By Aliza Earnshaw on November 30, 2010
Keep it short and simple
Video marketing is big. With YouTube now the second most-searched site on the Web, after Google, countless marketers post video clips on YouTube – and other websites – in the hope of winning more website traffic and new business.
While we’ve all seen – and shared – fun or useful marketing video clips, they’re a tiny sliver of what's on the Web. Most marketing videos are boring – so boring that lots of people don't last through the first 30 seconds.
You can make engaging and effective videos, however. Just follow a few simple guidelines, and you’ll hold people’s attention long enough to drive them to your website – or at least, remember your brand the next time they’re looking for what you sell.
1. Keep it short: 90 seconds will do. Research published by VisibleGains, a firm that sells video marketing products, shows that viewer attention drops sharply after 90 seconds. If you can convey your message in fewer than 60 seconds, even better.
For proof that a powerful – and funny - message can be conveyed in 30 seconds or less, watch Wieden + Kennedy’s Old Spice clips.
2. Tell people it’s short. If you’re showcasing a video demo of your product on your home page, include a message like, “Watch our 90-second demo.” That helps people overcome their reluctance to click.
3. Tell a story. A story has a natural arc: A character faces a conflict and finds a resolution. If the character is someone people can relate to, they’ll care about his story enough to follow it through to the resolution.
4. Make sure your story is targeted to the people you’re trying to reach. If you’re selling dog-training supplies, show a familiar scenario of a badly behaved dog and frustrated owner, and then show how the product improves the dog’s behavior.
5. Be funny if you can. The video of the badly behaved dog and owner will keep people watching through to the end if it’s funny. Bonus: People are more likely to send the video link to their friends if they think it will give them a laugh. That spreads your message and could earn you new customers.
If funny isn’t appropriate to your product – for example, funeral planning services – try to engage appropriate emotions by choosing your characters people can relate to. And don't forget to tell a story.
6. Demonstrate the benefits of your product. DailyGrommet.com, a website that showcases inventive products from small businesses, often includes demo videos. This is especially effective if a product is unusual or difficult to explain with words alone.
The company's travel wine carrier video and sporting sails video are each about three minutes long, but they're fun and engaging. Part of the appeal is that both are narrated in conversational style, with quirky remarks here and there. Still, if they were half the length, I bet more people would watch them all the way through.
7. Use keywords. Make sure you know the right keywords for your product, and use them in the title of your video, in the script, and in any visual cues you include – for example, signage, bullet points and slogans.
8. Include a call to action in the video. Make it easy for viewers to convert: click to sign up, buy something, learn more, take a survey, download your white paper, or whatever else you want them to do after watching the video.
9. Keep it simple. If your company isn’t big enough to afford an advertising agency, no one will expect the kind of special effects or professional script you'll see in a Wieden + Kennedy video. Keep the production values simple, and the patter conversational.
10. Use your video in multiple places. Your home page, your newsletter, YouTube, your blog – all these are places to use video. Scott Olson, a marketing consultant in Portland, Oregon, says a video clip of a former employer’s CEO that was showcased on the company's home page got more clicks than any other element on the website.
You can easily embed your YouTube video into your website's AboutUs page.
11. Use what you shoot. You’ll probably shoot at least an hour’s worth of video to get a 90-second clip. You can assemble different sequences for different audiences, or for different venues. Don’t be afraid to experiment - test different videos to see which get the most attention, and which do better at getting people to convert.