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Social Proof is a Powerful Decision-Making Factor

We’ve talked about why video is the best medium for your testimonial, but if you’re not convinced that testimonials are a good marketing tool, you probably aren’t going to take the time to make a video for yours.

Here’s some evidence that could change your mind.

Social proof is one of the six factors identified in Robert Cialdini’s 1984 classic Influence: Science and Practice. This is a cornerstone book of the marketing field, and its advice is behind the most powerful marketing and advertising campaigns of all time.

Numerous studies reinforce the power of social proof. Customer reviews have been shown to be very trustworthy—sometimes even as trustworthy as personal recommendations. User reviews, ratings, comments, social media posts, and other forms of consumer-generated content are powerful tools.

Testimonials fall into a slightly different category, because your brand is involved in the creation of the video. But the same principles apply. To maximize the social proof value of your video testimonial, you’ll want the subject of the video to be a representative of your general customer base.

For example, if you sell a product primarily to banks, you’ll want a banker in your testimonial. Having the owner of an insurance company discuss the benefits of your product won’t tap into social proof to the same degree (though diversifying your testimonials is a good way to appeal to more people).

No matter how rational we think we are, social proof is always a powerful force.

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Customers Trust user reviews

If your readers or viewers trust the reviews or testimonials that they see, they’re more likely to buy your product. Fortunately, people trust reviews from strangers as much or more than they trust friends or family members.

This is an important factor to keep in mind when creating your testimonial. If your testimonial is going to be effective, your users need to find the subject—and their testimony—trustworthy.

It’s crucial to encourage a relaxed atmosphere when you’re filming your testimonial so your subject speaks naturally and doesn’t sound like they’re reading from a script.

Users want to trust your video testimonials, and they’re prepared to. But you need to do your part to make them trustworthy.

Because if customers trust your video testimonial, you’ll be taking advantage of one of the most central psychological concepts in marketing.

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Videos get shared

With the strong preference for video content, you might not be surprised to find out that people share them more than they do text and images. Twelve times more, in fact, than text and images combined.

If you want your content to gain social traction, making a video is the way to go.

In a 2016 study, Pew Research found that 47% of adult internet users share online photos or videos. That number was on the rise, and it’s a safe bet that it’s still going up. Especially with the drastic increase in the amount of video content out there.

Don’t think video testimonials are going to get shares? Think again. Some of the top brands have used customer success stories to create viral ads.

If you think outside the box to get a great story with your testimonial, you can drive a huge number of social shares.

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People prefer video

In the end, consumers prefer video over text. And that should—at least most of the time—be the end of the discussion. It’s not just consumers, either. 59% of executives would rather watch a video than read text on the same topic.

When it comes to products, the numbers are even more notable: four times as many customers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it. (That same study showed that 56% of respondents found customer testimonials helpful, too).

This preference extends beyond web content. Including the word “video” in an email subject line was shown to increase open rates by 19%. Click-throughs jumped an astonishing 65%. And unsubscribes went down by 26%.

People love videos.

Not just watching them, either. They also love to share them.

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Video Has a Higher Retention Rate Than Text

A commonly cited statistic says that video has a 95% retention rate, while people only remember 12% of textual information. While the study (and the attendant details) seems to have disappeared, the general idea is echoed in other places as well.

There are many reasons that video makes content “stickier” in people’s minds. The emotional connections we just discussed, for example, activate emotional centers in the brain, which have been shown to increase information retention.

Storytelling has a similar effect on the brain. Our brains are particularly attuned to stories—and that’s exactly what testimonials provide. Stories of people overcoming problems are particularly irresistible. Again, that’s perfect for testimonials.

Interesting visuals help people remember information, which keeps your product’s benefits top-of-mind. A video itself is visually interesting, but adding graphics and text to it makes it even more persuasive.

A well-executed testimonial video hits all of the points that help people remember your company. Of course, users still have to watch your video.

But if you create a high-quality video and keep it short, that shouldn’t be a problem, because . . 

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Video to Capture your audience and increase your ROI

Figuring out where to spend your time and money as a marketer is tough. You want to create content that grabs the interest of your audience without being too gimmicky. You want tactics that aren’t outdated, but aren’t fads likely to die out, either.

Finding the right balance is crucial for choosing the right marketing tool.

And, in the end, it needs to convert.

Customer testimonials have been popular among marketers for ages. And with good reason. The modern version of this practice—the video testimonials—takes its effectiveness to the next level. They are, as we’ll see, some of the most effective marketing tools available.

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