Your 8-Step Guide to Creating Persuasive User-Generated Video Testimonials

October 27, 2023

Video capture using smartphones is simpler than it has ever been before, allowing brands to leverage the UGC trend and create user-generated video testimonials with their customers on a global scale.

Compared to more expensive, extensively scripted, and time-consuming professional videos, user-generated video testimonials are straightforward, cost-effective, and authentic.

User-generated content (UGC) is any content created by unpaid contributors in support of brands. This content has come into existence due to the exponential growth of social media, usually in the form of a post—be it video, image, tweet, or review.

The terminology of user-generated video testimonials.

Most people today are suspicious of glamorous and scripted testimonials. We all have an inner sixth sense that tells us when something or someone is flimsy. And if someone on a corporate video sounds just like they would in a television shopping show with an offer that sounds too good to be true… well, that doesn’t sound trustworthy. When your audience researches solutions online, they want to read and see fresh, personal, honest perspectives, from real people.

You may wonder: how does this work, like any customer records whatever brand endorsement with their phone and posts it on social media? Any endorsement is appreciated, but what we mean is that your customers are the source, the generators, and the videographers of the video testimonials—but not the strategists, nor the editors.

Brands prefer to have consistency in their voice and have control over their publishing. At Advocacy Maven we’re quite strict about the qualification criteria for user-generated video testimonials. These are our criteria:

  • Video content planned by your brand marketing team
  • On specific topics or products that are strategic to your business
  • With a defined story that represents you brand voice
  • Broken into short segments that advocates can film by themselves
  • Combining customer filmed a-roll with stock video b-roll
  • Professionally adjusted for clear voice and high-quality image
  • Edited to include your brand markers such as slates, logos, colors, effects, music
  • Produced by your team of editors and published on your web properties

Thus, when we say you should absolutely produce UGC video testimonials, we are not suggesting you should delegate responsibility to your fans. We are merely adjusting to the reality we are living through, while helping you eliminate the cost and effort of a video crew visiting your customer’s premises.

The production process of user-generated video testimonials.

1. Identify the right advocates.

You may already have a process in place for tracking down your fans. It can be the regular Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey, or nominations from sales representatives, customer success managers, or product teams, a recurring ask in the advocate community or forum, or an inbound hand-raiser form on the website. If you have never produced testimonials before, these are all great sources to consider.

Consider how you have spent the video budget in the past. In most programs we interact with, because video was so expensive, the presenter would always be a senior professional, preferably an executive. We think the logic behind that was that the final decision-maker for the purchase was also an executive, so “like attracts like”! But with less cost comes more flexibility.

Consider including real product users in your videos. Decision-making is complex nowadays, and especially in B2B there are multiple stakeholders with vastly different needs. You need to sound genuine to each of them.

2. Make sure that your advocates benefit.

Why do we do the things we do? What drives our behaviors? It can be either:

  • an intrinsic motivator, where we do things that are personally rewarding to us,
  • or an extrinsic motivator, where we do things because we expect a reward or want to avoid an unpleasant outcome.

Think about the advocates you’ve chosen and the recruitment channel. Do you know anything about them and their motivations? If you have any intel, use it well.

If you don’t, try offering a mix of benefits—such as establishing authority among their peers, boosting their personal brand, educating other users, overcoming their camera shyness, or mastering the process of making selfie videos.

Add an external perk if you can, and you have a good mixture of motivators that can convince anyone to grab the reward while feeling a sense of personal accomplishment.

3. If you preach mastery, also teach it.

Nobody wants to be the hero of an ugly video that all their friends end up seeing. However, many people would love to be in an awesome video that viewers appreciate. If you tell the advocates that your video will help them improve, strengthen their brand, and expand their network, they want to make sure they look good in it.

  • Be clear about your request and the topics they should cover. Add some key points, if you can. User-generated video testimonials allow your customers to be real and authentic, without having to follow a script, yet the more they have to try and figure it out by themselves, the more stuttering there will be.
  • Guide them to obtain good quality. Provide a one-page sheet that tells them what clothing looks good on video, and how to ensure good lighting and clear sound.
  • Reassure them that you will be editing the footage, so they don’t have to stress about getting it perfect and can instead focus on getting it done.
If you are already using video testimonials as part of your marketing strategy, you’re halfway there. With some minor changes in the process, you can budget for and produce affordable video testimonials that keep up with the demands of your editorial calendar.

