With the birth of smartphones and today’s YouTube-crazed society, video is more accessible and easier to create than ever. That’s both a blessing and a curse. Anyone with a half-decent smartphone (Android, iPhone,
Zack Morris phone) can figure out how to shoot and post a video. As the general public embraces video creation and consumption, we’re also seeing brands scaling up their video production to satiate consumer demand for useful, targeted, relevant content that meets that user’s specific needs no matter what device or platform they’re on.
With the onset of the omnichannel explosion, eCommerce video marketing needs are growing and brands need to have the resources and strategy in place to quickly produce smarter targeted video content on a larger scale. Video is now a shopping tool that influences 52% of purchase decisions, according to a 2012 e-tailing group research report. With this shift brings new challenges of creating more high quality video, that still tells a cohesive story and drives ROI across multiple channels. This requires being nerdier and nimbler to ensure that once the camera rolls, you’re getting the footage that helps you meet your well-planned, cross-channel marketing goals.
As brands produce more video content, they need to be certain they’re not sacrificing quality for quantity. Creating a bad video is almost always worse than having no video at all. Videos can be bad for all sorts of reasons: unclear messaging or purpose, a bad script, bad acting, shoddy production, inadvertent nudity, or a cheap CGI unicorn…all things that are as likely to hurt your business as help it. So, before you even think about moving forward with a video, commit to doing it the right way. Otherwise, you’re just going to waste time and money while irritating or becoming irrelevant to your audience. With that in mind, here are some things we work with our clients on when they begin thinking about whether to produce their own brand videos or to hire a production studio.
#1 Make a Plan (and Stick to it)
The best way to waste a bunch of money and create a terrible video is to jump into production without a crystal clear plan of attack. Know ahead of time what you plan to say, where you plan to shoot, and what elements you need to include. You need a script, a schedule and access to equipment. You need to have a clear budget and keep close track of it. Make sure you have the necessary crew to produce, edit and distribute your finished video. Whether that’s just you, or you have the budget to hire a large professional crew, or something in between, you need to know who is doing what, where and when well before you ever call “action.”
#2 Ask Yourself, “What is my Motivation?”
A clear vision will save you time, money and headaches. Are you trying to create awareness of a new product, generate sales of that product, generate broader awareness of your company, or maybe demonstrate how to use a new product? Having a clear video strategy that compliments or amplifies your omnichannel marketing campaigns is critical to getting the most ROI out of your video marketing. Here are some of the questions we ask our clients when we’re developing a video strategy:
- What’s the intention of the video? Are you trying to create relevant, useful video content that builds consumer loyalty and trust? Are you trying to build relationships with new prospects? What will bring value to their lives and help you stand out?
- What’s your call to action? What do you want people to DO after they’ve watched your new video? To buy something, eat something, donate to a cause, call you, sign up for email, share your content?
- Where will this video live? On your website, at retail, on social platforms, on a retargeting ad? As you plan for these channel executions, you can walk into your shoot with a better understand of the types of cuts you’ll need.
- What does a win look like to you? More sales? Fewer customer service calls?
- Will you use video to build loyalty and increase retention rates?
- How will you use videos at the top of the purchase funnel to build awareness, at the middle to support consideration, or at the bottom to encourage conversion? Can one video do all three, or can you be smart about how you shoot the video to lend itself to all three in the future?
- How will you use video to get visitors into lower purchase funnel activities such as an email program or retargeting ads? Have you defined how content strategy assists consumers throughout this purchase funnel?
- Will you make multiple cuts of your video to best suit different audience personas, platforms and device types?
- Are you creating evergreen content that will always feel relevant and useful to your target audience? Will it still be relevant next season when your hero product is no longer in your product line?
- Are you applying SEO to the video, as well as to your landing page strategy to help drive organic search traffic to your content? Is link building baked into your plans?
- Will you host the video on your own site and do you have a xml video site map?
- Will you syndicate the content? If so, where and what’s your plan for driving traffic back to your site?
Think of it like a road trip. The script is your map, but the purpose is your destination. You need to know where you’re going before you get in the car. Otherwise, you might end up driving all night in the wrong direction and end up in Detroit. Not that there’s anything wrong with Detroit…in fact, they have a pretty good music scene there.
#3 Know Your Audience
Knowing who your audience will be is critical. Your product is not going to appeal to everyone, so neither should your video. The more information you have about your target demographic, the better you’ll be able to refine your pitch, and the better your pitch, the more successful your video.
So, who are you talking to?
- Are they purse-string-clutching moms, savvy technology investors, or philanthropic business owners?
- What are their digital personas? Are they primarily on mobile, desktop or in a retail location? Where are you most likely to reach them and how long might you grab their attention for?
- How do they use different social platforms?
- What’s the best way to get your video in front of them at the right time? What time of day will you get the most out of your organic engagement?
The bottom line is you need to understand the type of people who are most likely to buy your products, then figure out how best to communicate your message to them. In the ever-evolving omnichannel eCommerce video landscape, it’s important to get the right message, to the right people at exactly the right time. Brands that aren’t obsessed with their consumers and using content to build relationships will begin to fall behind their competitors.
#4 Make Sure Your Audience Knows You. Branding is Your Friend.
Make sure it is obvious who you are and what you’re selling, so no matter what touchpoint a viewer encounters your content on, the story remains clear. Make sure the logo is visible and find a way to get your brand name on the screen somewhere. No matter how interesting or entertaining your video might be, it won’t do you any good if viewers don’t know who you are once they’ve watched. It’s OK, and probably smart, to be subtle (you don’t want to over-do it), but make sure to get your name in there somewhere. If your video is picked up and taken out of context, you want to be sure that viewers can find their way back to its origination point.
