Video production and video content marketing have no barriers to entry; anyone can grab a camera, press record and publish their video content on a number of channels like Youtube and LinkedIn. As a result, our industry is full of contradictory pricing, poor quality videos, muddled production and marketing jargon. Many digital and traditional marketers and professionals with no previous interest or knowledge in video production have flooded the marketplace with advice and video marketing services. Lacking any practical background in creating professional videos, they are the first to advise their clients to make their own videos without hiring professionals and then spend marketing dollars promoting those videos to potential customers.
Underestimating the level of expertise, time and cost needed to create a great video is a common issue. The first step to creating effective video content marketing begins with an awareness of defined video production roles, understanding what types of videos should be created, how often to create them, where to publish them and developing a strategic video SEO process after the videos are published.
Anatomy Of A Poorly Made Video
- Poor Lighting or no-lighting.
- Poor quality audio.
- Bad composition.
- Bad editing.
- Poorly written script or no script at all.
- Low quality, wrong scale of production equipment.
No Barrier To Entry In Video Content Marketing
Clients asking for a quote to produce a single video can receive estimates ranging from $0 from portfolio-building beginners to $150,000 from an established production company. This wide range in pricing, creates confusion and frustration for both the client and production company. Lacking industry wide standards, some companies and individuals provide their clients detailed cost breakdowns, while others do not. The AICP has a standardized bidding form linked here in which all roles, equipment, locations and props are broken down by line item. The AICP form is an example of how production costs should be broken-down.
I’ve seen marketing directors hire one person or promote an existing employee from their marketing team, to single-handedly run their entire video marketing department. The new hire is quickly frustrated because they don’t have the training, experience, and team to help do the job at a professional level.
Understanding Production Roles
To find a production partner or hire an inhouse team, it’s necessary to have a basic knowledge of production roles.
The most generic industry catch-all buzzword for someone who operates cameras is a videographer. Everyone in the industry, even videographers have been using this term in the most broad definition possible to encompass anyone who shoots videos.
A “one-man band” videographer is a common phrase in the production industry used to describe a single individual that tries to produce, shoot, light, setup and monitor audio, direct the video, and edit all at the expense of quality.
A Breakdown Of Production Roles
- A director has the highest authority on set. A film/tv/commercial director is not to be confused with a creative director whose job is to determine the creative vision of a brand or project and most likely has no working knowledge or experience on a production set. A creative director will often work with the brand to determine the high-level creative vision of a video but it’s the commercial director’s job to execute video production from start to finish. A director is in-charge of pre-production, production and post-production. They are responsible to stay on-budget for all three phases of production. On set, all departments, producers, crew, and talent report to the director. They are in charge of every component of a commercial and control the video’s artistic and dramatic elements, guiding the technical crew and actors in the realization of their vision. Directors decide how scenes unfold, what props are needed, and how the actors look.
- A producer initiates the development of production and like the director, oversees the project to completion. They find the right team for the project and also coordinate with the client, director, crew, and editor to make sure everyone is on the same page and expectations are managed. A good producer will clear all obstacles of production with the single goal of making certain the film or commercial gets done.
- A director of photography (DP or Cinematographer) is responsible for the lighting and framing of each shot. They select the proper equipment to execute the director’s vision. The DP is also chief of gaffer and grip, and is the second in command on set under the director.
- A camera operator physically controls camera equipment. An operator can also be the DP.
- A gaffer (lighting technician) is the chief lighting technician on set and is in charge of the electrical department. On a large set, the gaffer oversees a team of lighting techs to execute the lighting plan.
- A grip is responsible to build and maintain all of the equipment that supports the cameras. Supporting equipment includes tripods, dollies, tracks, jibs, cranes, sliders, rigs, car mounts, etc. Grips assemble this equipment according to the DP’s specifications.
- A production sound mixer (location sound recordist, sound mixer) is responsible for recording all sound on set. This requires choice and deployment of microphones, recording media and mixing of audio signals in real time.
- A digital imaging technician (DIT) guarantees the production meets its technical objectives on set. A DIT wrangles data and also protects the data with a redundant capture management system. After the shoot, the DIT creates audio synced and color-corrected dailies for review. Dailies allow the production team to review the previous day’s shoot.
