4 Steps to a Fool-Proof Video Marketing Strategy
We’re willing to bet that much of the information you gather while browsing the web comes through videos. You are not alone. Video is a HUGE part of the modern internet user’s experience and expectations, making a solid video marketing strategy an absolute must-have.
You might be thinking, “Well, our customers don’t come to us for videos, and we’re doing fine without them.” But consider this: image is everything on the web. Videos are the most engaging and authentic way an audience can get to know and evaluate your brand. Think of video as the charming pickup line after someone takes look at your slick website design.
A video marketing strategy is the next step for any business to take to reach a broader audience and create a more approachable and authentic brand. So, how do you start? The Vital video team has put together a video marketing strategy that will (hopefully) be the last one you ever need.
Your Fool-Proof Video Marketing Strategy
Step 1: Determine your audience’s “where” and “what”
If you’ve already developed an overall marketing plan, you should have a good idea of who your audience is. But for a video marketing plan, the big questions you want to answer when determining content are “Where does my audience consume their content?” and “What are they consuming?” A great video put in the wrong place can cost a lot of potential leads, but it can be equally as harmful to design content that doesn’t work for the platform your audience is on. One thing that’s helpful is looking at a competitor videos and measuring their view count, subscriber base and engagement. That can give you a solid starting point for estimating the potential audience and what kind of content they engage with.
However, there are instances where none of the competition has created video content, meaning you get to be the first to plant your flag on those potential leads. Congratulations! Now, to determine the best place to find your audience, there are four popular places to host your video content: YouTube, Facebook, Wistia and Vimeo.
Even though other video platforms are on the rise, YouTube is still the #1 social video platform with over 1.5 billion logged in users every month. Before deciding to host your videos on YouTube, check out this good ol’ fashioned pros and cons list:
- Free to host
- Large audience to be tapped into and engage with
- You can link to your company’s site as long as your channel meets these requirements
- You can gain a lot of traffic through the Suggested Videos feature
- It has an incredible analytics toolset for improving your channel and video strategy
- Viewers will watch longer YouTube videos because watching videos is the sole reason for being on the site
- A lot of competition
- No ability to update or replace a video file with a newer version
- The embedded YouTube player doesn’t look very good on external websites
- Maintaining a healthy, discoverable YouTube channel requires a lot of attention and work (which we’ll cover later)
When to Use YouTube
The content that performs best on YouTube are reviews, how-to’s, vlogs (video blogs), favorites/best of recaps and educational videos, which makes sense since it’s the second largest search engine in the world.
But you can also host your company’s careers video, overview video and other relevant content for embedding purposes on your website. Just don’t expect to gain a YouTube audience through them. If you want to host private videos for only specific viewers to watch, publish them as “unlisted.” This will let anyone with the link view it, while preventing it from appearing in searches.
Facebook is rapidly catching up with YouTube in terms of watch time. HubSpot reported that every week, 100 million hours of videos are watched on Facebook. So why use Facebook over the other platforms?
- Free to host
- Large audience to tap into and engage with
- Autoplay feature grabs your audience’s attention when they’re scrolling through their feed
- If you already have a steady Facebook community it’s an easy value-add
- Bigger bang for your buck than YouTube in CPM (cost per impressions for PPC) according to this Moz study
- Analytics tools are available for pages with 30 or more likes
- Great for viral content because it can easily be passed around
- Facebook is doing a lot to boost their video platform, so over the long-term it may become the new frontier for video
- Video life can often be short-lived
- Much shorter audience attention span due to the wealth of other content on the site
- Audience is typically better for B2C companies than B2B
- Facebook’s “Watch” tab is very new (August 2017), so most people are probably accustomed to surfing YouTube over Facebook’s “Watch”
When to Use Facebook
The videos that perform best on Facebook fall under the categories of inspiring, entertaining, funny and informative. It’s also a platform more suited to videos under two minutes. Facebook is perfect for B2C companies who have a specific buyer in mind, especially for PPC, since demographics and interests are so accessible and easy to narrow down. Businesses don’t normally browse through their company’s Facebook looking for potential services, so B2B is a tougher sell.
One final note: don’t try to kill two birds with one stone by pasting a YouTube URL on Facebook. Facebook native links get far more shares than a posted URL. They are also competing with YouTube for an audience, so any YouTube embedded videos look horrible next to native uploads and lack the autoplay feature.
Just look at this comparison between a natively embedded video and one that was posted through a link:
Wistia is a great choice for videos embedded on your website and for lead-generation. They can provide in-video lead capture forms, heatmaps of user watch time, track audiences that filled out a “turnstile” and have a sleek, customizable player that can blend in with just about any webpage.
- Excellent analytics for tracking audiences, watch times, audience retention, etc.
- Built-in lead capture forms
- Very customizable player
- Minimal player design that blends beautifully with any website
- Paid service
- Smallest audience reach of the four since there isn’t a community of Wistia videos people are browsing
When to Use Wistia
Wistia videos are great for adding value to a page or providing more detailed information when you’ve already attracted a lead to your site. Company videos are great to host on Wistia because of the clean look you can give them on your site. Product demos are also great to add value to a specific product’s page and give your leads more consent to follow up for more information.
