The Value Of Video

December 8, 2016

Leverage your marketing content by letting the camera roll.

By Lorrie Bryan

You’ve likely heard the widely touted statement by Forrester Research’s Dr. James McQuivey that a one-minute video is worth 1.8 million words. Note, though, that this popular assertion (100,000+ references on Google) is not a scientific conclusion based on research comparing ROIs. Rather, it’s an assumption based on the simple equation that a 60-second video includes 1,800 pictures, each worth 1,000 words—according to the popular idiom first purported more than 100 years ago.

Beyond the clichés, however, there’s real evidence that suggests that video marketing is gaining value and should be part of your integrated marketing strategy. A compelling video can effectively engage discerning consumers who otherwise fast-forward through TV commercials (or prefer to stream commercial-free), skip the YouTube commercials, block pop-up ads, exile most of their emails to the spam folder, and banish the bulk of their mail to the waste bin.

Here are some recent statistics:

  • Combining video with full-page ads boosts engagement by 22 percent (Rhythm New Media).
  • After viewing a video, 65 percent of executives visit the marketer’s website and 39 percent call a vendor (Forbes).
  • Including video in an email leads to a whopping 200-300 percent increase in click-through rate (Forrester Research).
  • About 36 percent of online consumers trust video ads (NielsenWire).

“Video is no longer an up-and-coming marketing tactic. It’s here, and it’s a powerful way to communicate your brand story, explain your value proposition, and build relationships with your customers and prospects,” says Andrea Horner, marketing director for Magline, a leading manufacturer in the materials handling industry. “We use video marketing as a means to provide prospective customers with relevant information to help them make a knowledgeable buying decision. We create videos that demonstrate sample applications, explain specifications for the savvier buyer, and utilize testimonials of customers who have already adopted the new product into their supply chain. We link the videos to our social media, website, blog, eBlast campaigns, and direct mail efforts.”

Magline has been using video for decades, but tying product videos to marketing campaigns is more recent. Horner says that the company now won’t launch a new product without a video. “Utilizing video in our content marketing efforts has increased our SEO, has increased customer engagement (it is very easy to share and comment on videos), and has produced higher click-through rates to our website,” she says. “It has definitely helped drive sales and assisted with penetration into nontraditional markets for us.”

Essentials Of Effective Video Marketing

You may be familiar with the video button on your smartphone, but that doesn’t mean you can (or should) create engaging marketing videos for your company. “Many have a false understanding that any video content is good and more is better. But just like in the print world, better is better, and your brand depends on how well your story is packaged,” explains Mark Plante, producer of the Magline videos. “Although nearly everyone these days is equipped with the technology to capture video, the success of your brand depends on the respect you give your audience by delivering them a high-quality, well-executed message.”

So how do you best package your story? What is essential for high-quality, effective video marketing? Here are four suggestions from video marketing experts Plante, owner of Imageworks LTD, a full-service video production company, and Steve Cronk, co-founder of Aberro Creative, an award-winning marketing agency.

Including video on a landing page can increase conversion by 80 percent

Tell a story

Whether you’re demonstrating how a new product can be used or sharing your company’s history, a good story is the foundation of a good video. Your video should not be a static PowerPoint presentation with outlined talking points. Rather, it should be a drama that highlights your product or service.

“First with television and later with the early stages of online video advertising, there was an assumption that you could force people to watch your video. You selected your message, put it in a 30-second spot, then paid money to jam it in front of as many eyeballs as you could afford,” explains Cronk. “But today, viewers have more control. They’re fast-forwarding past commercials, skipping YouTube ads, and installing ad blockers. Most web browsing happens on phones that won’t auto-play videos. You can’t force people to watch your video anymore—they have to choose to watch it. But nobody chooses to watch an advertisement, and this has led to an evolution away from blatant advertising and toward storytelling.”

You should stop thinking like a marketer and start thinking like a screenwriter, Cronk advises. “The video should end in a different place than it starts, and the content should reveal how we got from A to B. Along the way, we should experience challenges, failures, breakthroughs, and consequences. Your brand is the hero of this story; its unique characteristics should be crucial in helping us go from A to B,” Cronk explains.

He cites the example of a video his company produced for an award-winning small Michigan hard cider producer. “The Forgotten Ciders video tells the story of this cidery’s one-of-a-kind apple varieties and unique commitment to heritage. After watching it, you immediately understand why their hard cider is different from everyone else’s.”

The video’s storyline is carried by both verbal and visual narrative arcs. “Verbally, the speakers establish the history of the orchard and its rare apple varieties, and then explain how their family produces cider today. Visually, we see an abbreviated ‘farm-to-tap’ process,” Cronk explains. “The video opens on rows of trees and ends with a bottle of cider being poured. In between, we see the work—from driving a tractor to bottling the cider—necessary to get from A to B. It’s not as black-and-white as, say, a sitcom’s plot structure, but it’s enough to keep the video moving forward. The slow motion pour at the end is the culmination of both of those narratives.”

Offer a distinct point of view

Cronk adds that a distinct point of view, or voice—notable in the Forgotten Ciders video—is essential because viewers crave authenticity. “Especially when working with a large team, it can be easy to make a video that is so safe and inoffensive that it’s boring. Don’t be afraid to stand for something. The corollary is that you must also be willing to stand against something,” he says. “Not everyone will enjoy your video or even agree with you—and that’s OK. Be honest. Be human. Don’t hide from debate or controversy—embrace it.”

Target visual appeal

Every frame, every image in a video matters and should support your message and illustrate your story. “A great story needs great visuals—video images that illustrate your story in a powerful way so that you are not depending on words and graphics to tell your complete story,” Plante says. He also notes that you need great graphics. “You have to stay true to your brand, but you also need to incorporate new motion techniques. You have to be creative to engage your audience.”

Be concise

One of the timeless tenets of great writing, written by William Strunk Jr. nearly a hundred years ago in The Elements of Style, says that vigorous writing is concise. “…This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.” Likewise, vigorous videos should be concise.

“On the internet, attention spans are incredibly short. Many people think this just means you should make your video as short as possible, but that’s not exactly true,” Cronk explains. “Yes, you should cut anything that is not essential to the story. That’s as true for online video as it is for feature films. But the more important takeaway is that your video should quickly promise progress toward an end goal. People will happily watch a longer video if they can feel it moving from point A to point B. Very early in the video, we want to catch the viewer’s attention, show progress on our journey, and promise that there will be payoff at the end.”

Is video marketing here to stay? Cronk says there’s no going back. “Once the Pandora’s Box of ad blockers and skippable video ads was opened, it’s hard to imagine anyone could close it again without losing their audience. Not only is this trend here to stay, but we’ll see it accelerate in the future as viewers have even more control over their media,” he predicts.