- A set designer is in charge of designing and sometimes creating the sets that appear on video. A set designer works with the director to understand the feel for the style and tone of the production. All of the scenery, furniture and props you see in a commercial, are part of the set designers job. In Wes Anderson’s films, the bold work of the set designer plays a significant role in the story.
- A production assistant (PA) clearly communicates instructions from the director to the cast and crew. They may be asked to prepare daily call sheets (documents that describe scenes, shoot times, locations and actors needed) and run errands.
How Much Does A Video Cost?
Creating a detailed video creative brief is the first step to accurately calculate cost. The video brief should provide a working set of guidelines that includes the project background, objectives, target audience, key message, how and where the video will be distributed, mandatory elements (elements that are non-negotiable), timeline, budget and approval process.
When discussing budget, the most commonly heard questions/comments are:
- We don’t have a video budget.
- I/we don’t know how much a video costs.
- It’s just a simple shoot, nothing crazy, just some interviews and Broll. How much?
- How much for a __ second video?
- How about a ballpark number for a ____ second video?
While so many videos online may look similar, each video is a custom product, addressing the client’s specific needs, unique logistics and challenges.
Even a “simple” interview can vary in terms of cost. For example, a nervous client not accustomed to being on camera, can often have difficulty answering questions, putting their ideas together into short cohesive sound-bytes, and remembering their points. The director may decide to shoot overtime or schedule an additional day, adding production costs. On the post-production side, the editor will require more time work with incomplete interview answers. Alternatively, an experienced on-camera interviewee who is ill prepared, can also cause production delays.
What is Video Content Marketing?
Video content marketing refers to the use of videos on digital channels to promote and market a product or service. Search engine results, social media, email, messaging, mobile apps, webinars, streaming video, music services and games are examples of digital channels. With the goal of improving engagement, educating customers and increasing conversions, video needs to be used strategically and creatively.
The Transformation from One-Off Videos to Video Content Marketing Strategies
In 2018/2019, video transformed from a singular marketing tactic to a holistic business approach. Companies that didn’t have the million dollar budgets to hire ad agencies, are now seeing the value in creating a series of videos, each specific to a particular purpose. Ad agencies understand that one really good video is not going to bring results like a targeted series of videos with an ongoing video content marketing strategy behind them.
Types of Video Content
The two main types of video are live action and animation. Live action is real people, real world footage. Often used for explainer videos, animation is useful for showing visual content that would otherwise be impractical, expensive or just plain difficult to shoot. When trying to decide live action versus animation, here are some considerations.
Live Action Video
- Shows emotion with real people on-camera (People like seeing other people)
- Often used to demonstrate a real product or service
- Great for showing shots that would be expensive and or impractical to shoot
- With a good animation team, creative options are endless
- The animator can always update the animation when the product or service changes so the video remains relevant, versus updating live action that would require scheduling a production re-shoot
Types of Videos
- A Promo Video is typically 2-3 minutes in duration and is designed to promote a product or service. A good promo video feels personal, focused on specific products and is not overtly salesy.
- A Video Testimonial is a personal and honest story told by a real customer. It often includes the problem a customer faced and describes how a company helped them solve it. Video testimonials are most often used at the bottom of the sales funnel during the leads evaluation stage. However, they can also be useful during the awareness phase to generate interest.
To learn more about video testimonials, check-out “How To Create Powerful Video Testimonials That Drive Sales.”
- A Profile Video is a 1-2 minute video that gives an overview of a brand as a whole and what it has to offer.
- A Company Culture Video aka (Recruitment Video/Welcome Video/New Hire Video/Onboarding Video) shows the employee experience and gives genuine insights as to what it would really feel like working at a company.
- A Commercial Ad is a scripted video that is usually 30 or 60 seconds in length and features actors instead of real people promoting a product or service. A commercial is created to run on TV or online advertisement.
11 Types of Commercials
- Demonstration ad illustrates how a product works
- Testimonial ad is an interview with a real person designed to give credibility to a product or service
- A Stand-Up ad shows an actor standing before the camera and delivering a straightforward sales pitch
- A Slice-Of-Life ad is a short play focused on two or more people and their story which incorporates the product
- Animation ads are flexible in content and messaging.
