Video is the future of content marketing, and if you don’t already ‘do’ video, now is the time to get to grips with this powerful medium.

Research has shown that four times as many consumers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it, and that landing pages with video lead to 800 per cent more conversion.

HubSpot estimate that by 2019, 80 per cent of all web traffic will be for video, so getting involved in video production for your business could see you ahead of the game. Facebook reported in 2015 that 1.5 million small and medium businesses shared videos on their platform, but that’s only a small proportion of the 40 million businesses who hold pages on the social media website, so getting into video now could help you get a jump on the competition too.

If you’re thinking about starting video marketing but don’t know where to begin, here are six simple steps that will see you developing videos like a pro in no time.

Understand your goal

Before you even start scripting or storyboarding your video, think carefully about what it is you’re trying to achieve. Videos can be costly to produce, so it’s important to be completely clear on why you’re making a video before anything starts. Think about what your overarching goal is and keep it in mind throughout the production process, whether it’s:

  1. Raising brand awareness through a viral marketing campaign
  2. Promoting a sale or a new product line
  3. Driving sales through demonstration of your products
  4. Educating your customers
  5. Boosting website traffic

Keep in mind that if you have multiple goals for your marketing strategy, you might want to think about producing more than one video to cover all your needs. Trying to cram too many ideas into one production is likely to confuse the message and complicate the end product.

Capture attention

Internet users have the attention span of a goldfish… literally. Back in 2000, the average consumer had an attention span of 12 seconds. Today, you’ve got around eight seconds to capture their interest before they drift away, making your goldfish with his nine second average attention span less fickle than your customer. Kick off with something interesting, unusual or attention grabbing to hook them from the start. Here are some ideas:

  1. Make eye contact early on, with a happy, bright, engaging expression
  2. Ask a question to set them up to want to hear the answer at the end
  3. Be unexpected; if you’re normally big and bold, be smaller and quieter for a change
  4. Intrigue with clues, questions and other elements that pique curiosity

One of the major influencers to keep in mind is the load time of your video. If your video is not loading in the first two seconds, people will start leaving, and after ten seconds almost half will have given up. Test your videos on other devices and browsers to make sure they load fast.

Decide on the length of your video

You may well be thinking that you’ll just let your video run for as long as your script takes, but this is a rookie mistake. Think about where you’ll be promoting your vid, and do your homework on what length of production is most effective on that channel. Pre-roll YouTube ads will be restricted to sub 30 seconds, sometimes as little as 15, whereas Facebook can respond well to videos of 60 – 90 seconds.

The length of your video will depend on a number of other factors too, such as your budget and your aims. If you’re simply promoting your sale, a 30 second video is probably plenty of time to say what you need to say. If you’re trying to move your audience to tears, you’ll almost certainly need 90 seconds or longer.

A good rule of thumb is generally that less is more. Users will decide whether to play your video based, in part, on the timer. Research by Wistia showed more users chose to watch videos of between 0-30 seconds than any other, and slightly less watched those of 30 seconds to one minute. Over one minute and the watches start to drop off, so think about the engagement you’ll get when planning video length.

Decide on format, tone and style

Taking into account your aims for the video itself, think about the style and tone you’re going to aim for. Consider your audience and the sorts of imagery they react well to. Are they young, funky and cutting edge, or more stayed and serious? This will start giving you ideas of music, colours, messaging and more, so you can begin to build a picture of how your video should be.

Even if you know nothing about making videos, it’s time to get to grips with some of the jargon so you can make informed choices about how it’s going to play out. Think about what you like the sound of out of:

  1. Animation: Illustrated characters brought to life
  2. Real people: Actors who play your characters
  3. Live action: A combination of real life footage and animations
  4. Screencast: A recording of something being done on a computer screen
  5. Stock: Using stock video to help make your story
  6. B-roll: Additional footage used in between your main video, for flashbacks etc.

Most videos use a combination of some of these styles, and by considering your overarching aims for the video as well as the style and tone you wish to present, you should be able to start narrowing down your choices. Once you know the format, style and tone, you can start piecing together the story that will become your amazing video.

Tell a story

Storytelling lights up all parts of your brain. It activates the senses and draws people in. By telling a story, your video will be 22 times more memorable than if it presented facts alone. Think about building in all the elements you would expect to see in a storybook, but obviously in a much-condensed format. For example:

  1. The hero: A person, animal or object, introduced at the start
  2. The problem: A complication, difficulty or disappointment
  3. The villain: The cause of the problem, can be a character or just an external force
  4. The realisation: An ‘ah-ha’ moment when your customer realises change is needed
  5. The solution: Your product or service, but presented in a cool, offhand way

Try to let your viewers figure out the solution for themselves, rather than shilling your products too strongly. Ask questions in your video that helps them paint a picture of the pain of the problem, that they can then wrap into a solution themselves. Storytelling activates the body chemicals cortisol and oxytocin, which help people feel empathy and play a crucial role in decision making too.

Form a powerful call to action

The call to action is your viewers reward for watching to the end. Framing your call to action as a reward drives home the sense that they have invested their time in your production, and are now going to be repaid. Choose your method of call to action carefully. Text call to actions have the benefit of being placed anywhere in the video, whereas image call to actions tend to have a higher conversion rate.

96 per cent of businesses will put their call to action at the end of their video, which is the most logical place to put it. Here, you are calling upon the most engaged viewers who watched your video right to the end to take further action. However, research has shown that actually mid-roll calls to action result in a higher conversion rate; almost 17 per cent versus 11 per cent for post-roll CTA’s, so it’s worth trying different tactics and testing your audience to see what really works the best.

Making a promotional or marketing video doesn’t have to mean huge budgets and time consuming production schedules. Get involved with a professional marketing agency for support, and see your ideas turned into beautiful videos in no time. Video is the future of marketing, so get a head start on the competition today.