One thing is certain with Vimeo: their quality bar is much higher than any of the other three platforms due to their audience. It’s a favorite among artists and video professionals, so content creators are typically well-versed in video production.
- Free plan includes 500MB uploads per week
- Larger community to engage with
- Customizable player for web embeds
- Related videos could feature your video
- Google Analytics integration available at Vimeo Business level
- Not as large of an audience as YouTube or Facebook
- No analytics tools at the free level
- Audience consists primarily of artists and video professionals
When to Use Vimeo
There’s a lot you can do with the Vimeo player as far as customization, but you must be sure to keep your file sizes down if you stick with the free version. There isn’t a big opportunity for gaining a new audience on Vimeo, unless you’re willing to put the time and effort on an A+ piece of work that they’d feature on their Staff Picks page.
There’s a lot of information to consider when choosing a platform, but as you’re reviewing these options, one final piece of advice is to ask yourself “Where does my audience expect to find videos like mine?”
Step 2: Plan great content
Now it’s time to start making video content. But just because it’s a video doesn’t mean you can put in less effort than you would for a blog post or email. Don’t fall prey to recording one take on your phone and calling it a day! With so much video content out there, the world expects quality work even from amateurs.
Planning video content falls under the umbrella of “pre-production.” The better you want the video to be, the more hours you should put in pre-production — unless you prefer to use your budget on reshoots. Here are some good rules of thumb to consider when brainstorming content:
Make it relevant to your audience
When the Harlem shake video came out, every company and group of friends had to make their own version. Pursuing viral trends might seem like a good idea, but it’s a short-lived story with little to no return. Why? Because everyone and their brother is making the same thing, and your audience doesn’t go to you for that content.
Don’t forgo your uniqueness for the sake of emulating a popular video. The pros know their niche, and that’s how they sustain a consistent following. You can also run the risk of attracting the wrong audience who will ultimately be disappointed if you don’t continue creating viral content.
Get ‘em with a hook
Make sure the first impression of your video is gold. YouTube and Facebook are particularly notorious for having impatient audiences. For YouTube, you should hook your audience within the first five to 10 seconds before you run the risk of a viewer clicking elsewhere. Facebook reduces that time to three seconds! Keep it lively and unique, and highlight what your video will cover immediately so your audience knows they’ve come to the right place.
Keep it brief
This goes back to looking at competitor videos and comparing the lengths of their most successful content. For product reviews, people want concise but thorough. A one-minute review of a new program is concise, but probably isn’t going to be considered very helpful or realistic at face value. At the same time, a one-hour video could have a lot of valuable information but feel slow or boring. The “ideal” length for YouTube videos is between eight to 10 minutes, as long as you can keep your audience watch time and retention rate up. The ideal time for a Facebook video is between 30 seconds and two minutes.
Don’t underestimate quality
Let me start by saying quality does not mean expensive. It means well-planned and well-executed. This video comparing a cell phone camera with a $50,000 camera is a perfect example. Yes, a $50,000 camera with the right lens and features can make a dumpster look like a work of art, but no amount of video gear can make up for a bad concept with poor planning. And more time in planning can help you troubleshoot how to overcome a smaller budget for a big idea. Once again, the more thought and time you put into planning and scripting your video, the better the quality will be.
Plan content that can be reused and repurposed
Creating a 30-second teaser video to pass around social media is a great way to spark interest for an upcoming product demo. Covering multiple subjects when interviewing people can also give you content for later videos down the line while saving costs on future shooting dates. Do your best to future-proof your scripts and content, because the more mileage you can get out of every project the better.
Step 3: Make great content
A lot of people ask us, “What camera should I get to start making videos?” The camera you’re using is the least important part of the video, unless you need it for a specific function in your content.
Here is a list of what should be prioritized in order:
1. Content: Hopefully, this has already been determined before you start shooting.
2. Audio: Bad audio can be the most distracting part of a video and the biggest hindrance in hearing a great story. There are no cheap or easy fixes for it in post-production, so get it right the first time whether that means placing your phone in the subject’s lap or an external recorder with a microphone. Just don’t use the camera’s built-in microphone!
3. Lighting: This can be as simple as a diffused window or a complex LED lighting setup. The rule is keep your subject well-lit and use flattering angles. Overhead fluorescents can make people look sick or tired because of the lack of lighting in their eyes.
4. Environment: Your background is an impression of your business (especially if it takes place in your offices). Keep it interesting without making it too busy or distracting.
5. Lens/Camera: If all of the above is taken care of, any number of cameras will do at this point. There are dozens to choose from and, unless you’re planning on recording slow motion, underwater or otherwise, most will do the trick. In case you were wondering, at Vital we use a Canon C100 and love it.
