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Definition: Testimonial Advertising

/ˌtestəˈmōnēəl/ /ˈadvərˌtīziNG/

noun

The usage of a written or video recommendation from a customer, often extolling the benefits of a product or service, to draw attention to it in a public medium in order to promote sales or conversion.

We can barely do anything without customer reviews - picking a place for lunch, buying a car, or figuring out what doctor to see. In fact, the average consumer reads 10 reviews before feeling able to trust a business, and displaying reviews can increase conversion by up to 270%. It’s almost unfathomable that a mere 20 years ago we had to *talk* to people or read magazines to see what our peers said about a product. (Fun fact: Epinions.com was one of the very first review sites on the web and was lauded as “10 most valuable web sites” in its day.) Steeped in this sea of user generated content venerating individual opinions, it’s no surprise that testimonial advertising can be one of the most powerful ways to connect with prospective customers and improve conversion rates.

Side note: Even if you have raving fans, it can be hard to coordinate getting and creating video testimonials, and setting up a scalable program to source new reviews. Vocal Video makes it ridiculously simple to get compelling, authentic customer videos with motion graphics, captions, music, and in your brand style instantly. You can learn more here.

Person snapping photo of food

We’ve put together some of the best testimonial advertising examples from radically different companies to help you visualize how your marketing team can take advantage of this powerful way of connecting with prospective customers.

Glossier Testimonial Ads

“In Real Life”

User generated content repurposed as testimonial advertisements yield impressive results

In contrast to many consumer packaged good (CPG) strategies, Glossier’s core DNA has always included a direct connection and relationship with its customers.  With its Glossier in Real Life page, the company highlights user generated content from actual customers that have shared on Instagram with the hashtag: #yesglossier These customers are more relatable than traditional models, and become the fodder the company’s retargeting campaigns and more.

Glossier cheat sheet:

  • User generated content converts: encourage customers to share their experiences on social platforms with the promise of becoming a spokesperson for your brand.
  • Visual, written, and video customer proof can be powerful for marketing: audit your existing sources, and weave this content into new ad campaigns.

First Republic Bank Testimonial Ad

“Client Testimonials”

Video testimonial highlights in targeted social media ads.

With a diverse demographic of customers, split across age, geography and use case, it's necessary for First Republic Bank to be able demonstrate their success with a lot of different types of people. Fine-grained audience filters on Facebook, including interests and college graduation dates, enable First Republic’s marketing team to target different customer types with the appropriate customer video most relevant to them. Audience targeting can increase engagement and click through rate dramatically, with a recent experiment by AdEspresso increasing CTR by over 75%. The full cut of these customer testimonial videos are catalogued on their customer page.

First Republic Bank cheat sheet:

  • Customer videos can be a great way to communicate value: use clips for highly targeted social media campaigns.
  • The “people like me” principle requires more customer testimonials to demonstrate value with diverse audiences: Create lots of customer stories, that showcase all angles of your offering. Platforms like Vocal Video can help.

Fellow Testimonial Ad

#ManagementHeroes

Quotes from customer testimonials used to educate your audience

Fellow takes the advice of making your customers look like heroes literally with its #ManagementHeroes campaign, highlighting management lessons in this series. They go beyond looking for customers that can speak to the value of the product, to encouraging customers to become thought leaders with their expertise as managers, and sharing their learnings with peers. Quotes from this education-oriented blog series are used in social media campaigns and beyond. You can see more examples on The Fellow Blog

Fellow cheat sheet:

  • Educational content is high-value: Capitalize on what your customers have to teach buyers and use that as a part of your advertising strategy.
  • Developing content for digital advertising doesn’t have to be expensive and complicated: use existing customer quotes with simple graphic design for highly compelling ads.  Or even better yet, use videos to capture these real-life stories.

Grammarly Testimonial Ad

“Write the future”

Grammarly reaches 7.6+ million people with a video testimonial.

As a part of a major advertising campaign that included lots of paid search ads, Grammarly highlighted some of the inspiring stories of their users. While it’s clear that Grammarly has not launched these customers on their extraordinary journeys, the sentiment expressed about the app is on-brand. Grammarly gets a “coolness” boost to its brand by associating themselves with what their customers are doing. You can see more on their blog.

Grammarly cheat sheet:

  • Your customers might be more interesting than you: let them tell their stories, and include the part where you fit in

CircleCI Testimonial Ad

Ad campaign made out of customer quotes

Short, authentic customer quotes on targeted web properties

Enterprise-level software teams can be a hard audience to market to. CircleCI chose concise, informal testimonials to advertise to them, lending another layer of credence with the trusted sites, like  Deployer, Scotch.io, Window Resizer, and Think & Build, where they placed their ads. The benefits of “speaking the same language” as the target buyers and reaching them in reputable, trusted websites paid off with 65% lower cost-per-lead, and higher quality.

CircleCI cheat sheet:

  • Testimonial advertising works best when the prospective buyer sees themselves, quickly, in the customer: inject the true voice of your customers into your ad campaigns.
  • The venue matters: advertise where your customers hang out, and trust the content that surrounds your ad.

Fugoo Testimonial Ad

A review becomes the ad.

Leverage your customer reviews in advertising.

Ecommerce brands live and die by reviews, and these can be easily repurposed for digital marketing campaigns. Check out how Fugoo highlights a customer testimonial that touches on how tough the product is, and what an awesome life you will have with this speaker (visiting the beach, and paddleboarding).

Fugoo cheat sheet:

  • You might have more content than you think: Repurposing customer reviews for your advertising campaigns can be a short, effective way to reach new buyers.  Authenticity trumps grammar, and can actually lend credibility!

Oracle Testimonial Ad

“Freedom Campaign”

Turning the camera towards themselves for remarkably in-depth testimonial

If done with enough editorial distance, the users of your product at your company can actually become great testimonials. And with video ranking as the number one type of content your customers want to see (above PDFs and written blogs combined), it can be worth getting creative with who your subjects are. Oracle highlights the experience of their marketing team in this high-budget video. Unsurprisingly, Oracle has massive reach with their advertising efforts including social, search, print and television.

This video, and others from additional customers have run in ads appearing on 1,000+ websites, magazines and TV spots.

Oracle cheat sheet:

  • Employee testimonials can be very compelling: consider how your teams use your own product and whether this could be valuable to share in your advertising

Curious how companies big and small can capture new video testimonials, with automatic Hollywood studio subtitles, animations and music just by sending a link? Check out this 90 second video.