Today, video content is more important than ever for building your business and achieving your marketing goals.
My background is in direct-response marketing, both business-to-business and consumer, but my education was in photography, illustration and advertising design. Throughout my corporate career, every design gig ended up becoming a marketing gig, since I often have some common-sense ideas about headlines, copy and marketing strategies — the latter of which often have video as a key component.
Why video? Here's what the last few years of integrating video into clients’ strategies has taught me.
People are reading less.
We’re now in an age where streaming video is prevalent — and we expect to be able to watch whatever content we want, wherever and whenever we want. As more and more content is accessed on a 5-inch (or even 3-inch) smartphone screen, reading has also become more difficult for many people.
I wonder if the budget hit our public education systems has taken over the past few decades has anything to do with a preference for visual media over text; fewer people seem to be in love with reading a good novel. Print sales are down across the board, and consumer magazines and newspapers are dropping like flies — yet Netflix and YouTube are hugely popular.
If you’re selling, say, graduate-level psychology textbooks, maybe a text-intensive approach will work. I’d still want to test a video that’s intellectually engaging and benefits-oriented.
Engaging videos are the ones people share with their friends.
A good video makes an impact on many levels.
A well-produced video can function as a strictly informative tool. But video can also have emotional and even subconscious effects. People respond to emotion — even if the emotion is simply a sense that someone takes pride in their product or truly loves providing a given service to their clients.
In fact, with the tools available to today’s video creator, calling it “video” is an understatement. Video has, historically, “looked like video” — like a soap opera compared to a cinematic film. There are numerous technical reasons for this, but it boils down to the fact that today, even a low-budget corporate video can have the look and feel of a best-picture Oscar winner — and those tools are very inexpensive.
There are now fewer hurdles between a filmmaker with vision and the final realized product. It’s now more an issue of talent and experience versus equipment and crew costs.
What does this mean? It means your low-budget video can use the same cues and techniques that make a Hollywood epic so engaging. It means that in the right hands, a $1,000 budget can produce a video that looks like it had a $10,000 budget.
Video explains better than any other medium.
Not only can video contain the basic tools of “explaining” a concept, an idea, a service or a product, it can organize those tools and encapsulate that explanation in the most powerful way — and in a way that the content creator controls.
Lynda.com is one popular example among many that offer software and skill training through videos.
How many times have you thought you expressed your message in a written report, an ad or a web page but found that people still didn’t grasp key facts? You point out to them exactly where on the page that fact was expressed, and they say, “Oh, I must have missed that”.
Video allows you to guide someone through a concept in a linear fashion, and introduce elements in an orderly way — through words, images, charts, graphs, explanations, testimonials — which keeps your audience focused.
Video breaks down the walls between seller and audience.
This is particularly huge for service businesses — and most businesses are service business, even if they don’t realize it. Most of us are resistant to “opening our personal space” to those we perceive as wanting something from us. That’s why we dread new-car shopping. That’s why many of us try to avoid sales floor workers in department stores.
Most of us have a deep, innate sense of self-protection, which can cause us to view a salesperson as essentially a predator.
That’s why it’s so damn hard for a potential lead to actually pick up the phone! Do they dare allow a new person into their space? A person who (they may subconsciously assume) only truly wants their money or the money in their marketing budget?
Videos are opportunites to build relationships with a lead while letting them feel "safe" — that is, protected from the sales team.
Video introduces you. Video is a safe, non-intrusive way for a potential customer to get to know you, your product, your service, your environment, or the culture of your business. And they get to know you on their terms, in their space, when it’s convenient for them. Video breaks down that wall in a way that leaves the potential customer in complete control of the encounter.
In many cases, video allows a customer to feel that they’ve already met you, that they’ve already begun a relationship with you.
Video can be a lead qualifier.
This relates to the above: Imagine a viewer of a video who gets a much clearer idea of you or your business than they would have from a text-and-images-based web page — but the “big picture” they got makes it clear that your business isn’t the right choice for them? Have you lost a lead?
But what if they had made contact with you based on a web page and gone through the process of phone calls, meetings, tours, presentations? They should end up with the same impression of your business as they would by viewing an honest and accurate video. In which case, they’d still find your business was not the best match for their needs.
In that case, you have jumped through a lot of hoops for an unqualified (or mismatched) lead. Leads are great and we all want them — unless they’re not a good fit for what we do. Especially not when it takes time and money to figure out that they’re not a good match.
Video is a powerful SEO tool.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of maximizing the visibility of a website in a search engine’s unpaid results. Or as most businesses see it, it’s a magic mojo that gets your site on the first page of Google and, hopefully, at the top of the listings.
And Google likes video. In fact, Google owns YouTube. It’s not unusual to have your YouTube video rank higher in search results than your home page.
YouTube videos can rank in the top of Google's search results.
I know from personal experience that a YouTube video that’s closely integrated with your business can lift your website’s ranking. This takes some common-sense steps in positioning your video, along with some best-practices SEO work on your site. None of this is magic, and none of it requires a PhD. The web is full of best-practices articles for SEO success. In fact, we've written blog posts about it. Video simply ups your odds.
Video makes testimonials more powerful.
We’ve all seen text snippets of testimonials. We all wonder if those people even exist. Video testimonials, when done properly, bring testimonials to life. Humans respond to stories, and well-done testimonials are positive, upbeat stories with happy endings.
It’s true that many TV commercials obviously use paid actors with fake, wooden testimonials. But when the process is done right — from finding the right customers who will agree to be in your video, to developing a concise testimonial and editing for impact and brevity — it can be extremely powerful. I believe that at a subconscious level, viewers empathize with the subject. They think, “That person's just like me." In their minds, they feel like they already are your customer.
Well-made video makes you (or your business) a star.
We’ve all seen low-quality videos. (Local auto dealer TV spots are constant offenders!) Badly shot iPhone videos. Poorly lit videos with terrible audio. Bad editing, 1970s title designs, poor graphics or terrible effects. The world is full of 'em.
But a well-made video with a style, a look and feel equal to well-produced TV series or a Hollywood film, with crisp audio and wise editorial choices? I’m speaking about an almost subconscious level: Our experiences as consumers of modern media tell us that the subject is of higher importance. Our minds tend to file things into appropriate slots. A good video files you under “professional, serious, important."
Viewers can tell the difference in quality; a professionally done video presents your business as pros.
And in many cases, there’s a sense of the gravity of television. Viewers may think, “I saw you on TV so you must be important.” Even if it wasn’t TV but an iPad — seeing someone (or something) framed, lit, and treated in the way we associate with subjects worthy of filming and broadcasting? In my experience, there’s a powerful subconscious lift in the sense of relevance and importance of the subject.
This doesn’t work with blurry YouTube clips on shaky iPhones, but it does work with content that has the attributes of professional cinema or TV media. Our minds “file” those impression in the same space.
Video boosts conversion rates.
This makes sense in light of the above — if all these factors are true, a well-executed video on your landing page should boost conversions. But Unbounce.com and several other landing-page-creation sites state that video increases conversion rates by 80% in their tests. Repeat that: an 80% increase in conversion rates. That should make investing in video even more valuable to your sales efforts.
I suppose there must be some product or service where video isn’t an appropriate tool. But in my experience, video has provided significant results every time I’ve employed it. Computing power and the prevalence of professional features in many consumer cameras have turned what was once an expensive proposition into an affordable and high-value must-have. And the evolution of the internet has opened numerous avenues to broadcast your video and target your audience.