You’ve heard it before: Build it and they will come. Yet when they don’t come to your YouTube channel – and even when they do – you scratch your head and wonder why your video didn’t perform the way you expected. Understandably, marketers have increasingly high expectations for videos. After all, they convert at a higher rate than traditional display ads, and can increase conversion rates by as much as 90 percent, according to Forrester Research, Inc.
With videos being one of the most potent firepower in the digital arsenal, marketers would be wise to put a robust strategy and execution plan behind them. The key is not to treat video as an end in itself; rather, it should be leveraged and positioned in the broader context of the digital strategy to deliver a significant return. No matter what industry you are in, an optimized video strategy can lend fuel to your online and offline marketing. Below are seven steps for building a solid video strategy and execution that can move the needle for your business.
1. Know What You Want to Achieve
Let your business objective guide your video strategy. A mistake some marketers make is to jump in and produce a me-too video before they even know what they want to accomplish with it. Videos that are used to drive awareness will demand a very different content and distribution strategy from those used to help customers choose the right product or learn how to get the most of the product.
Be focused as you set out your objectives, and realize that they don’t have to be lofty. The objective may simply be that you want to educate your prospects about a product that is perceived as complex and to whet their appetite for more information. IG Markets Ltd., for example, made a video that introduces investors to a financial instrument known as “Contract for Difference (CFD).” In so doing, they distilled a complex product into terms that even novice investors can understand. At the end of the video, viewers are invited to launch a demo to start practicing how to trade CFDs.
Invest in the time to define your business objective, as it will come into play during every step of your video execution, from defining the video content to distribution to measuring their performance.
2. Know With Whom You’re Trying to Engage
Before you get the camera rolling, think about who your audience is and what their needs are. These folks are not a monolithic bunch: not only do they stand at different points along the customer journey; they often represent different personas, for which each may justify tailored content. The business objectives you have defined will help you segment your target audience. For instance, if your goal is to drive awareness, your addressable audience will be quite different and much larger than, say, folks already on your site who need a little nudging to drop a product into their carts.
One way to segment your audience is by their level of interest in the brand or product journey: 1) low – the “just browsing” crowd who are new to your brand or product category; 2) interested – they’re evaluating you; and 3) returning customers – already familiar with your brand and with some loyalty to it.
3. Create Relevant Conversations
Now that you have identified your objectives and know your video’s target audience, what do you want to say to them? Sound, movement, interaction. Video is one the most immersive forms of content, so take advantage of its full potential.
If we’re talking casual browsers, don’t come on too salesy. They’re still in the getting-to-know-you period so think of it as a first date. Make a good impression and tell them your brand story. Also, don’t just make it about your brand, provide them useful information to make them want to get to know you further. Find an emotional hook; humor can do wonders if it dovetails with your positioning. Whatever you do, give them a reason to engage more deeply with you. Skullcandy, which makes audio products, amplifies its edgy brand image by featuring young, up-and-coming models such as Kate Upton and Chanel Iman in a series of online galleries, complete with their personal playlists and videos and photos featuring them using (and loving) Skullcandy gear.
Further along the journey are interested shoppers who are weighing your product features and benefits against your competitors’. Since this is a key decision point where shoppers are looking for validation, try to zero in on the things that resonate with them. Product reviews and user-generated testimonials can swing decisions. Online sports retailer Summit Sports produced more than 1,000 video reviews for its winter sports gear in just three days. Since these videos have relatively low production value, they appear scrappy yet authentic, which sits well with the indie-spirited ski and snowboard crowd.
For returning customers, go beyond up-sell and cross-sell, and use videos to create brand loyalty and affinity. Orion, for instance, makes sure its existing customers are getting the most out of the investments they’ve made in the company’s telescopes. From showing customers how to capture photographs with telescopes to sharing tips for viewing galaxies and nebulas, Orion has created an entire video series devoted to nurturing their customers’ affinity with their telescope.
Finally, any good video invites prospects to take the next step. For videos that seek to drive a specific action, embed an interactive call-to-action to make it seamless to go the next step.
4. Reach Your Viewers
Google generates a lot of traffic for online businesses. The first step to ensuring that people can find your videos is to maximize discoverability. At minimum, make sure video titles and descriptions contain keywords and submit the video sitemap to the top search engines.
For videos designed to generate publicity and awareness, give them the greatest visibility by planting them everywhere – your website, Facebook, Vimeo and YouTube. The latter is perhaps the most popular channel, with more than a billion unique visitors and high Google rankings making it likely that someone will stumble across your video if it is optimized. Third-party sites such as YouTube are great for videos that help you build awareness with audiences who don’t know about your brand.
In cases where video takes center stage for your brand’s content marketing and you have a growing compendium of targeted videos, consider creating a branded content network, which ideally would be supported by a video platform with customization and control features. Sony, for instance, posts videos on its training site for resellers. This is an instance in which having your own network can be helpful since you can maintain control over how the content is used and presented. In this latter case, the videos are for audiences already familiar with your brand and who are looking for a deeper level of content. They will watch videos longer than a couple minutes so long as it provides valuable information.
5. Go Mobile
Today’s consumer decision journey is being influenced by a growing and fragmented mix of digital touch points, and mobile is key among them. Adobe’s own research, the 2013 Adobe Mobile Consumer Survey, finds that after viewing a video, people are more likely to make a purchase.
This is hardly surprising as shoppers routinely use their mobile devices to look up product information in store aisles before making a purchase. Clearly, marketers have a real opportunity to expand their influence with consumers on the go, so make sure your videos are optimized for playback across a variety of mobile devices. I like how Biltmore, which operates the George Vanderbilt historic estate, makes the mansion and garden come alive in a video that is optimized for PCs or mobile devices.
Smart brands are also deploying QR codes in brick-and-mortar environments to launch videos that help consumers make decisions. Use cases for deploying QR codes that point to videos are endless, and not limited to retailers. For instance, participants at tradeshows would do well to put up large posters with QR codes that launch videos informing attendees why their booth is the one worth visiting.
6. Capture, Measure, and Analyze
Your fabulous video is out there for the world to see but you’re not done yet. Marketers today must embrace a rigorous, data-driven approach involving ongoing data collection, measurement, analysis and optimization. Responses to each video should be measured as part of a test-and-learn approach, with processes and tools in place to evaluate what resonates and what doesn’t.
The metrics you capture should be linked to your defined business objectives—i.e., key performance indicators (KPIs). If your objective is to increase conversion rate and video is part of your tactic to achieving this, then by looking at the data, you can see the impact of videos on this KPI. Note that conversion does not have to equate to making a sale – after viewing a video, conversion can be click-through to a product page or using a product configurator to customize a product.
7. Test, Target, and Optimize
As you analyze the data, you start to form some hypotheses about why some videos outperform others, or why you’re not getting the results you want. If the data shows that people are not clicking on “open an account” at the close of your video, you may want to consider enlarging the call-to-action button or changing the copy. But, you won’t know if your hypothesis is worth salt unless you start testing.
Insights culled from your tests and other analytics should drive business objectives and inform your video strategy and tactics, providing continuous optimization based on the repetitive cycle of collecting data, testing, learning and optimization.
The case for videos is clear: consumers love them and they drive conversion. Yet the complexity and costs for managing and publishing videos can be daunting. To maximize your ROI, make sure you have the right tools and platform for making video production and delivery scalable and cost effective. Identifying the right video management and publishing solution should be a key part of your video strategy; without it, you risk sub-optimal execution. When videos are a key part of a well-thought-out digital strategy, they can pay off in very big ways.