Have you wanted to get started with video marketing, but lack the budget to hire a production company? Yes, it would be nice to have movie-quality videos for each of your products or for every vertical you serve, but it’s not necessary in order to begin reaping the rewards of video marketing. You need a minimum level of quality, true, but good-enough, professional-looking video is not that hard to achieve. You can even do it yourself.

At Act-On, we produce 100 percent of our videos in-house. We began in media production with webinars, and all that capability was managed in-house. As our knowledge of video and our use of video evolved, we used those same resources and talent and applied them to video production.

Our learning curve started with shooting video on an iPhone 4, and we got better at it from there. In this post, I’ll cover some key elements of producing video content and add in a few thoughts on how you can blend video into your content marketing strategy.

The growing importance of video marketing

First, a bit of context. Frost & Sullivan conducted a survey and found that video is on pace to account for 75 percent of all consumer internet traffic by 2020 – but that shouldn’t be a surprise. We’re hardwired to love video, and if it’s an enjoyable video (informative, funny, highlights a problem or issue) we become more engaged.

What’s really amazing is that our brains process imagery at 60,000 times faster than text, and retain imagery six times more than text. It’s more information, and it’s better absorbed. So it’s no surprise that DigitalSherpa notes that videos increase people’s understanding of your product of service by 74 percent. (Imagine that…from a video that can run 24/7 with no effort once it’s completed and posted.)

Research shows that 80 percent of site visitors will watch a video, while only 20 percent will read content. If you make an engaging video, you’re increasing the odds that a B2B prospect will be informed of your product or service offering, thereby increasing the likelihood of purchase intent and, ultimately, conversion.

Video marketing in blog posts and on your website

Video_Stats to KnowAccording to Content Marketing Institute, blog posts with videos see an average time on site of almost 5 and-a-half minutes, which is 15 percent more engagement and time on site than posts with just images and text.

The Aberdeen Group found that websites with video have an average conversion rate of 4.8 percent compared to 2.9 percent for websites without it.

Since marketing is all about getting results – clearly video marketing is worth your time.

Video marketing follows the same precepts as other types of content marketing

You already know this: Content marketing is any marketing that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire and retain customers. At any given moment buyers are searching for useful information that will inform them, educate them, or help them solve a problem. They expect that you’ll talk to them about their needs and their wants and their problems, before you start trying to sell them a product.

Relevant content

What’s really interesting to note is that online consumers can become frustrated with websites Video Content Planwhen content appears that has nothing to do with their interests – this mismatch between what drove prospects to a site and the content that appears on the site is a consequence of setting the wrong expectations with your outreach. If you yourself have received any of these mis-aligned messages, then you know how frustrating it is when you’re promised one thing but get another. So relevance is key.

Aimed at your likely buyer

The concept of the buyer persona has become mainstream. It begins with profiling your best buyers through demographics and firmographics (e.g., title, responsibility, industry, firm size, etc.), and becomes more effective when you can add in psychographics – an educated guess about psychological commonalities in the target audience, such as common motivators and pain points. This understanding is what allows you to create that relevant content.

Integrating video into your content marketing plan

As you develop a content curriculum that maps to your buyer personas and where they are in the sales funnel, plan which messages can be delivered by video. Make sure your messaging and positioning are consistent across mediums. If you have a successful webinar, think about whether there’s a story in it that can be told on video. Think about case studies. They are powerful because they’re a customer endorsement, and they include emotional components of successful problem solving. They can be even more powerful on video because it’s more moving to watch and hear a person telling their story of success than it is to read about it. The viewer is more likely to identify with the on-camera speaker, and the transference of emotions is more likely. All this works in your favor; B2B purchases usually evoke stronger emotions than B2C because the risks are usually higher.

Planning your videos

Begin with the end in mind. Before you start any video project, make sure to understand what the ultimate objective is. Know what you want to compel the viewer to do during the video, after the video, and how you want that to influence what they are thinking about your company. The brand perception is very important and the video you create should definitely be inline with your brand image.

Talk to the experts

Your customers and employees are great sources of what they face day-to-day. At Act-On, we often talk with the sales team to learn what types of content they want to have available and what they are hearing from prospects. Depending on the project and video, we may also talk to some of our customers or prospects to find out what types of content in a video would be helpful for them. And we leverage our collective wisdom by talking to each other. Once that’s done, we come up with a strategy around all of the feedback and input.

Start small

Start on small projects first and then build from there with the experiences you gain. In what we call our “generation 1” series of videos, we set the bar low in order to gain experience.

Here’s a generation 1 example of taking an idea and putting it on video. This video’s goal is to discuss a single topic of interest to prospects who may be considering our type of solution. Our goal for the video is to entice the viewer to watch an on-demand demo. We chose this call to action because it typically has a high conversion rate.

Our production objectives were to

  • Use a real employee (for authenticity)
  • Make it quick, simple and to the point (for consumability)
  • Incorporate the call to action (for conversion)

Equipment: I shot this on my iPhone 4, using a $25 shotgun microphone. It is a very rudimentary simple process that most people could duplicate easily.

