In our continuing Web Videos That SUCK series, I review a YouTube trailer for an upcoming "Science of Email Marketing webinar," being hosted by the self-proclaimed "Social Media Marketing Scientist" and author of "The Social Media Marketing Book," Dan Zarrella. This guy may know email, but he sure needs help with video!

I received an email last week from the company hosting the webinar, HubSpot. Clicking on the email link took me to HubSpot sign-up page, which features an embedded YouTube video of the webinar's speaker, who announces his own event. Below is the actual video as it appears on the HubSpot YouTube channel:

Why HubSpot's Science of Email Marketing Webinar Video SUCKS

And just so that you dont think I'm the only one being critical (no those aren't my comments):

Your Webinar Promotional Video SUCKS   Here Are Some Tips for Next Time sucks comments

Aspect ratio is off. The video's opening graphic has vertical black bars, and the speaker's video has a thick rectangular box all around him. This could have been fixed easily if they had followed advice in our earlier post: "How To Fix The Aspect Ratio on YouTube Videos – Remove Black Bars.”

Background music is way too loud – it's even louder than the speaker himself! Watching this video gives you the feeling that you're in a dance club and have to really struggle just to hear the person talking right at you.

What's with the duplicate words? Right at the beginning Dan's video track is spliced to show him repeating saying "really awesome," and "super pumped about it." He or whomever he had editing his video probably thought people would think this would look cool, but I think people will think it was a mistake. Either way, I find it annoying (like the feeling you get when a CD or record skips on you).

Graphics shows no context. In the middle of the video, Dan throws a large number up on screen, which I later learned is supposed to represent millions of "email data sets." But since the number is just thrown up very briefly on screen without any other graphic text explaining what the number means, it will likely be lost on most people watching the video the first time. Even worse, a quick graph is thrown up on screen with an arrow pointing to a jagged line. What the hell is that supposed to mean? I can't tell – the music is too frickin' loud!

Your Webinar Promotional Video SUCKS   Here Are Some Tips for Next Time science email marketing Image thumbnail looks dreadful. Hey Dan, do you really want the first thing people see with your video to be something that makes you look like a cyborg with digital numbers messing up your face?  Granted, I realize that you have 3 limited thumbnail choices to choose from, but wasn't there a better one?

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YouTube optimization? If you are going to put a video on YouTube to market your marketing webinar, how about doing some YouTube SEO for it so that others can find it?  You have a 1 sentence description with no link, 3 hardly-related tags, the wrong category choice and so on.

What I would have done differently… Tips for next time

Separate the audio tracks. Most bare-bones video editing programs will allow you to do what's called "ducking" – where you reduce the level of one audio signal when another appears. So if you have two audio tracks – say, one for your vocals and one for your background music (or any other background audio), you can simply select the ducking feature on your video editor to make the background audio fade to any degree you want once your own vocals come in.

Make a new video from clips of previous videos. Dan has 128 indexed videos featuring himself in Google Video Search. You would think that at least in some of those he's already talked about email marketing. Taking previous content and mashing them up into your own new piece (with a shorter new introduction), makes it appear like fresh content, in context.

Have the HubSpot guys produce your video. I checked out the HubSpot YouTube channel and they have some outstanding video production to show for. Now I'm not expecting them to do any special choreography or dance numbers for Dan, but you'd think they could at least lend one of their videographers (or some of their own marketing budget) to any webinars they're putting with their own name behind it?

Put some effort into optimizing the YouTube Video. We covered this so many times that I wont go into a "tips" list here, but you can read up on optimizing your YouTube videos here.

What Do You Think?

Dan may be teaching a webinar on the science of email marketing, but I think he should have learned something about "video science" before doing his mad experimentation! And to HubSpot – even if you guys aren't responsible for producing this video (at least I certainly hope not), anything you put up on your company's YouTube channel should at least have some basic professional standards, don't you think?

  • Amani Channel

    This is what happens when a non-professional edits a video. The analysis was spot on. For all of you who say that he didn't need pro help, that may be true, but a professional would have at least covered the basics. No silly jump cuts to be cute (or whatever the reason), graphics should generally be in the lower third of the frame and the audio mix was horrible. When your producing a video the point is to communicate a message effectively, and that didn't happen here.

    • Grant Crowell

      Thanks for the comment! I should clarify my last paragraph – what I mean by "professional standards" is that any video you want to represent yourself professionally, should at least be up to a minimum standard that doesn't negatively affect how your target market will perceive you as a result of that video. That's why it's important to at least consult with your colleagues (and ideally a professional video production specialist or marketer), and have them review the video you produce before it goes public. HubSpot should have reviewed the video submitted by the speaker before it went live on their own YouTube channel.

      • Amani Channel

        I'm not debating professional standards vs hiring a professional. This video has many of the signature traits of amateur, or a user-generated production: poor audio, and visuals that weren't especially effective. To the videographer's credit, the framing was okay and lights were used.

        Based on Dan's comments, the overrall quality didn't have a big effect on interest in his event. The real lesson is that these days, the quality of your production sometimes doesn't matter. If you have a strong online reputation or following, the public will still watch, and take action.

        Some kind of video is better than no video at all.

        • Grant Crowell

          I agree with you that based on the speaker's clout, some kind of video is better than none at all. I don't think a video that is simply poor is going to make people who already have a positive relationship with the speaker to not sign up for the event. I think it's more about people who are unfamiliar with the speaker – how strong does their interest in the topic need to be? How influential is the brand hosting it? How well is the landing page designed? And of course, it is a free webinar! So a video here is just one marketing element out of the larger promotional event. (And honestly, it's not even the primary marketing element.) But still anything you do to represent yourself professionally deserves some professional attention.

  • VitaminCM

    Good tip on the "Ducking" I need to use that.

  • danzarrella

    Thanks for the tips, I'll include them next time, have you seen my Science of Social Media at Harvard video?

    Also, the webinar has over 15,000 registrants so far, so *something* must be working ;)

    • Grant Crowell

      You're welcome Dan, and thanks for sharing some humor. Let's exchange your email tips for our video tips. ;)

    • Ariane Fisher

      Hey Dan, your video must have done something right... I signed up. Perhaps it was to see if you're better at email marketing than video editing. :) By the way, had a hard time getting to sign up. I googled "Dan Zarrella email webinar" and it didn't show up on the first page until I included the word "hubspot" in the search terms.

  • Ariane Fisher

    Hmmm. I'm actually quite interested in his topic, but agree that his edit was a real turn-off. I disagree, however, that he needs pro production for something like this. Pro editing, or at least better editing, definitely. If he is producing these on a regular basis, then outsourcing the production could become cost prohibitive. Fixing sound and mixing aspect rations is not for the faint of heart. I would bet that he used a consumer level editing program, which left him unable to address issues like the sound. And hey, go easy on him, his sound wasn't as bad as the Black Eyed Peas last night. Talk about mismatched audio levels!

    • Mark Robertson

      Totally agree with you Ariane that probably doesnt need pro production - but certainly wouldnt help. Im guessing he tried it on his own this time and look at the result :)

      • Grant Crowell

        In related news, ReelSEO has been asked to produce next year's Super Bowl Halftime Show. ;)

        • Ariane Fisher

          I'd love to get my hands on his raw media and re-edit for a comparison. Great tips on the YouTube SEO, by the way. And hope you have some good sound mixers next year.