Video continues to grow in popularity as an online marketing tool. In a recent report, the Content Marketing Institute said that 73% of B2B marketing departments use online video. But there are a lot of online videos competing for a limited amount of viewer attention span. Consider that 30% of YouTube videos account for 99% of the views. The bottom line is that making and posting effective marketing videos takes more than simply aiming a webcam and turning on the recorder; it requires a degree of science in both production and distribution to make videos compelling enough to capture viewers.
To help create compelling videos, we’ve compiled ten best practices for video production. After reading these best practices, you may conclude that video production is not as easy as it looks. Indeed, it may take more resources and time than you initially anticipate; however, you can expect to see a significant payoff in additional marketing leads.
- Decide what type of video is required. There are several types, and the one you use will depend on the purpose it serves within your marketing campaign. For example:
- Commercial – This is a polished piece of brand-focused video that typically runs 90 seconds. It has a lot of “B-Roll” with fancy music and quick shots of your products or services, along with happy customers. It’s used as a commercial for your company and will probably be featured on your home page. You’ll also use it at tradeshows and other public gatherings. Unless you have high-quality video producers in-house, you should farm this out to a professional video production company.
- Promotional – Though not quite as fancy as the commercial video, the promotional video may still have the same look-and-feel. Instead of focusing on your brand, however, it will focus on a product or service. Promotional videos will often feature interviews with key customers and in-house experts. It will generally have fancy animation and music in the intro and outro.
- Instructional – These are generally informal geek-to-geek type videos, which may or may not include the filming of an actual person. These videos will be centered on PowerPoint presentations or screen captures, or a combination. Though they may be scripted in advance, they should have an unscripted feel about them. The unscripted quality is intentional because it is designed to gain trust with the actual users of your product or service, as opposed to just gaining attention.
- Update – These videos are generally informal and may consist of a quick introduction to some new features in your product or service. Generally they will feature a product manager on-camera in the beginning and the end, while the middle is filled with screen-shots or PowerPoint slides. Like the promotional video, the update video will be “book-ended” with company branded intros and outros.
- Whenever possible, script every word. This not only helps you keep focused when recording the video, but it can help your SEO efforts when you publish the contents of the script along with the video. Additionally, you can close-caption the video much easier if you have the script to begin with.
- Pay attention to video basics. When presenting someone on-camera, optimize for lighting, camera angle and sound. For example, eliminate background distractions by filming your subjects in front of a green-screen, and then replace the background – via chroma-key techniques – during the editing phase. Also, lighting should be very bright, yet dispersed with no hard shadows. The camera need not be highly expensive, but should be capable of a full 1080p resolution. Regarding audio, use high-quality studio microphones (e.g.; Sennheiser) and an audio mixing-board that can – with a bit of tweaking – provide a “full-room” effect. If you’re unsure about any of these concepts, you can get a video consultant to help set up a simple studio.
- Use a voice-over artist. For commercial or promotional videos, consider retaining a professional voice-over artist. Many artists have their own recording studio and simply charge you by the word. Places like VoiceBunny offer a wide variety of artists that can be scheduled on short notice. Understand that voice-over is a type of acting, and good actors make it look deceptively easy. The reality is that acting is extremely difficult, and most people are extraordinarily bad at it.
- Post videos on one or more third party sites. Post your videos on YouTube and Vimeo, and render them through your own website using the special “embed” code provided by the hosting service. The advantage here is that third party sites have their own search engines that can help your SEO efforts.
- Provide a call-to-action. The call-to-action should be located at the end of the video as well as somewhere on the page that hosts the video. Remember that many people will not wait until the end of the video before asking for more information, so you need to provide a call-to-action button on the hosting page.
- Create a video sitemap. Search engines are not yet sophisticated enough to peruse your video and automatically create the search terms. A sitemap therefore provides a good reference for search engines. It also allows you to dictate the contents of the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) so that visitors can read the description before clicking on the video. When optimizing the description, keep in mind that the average attention span is about 8 seconds, so tighten up the rhetoric as much as possible.
- Mark-up using Schema.org. Similar to a sitemap, use the schema.org markup to provide additional information for search spiders. See Google’s suggestions for video markup using schema.org.
- Like and Share. Provide a way to “Like” and “Share” the video through all your marketing channels. Also, after posting your video, be sure to socialize it through all your social media channels.
- Hire a production company. Unless you have an in-house video production expert, you may want to hire an outside video production company for your commercial grade videos. When doing this, understand that the production company generally will not know anything about your business or your specific marketing objective, so expect to spend a lot of time with them. For example, you will likely have to produce a script, a storyboard, vector artwork and a dedicated technical resource. Expect to pay $1,000 – $4,000 or more for every minute of finished video.
Online video continues to grow in popularity, and marketing departments are finding ways to leverage it to their advantage. But making and posting a good video requires more than just aiming a webcam and hitting the “record” button. It requires a lot of thought, preparation and discipline. The best practices outlined in this blog will guide you in the production of videos that will create good marketing leads.