Step 4: Optimize your videos for SEO and conversions
In a video marketing strategy, there are a lot of facets to SEO. For example, did you know that even though YouTube is owned by Google, the top three video results on Google aren’t always the same top three videos to pop up on YouTube? And even Google’s web result videos will differ from their video results! Try looking up “how to fix a dryer” on all three searches and see what you come up with:
It’s not an exact science, but there are some key things you NEED to do if you want to optimize your videos for search engines.
YouTube Optimization Best Practices
1. Determine a publishing time
Figure out the best time of the month, week and day to publish and get the most views in the first 48 hours it’s up. YouTube puts a lot of significance in those first 48 hours, especially with your subscriber base. The more watch time it receives, the more YouTube will highlight it to other viewers looking at similar content. The YouTube setting on Google Trends is a great tool to gain insight on when keywords and subjects you’re targeting are the most popular.
2. Create a custom thumbnail
I don’t know about you, but I’m certainly prone to click on a flashier thumbnail over the standard screen grabs that YouTube pulls by default. The pros do it right: bright colors and bold type. Some of them even have an alternate attention-grabbing title in the thumbnail (see below). Look at their designs and figure out what elements to pull and add to your own thumbnails.
As you create more and more content, keep a consistent brand and style across all your thumbnails so people will learn to pick your videos out of the big list of suggestions.
3. Include your title, description and keywords
The title should be short, informative and grab the user’s attention. If you’re targeting a certain keyword, that should be the first place you put it. As with thumbnails, don’t make “click-bait” titles. They can be creative, but they should be authentic.
Descriptions are a great place to put links to external sites if you’re not a YouTube Partner. The first 125 characters will show up next to the video’s thumbnail, so use that space to give context to your video or elaborate on your title.
4. Create captions
YouTube does a good job of determining captions on its own, but uploading a transcript or using the built-in “transcribe/auto-sync” feature certainly helps YouTube get a better view of the video’s content.
5. Add YouTube extras
There are a few extra features YouTube offers in its videos that you need to take advantage of. The two big ones are Cards and End Screen Elements. Cards are the small, grey titles that slide out during videos in the top right corner. They can link to other videos or external sites if used correctly.
End Screen Elements are the floating thumbnails and links you typically see at the end of videos. The purpose of these is twofold: 1) To send viewers to your channel, previous videos, newest uploads or to subscribe and 2) To prolong competitor content from popping up at the end of your video. This gives you an opportunity to keep the viewing streak going, and YouTube will reward that with more traffic.
Note: If you are planning on using End Screen Elements, make sure you give yourself some space at the end of the video so they don’t pop up in the middle of something important.
6. Double-check EVERYTHING
As mentioned earlier, YouTube does not allow you to replace an existing upload with a newer file. Catching errors before hitting publish will prevent you from having to take down a video that is receiving great traffic.
As far as titles, keywords and descriptions go, wait until the YouTube boost on your video has worn off and it isn’t considered “new” (around 5-7 days). If you change something immediately after publishing it, the YouTube algorithm may get confused and second-guess who it should be sending the video to.
7. Publish and send to your subscribers
Focus on your subscribers watching the video within the first 48 hours. Subscriber bases are how YouTube categorizes demographics for the various content out there. When your subscribers respond well to the content you’re pushing, then YouTube sees that as being relevant to other, similar subscriber bases across their site. If your video flops with your core audience, then YouTube doesn’t see the value in sending it elsewhere.
We’ve seen success in sending a link in an email blast within the first 24 hours of a video being published, and this is particularly helpful if you don’t have consistent content coming out all the time.
8. Analyze and repeat
YouTube’s analytics tools under the Creator Studio are wild. You can easily get into the weeds with all the data you can find. Watch Time, Audience Retention and Traffic Sources are the big three we like to check.
9. Engage outside your channel
Not only should you interact with the people commenting on your videos, commenting on other relevant videos can spark people’s interest in your channel. However, don’t spam your video every chance you get on a related video. If you make a good reputation for yourself with other YouTubers in the comments section, subscribers will find you.
Wistia Optimization Best Practices
Wistia has created a standard embed code that does all of the SEO work for you. But you’ll still be responsible for making sure it’s optimized. Here are some tips:
1. Title: Like on YouTube, make it short and accurate. Don’t keyword stuff or try to cover every term the video will cover.
2. Description: Make it as accurate as possible without keyword stuffing. Wistia’s focus is making a better user experience for more conversions, so in their words, “Make the description useful for viewers, not for bots.”
3. Thumbnail: Don’t just take a random screen grab. Find a frame that compliments your content and gives a good first impression. You don’t necessarily have to do the bright colors and bold text like many YouTube videos.
4. Transcripts: Transcripts are great for search engines to crawl through for metadata. You can either upload these, or use Wistia’s paid service for a transcript of your video for $5/minute.
5. Webpage: Choose the correct content to surround your video to give search engines a context.
Markets, audiences and technology can all change at the drop of a hat. As marketing professionals, it’s our job to not only give more value to the customers who have been with us since the beginning, but to find new audiences and meet them where they are. Tell a story. Make a statement. Show people the company you fell in love with. Because if a picture is worth a thousand words, think about what a video is worth.
Let’s talk more about your video content strategy.