Blog post -
Act, interact, transact
So, you've produced a whip-cracking video that will get people watching and – most importantly – buying your products or services. But producing the video is just the start. You must place the video where your target audience will seeit. Obvious as this sounds, this area is frequently overlooked. This article will help you think through the whole process, before you rush headlong into producing the content.
Before you get excited about online video and spend time and money planning and producing the content, think strategically about the business outcome your video is designed to achieve. Then think about the channels where the video will be seen, in order to achieve these outcomes. Then test these channels to see whether viewers can actually take the action required to meet your goals.
Then – and only then – should you think about the content concept, as this graphic shows.
Step 1: What action, interaction or transaction are you hoping your video will spark?
Your starting point must be the end point: how will this video generate a return? What will be the call-to-action? How will your audience act, interact or transact with you, as a result of seeing this video?
You must be razor sharp in your focus. Ideally, set a revenue goal. This is not just measurable, but also most meaningful for your company.
If this doesn't work for your product or service, encourage viewers to:
- Share the video via Facebook or Twitter
- Download more information
- Comment on it
You can also invite viewers to leave their email address and phone number, or to call or email you, although an incentive (lucky draw, discounts) is usually required to persuade them to part with their personal details.
I have heard some counter-arguments to including any call-to-action at all. Some say it is analogous for thought-leadership or humerous videos to end with what is, in essence, a sales pitch. They argue that the credibility of the content is spoilt if viewers discover that the video is trying to sell you something.
Other arguments take the view that an impactful video does not need a call-to-action – people will just know what to do. And that the brand value of having a great video is far greater than sales that could be achieved through a call-to-action.
There is some truth to these. Sometimes, great online video concepts are cheapened when they become cheesy marketing and sales videos. But this again underscores the importance of knowing what it is you are trying to achieve, before you start thinking about the content.
Step 2: Can your target audience discover your video?
There are two critically important, but conflicting angles to this.
On the one hand, you should choose as many channels as possible to reach your target audience.
On the other hand, you must ensure your audience is not just presented with a call-to-action, but the channels actually enable viewers to follow through on it.
Let's take the first point first. Write down all the channels you can use to get your video out there.
An obvious starting point is your own website. Ideally, your video will be placed above the fold of the home page. In other words, visitors see the video when they first arrive at your website, without having to scroll. Your video is a great asset, but needs to be seen to be effective. For the same reason, you should not place the video on a "Video page".
People who use their mobile device to watch your video are more likely than PC users to watch it all the way to the end. Also, research shows they are three times more likely to act on a video than text. So, your video must be mobile compliant. It gets complicated, because iPads and iPhones are not able to play Flash video. Your video needs to be in HTML5 compliant format. But you don't need to go to the extent of creating an app around your video.
Contrary to the current craze surrounding apps, you are better off creating a site which is formatted to display well on small mobile screens. This is:
- Faster, because you are not waiting for a developer to write the software code, and therefore it's
- Cheaper than developing an app
- Easier, because mobile compatible sites work with all devices, no matter whether the user's operating system is a Windows Phone, iPhone, Android or BlackBerry
- More direct, because you don't have to have approval from the AppStore, and you don't have to wait for people to download an app in order for them to see the video.
Whichever way you go, you must have a mobile strategy for your video. You ignore mobile at your peril.
Electronic direct mailers (eDM) are also an obvious way to deliver your video to your target audience. This does not mean sending out large video files, but embedding a thumbnail in the eDM that, when clicked, opens the viewer's browser for video playback. But again there are technical complications, because only about one in three recipients click "display images" when opening emails. They just see text, and placeholders where the images otherwise would be. The thumbnail might never appear to them. This is where an "alternative text" message prompting them to watch the video becomes important.
Social networks and video sharing sites
Clearly, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and other social networking sites also represent syndication channels for your video. But you should not rely on these as your sole distribution channels. Many marketers still think they can just upload the video to YouTube and sales will start rolling in. The number of views on YouTube, or the number of "likes" on Facebook, is not a good metric. Unless you get paid for being popular. And sofar, I have not come across any convincing ways to generate revenue purely from "likes" and views alone.
Let's say you have identified all the online channels where the video can be placed to be seen by your audience – online, mobile and email.
Search engine optimisation
But let's take it one step further. Just because the video is there, will people see it?
Here are some additional ideas to consider:
- Run the video as a banner ad. In addition to graphic and text ads, Google AdWords allows you to schedule videos. There are certain limitations, and you pay for the exposure when your audience responds. But this can be a great way to place the video on websites you don't own, or have influence over.
- Include appropriate tags. The title and description, as well as keyword tags, are an important element in helping your audience find your video. Ideally, leave out the company name from the title. Keep it focused on the valuable content your audience will get by watching. Your description should also be enticing. A teaser, more than a summary. And don't forget the tags – keywords that match search terms your audience might be looking for.
- Choose a good thumbnail. Okay, so your audience has stumbled upon your video, or it has come up in search terms. But will they click on it? Choose a thumbnail that screams "you gotta watch this", one which catches attention for its colour or action. For example, the presenter looking surprised, rather than a portrait shot.
There are two other channels you can consider.
Screens in lifts, lift lobbies, the facades of buildings, bank branches, offices, and even inflight entertainment screens "in the seatback in front of you" give great mass exposure – for a fee. It clearly depends on the audience you are trying to reach, but if you have already produced the video it could be worth your while to consider this. In particular, if your company already has a network of outlets, branches or offices where the video could be displayed.
Television networks and stations are generally open to running content marketing programs during commercial breaks or on weekends, for a media fee. In principle, if you have already produced the video, there is no reason why it cannot play out on this channel as well. Once again, it really depends on your desired business outcomes.
Step 3: Can they act on your video?
Your choice of distribution channels must be tempered by the sheer practicality of how viewers can actually act, interact or transact with you. For example, there is not much point producing a video to encourage people to buy your product online, if the 'BUY NOW' button is not placed directly next to the video. If you are placing the video on YouTube, at the very least you need to provide a link back to your website. And not your home page, but ideally straight to the transaction page. Keep the sales cycle short. It must be as simple as "watch the video, then click here to buy".
Perhaps you are running the video on a TV screen in your branches, or your reception area. There is not much point asking viewers to click on a link, when the TV screen is obviously not clickable. The call-to-action should therefore be adjusted for the screens on which it is to run, such as "ask the receptionist about this product" or "call this number".
So, in short:
- Figure out what you are producing the video for
- Be clear about how viewers can engage with you after watching the video
- Decide on the channels where the video will be seen, and can be acted upon, and
- Promote the video using the best titles, descriptions and tags
Now you can start on the content conceptualisation and production.
**This article first appeared in the Marketing Institute of Singapore's Singapore Marketer magazine and is reproduced by permission. Click on the Attached PDF document below to see how it appeared.