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The definitive guide to video marketing

Video is a great way to drive awareness, and a powerful tool to move prospects down the marketing funnel. Choosing the right messaging and formats is key to success, but to really amplify your return, you need to be smart about video assets. Our guide explains it all…


This won’t be the first article you’ve read about the growing importance of video to marketers, but the truth is that its impact is undeniable. It’s part of the marketing mix for 86% of brands, and it helps drive conversions: 78% of marketers say that video has directly increased their sales.

Marketers are responding rapidly to the public’s insatiable appetite for video (more than a billion hours of video are watched on YouTube each day). From 2019 to 2020, DemandMetric found a five-fold increase in the number of companies creating more than 50 videos a year. In the same study, the number of firms using video in customer and sales conversions almost doubled.

But while all of that is true, it only hints at what video marketing means, and how it helps to define, grow and strengthen brands. Video marketing isn’t as simple as knocking up a product launch film or placing a couple of outstream adverts. Your video marketing plan needs to reflect the messages you want to send, the formats available, your customer journey, and how all of these can interact to boost your brand performance.

So, what are the key types of video used by marketing teams, and where does each fit into the story? In this guide, we’ll explain the video formats that engage and convert, and where they come in most customer journeys. It’s a long list, so we’ll also explain how effective video management boosts your return on investment.

Awareness

Much of marketers’ work is focused on raising people’s awareness of a brand, its products, and its goals or ethos. In truth, most types of brand and product video help boost awareness, but certain formats are ideal for the job.

Adverts

The classic format has been the definitive way for brands to get attention through video. Short, attention-grabbing and to the point, you can run a video advert anywhere you can afford to place it. Video ads usually directly eulogise your brand, products or services, tell your backstory, or sell your ethos, too.

With a typical runtime of 30 seconds or less, an ad is highly versatile. It’s perfect for the short attention spans associated with social media platforms, instream advertising in TV or online content, or outstream placements. The key is to craft the right message and use personas and metrics to get it in front of the right demographics.

Launch video

The launch video is another classic way to announce and raise awareness of new product lines and updates.

Typically a couple of minutes long, a good launch video aims to outline the product, explain its USPs and pique interest. You can fill in the details with longer format video further down the funnel. Launch videos also connect with customers at the ‘consideration stage’ of the buying journey. Keep them to a minute or so long and they’re perfect for social sharing.

Dollar Shave Club’s highly successful launch video

Branded entertainment and product placement

Everyone who’s watched a Bond film can understand the impact of getting a product into a major production. Similarly, ‘sponsoring’ a TV slot or series is a great way to associate a brand with content. But directly funding third-party content opens the way to highly creative and rewarding partnerships with major talent. Take the BMW Films series, created with stars including Clive Owen and Guy Ritchie, and putting BMW cars at the centre of the action.

Branded entertainment isn’t in everyone’s playbook, and it might not be practical for smaller brands. An alternative is to work with influencers to get your products seen. But whether working with entertainment or influencers, it’s vital to select partners that reflect and strengthen your brand values, in addition to creating positive brand associations.

These approaches are subtle alternatives to direct marketing for brands wanting to get their products or name in front of the consumer. While the main goal is awareness, films showcasing a product or service can also have a big impact on consideration and conversion stages.

Product video

The product video is the perfect opportunity to raise awareness, and encourage customers in the consideration stage. It’s your chance to shout about some of your product’s major features and, because it’s video, really demonstrate their benefits to the audience.

The best product videos have a unique take or appeal – perhaps setting the product against current events, or using a gimmick such as a head-to-head comparison or testing to destruction. An engaging presenter, celebrity, or funny script can also help make them highly shareable, further boosting their reach and impact.

For example, look no further than Blendtec’s “Will it Blend?” series. For 15 years, company founder Tom Dickson has used his company’s blenders to macerate the gadgets of the day, from iPhones to an Amazon Echo. Often corny, the sub two-minute videos nonetheless perfectly demonstrate the product, and stay relevant by blending only the latest kit.