Hardware/Software: I used a Macbook Pro to run iMovie (an app for creating and organizing videos), Final Cut Pro (a sophisticated editing app; you can make a video with just iMovie, but Final Pro makes your life easier and your videos better), and Keynote (a presentation maker).

Evolve to higher quality

Here’s an example of how the videos evolved after proof of concept and early generation 1 successes.

This video’s objectives were the same as generation 1, but I shot it on a digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera, and used a wireless microphone that was clipped to the speaker. It’s a definite step-up from my iPhone yet still very simple to produce.

Transform your strategy

Now that we had a track record of small successes, it was time to think bigger. We started with the process.

I created development templates in which we set out the goal of the video, the types of objectives we want to achieve, and then we would break it apart visually in terms of what we wanted to see happen. This includes developing a quick storyboard to capture the overall project and how the video will flow. (A storyboard is a sequence of drawings, typically with some directions and dialogue, representing the shots planned for your video. Sometimes they look rather like a page out of a comic book; other times they look more like a shooting script, with scene directions and dialogue running down the page.)

Next, I started actually shooting a video of what I think I want to do. It’s not final form video by any stretch of the imagination, but rather a proof of concept, a beta. Then I show it to the team and say here’s what I am thinking. We kick it around, then we finalize the storyboard and move forward with the project.

At Dreamforce 2014, Act-On partnered with Glide, a non-profit addressing hunger and homelessness in San Francisco. We wanted to shoot a video to promote the “Tchotchke Tchallenge.” This was going to be a live event, so it was extremely important to develop a comprehensive storyboard well in advance, as there were a lot of moving parts tied to the key speaker having only a short window of time. Additionally, the video was shot late in the afternoon and had to be turned around that evening. To achieve that, I wanted to complement the “talking head” portion with video of the Glide memorial church and Dreamforce activity. That meant shooting supplemental footage (sometimes referred to B roll) to be intercut with the interview footage.

The goal here was to get more people to participate in the donation drive and expand Promotional videoawareness of our partnership with Glide during Dreamforce.The video objectives were to

  • Create a <2 minute video – quick, simple, and to the point
  • Capture a scene of a non-profit receiving a sizable donation
  • Evoke the positive emotions associated with giving

Equipment: This was shot on the digital single lens reflex camera Canon Rebel T5i, and I used a wireless microphone.

Tips, tricks, and equipment for the Do-It-Yourselfer

  • It’s very nice to have a dedicated room for video recording. By the time I’d made a dozen generation 1 videos, it was clear we were going to keep on producing more videos, so I got the use of a small room. I padded the walls with foam, to dampen ambient noise in the room. DIY Video
  • Tripod. Use a tripod for steadier shooting.
  • Lighting: You will want to graduate to a three-point lighting system when you can; this can be expensive, but there are plenty of inexpensive options. This video shows how one filmmaker uses a clamp light and a clothespin (about $10) to create a useful light. This site is full of tips on lighting. Warning: Lights get hot; be careful with them.
  • Green screen. This makes it easy to shoot someone, then drop their moving image in over any background you like. The color and lighting needs to be as even as possible, and you can’t have anything in the foreground the same color as the green screen. You can paint a wall, or drape neon green fabric or tape together bright green poster boards. More tips here.

Green Screen

Video Background

  • Free background music. You’ll want to have music “bumpers” that cue the viewer that your video is starting or ending. Find it free, here: freemusicarchive.org.

Where to distribute your videos

First, you’ll want to post your videos on a web page that you control. This may be your own website; it may be a hosting platform like Vidyard or Wistia. The advantages of a hosting platform over a public platform like YouTube include customizable players, excellent analytics, and the ability to prevent people from sharing your videos on other sites, if you want to do that (customers-only content, etc.).

For broader distribution, you’ve got Yahoo, Vimeo, SnapChat, Tumblr, Facebook, et al. YouTube remains the epicenter of global digital video viewing and sharing, at least for now. comScore did a study and according to their report, YouTube attracts over 190 million unique US viewers each month and it is a major source of engagement for brands. Twitter recently added video to their capabilities, and AdWeek reports that a JC Penney campaign got startlingly good results on Twitter. Sean Ryan, director of social media at JCPenney, wrote in a report about the campaign. “While we could have promoted a link to the video on YouTube, the native placement was much more effective in cost per view … marketers now need to think across the board when it comes to promoting video.”

The entire video ecosystem is growing rapidly, and gaining greater traction among B2B marketers. Fortunately, you can post videos in every location that might work for you. Trial and error, and structured testing, are the way to figure out what the best ideas and plans are for your unique situation.

And finally…

There’s a lot to consider as you embark on this video production journey. As a first step, I suggest you watch the on-demand webinar this blog post is drawn from. You’ll get more ideas, see more examples, and find a host of great resources to help you take the next step to mastering video marketing.