- Jingles ad is comprised of a brand slogan, set to a catchy tune
- Humor ad uses comedy to promote a product or service
- Continuing characters can be animations or actors that continually appear in a series of ads for the same brand. Over time, the actor becomes the face of the product
- Reason-Why Copy ad tells the audience a list of reasons why people should buy a product or service
- Emotion ad uses nostalgia, charm or sentiment to connect emotionally with the audience. Emotion ads are popular during the super bowl and are both memorable and persuasive. Humor ads can also be considered emotion ads
- Life-Style ad are often shot with a narrative layered on top of visuals that focus on the consumer experience and how the product fits into their lifestyle
Funnel Focused Video Content Marketing Strategy
- Awareness stage is when buyers realize they have a problem and begin researching possible solutions. Profile and testimonial videos are great video choices for the awareness phase.
- In the interest phase, the potential buyer is aware of a company’s product or service and can be shown a company culture video so they can learn more about the brand and the people behind it.
- During the consideration phase, a potential buyer is comparing one company’s products or services with their competitors. This is where explainer videos help potential buyers realize the superiority of a product/service over the competition. Explainer videos can be sent through email campaigns and published on social media.
- In the evaluation phase, video testimonials from real customers are a business’ best bet to tip a lead from evaluator to buyer. Social media is a great channel for video testimonials.
- At the very bottom of the funnel is the sale. Businesses want to show buyers how-to videos in the form of tutorials, product demos and FAQ’s. A company website and social media are both good channels to publish how-to videos.
Video Content Marketing Promotion Channels
Although each channel has unique video specs, there are common guidelines that should be followed.
- Optimize your videos for phones: 50% of all video is watched on mobile
- Add captions: 85% of videos are watched on mute
- Increase video completion rates by keeping the duration to two minutes maximum. Channels like Youtube, give better ranking preference to videos with higher completion rates. Additionally, if you have a call to action (CTA) at the end of your video, but the video is not engaging or just too long, viewers will not reach your CTA
Social Media Focused Strategy
Since most people go to social channels for entertainment purposes, any promotional content should be entertaining and evoke emotional reactions from viewers. Videos without an emotional or entertaining element are often ignored on social media.
The Importance of Good Video Content Thumbnails
When you search on Google or Youtube, the thumbnail is the first thing that catches your attention. Think of a thumbnail as an ad for your video. Therefore, interesting thumbnails attract views. If you have the budget, I highly recommend hiring a graphic designer to create all of your video thumbnails. If you don’t have the budget for a designer, here are some guidelines on how to make an effective video thumbnail.
- Show strong emotions
- When applicable, use a closeup of a person’s face
- Make sure the image is exposed correctly so the audience can see the talent and or product
- Use complementary colors in the wardrobe, set design and graphic design elements such as the font.
- Keep it accurate. The thumbnail should clearly represent the content of the video
- Use an uncluttered image so viewers can quickly identify what your video is all about with just a quick scrolling glance
- Add text overlays with short, catchy headlines
Conduct Market Research Before Making Videos
To run effective video content marketing campaigns, you must first know your audience. By answering these questions below, you can begin to see what kinds of videos you should be making. If you hire a production company, their success rate will be dependent upon the answers to questions you provide them.
- Who is your customer?
- How old are they?
- Where do they live?
- What kind of job do they have?
- What does your audience need and what do they want?
- How will you stay current and relevant to your customers needs?
- What are your competitors doing?
- What types of videos are they creating?
- What are they using them for? To improve conversions, education, brand awareness?
- Which communication channels are they using and which are they most successful on?
- What topics are they focusing on?
- What is the tone of their videos?
- How much content are they creating per week, month and year?
SEO Video Content Marketing
After uploading a video on Youtube and creating a good thumbnail, you can begin your video SEO marketing strategy with keywords, long-tail keywords and a catchy video title. After the video has been published, you’ll want to begin reviewing key performance indicators (KPI’s). After reviewing KPIs, you’ll tweak the video SEO and if necessary, re-cut the video. This strategy is continuous and not something you should expect to do only once. Like any other business operation, if you want your videos to work for you, expect to follow up and continuously optimize them as you receive more feedback and performance insights.