#5 Be Awesome!
The more entertaining, interesting or thought-provoking your video is, the more likely it is that viewers will watch the whole thing, share it via social media and, ultimately, become your customers. Think about the way those multimillion dollar Super Bowl ads have become almost as popular as the game, itself. No post-game water cooler conversation is complete without references to the best commercials. People love to debate about which ones were funniest, which were totally badass, which one had the hottest model or coolest music… Nobody talks about the boring ones. Those just get forgotten, or worse… remembered for being terrible, which is a kiss of death.
#6 Be Concise.
Don’t say more than you need to. If you can communicate your message in 30 seconds, don’t take 60. The average viewer’s attention span is just slightly longer than that of a goldfish, so make it quick. A good script will make all the difference. Cut it down, and then cut it some more. Forget about complete sentences or even using entire words. Sometimes, a few well-timed grunts will suffice. You don’t need to go into detail here…that’s what the fine print is for.
#7 Be Genuine
Don’t worry about being big or fancy or blowing any minds, if you don’t have a huge budget. You can accomplish a whole lot simply by getting on camera and saying a few words about yourself and your passion for your business. Show your audience who you are, show them where you work and who works with you. People appreciate knowing what goes on behind the scenes, and they like to know where their money is going. A little “you” can go a long way.
#8 Be Useful and Provide Value to People
If you want to build relationships with consumers and stand out from the crowd, become useful to them. Provide them with something that creates value, answers their questions, satiates their needs.
Brands that know what their audiences are searching for and deliver on those needs create loyalty with their existing consumers and drive interest from new prospects. This sparks appreciation, encourages purchase decisions and gets people coming to you for answers, instead of your competitors. Let video content help turn your brand into a conversation hub. When you’re creating a video strategy, plan for what conversations you may spark and provide viewers with hashtags, landing pages and forums to become part of the conversation.
#9 Use Clear Calls to Action
Remember when we talked about calls to action? It was right up there…just a minute ago. Be clear about what you want your audience to do. If your goal is to get them to buy your new shoes, be sure to mention a local retailer or website where they can find them. If the video is being viewed on your website, be sure there is a “buy now” button or link nearby that is clearly visible.
#10 Get the Word Out. Promote, Promote, Promote.
Very few companies have the budget necessary to air their ads during the Super Bowl. The majority of businesses must take advantage of Internet-based syndication to get their content in front of consumers.
There are companies like Outbrain popping up that help brands to syndicate their content to relevant publishers. This can help drive new prospect traffic to your website and help you to push those new prospects lower into your purchase funnel.
Whether you’re syndicating, running pay-per-click Google ads, buying up ad space on popular websites or going guerrilla and relying on virality, you need to share, share, share! Reach out to your consumers via YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and any of a long list of popular social media platforms. Share your video on industry blogs, send it to past customers through an email campaign, or encourage others to share it by enticing them with contests for free merchandise. Do whatever it takes to get people to see your work.
#11 Track Your Results
One of the best perks of digital media is that it is really easy to track it. You can see how many times your video has been viewed, how long the average viewer watched it, and how many times viewers shared it on YouTube, Facebook or Twitter…or any of a million other websites. Learn about how to affix tracking codes to your content so that you have a clear understanding of where traffic is coming from. Analytics can tell you a whole lot about your video’s effectiveness. If for instance, the average viewer stops watching at the 10% mark, then you should probably make some edits. If you’re video has millions of views and shares, but you’re not getting a bump in sales, you may need to improve your call to action. Create a feedback loop between the analytics your seeing and the optimizations your making. Every metric is an opportunity for optimization.
#12 Don’t Launch Until You’re Ready
Remember what happened to the Titanic. Producing a quality video takes time. Take the time to do it right. Rushing any part of it can make the whole thing fall apart. Polish that script, wait for the right take, and edit, edit, edit! It can be especially tempting to rush the release of a video that is almost finished. Nerves, excitement and firm deadlines can often become impediments to rational thought, resulting in a belief that “good enough is good enough”…which is rarely the case. Spend the time it takes to get it right. Once your video is released, it’s too late. You can’t put toothpaste back in the tube. With that said…
#13 Don’t Let the Perfect be the Enemy of the Good
Let’s be honest. You’re no Stanley Kubrick, and you’re probably not hiring him, either. You don’t need 127 takes to get the shot right. When you’re making videos on your own, sometimes good enough IS good enough. It’s a fuzzy line, certainly…but hopefully, you’ll know it when you see it. The most expensive component in any video production is time. Film crews, actors, permits and equipment rentals are expensive. So are editors and other post-production crew members. Obsessing over perfection is quick way to blow up your budget.
#14 Be Patient. Don’t Expect Instant Results
Marketing is a process…often a long one. Consumers usually need time and convincing to become customers. Even the best produced, most entertaining or thought-provoking commercials are unlikely to inspire an instant purchase, especially for big-ticket items. Consumers may need to see your video several times…or see more than one video. It just depends. Just make sure you produce good content with a clear message and spread the word as far and wide as you can. You’ll get there, eventually.
As usual, we just threw a lot of information at you. Take some time to digest it and as you begin taking your first steps, drop us a line. We partner with our clients to help uncover their biggest video content opportunities, create a strategy that gives them the most ROI and produce the videos that help them reach their truest and highest potential. That’s what we’re here for. We’re your nerdy, nimble strategic video partners.