We’re suckers for The Latest Trend, aren’t we?
If you didn’t have a “Baby on Board” caution sign in your car window, you probably had a MySpace profile, could be seen performing the “Running Man” dance maneuver or participated in an ice bucket challenge. Fads come and go about as rapidly as snow in the desert.
One of the hottest trends on business websites is video marketing. Predictions anticipate that it will continue to be the fastest-growing feature on mobile and desktop computers for at least the next three years. The percentage global consumer internet traffic that is video-related will grow, estimates a Cisco white paper, from 70 percent in 2015 to 82 percent by 2020.
The thing is, it might not be a hot trend at all. Videos on business websites look like they’re going to become a permanent feature of the online landscape, like blue jeans or air conditioning in your car.
Among the reasons cited for the growing popularity of videos:
- Visitors spend more elapsed time on a website when they view a video than on a site without.
- Sites with videos are more likely to be listed on the first page of the results shown by search engines.
- Videos can be more effective sales tools than text or pictures, providing a high return on investment in contrast to banner ads.
- Producing videos is becoming increasingly affordable. You’ll probably discover that producing a video for your website is not as intimidating as you might at first have thought, and there’s probably someone on your staff who knows how to do it.
Match your video to your brand
The nature of your video marketing depends on the culture of your company. The first objective is to reinforce your brand image. In some cases, your video should be entertaining, in others it should be explanatory, and in others it might be advisory. If your company image connects with your buyers as a dignified, traditional group, don’t publish videos of staff pulling pranks on each other.
Case studies are a brilliant way to include video on your site. Addressing your visitors with an answer to a question they have, e.g., “What has this product/service done for others?” or, “Can I trust your company to follow through on their promises?” can be a great way to build trust with buyers. Uncompensated interviews with successful users of your product or service is a way of showing in addition to telling interested visitors what you can do.
The purpose of video (and your website, too)
Above all, your video should encourage viewers to stick around, enjoy the experience, maybe learn something, and get closer to buying your products or services. Consider the possibility that your fiercest competitors already have video in their selling arsenal and are next on the list of sites a searcher will click on.
How-to: A checklist for reinforcing your brand with video
1) Engage as many senses as possible
One benefit of video is that it involves the eyes, ears and brains as people see pictures, hear sounds and read the written text on your site. Video can do all three simultaneously. When taste-o-rama ad smell-o-vision comes out, you can bet marketers will be in the forefront of development.
2) Be creative
Videos can be complicated and technically perfect. They can also be simple and easily produced with a more home-grown ambiance to them. Production values are determined by your message and your company’s personality. But they must be unique and clever.
There are plenty of examples of online video that is technically well produced, but boring as a hole in the ground. Of course, the opposite is also true; exceptionally creative videos work well no matter the quality of the production (within reason, of course!).
Indeed, because video is now so easy to shoot, edit and publish, almost anyone can do it. Generations aged under 30 have been doing video production on a small scale from a very young age. The challenge is to produce a video that seizes your viewers’ attention at the outset, that keeps them engaged and provides some element of emotional charge. An understanding of how humans think and behave, combined with your marketing goals should guide the entire production process.
3) Can be used as a teaser
One behavior common to all is our affinity for suspense or curiosity. If you have a lot of ground to cover, you might want your video to act more as a “sneak peek,” than to try to produce a long, elaborate epic. Few people have the time or the inclination to watch a 30-minute video when they can read the major points in fewer than five minutes.
Summarize your main points, or one compelling sales point in your video and post it on social media. From it, you can link to your blog or website where the curious can learn more.
4) Must portray a company’s culture
Your brand reflects your company’s culture, encapsulating a logo and an identity that evokes a response in the viewer, for good or ill. Your video should tap into that response. You might want to experiment with different ways of doing this, but avoid taking a story and trying to jam it into a narrative that tries to reflect your culture. Start with your culture / brand and allow a story or experience grow out of it.
5) Appeal to your demographic
Carefully define the ideal viewer you want your video to reach. You may have many different demographic appeals, but a single video doesn’t do well when spread thin. Consider it a necessary challenge to elicit the same brand response in a corporate VP as a high school student- you’ll probably find that one video can’t do what two or more are able to do.
6) Consider animation
If you want to explain a fairly complex procedure, such as assembling a new product, think about using drawings and animation to achieve your purpose. An established means of doing this “white board animation” which involves a static shot of a white surface on which the animator draws diagrams, images, and text to illustrate a concept. Show your product or service in action, like reality TV purports to do (but doesn’t really…)
7) Remember the power of story
We are naturally inclined to engage with narratives that have defined arcs. Beginning, middle, end; Characters we love must be confronted with problems to overcome while the plot builds to a suspenseful climax and satisfying denouement. This goes back to our ancient history- we’ve always been attracted to “story,” so think about framing your marketing videos in those terms.
Live streamed video
In addition to professional cameras, video can be captured on smartphones or tablets at a fairly high quality level, and uploaded to social media channels like Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and other social media sites now provide live streaming platforms.
Instead of press releases, an increasing number of businesses are using live video to announce new products or services. Presentations, speeches and press conferences are streamed live as they take place. They are also recorded to playback later should the viewer not be able to see the live event.
Such live video adds an element of newsworthiness as it imitates television’s “breaking news” stories, making it a powerful marketing tool.
Webinars, classes, product launches, staff announcements, “unboxing” reviews- all are fair game for being available on your website. Even training sessions can build your brand. If you’ve ever wondered, “wouldn’t it be great if our company were the cool vendor that people trust?” video can help make it happen.
Small businesses can use live video to connect to viewers that they might not otherwise be able to reach. The playing field is completely level in video, if not slightly in favor of smaller businesses with a local focus. These “davids” can produce a videos every bit as effective as the big-budget “goliaths.” It enables them to connect with viewers in a personal, informal way that carefully choreographed videos or presentations cannot always do.
An advantage, particularly for smaller companies, is that live video does not require considerable technical expertise or large-scale preparation in advance. Social media platforms and venues like YouTube have done a lot of the work for you. In some cases it’s as easy as pressing the start button on a camera and off you go!
Need ideas? Watch as many YouTube videos as you can whose purpose is to convince the audience. Read up on persuasion techniques. Then plan how that could be translated into a visual medium supporting your brand. Here at United WebWorks, we have a hunch that this “hot trend” is going to become mainstream and even expected, i.e., if you don’t have video on your homepage, it looks weird.. Don’t get left behind!