If I Had a Dollar for Every Piece of Video Content Out There…

Let’s say you’re a marketer on a Lost-inspired desert island (minus the polar bears). Which marketing tool would you wish you’d brought with you? Assuming there’s Internet…and electricity…and The Swiss Family Robinson happens to be there with credit cards…

I posed that question to Michael Litt, CEO and cofounder of video marketing company Vidyard, and asked him to make the case for video to be that tool.

“Well, you could probably create some really awesome content about what life was like on that island,” Litt jokes. “But seriously, tweets, written content, and photos can only go so far; video is the most engaging medium on the Web—it’s the next best thing to being there in person.”

Consumers clearly agree, as is evidenced by their actions. According to Cisco, by 2017 online video will be responsible for nearly 70% of all consumer Internet traffic. Within three years, nearly one million minutes of video content will cross content delivery networks every second. By then Cisco estimates it would take an individual more than five million years to watch the amount of video content generated each month. To put that into perspective, the genus of great ape from which modern humans derive still hadn’t evolved five million years ago.

Video is a handy marketing tool at any stage of the funnel, Litt says. A brief consumer-facing introductory video on your homepage to entice a visitor at the beginning of the process; a testimonial from a satisfied customer after some initial interest has been shown; and perhaps a training video towards the end of the process when your prospect has already bought your product or signed up for your service.

In a weird way (bear with me) video is a bit like a gun…or at least the use of video, or any marketing tool really, is a bit like that old, dog-eared expression: Guns don’t kill people; people kill people. Well, videos don’t convert prospects; marketers with a smart video strategy convert prospects.

For example, take that consumer-facing introductory video for your homepage. You may have a great product to sell with 74 amazing features, but no one at the top of the funnel is going to watch an in-depth documentary about them.

“Some brands make the assumption that people have massive attention spans for content and they’ll make a 15-minute video for their homepage and then not even track who’s watching it,” Litt says. “A video like that should be one minute or a minute and a half at the most and brands should be tracking everything their audience is doing.”

Another misconception about video content: That one big budget video will change your world and go so viral the CDC will have to get involved. Litt warns against unrealistic expectations. Effective video is part of an overarching strategy rather than a magical lightning strike.

“You don’t just create one tweet or one blog and walk away, and the same is true for video,” he says. “You have to consistently improve and reiterate your message in different ways.”

In the same vein, there’s little point in looking at the number of views as any real indication of a video’s overall success. Know who you are. It makes sense for Nike or Dove to get millions of hits on their videos, but there’s no need to be Nike or Dove to have a business impact.

“Marketers often expect thousands of views on YouTube,” Litt says. “But if a brand gets 100 views and they’re all targeted at the right viewers through Google search—then that’s actually a huge win.”

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