Have you really sat down and thought about exactly what you want your videos to accomplish for you? Do you have a documented plan for how to get there? Or did you start creating videos because everybody told you they were the next big thing?
Add a bunch of random videos together and you get… a bunch of random videos. But you could (gasp!) plan! Put together a thoughtful assortment of how-to videos, explainer videos, and entertaining thought pieces. Aim them at specific audience. Distribute them on the right channels. Voila! You have a strategy that’s greater than the sum of its parts.
Strategies aren’t just for battlefields and football games. Effective businesses run on strategy. Consider the business plan, customer relations strategy, and content marketing strategy you probably already have in place. They help, don’t they?
(If you answered, “No,” then maybe there are some other things to sort out first. Which brings up an important aside. Before you get to video strategy, you need to have some other things sorted out first, like core messaging points and key value propositions.)
If you want to get the best possible ROI out of each and every video, you need to know how each and every video fits into your video strategy—and how your video strategy fits into your content strategy as a whole.
Why do you need video?
If you jumped into video headfirst without so much as a script, nevermind a strategy, you’re not alone. Video is making a big splash across the marketing community and everyone wants to ride the wave.
On YouTube alone, viewers watch more than 1 billion hours of video a day. On websites, visitors spend an average of 2.6 times longer on pages with video than on pages without. On social, video posts get 1,200% more shares than text and images combined.
Video is everywhere. And despite the ubiquity of the medium, people aren’t sick of it yet. 43% of people surveyed say they want to see more video from marketers.
Marketers (and social channels) are listening. Cisco predicts that by 2021, about 82% of consumer internet traffic will be in video format. It’s not wonder that Forbes has called video the future of content marketing.
What is fueling this relentless craving for more video? In short, people like it.
Video is an easy format for audiences to consume. Most people retain information better when it’s presented in video format. Plus, it holds people’s attention longer than other formats.
That depends. Do you want to make videos just to fit in with the rest of the marketing crowd? Or do you want to make videos that will consistently deliver a positive return on investment?
Right. So, let’s get into some specific reasons. There are plenty others, but here are the three most compelling.
Reason 1: It keeps you on schedule.
Most professionals keep some kind of calendar to keep track of appointments. It might be a paper desk calendar or it might be a phone app. But imagine how confused you would be without a calendar. What are the odds that you’d be where you were supposed to be when you were supposed to be there?
Correct answers range from not great to absolute zero. So why would you think that you could keep your video strategy on schedule without a calendar?
Just as you schedule your social media posts for optimum performance, you should also schedule your videos. Plan when they will appear and on which platforms.
But having a calendar is just one element of your video strategy. A calendar tells you when to release a video. Your strategy also needs to tell you how, why, and what kind of video you’re releasing.
Reason 2: It keeps you out of a rut.
This sentence has five words. This sentence also has five. These sentences are very similar.
There’s a difference between being consistent and being dull. If you’re releasing a slew of two minute videos on similar subjects, your customers are going to get bored too. They’ll start to not expect anything new—so they won’t keep coming back.
But playing with length and subject can spice up your video offerings. If you’ve watched a TED Talk recently, you might have spotted the super short Red Bull commercials. Blink and you’ll miss them, but they’re surprising (and compact) enough to leave you thinking about them even after your TED Talk has started to play.
Planning ahead helps you mix things up by scheduling videos of different lengths. Two minute videos do get the highest engagement, but videos of 6 to 12 minutes to pretty well too. Vary the length and see what your audience prefers.
Speaking of audience, your video strategy ensures that you’re hitting all segments of your ideal audience, not just one or two of them. Include your customer personas in your video strategy and make sure that you’re scheduling videos aimed at each of them.
Reason 3: It makes tracking results easier.
Maybe the most valuable part of your video strategy is the goal setting and tracking portion. Keeping track of your results will help you understand if you’re reaching your goals. If you’re not getting the results you want, knowing your numbers can help you figure out where you went wrong and what to do about it.
Having a plan in place and tracking progress toward your video marketing goals will also help you in other, less tangible ways. Consider which scenario you’d prefer.
Scenario 1. You’ve been creating videos for a couple of months now, but you haven’t bothered to track results. Your CFO storms into your office, a calculator in hand.
CFO: “Why are we spending all this money on video?”
You: “Well, the internet told me it was a good idea.”
CFO: “We don’t have the budget for that. Stick to blogging.”
CFO storms out, slamming the door. Your poster of the cat playing piano falls of the wall. You lay your head down on your desk and cry softly.
Scenario 2. You’ve been creating videos for a couple of months now. You have clear goals, a solid strategy, and you’ve been tracking results every step of the way. Your CFO storms into your office, a calculator in hand.
CFO: “Why are we spending all this money on video?”
You: “Because it works, and here are the numbers to prove it” *Shows off dazzling, enumerated results.*
CFO: “This is amazing! I’m going to talk to the CEO about getting you a raise!”
See how much better life is when you know what your goals are and put systems in place to track your progress? That’s exactly what your video strategy is for.
Just don’t be that marketer who gets obsessed with a single statistic. If views are the only metric you’re tracking, you’re missing out on key insights. You can track impressions, watch time, view-through rate, clicks, calls, sign-ups or even sales. It all depends on what your goals are.
How do you craft a video strategy?
The good news is, if you already have a content strategy in place, half your work is already done. You don’t have to define an audience or figure out what your unique value is because you already know.
What, you don’t have a content strategy? Okay, we can fix this, go read the post on the Four Essential Elements of Content Strategy and come back when you’re done.
You’re back? Great. Onward.
If you did the reading, you know that the four essential elements of content strategy are setting measurable goals, defining an audience, crafting effective content, and providing unique value. Think of your video marketing strategy as an extension of your content marketing strategy. You won’t have to start from scratch, but you will need to make adjustments for the medium.
Your audience will likely stay the same. The unique value you can offer is probably pretty similar, although you may be able to add on even more value with tutorial videos or animations that increase viewer understanding.
We’ve already talked about goals, so that just leaves crafting effective content. Video content is effective by nature, but you can make it even better by setting up some best practices within your video strategy.
Decide how long you want videos to be. Pick your format: animation, live action, screen capture, stop motion, etc. Give a specific person the responsibility of coordinating video creation and posting.
Even if you decide to work with an outside video creation company (like, say, Epipheo), you’ll still want an internal person to act as a point of contact.
What do you do next?
With a video strategy in place, you’ll be able to make intelligent choices about where to distribute your videos and what bonus content you can create to complement your video offerings. A little up-front work now will make your life easier—and your videos more effective—for months and years to come.