Four Rules of Effective Video

Online video. It’s the biggest news in marketing since the web first arrived on the scene in the mid-90s. According to Cisco, video currently accounts for 51 percent of internet traffic—and it...
Four Rules of Effective Video
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  • Online video. It’s the biggest news in marketing since the web first arrived on the scene in the mid-90s. According to Cisco, video currently accounts for 51 percent of internet traffic—and it’s on its way to 90 percent by 2014.

    Sure, a video of a cat playing the piano or swatting at an imaginary fly might get a lot of views on YouTube, but producing something catchy and outrageous is not what’s needed to get you better brand visibility. In fact, it’s quite the opposite —often, the simple, direct approach works best when it comes to getting maximum performance of your videos.

    If you’re wondering what approach works best, below are some guidelines to consider when it comes to product videos, so you can get greater impact with minimal investment.

    Align with the Brand. For some brands that have a more “edgy” persona, unpolished or user-generated video might work great. For most websites, however, this isn’t the case.

    Your video production values should reflect the level of polish your brand and website represent. A few years ago, professional-grade video was time- and cost-prohibitive, putting it out of reach for many online businesses. But thanks to automated video platforms, that’s no longer true. Effective, sophisticated video can be easily created using your existing product data feed, including product descriptions and images, and can even incorporate background music and voiceover to give the videos more punch.

    As you develop video assets, make sure the overall look and feel incorporate aspects of your branding. Consider establishing a style standard, with uniform opening and closing sequences or a template that frames the imagery. Leveraging the look of your company’s website will increase viewer confidence, enhance brand awareness and ultimately encourage greater conversions.

    Tell Them to Press Play. Everyone knows what to do when they see a video player, right? Not necessarily. You’d be surprised at just how important including a Play button can be. You wouldn’t send out a direct mail package without a call to action, even though you could just as appropriately assume that a reader would know what to do with your phone number. Sometimes people need a nudge — a reminder of what to do next.

    If you still need convincing, consider the case of Tool King . Not only did the addition of video increase this online marketer’s conversion rates by 440%, but testing different video versions showed that the inclusion of a play icon on the first frame of video thumbnails doubled user views — and user views lead to higher conversions. A small change, certainly, but it had a significant impact on sales.

    Beat the Control. A/B testing is a simple way to identify what really motivates viewers to act. Just like Tool King tested videos with and without Play icons, you can test narration vs. no narration, male vs. female voiceover, types of music, illustration vs. photography, different promotional offers, variations in text color, and so on.

    Through A/B tests, you can measure the impact of isolated elements and continue to fine-tune your efforts. Just remember that only one variable should be tested at a time, or you won’t know what contributed to the lift. If you want to test more than one aspect, you’ll need multiple video versions and you’ll want to run the tests in succession. Fortunately, automated video solutions make this fast and easy, so it’s well worth it to hone your approach until you know exactly what works.

    EyeBuyDirect is a great example of A/B testing in action. The company created two versions of a video for its online glasses shop. The videos are identical, except that one uses a male voice and one uses female. Even the scripts are the same. The difference in performance, however, is substantial. It turns out that EyeBuyDirect’s audience responds much more positively to the male voice, generating a conversion rate more than three times higher than the female voice version.

    Keep Moving Assets Forward. When using an automated video platform, you provide a variety of content and images to a secure site, and the system does the rest. The quality of your finished videos depends upon the quality and breadth of the assets you upload into this data feed. As you add more images and information, it can be automatically pulled into videos.

    This is great news, because it means you can start with a simple set of data or inputs, and supplement it over time. Ultimately, your online assets should include:

    • A variety of high-resolution product images — including catalog and lifestyle shots
    • Any existing video footage you might have
    • Product descriptions, specifications and tips
    • Company branding elements, including taglines, logos and positioning statements
    • Current pricing, special offers and calls to action
    • Customer ratings and reviews

    Video offers tremendous benefits for marketers and site owners with the foresight and agility to take it on. And by following a few simple guidelines, determined through the trial-and-error of others who have gone before you, you can assure that you get the greatest return from your efforts.

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