Are your videos mobile-ready?

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With mobile video consumption on the rise, it's past time for marketers to consider if this content marketing opportunity is right. IAB research found that 35% of viewers polled watched more video on their smartphones in 2015 compared to 2014, and 58% say they watch short videos daily. According to Merchant Marketing Group, online video accounts for about 50% of mobile traffic. And a study by Invodo reveals that 92% of mobile viewers share videos with others.

Slaking consumers' thirst for video can prove to be a highly effective way to engage prospects and customers. But getting your video message seen is just as difficult as garnering attention for any of your other content. The path forward is one of strategy, not solely of technology or delivery. Today's video marketers must focus on making their content appealing, actionable, and consistent with the vibe of the mobile video landscape.

Here's how to do it.

Think priorities

Today's mobile screens have enough resolution that marketers can probably squeeze that detailed lead-qualification questionnaire onto the screen. Don't do it. Mobile users still want a seamless interaction that doesn't feel as though it's work. Keep the conversion limited to a single action: mailing list sign-ups, clicks-to-call, and requests for a phone number are popular options.

“It's more labored on mobile to enter lead-generation information, so your conversion rate will go down,” explains Scott Young, SVP of video at Conversant. “Even if you want the phone number and email, you should choose just one.”

Empower consumers

Gene Tiernan, SVP of client services for Catapult Marketing, recommends capitalizing on the drive to watch videos that have an instructional or do-it-yourself message.

“People buy something to achieve something,” he notes. “With DIY messaging, you're helping [prospective customers] navigate products that will help them achieve something if they buy on the spot.”

For instance, Tiernan worked on a campaign for a hair-color brand that included a mobile video element launched via QR code and URL promoted at the point of purchase. Shoppers were encouraged to enter information about their hairstyle and desired color and could watch video from a professional shoot of a model exhibiting that look.

“It's engagement without having to discount the product,” Tiernan recalls.

Empowerment also means giving viewers interactive video that allows them to branch off to another action, such as clicking through to a landing page with additional information rather than just sitting and watching a linear story.

“You can give the viewer the control they need to choose their own path,” says David Schwartz, VP of sales, digital commerce solu­tions at Pitney Bowes.

Marketers need to make sure to do usability testing on interactive videos, especially when dealing with longer videos that have a lot of branches. Otherwise, they may reinvent a new form of IVR hell, in which the system makes perfect sense to the architects but is alien and confusing to outsiders.

“You need to get an understanding of what the end-to-end experience will look like,” Schwartz reminds us.

Brevity is key

Phones — even those in the mid-range of the market — have screen resolutions that offer plenty of room to show high-resolution ­images and action.

Still, keeping messages short and easily digestible promotes better engagement and is a requirement on popular delivery platforms such as Snapchat. In fact, Snapchat limits all video to 10-second bites, but some marketers have wisely used that limitation as a springboard to tell lengthier stories with quick cuts.

Understand your audience

Will a brand's audience naturally gravitate to mobile video or will they shun it?

Marketers may need to do nothing at all to encourage more mobile video views from the right audience, particularly among the younger base of consumers gravitating away from big screens and focusing more on handheld devices.

When Security First Insurance engaged Pitney Bowes EngageOne to launch inter­active video demonstrations and explanations for policyholders in late 2013, mobile views made up just 21% of all interactions for the remainder of the year.

But by 2015, mobile accounted for 49% of all such views. The campaign produces an average view length of more than six and a
half minutes while delivering key policy details without requiring consumers to read lengthy documents. And this shift was accomplished despite delivering a video experience that's uniform on both desktop and mobile.

Some audiences still prefer viewing ­video content on a laptop or desktop. Heavy indus­trial supplier Barnhart, using the same Pitney Bowes platform to send prospecting messages to a B2B audience, delivered just 13% of its video presentations to mobile viewers in 2015.

Know the limitations

Yes, phones and tablets are powerful, but quirks and limitations between platforms still exist. Unless delivered through a custom app, iPhone users will always see video as a full-screen experience, without any buttons or other “canvas” elements applied.

Few email clients, mobile or otherwise, will automatically play a full video clip.

However, most can be coaxed into displaying a few seconds of animation by sending a short GIF embedded in a message. adopted this approach to promote its instructional video content series Driver's Ed and because of it saw a 30% improvement in click-throughs. Even Apple will play an animated GIF without taking over the rest of the screen.

Although clever, this workaround has trade­offs, like a lack of audio and a generally ­lower-quality image. Mobile video can be costlier than traditional television inventory, but the payload and audience are different.

“CPMs are higher in mobile video over traditional DRTV, so the performance has to prove itself in your call-to-action,” Conversant's Young shares. “But you can reach a segment you wouldn't have reached on TV with personalized creative.”

Use the camera

When delivering mobile video, marketers aren't just sending video to a device with a screen. They're sending it to a device that also has a camera. Marketers should use that to start conversations.

“Use video to inspire people to send video back,” Catapult Marketing's Tiernan adds. “When your followers start to help you amass more content, their content becomes your brand story.”

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