***This post is adapted from a talk given at WordCamp Kansas City 2017. View the entire presentation and the full set of slides

Video is one of the hottest trends in marketing right now, but it can also be one of the most expensive. Businesses, organizations, and individuals can use video in a lot of different ways to engage and convert their target audience. Read on to learn about the most popular video strategies and how to get started.

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Video can communicate a lot more information in a short amount of time. In fact, research shows one minute of video is worth approximately 1.8 million words. Anyone trying to promote a message is competing with a lot of noise for attention and brain space. The faster you can communicate your unique selling proposition — to use some marketing jargon — the better your chances of success. Video has also been shown to hold people’s attention longer so you can get even more information in there before they click away.

If you’re selling a physical product over the internet, video can do a lot of the heavy lifting of showcasing your product. You can show how an object looks from all angles, the scale, and how to use it. Asos.com has uploaded videos to accompany product photos for several years and many brands are following suit. 

Video can also transcend language barriers when working with multiple audiences and locations. You can say a lot with video without including dialog, worrying about localization, or even literacy levels. 

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Another reason to consider adding video to your marketing strategy is the sheer volume of video content online. By 2017, online video will account for 74% of all online traffic. In the digital marketing landscape, users want video content and platforms are catering to this, increasingly favouring it and granting it more weight in search results and timelines. Google is also granting a higher ranking to pages with video content on it.

Can Video Increase Engagement?

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The short answer is yes. Video has been shown to increase engagement when used thoughtfully and in concert with other marketing activities. But like any new channel, injecting video into your branding efforts starts with a solid strategy that will turn your engagement into conversions.

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If you’re not from the marketing world, conversion means getting someone to do what you want them to do. Conversion could be customers purchasing your product, a non-profit could be seeking to get volunteers to sign up, and it could be as simple as getting people to follow you on Facebook. Whatever your conversion metric, the most important thing is to define your audience, outline your goals, and set up a way to track and evaluate your success.

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Be wary of strategists or blog posts that promise instant or results with video. You can’t create a viral video. You can create a video and with some money, promotion, strategy, and a little luck, you will get the traction you want.

Ok, How Can I Use Video in My Marketing Plan?

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  1. Website Content

    Using video right in your website content is a great place to start, considering 90% of users say that product videos are helpful in the decision process. The first step is deciding how you want to host your videos. You can upload videos straight to WordPress with plugins like VideoPress in Jetpack. If your hosting plan allows for that amount of storage, that is one simple solution. You can also use specialized tools like Wistia and test out this neat plugin that creates a media library for your Wistia-hosted videos right in WordPress. Lastly, there is always the option of Vimeo and YouTube, services that are affordable and offer organic visibility within their own platforms. Zoellner-WordCamp-KansasCity-2017.021You can add explainer videos or long-form ads right to your homepage, like Purple has done. Video headers are also very popular. Even the new Twenty Seventeen WordPress theme uses video headers prominently. Non-profits can easily turn their about page into a compelling ad space with a strong video. Product pages can be a good place to plug a how-to video like RMS has done. Resource Centers and Support videos can engage your customers post-sale and leading up to renewal. Customer stories are a create-once-use-everywhere type of content that can help you in every step of the sale process.

  2. Landing Pages

    Including video on a landing page can increase conversion by 80%. Remember to connect your video to one direct action, to tell an emotion-driven story, to track metrics, and consider reaching out to those who viewed the video. I often get the question whether having video rather than text will hurt SEO ranking. The truth is Google gives a bump to pages with video content. That might change in the future, but for now, video can help your SEO. Ways to boost it further are to add keyword labels, video transcripts, host on YouTube and backlink to it, and make sure your video loads fast lest your page be dinged for poor performance.

  3. Email Marketing

    Video in an email leads to 200-300% increase in click-through rate, according to Insivia.com. Wistia allows you to send out video voicemails instead of static emails and the result is pretty cool. You can also easily embed an image or GIF with a play button over it in your email and link it to the video hosted on your website. According to an email infographic from Email Monks, 58% of all users will be able to play video in email. That’s why I never recommend you embed actual videos with HTML5 in an email. It’s always a good idea to check your email analytics to see which email clients your subscribers use.

  4. Social Networks

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    You can’t talk about video marketing without talking about social media. There are several trendy platforms you can use like Periscope, Snapchat, and Vine, but for marketers, I recommend focusing efforts on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. For all of these channels, you can utilize organic content, ads, and promoted/boosted content. It’s an increasingly pay-to-play situation, so expect to invest a little money in getting eyes on your content.  Instagram has  600 million active users and offers ads, videos, Stories, and Instagram Live, which puts it at the top right now for versatility. With Snapchat reporting a disappointing first quarter since going public, I’m not convinced it’s the platform to invest in.
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    Facebook is also going strong with 1.8 billion active users, ads, video, and Live capabilities, as well as the strong business tools that are very easy to use and accessible for small pages. YouTube is also a powerhouse and the one that started it all, so expect them to stay on top of the market and offer versatile tools for video marketing for companies with some money to spend.

  5. Ad Networks

    In a nutshell: an ad network connects brands with publishers. 

    Zoellner-WordCamp-KansasCity-2017.040When shopping around for a network to partner with, consider targeting options like geo-targeting, behavioral targeting, contextual targeting, and re-targeting. Your ad network should also serve a variety of formats, devices, and sizes. With the multiple options, it can be hard to find the right network for your business. Looking at a network’s existing clients can help you find the right fit for your industry. You’ll want an ad network that includes solid metrics and analytics capabilities so you can track your success. 

  6. Television Spots

    There are two main options for purchasing TV ads: Purchase directly from your local broadcast station or local cable provider or use an advertising agency to purchase spots on your behalf. TV ads are compelling, viewers are (relatively) attentive, TV ads reach a large audience, it’s proven to be an effective advertising medium but it’s hard to make changes, hard to target, people can fast forward through your commercial, and it’s expensive. 

What Kind of Videos Should I Make?

Good ones! I know…That’s easier said than done. There are so many styles and approaches to a video strategy, but at the end of the day, it all boils down to planning/scripting, production, post-production, and dissemination. I’d also tack on measurement and post-mortems at the end.

 

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Depending on your budget, audience, message, and strategy, there are several ways you can get started. You can even use your iPhone to get started!You might not have the best equipment when you start out, but people will forgive standard definition if you have good sound quality and a good script.

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If you go through all the trouble of creating video, make sure you’re strategic about being able to repurpose it in smaller clips, stills, gifs, and more. If you’re working with a freelancer or agency, work that into the contract.

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Adapt your content to the channel and attention span of users. And remember to take your time and test, test, test. Scale up your investment after some small successful tests so you aren’t blowing your whole budget on one big expensive project.

What’s Next in Video?

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Live video is going to be more and more popular and we’ll see heavy use of 360 technology and augmented reality. For example, apps like Musica.ly are already making major strides in giving creators advanced tools to edit their own videos. What never goes out of style though is compelling scripts and calculated promotion.

 

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