Crafting a Compelling Video Testimonial: Top 7 Elements to Include

Image credit: Joe the Goat Farmer

A video testimonial can be an exceptionally-powerful promotional tool, whether you’re trying to market products, services, or companies outright. It can grab attention and hold onto it. It can stand out in the midst of dry text content. These personal endorsements can draw more power from anything outside an in-person meeting.

That’s if you do produce them well, of course. For all its power, video isn’t a magic bullet — and it’s all the worse if you mess up a video testimonial because it’s not only a waste of immense potential but also a clear indication of your professional shortcomings. In short, it’s embarrassing to release a weak video to represent your brand.

If you’re going to make a video testimonial, then, it needs to be great. Let’s say you’ve lined up a happy customer ready to say wildly-positive things, and you’ve readied the hardware and recording environment. What do you need to include by the end? Here are 7 vital elements:


A representative thumbnail

Thumbnails are far more important than they’re typically given credit for. This is particularly the case in the click-drifting environment of YouTube, but it also applies in rapid social media streams, and even on company websites. Consider that embedded videos won’t always have their titles visible and ask one question: is it clear from the thumbnail what the video involves?

In ideal circumstances, a video testimonial will have a thumbnail that shows not only the person providing the testimonial but also a highlighted quote to encapsulate the overall experience. That way, a viewer will know roughly what the video will argue before they click, and it will even have some impact if they don’t click on it at all.


A snappy setup for context

Even if the viewer knows that the video is going to be a testimonial, they might not know anything about the client, or exactly what the company does. The opening of the video is the best time to provide some useful context.

We typically let the interviewee do this setup. Something like:  “I’m [person X] from [company Y]. In 2016 we were dealing with [problem Z]. We reached out to [company] assistance, and they great to work with.” Knowing the setup will make it easier for the viewer to parse the comments.


Expressed emotion

Looking at someone as they talk can be extremely compelling because body language communicates a great deal in a subtle fashion. It’s one thing to read that someone is really happy about using a particular product, but it’s another thing entirely to see them expressing great enthusiasm about it.

Consequently, it’s hard to make a video testimonial effective if the person giving the testimonial appears wholly detached or even apathetic. Consciously or subconsciously, viewers will notice the disparity between what they say and what their facial expressions suggest, and it will undermine your entire argument. If someone is happy about their experience working with you, they need to look happy, so keep rolling until you have suitable material (it may take a while).

A service like can really help you scale up your testimonial hunting, giving you access to a wider range of demographics and customer profiles. Emotion also demands reciprocity, so you want to have as many unique and different stories as possible.


Gentle background music

Can you make a good video testimonial that features audio from speech and nothing else? Absolutely. A good video testimonial. But even if you’re not a huge fan of background music (perhaps you think of it as elevator-style “muzak”), consider that it adds a lot to the aesthetic of a video, and can easily elevate the emotional impact.

Is it cheesy to have an inspirational instrumental accompany an explanation of how your company has inspired someone to do better and achieve more? Well, so what if it is? What matters is that it’s effective. There are plenty of license-free music libraries out there, so find some suitable options and test them out.


Relevant use footage

The classic talking-head format is generally best for a video testimonial, but you don’t have to stick to it for the entirely of the video, whether it lasts 30 seconds or 3 minutes. If the testimonial is about a product, cut to footage of the person using it — if it’s about a service, show them benefitting from it.

There are two reasons why this matters: firstly, seeing is believing, and secondly, it will break up the visuals. The longer you dwell on a single subject, the more likely viewers will be to look away. You don’t need to have a camera cut every couple of seconds, of course — just intersperse footage whenever you think the pace slows.


Overlaid subtitling for multichannel marketing

Subtitles are important in general for accessibility and convenience reasons. You need people who are deaf or hard of hearing to be able to follow your testimonial, and to factor in those who’re likely to watch it without the sound turned on (for instance, people browsing from their work computers without headphones on). They can be automatically generated on YouTube, but remember to check them because they are often riddled with errors.

Bear in mind how much of modern-day marketing is about reusing content in myriad situations. E-commerce sellers don’t invest heavily in flexible platforms like BigCommerce or Shopify Plus just to ignore their multi-channel capabilities, naturally — so they need their content to be fit for purpose anywhere. You can also pick out notable comments to showcase in bold text while the person is talking (it adds a little visual flair to proceedings).


A wrap-up card

When the testimonial draws to a close, what should you do? Just let the video end abruptly? Even if the person giving the testimonial signs off to the camera with a closing point and a smile, it’s an odd cut to black, so it’s advisable to include a closing card to wrap things up.

A wrap-up card can reiterate key points (with a particular focus on stats), but it doesn’t need to. Its primary purpose is to parlay the testimonial into action by making it clear how viewers eager to learn more can proceed — you can offer annotation links, social media handles, phone numbers, email addresses, and anything else you deem worth including.


When you come to make a video testimonial, you’ve already done the hardest part — you’ve made a customer or client so happy that they’re willing to sit in front of a camera and say positive things about you. You don’t want to waste that goodwill, so ensure that your testimonial includes these essential features.

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