If your business isn't creating online videos, you might be missing out on one of the fastest growing segments of digital advertising. Seventy-six percent of marketers at small and large companies plan to produce more videos this year, making it the top area they will invest in, according to a Social Media Examiner report.
Why are videos often preferable to many other online marketing tools? "Our brains are wired for motion," says John Medina, a developmental molecular biologist and author. "Vision trumps all other senses." Indeed, 65 percent of executives say they visit vendors' websites after watching their online videos, according to a Forbes Insights white paper.
While you might be a ways off from having your videos go viral on YouTube, well-crafted, well-targeted business videos will almost certainly drive potential customers to your website. Here are some tips to help you get your video marketing campaign rolling:
Tell a creative story and include a call to action.
To engage viewers and motivate them to share your video, tell a story that is both informative and clever. Show what makes your company, and its products and services, distinctive. Invite happy clients to record their testimonials.
Some possible video topics include: Short biographies of key employees, interviews with clients talking about why they enjoy working with you or overviews of your business or products. Videos can also be used for recruiting new employees -- everyone from college graduates to senior managers.
No matter if you are selling or recruiting, business videos should include a call to action. From visiting your website to sending you an email or calling you, ask viewers to move to the next step after watching your video.
Related: Chris Brogan on Using Video to Market Your Business (Video)
Produce professional quality videos.
You don't need a Hollywood set to shoot a video, but you might consider hiring a producer to help present your story. A professionally produced three-minute video should cost between $10,000 and $15,000, including a partial or full day of shooting. While this might seem like a major expense for one video, after it has been shared across your marketing channels your return on the investment should be measured over the next six to 18 months.
If you choose to do it yourself, be mindful of the equipment you purchase. Most anyone can buy a flip cam and start recording, but the audio and visual quality might not meet your standards. While needs vary from business to business, a complete set of equipment -- including a quality digital camera, lights, stands, wireless microphones, backdrops and editing software -- can cost about $10,000. Start by finding an affordable, amateur-friendly digital camera.
Before you get started, you'll want to become more familiar with how to light your shots and how to use a microphone to get better sound than your video recorder. Consider consulting instructional resources, such as How to Shoot Video that Doesn't Suck (Custom Productions Inc., 2011) and "12 Tips to Produce Compelling B2B Video" from the Social Media B2B blog.
Related: Five Ways to Optimize Video for Search Engines
Market videos through many channels.
YouTube, of course, can be key to any video marketing strategy. Be sure your videos are properly titled, described and tagged on YouTube so they'll show up in Google and other search engines. Also post and publicize your videos through your social media channels, where you can encourage sharing and discuss the content.
When you upload videos to your company website, you'll need to generate a Site Map XML file -- the code on the back end of your site that web crawlers review and index for search engines. Videos can also be included in online press releases, as well as e-newsletters that let you track who watches them and follow up with targeted email pitches. Newsletter recipients are usually more likely to open links to your video if they are placed under a visual screen grab from the video.
If you advertise in print, you can place a QR code or the specific URL for the video on the ad, encouraging readers to use their mobile device or computer to watch your video online. If you create a separate landing page, you can see how much traffic is coming in from your advertising.
Video results can be assessed at a basic level by using Google Analytics to see the traffic sources, dates viewed and keywords searched. A video hosting platform such as BrightCove or Ooyala can provide additional information, such as when people stop watching your videos. Video hosting can range in price from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars a month.
Don't forget to ask viewers in your "contact us forms" on your website, or through online surveys, where they viewed your video and whether it influenced them to make a buying decision. Asking questions such as, "What was memorable about the video?" can help you refine your approach and produce a higher ROI for your video budget.
Related: What You Need to Know About YouTube's New Analytics Program