A few weeks ago, Act-On sponsored the webinar “Content Marketing: Is 2014 Really Shaping Up to Be the Year of Video?” This post, which sums up a presentation by Richard Boehmcke of Vibrant Motion, Kristen Craft of Wistia, and Zach Cole of Lyft is the first of two recaps of this webinar. The second part will cover the Q&A.
A picture may be worth 1,000 words, but according to Dr. James McQuivey of Forrester Research, one minute of video is worth roughly 1.8 million words. Using video in content marketing is gaining traction, and for good reason – it increases visitor engagement, clickthrough rates, and conversions. Here are a few best practices to help you make your video marketing content the best that it can be.
The first step is to ask the right questions:
- What business objectives do you want to solve with your video?
- Is video the right tactic for your objectives?
- What does your brand stand for, and what do people already know about it?
- What kind of what stories does your brand already have, and what narrative do you want to present?
- What content is already available for you to use?
- What kind of content can you make?
- What’s your ultimate goal for the creation process?
You don’t have to know exactly what you’re going to do, but you should have a clear goal in mind. Know the types of things you want to create and what you want them to look like in the end.
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The Internet holds an interesting middle ground between still being the wide-open Wild West when it comes to video marketing (it’s full of opportunities with plenty of room for new content) and already being super-saturated (with such a wide range of content that it’s hard to create anything that people haven’t already seen, in some form). Work to strike a balance; be aware of what other people have created, but don’t pressure on yourself to create content that’s Completely Unique and Unlike Anything the World has Ever Seen. Let best qualities of what you’ve seen influence and improve your work, while you create media that is authentically yours.
Above all else, remember this: You don’t have to put everything you make on the Internet.If you create something and you’re not happy with the end result, if at any point a video makes you wonder why you’re watching it – don’t feel obligated to make it public just because you spent a lot of time and intensity working on it. Don’t risk putting bad content out where good prospects can be turned off by it. Sometimes, what you need is to set a project aside for a while and then come back to it with a fresh perspective. Take your time crafting, editing, and testing each video, and don’t make your content available until it not only puts forth the message you want it to present about your company, but is also something you (and perhaps your boss) are proud of.
5 Technical Tips for Better Video Marketing
- Shorter is better. You may be tempted to cram everything you know about a topic into one video, but the length of the video is inversely proportional to the level of engagement from your audience. If you have much more to say than can comfortably fit into a three-minute video, try making a series of videos instead. The average pop song is less than three minutes, and the average TV commercial is 60 seconds. Three minutes is a lot of time, especially today when our attention spans are so short.
- Write a script. Many people think that because they’re experts on the topic of their video, they can wing whatever they’re going to say, but resist the urge to improvise – you will inevitably ramble, or forget several points you intended to make, or get nervous and have to start over. Writing a good script beforehand goes a long way towards making a video as compelling and concise as possible, and will eliminate the pressure of having to produce great content off the cuff. And if someone else is the on-screen talent, a good script helps them say the right things, with the right emphasis, in the right order. Write short sentences and use the active tense.
- Get good lighting. This seems like such a little thing, but bad lighting is very distracting and can make you look like an apathetic vampire. You don’t have to get fancy; natural sunlight works great, and if that’s not possible, just make sure the place you’re filming in is warmly lit without anything overhead that might throw shadows on your face. It also helps to face the light source while filming, rather than away from it.
Um, wait, a camera flash isn’t quite the lighting I meant…
- Capture clear sound.
Scene IV, int. office. Day.
After what feels like a million takes, you’ve overcome your camera-shyness, adjusted the lighting, and nailed what you wanted to say without stumbling over your words even once. You turn off the camera, upload the video to your computer, and once it’s finally done rendering, you check the footage, your excitement mounting. That’s when you realize that your voice is so faint you can barely hear it, and when you try to enhance the volume, it becomes distorted and static-y. All your hard work has been for naught. You fall to your knees in despair. “WHY? WHYYYY?” you wail to the gods of audio quality, shaking your fist at the linoleum ceiling.
To avoid this scenario, don’t rely on a built-in camera mic. The last thing you want is for something to go wrong without a backup; external mics aren’t terribly expensive, and can spare you a lot of brokenhearted sobbing.
Don’t mind me. I’ll just be over here, minding my business and drowning in my own tears.
- Use a camera you know well, at least at first. When you first start making videos, you’re already going to be learning a lot very quickly about editing, shooting, and writing. Make it easier on yourself by avoiding the additional hurdles of buying and getting to know a new camera. Most smartphones have great cameras, and if you have good lighting, you should get a fairly good picture, so hold off on investing in a better camera until you’re certain you’re going to stick to using videos in your campaigns. If you buy an amazing DSLR before you start, and then you decide video marketing isn’t for you, you’re going to be stuck with an extremely expensive device that you only use for high-definition selfies.
Different kinds of content serve different purposes (more conversions, higher search interest, more brand awareness, and so on), and video content should be created with this in mind. So let’s talk about a three-tiered approach to video marketing.
- Tier A: This is your “hero” content, into which you pour the lion’s share of your time and budget. It has high production costs and values, as well as paid promotional media such as banner ads and pre-roll ads, with a clear campaign focus. A Tier A video would be the one you’d feature on your website and YouTube or Vimeo channel, and a lot of your other content would link back to or reference this video. Your Tier A video would also end with a clear call to action related to your current campaign.
- Tier B consists of serial content designed to drive residual views and repeat channel traffic. This often has a lower production cost than tiers A and C and is quick to create. It often appears in the form of many different episodes about one topic, or several videos following the same format but about different topics. Tier B content keeps people on your page, spurs people to repeatedly visit your page, and drives traffic to your channel in hopes that visitors will watch your Tier A video.
- Tier C is keyword-rich evergreen content designed to index in search and introduce people to your brand. It’s not tied to any specific campaign, and often is education-focused, so it’s always relevant. Having a healthy amount of Tier C content enables you to steadily drive leads to your website and the content that fits into your other tiers.
- Try using a video thumbnail as a call to action in email; it’s much more appealing than an infographic or button, and according to Forrester Research, using video in email can increase click-through rates by 300%.
If you haven’t used video in your marketing yet, it’s not too late! All you need is a clear goal, a smart script, an everyday camera, an external mic (and an offering to the gods of audio quality), and you’ll be creating high grade videos in no time at all.
I’ll be back next week with a post that recaps the Q&A portion of the presentation; in the meantime, click here to watch the webinar.