4. Make it simple.

Tell your advocates exactly what you need and how you need it. Make a storyboard based on what you know about their product adoption. Be clear about the footage you require and how it fits together with the footage you already have. This is not a script; it’s more of an inventory of all the elements you need for the production.

Here’s an example:

  • B-roll: customer to film the environment in which he/she uses the product
  • Intro: customer to say his name and a few words about the company
  • Background: customer to describe situation before buying product
  • Solution: customer to list the components of her purchase, brand will come with some b-roll showing a video of the product
  • Results: customer to list results, brand edits a few bullets in the video
  • Impact: customer to say how her life is better now
  • Branding: editor will add lower thirds, transitions, copyright slate, music
  • Customer will upload filmed footage and b-roll o this shared folder by that date
  • Each component will be filmed up to 3 times and last max. 1 minute each, the editor will pick the best option and edit

Make it clear to your customer what the steps are, how you will participate, and inspire confidence and poise. Let them know that you are fully committed to making them shine and that you have the proper resources in place to do so.

8-Step Guide to Creating Persuasive User-Generated Video Testimonials

5. Contribute with the tools your advocates need.

Consider investing in some inexpensive smartphone video rigs and sending them to advocates ahead of the shoot. If your advocates contribute quality footage, good sound, and steady shots, that will save hours of work for your editing team. And it shows strong commitment on your part. 

If you make the effort to purchase and ship something to empower your fans, they will do their best to empower you. Plus, it can serve as a nice perk for your brand advocates—a gadget they can show to colleagues. It will create more interest in your user-generated video testimonials.

6. Communicate clearly and appreciatively.

Don’t let your advocates’ enthusiasm fade away. Thank them for their contribution, let them know how long it will take to edit, what the next steps are, and even what content you will promote with their help. We all love to make a positive contribution to something we believe in. It’s feedback on how we’ve done that keeps momentum going.

7. Edit the UGC video testimonial.

Now that you’ve finally got the raw footage, it’s time to polish it based on your brand’s guidelines and purpose. Considering that your customers are not professional speakers nor actors. You might have to trim the footage and adjust certain parts of it to ensure the best quality and relevance for your business.

8. Get formal approval and support.

Share the final video with your customer and ask for permission to publish. If you have been communicating frequently, this will be just a formality. This step completes the process and show consideration for your advocate. 

Once the video is published, share the link with them and ask for their support in making it a social media hit.

The costs of producing user-generated video testimonials.

For user-generated video testimonials, customers can record a video using anything from a smartphone camera to a tablet, laptop, or desktop webcam. Thus, renting a venue, hiring a filming crew, planning logistics, and arranging accommodation are not necessary.

User-generated videos not only save a significant portion of your video budget, they also require lower effort and offer businesses the chance to promote their brand and products through real fan videos that have more impact than any other type of testimonial.

Whether you decide to handle video testimonial creation in-house or outsource it, there are still two production phases that need to be addressed.

1. Pre-production (planning).

In this stage, you perform a reality check on your product and service priorities, build an editorial calendar for your UGC video program, and select advocates who use your priority products successfully. You then recruit them into your advocacy program, brief them on what needs to be accomplished, and train them on how to produce quality footage. You may also need to account for logistics, like sending a video kit.

This process can be coordinated by your advocacy marketers, if there is enough bandwidth. It can also be outsourced to an external marketing agency, or you could use a combination of both. The cost will be composed of the corresponding fraction of your team’s wages and benefits, plus the number of hours you outsource.

Generally, this phase will cost between $500 and $2,000.

2. Post-production (editing).

An important aspect that drives the overall price of creating quality user-generated video testimonials is the sourcing and editing process. Of course, your advocates can just send the footage in a zip file via a service that allows for large files.

But if you want to make it easier for them and support better collaboration, you will need some sort of common storage. A shared drive or a tailored solution can make it easier for your advocates to understand what is expected of them and tag each piece correctly. This can save hours of editing.

The editing process will add some cost to the production. You can use an online tool for basic editing, cuts, transitions, and lower thirds, or purchase a professional piece of software if you have the editing resources in-house, or outsource it all to an agency for an hourly rate.

This phase can cost from $1,000 to $3,000, depending on the quality of the footage, the length of the video, branding elements and b-roll to be included, and any quick turnaround fees.

All in all, UGC video testimonials require a budget between $1,500 and $5,000.

Rewards and incentives.

Incentives offered to your customers for creating user-generated video testimonials are of course optional, but they have been shown to stimulate a positive response. For example, it can be a video production kit with a handwritten note. Consider also gift cards, discounts on your products and services, and training coupons.