Before publishing your content, you want to understand what keywords your target audience will use to find your new video. A common mistake is to choose popular keywords with a lot of search volume rather than spend the extra time to research more targeted search terms with less volume. Choosing less popular keywords may sound counterintuitive but video marketing is all about pairing your product or service with the right lead, not making it a popularity contest. If sales is your goal, then the keywords should attract and find customers rather than high views from people who may not convert to paying customers. A storefront in Times Square may receive a lot of traffic but have very few buyers.
Practice Using Accurate Keywords
If you’re making a workout video, it may be tempting to use keywords like “workout”, but if your workout video focuses on pushups, then a better set of keywords could be “wide grip pushup” and “diamond pushup” assuming your video features these kinds of exercises.
Don’t use keywords that trick viewers into watching your video; be honest and accurate. If a viewer clicks your video expecting to see diamond pushups, and the video starts with crunches, you can expect high-bounce rates. As previously mentioned, Youtube favors videos with higher completion rates.
To find great keywords, try Google’s keyword planner or Ahrefs website. Both can provide insights into what keywords your competitors are using on specific channels. Keyword searches on Google may not be the same as Youtube searches because people searching on Youtube are entering different kinds of search criteria. Ahrefs can show you search volume for Google separately from channels like Youtube.
Search intent is the why behind a search query. Not all keywords that seem relevant to your video will elicit the same thinking in others. Let’s look at some examples.
Is my search intent informational, am I searching for a digital marketing provider or do I want to learn what digital marketing is? Understanding keywords used in a searcher’s intent is important to the content of your videos and the video titles.
- “Digital marketing”
- “Digital marketing services near me”
The searcher is in the market for a product or service but hasn’t made a final decision yet.
- “Best digital marketing service”
- “Video production versus video marketing”
- “Top espresso bar in LA”
- “Buy Pro Series Protein Powder”
- “Deal on video marketing services”
- “Discount Pro Series Protein Powder”
- “Iphone 10 cheap”
Long-Tail keywords are entire phrases or sentences containing keywords. Using our workout video example, a long-tail keyword could be “how to do a diamond grip pushup”. Long-Tail keywords tend to be much easier to rank organically because the competition for single keywords can be much more difficult to rank on page one of Google search results.
The Video Title
When searching through videos on Youtube, viewers look at the thumbnail and title first. A good title should include your best keyword, be straightforward, clear and not misleading. Misleading titles may cause an initial spike in interest to your video but the guaranteed dropoff rate will negatively impact your ranking and performance once viewers quickly realize they’ve been duped.
How Do You Measure Success of Your Video Content Marketing?
Key performance indicators (KPIs) include views, impressions, watch time, drop offs, clicks and sign-ups.
- Unique views show how many times your video has been watched but should not be taken as the standard of success. Views do not necessarily lead in an increase in sales. A series of fashion runway shows we produced, received a lot of unique views but the viewers were designers and shoppers looking for new fashion trends, and not future video marketing customers. The quality of the video was of no interest to them, rather it was all about the fashion.
- Engagement tells you when viewers stopped watching. If you notice that viewers are dropping off after 30 seconds, then try re-editing the videos so that it’s only 30 seconds in duration. If your 30 second video is still getting early drop-offs, then it’s a content issue. The content may not be relevant to your viewers and or the quality of the video needs improvement. The question of content goes back to conducting market research before making your videos. If you fail to understand your audience, your videos will not succeed.
- Click-Through Rate determines what percentage of viewers click on your videos Call to Action (CTA). If your video is getting a lot of drop outs, move the CTA to the beginning or middle of the video and check if this improves.
In the chart above, Youtube analytics tells us that the average view duration is 1:37. As we track the graph, we can see that at 2:17, we have retained about 50% of our audience and that their attention is dropping fast. To improve, we should shorten the duration of the video to 1:30 or if we want to keep the current duration of the video, then take an objective view of the quality of content after 1 minute.
If you want profitable results from your videos, they should contain relevant content, clear, targeted messaging, a storyline that can easily be consumed, and an ongoing SEO marketing strategy. Video content marketing is an ongoing effort that’s performed by a team of professionals. Whether you want to hire an in-house team or develop a continual partnership with a video production and video marketing provider, hopefully you have enough information to get started on the right track.
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