Bledtec’s Will it Blend? engaging and long standing product series

Consideration

Video helps your customers discover what makes your company and product stand out, moving them into the consideration buying stage. Video in this stage of the buying journey can be longer, allowing detailed product demos, explainers or company introductions.

The explainer

A classic format that allows companies to showcase a product or service, demystify its industry, or simply demonstrate its expertise. Often animated, a good explainer video usually takes a complex or misunderstood topic, and decodes it. Even with live-format explainers, graphics or simple text headings help highlight key points, like Spotify did in their early days.

The key to a great explainer is to keep it relatively short, and stick to a single topic. Explainers are often polished videos with professional voice-overs and are a great way to showcase your own expertise.

How-to and other informative videos perform particularly well, helping drive organic traffic on Google and YouTube. It’s key to focus on your own expertise with a refreshing or entertaining take to boost appeal.

Behind the scenes

What makes your company special? Why do people want to work there, and why should potential customers buy-in to your goals or ethos? Behind the scenes videos are the perfect way to show why your brand is different. For those competing in saturated markets, behind the scenes films can be a key way to differentiate yourself.

Going behind the scenes lets you show how you do things differently – whether it’s setting up for an event, manufacturing products, or preparing for a test. For customers, they’re a great way to discover more about a company, the people who work there, and the thought and care that’s gone into the products or services they might want to buy.

Classic behind-the-scenes formats include ‘day in the life’ videos following employees on either a typical or special work day. They can also include films exploring the company culture, or simply showing off impressive processes or facilities.

Crucially, behind-the-scenes footage is a brilliant resource. It’s easily cut down into bite-sized chunks and teasers, perfect for social sharing. It’s a great tool for recruitment, and it can add context, interest or variety to your other brand videos, from ads to corporate announcements.

Event video

For many brands, events are a major undertaking. Whether you’re presenting, sponsoring, or simply attending, event footage can be a great way to improve the return. Event films can help you showcase your brand and its influence in a certain space. And even if you’re just along for the ride, events provide the perfect chance to grab interviews from industry luminaries and your own talking heads – great for building engaging content.

Where there’s strong public interest in what you’re doing, you might want to consider live broadcasting events through a web feed, or social platforms such as Facebook Live. This obviously presents its own challenges around managing content – you’ll need an experienced team to deliver polished live video. But it’s an effective way to engage your wider audience and to build a collection of reusable footage.

Getting the right footage lets you cut multiple events films for different channels. Packaged into short social teasers, these can support more in-depth explainers, testimonial or behind-the-scenes content.

Porsche does event video so well

The series

Brands with strong ideas, personalities, or truly engaging material have the chance to create serialised content – multiple short videos that are either conceptually linked, or in succession, tell a story. Serialised content seems to hold a unique fascination for audiences. From 2017-2020, the American podcast audience grew by 54% and data suggests that 70% of US adults (aged 30-44) regularly binge-watch content. There are search benefits, too – Google loves regularly updated, quality content.

Serialised content can be led by-products or stories. For example, if you’ve got an exciting proposition – say, a market-leading smartphone – you could create a series which shows celebrities, influencers or normal members of the public using it and discovering the benefits for themselves. Alternatively, you could link multiple ‘day-in-the-life’ or behind-the-scenes videos to tell a company story. You could even repurpose a company documentary, chopping it up into serialised – and easily shared – content.

Episodes of a serial should be short, engaging, and highly shareable. Ideally, they should spark a deeper interest among customers, encouraging people with a taste for what you do to subscribe and come back for more.

Conversion

Your video strategy has helped attract customers, and entertain and inform them as they consider your brand. Now’s the time to persuade them to convert. Conversion videos tend to be highly focused on the things that influence people to buy: explaining benefits, offering discounts, reaffirming post-sales support, and showing how happy your existing customers are.

Testimonials

The testimonial video both humanises your brand and shows the benefits of what you do. It’s an opportunity to let some of your biggest fans share their story, and show how you’ve made a difference to them. Testimonials showcase the people, stories and benefits that potential buyers identify with or aspire to. They’re also an important chance to let somebody else say how great you are in their own words!

