreciation of your brand, but they have shown that they are happy to tell the world about these experiences.
In absence of those reviews, look for customers who fit the demographics most likely to leave video reviews, including:
Age 25 to 34 (Millennials)
- Income between $25,000 and $49,999
- Living in the Suburbs
- Use a Mobile Device
All of this information will be available to you if you’re using basic website and e-commerce analytics.
Your customer data will tell you where they live, Google Analytics will tell you the rest.
The $100,000 Question
I finished my discussion with Bernadette by asking the question that I ask everyone on this show: What is the single piece of advice you would give to people building their brands?
It is the $100,000 question, and for Bernadette, the answer is to always be authentic.
It harks back to the transparency and honesty principles discussed above, but it goes much deeper than that. Honesty needs to form the backbone of everything that you do, from customer testimonials and brand storytelling to content marketing.
It’s very easy to build a manufactured brand these days and so many e-commerce experts have done just that.
You can say anything you want, pay a copywriter to create testimonial scripts, and have them acted by professionals. Throw some money at influencers, pay for Facebook Ads, and you have the whole package.
It works, but it is not sustainable, and it takes a lot of time and money to create that illusion.
As an example, several brands have positioned themselves in the luxury space for a specific type of fashion item. They use a company name that implies they are a luxury Italian brand and insist that they are all about “quality without cost” and that they can do this by cutting out the middlemen and selling directly.
Through expert content marketing and by working with influencers, they are able to spread this message far and wide, and ultimately sell something for $200 that costs just $5 in China.
On the surface, it seems like a pretty good tactic, but do a little digging and you’ll find a slew of negative reviews and bad press from people who have figured out what they’re doing. Review pages have been swamped, and to counteract all this negativity, they’re forced to spend even more money on advertising.
It’s not how you build a successful brand.
We’re living in an age where that veil of dishonesty can be torn away by a single person. Lies cannot support a business, and a business will not thrive if it’s rooted in dishonesty.
On the flip side, if you build a brand that puts the product before the marketing, one that strives for excellence and honesty, and is transparent every step of the way, you’ll create a foundation that is conducive to growth.
So, whether you’re working with StoryTap or asking for customer reviews directly, make sure you stay honest and transparent and it will pay dividends in the future.
For more tips on content marketing and e-commerce in general, take a look at my recent guide on boosting ROI with Jason Beauregard and getting the most out of Google Ads with Isaac Rudansky.
As always, stay tuned to This Week With Sabir for more in-depth interviews on e-commerce, marketing, personal branding, SEO, and more.
About Our Guest: Bernadette Butler
Meet Bernadette Butler. Bernadette has 20 years of experience in marketing and advertising working with some of the greatest brands of our time. With 2 ads on the world’s funniest reel, Bernadette is the CEO and Co-founder of StoryTap.com, a video-first marketing technology company that partners with brands like ADT, Veet, Cepacol, Babylon, Canadian Tire, UCLA and many more to transform their digital experiences all with story-first authentic video storytelling. Watch and take notes. Visit Bernadette on the Web at https://storytap.com.