Testimonials aren’t usually designed to be highly shareable. They’re typically aimed at audiences that are already highly engaged, so they can be more than the standard minute or two in length. The ideal length might depend on the strength of the story, or how watchable the presenter is, but you don’t want to overdo it. Shorter, punchier testimonial videos might just include a brief quote from multiple customers – you could always edit together a couple of these from multiple, more in-depth case studies.

Multiple testimonial for Amazon

User-generated content

You can use UGC to create and support campaigns targeting customers on any stage of their journey, but it’s perhaps most effective when produced by existing customers, and targeted at conversion. Like a testimonial, UGC can be the perfect opportunity for brand advocates to eulogise their experience with you, or simply to show how your products or services look or feel to them.

UGC gives brands license to break from their own guidelines, perhaps knocking together highly shareable compilations of shaky fails, or even creating a short video from multiple user photos. Letting someone else tell the story provides multiple perspectives, any one of which might resonate more with a potential customer than your own messaging. UGC campaigns are almost guaranteed to be widely shared by the people who’ve contributed – done at scale, that’s likely to mean a lot of attention among your target demographic.

Sales and discounts

The most focused of conversion techniques, sales and discount messages are aimed squarely at getting prospects to convert. You might want to drive conversions by widely announcing a Christmas, new season or Black Friday sale: video can be the perfect way to showcase the goods and show people why now is the time to snap them up.

Alternatively, video can be used as a tool to support targeted sales campaigns. For example, as an embedded element in an abandoned basket follow-up email. By offering a discount, free upgrade or similar sweetener, video content can help reengage people and encourage them to return.

Make all your videos work

While we’ve separated out several video formats, and shown where each fits in the customer journey, the truth is that there’s plenty of overlap between ideas, formats – and the point at which customers will be receptive to them. Brands shouldn’t confine themselves to just doing ‘social’ videos, or targeting their limited video resources at a single point in the marketing funnel. If you already have video content, why not repurpose it for all stages for the funnel (even shopping cart abandonment) and get more return on the investment?

Hubspot, for example, transformed customer testimonials into powerful videos that mix customer endorsements with images of their work. Facebook took a similar route with its ‘We’re Never Lost If We Can Find Each Other’ campaign, stitching together UGC videos into a moving snapshot of life during the pandemic.

The problem is that for many marketers, video is an ‘add-on’ activity. While it’s probably a fundamental part of your approach now, it wasn’t always so, and the tools and workflows you’re using might reflect that.

Whether you’ve entirely outsourced production, or whether you use a mix of in-house and agency resources, the way video assets are stored, organised and shared can be chaotic. But it doesn’t need to be. Video is just another content format, one that should fit seamlessly into your existing marketing strategy alongside other creative assets like images and audio. To get the most from video, marketers, creative partners and other stakeholders simply need an easy way to access and manage it.

With controlled, secure sharing, teams can take the confusion out of iterating content, and moving it through the approval process. With powerful search, marketers can slash the time lost to looking for assets. And with extensive indexing and metadata tools, it’s easy to identify and re-use existing footage, without the time and expense of trying to recreate it.

Go for a better way to manage your video assets

We created Imagen Go for marketers and other creative teams looking to solve their video production problems. It provides marketing teams with the features they need to manage and share their creative assets, and realise the full benefits of their video production budget. Among other features, Imagen Go lets you:

  • Store everything in one place
  • Automate tagging
  • Find, use and re-use content quickly
  • Collaborate efficiently

Whatever your video marketing strategy, Imagen Go supports you to store and share digital media between stakeholders. It makes it easy to find content, collaborate on creative projects and bring campaigns to market quicker. And with source files, outtakes and other content always ready to hand, Imagen Go ensures you can use and repurpose all your assets, cut together multiple takes, formats and approaches from existing content, and really maximise your return – whatever your video marketing budget.

Want to spin your existing assets into video marketing gold? Sign up for an Imagen Go free trial and discover how our light-weight digital asset management tool can boost the return on your video investment.   

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