So you’ve finally decided to take the plunge into rich-media marketing, have you? Wonderful! I’m sure you’re itching to fire up your shiny new digital video camera and set YouTube ablaze. But before we go parading into the darkness with our digital torches, let’s make sure we’re prepared for what may lie on the path ahead.
Prepare for the Best
I’m sure you’ve spent the past several nights going over the what-ifs of your first web video marketing campaign: What if the video doesn’t work right? What if there’s a glitch? What if no one watches it? What if the video’s just a bust? You’re right to worry about all of those things; they are the little nuances that plague any marketing campaign, regardless of the medium. But don’t forget to prepare for the opposite eventuality: that the campaign is a huge success.
Make sure your servers are able to handle the absolute greatest amount of traffic you can conceive of, and then create a contingency plan for if (I mean when) you exceed that limit. You will also want to make sure that all of the technical aspects are 100% ready to go live. If your business is like most launching its first video marketing campaign, your video will point to a particular part of your website (usually the homepage). Make sure that this page is ready for your customers. This means triple-checking links, revamping your web design, updating your content, and making absolutely sure that your video’s call to action is, in fact, actionable. Remember to provide as many entries into the sales cycle as is possible.
Finally, you need to be sure that whatever analytics program you plan on using is ready to track traffic. If you have been using analytics software to chart the ROI for your other marketing efforts, then you are probably already familiar with how it works. If you plan on using a new analytics program for your video marketing campaigns, such as that provided by Flimp Media, make sure you understand how that software works so that you can begin tracking traffic statistics from the minute your web video marketing campaign goes live.
Know Your Equipment
It may seem like a no-brainer, but the success of a web video marketing campaign hinges on your ability to produce quality video. So before you shout “Action!” from your director’s chair, make sure your video assets – which include your video and audio equipment as well as your on-screen personalities – are working at their best. Organize dry runs with your actors, review your scripts, choose your setting, and iron out the technical details such as camera position, lighting, and audio levels. Do this a day or two before you intend to shoot the video to help avoid any snags in the production process. Don’t forget to take notes on the camera and audio setup so you can replicate or change it for your next shoot.
As important as knowing your hardware is understanding your editing software. Make sure that once your video is produced, it can be rendered into a visually appealing and cohesive final product. This means knowing how to use your audio/video editor to make cuts, adjust audio levels, and insert text-only captions, slides or titles if necessary. You don’t have to be the next Scorsese, but you should have an eye for detail. If you think your directing skills are somewhat lacking, find somebody in your organization to review the video and make suggestions. Nobody wants to watch a grainy, poorly edited (or unedited) video with splotchy sound.
Shoot, Edit, Distribute
You’ve prepared your servers, you’ve set up your camera and microphones, your actors know the script cold. You’ve pressed the record button and let movie magic happen. You’ve got your video and audio all edited up and loaded onto YouTube, your website, or a landing page. Everything so far has gone according to plan. Now all you have to do is distribute the video to the masses.
There are lots of ways to do this, such as through social networking sites, direct mail, direct mail with chocolate-covered grasshoppers, and so on. The most effective method we have encountered, however, is via direct email. If your business has been around a while, you probably have a substantial database with the contact information of existing clients and potential buyers. Go through this list and remove those contacts who would not be interested, for whatever reason, in receiving this video. Then use your email client to send a notification to everyone else in your database alerting them to the existence of your video. This message should contain the following:
- A punchy, succinct subject line;
- A short description of the video and what services (if any) it is advertising;
- A call to action with a direct link to the video itself;
- A short, authentic thank-you.
Notice that you will neither be embedding the video nor attaching it to the email. Most email clients are unable to support in-line video, and large attachments scream spam or malware, so you will have to direct traffic to another site. As we mentioned before, this is actually beneficial to you, because it makes tracking viewer statistics easier. (More on that below.) But how do you format that link? Yes, you could simply insert a hypertext link, but c’mon – that’s about as enticing as a cold turkey sandwich. You’ve created a web video: use a video still to link to the video itself. This is especially effective if you’re a BMW dealership with a sleek, exciting, professionally-shot video to share (you can get some great stills from a BMW video), but how does, say, a software company create an enticing video still? Well, remember your audience: if your potential buyers are interested in the software you’re selling, a screenshot can be just as effective as an airborne Beamer.
Oh, and don’t forget to click “Send”.
Sit Back, Track, and Analyze
The hard work of production and distribution are done. Now fire up that analytics software and track your traffic. If you use a powerful analytics program like Flimp, your traffic can be tracked by individual email address. In other words, you can see who received the email, who viewed it, who clicked on the link, who watched the video, how long they watched it, whether they clicked on a link on the landing page or website, whether they forwarded the email, and to whom it was forwarded. This allows you to track not only the conversion rate, but the viral performance of the campaign itself.
Pay attention to the average length of time a viewer watches the video. If they’re all tuning out a minute and thirty-two seconds into the video, try to figure out why. Does the engagement factor start to drop off around 1:32? Does the customer have all the information she needs to make a decision at that point? Or is this just the average attention span of your customer? While the conversion rate and viral statistics are important to the success of the current web video marketing campaign, longevity statistics can help you shape the content of your next one.
Above All Else: Learn!
Your campaign is wasted if you can’t take anything away from it. Make sure to take notes – in gritty detail – on the performance of the campaign. That way if the video goes massively viral and lands on the front page of Digg (and subsequently makes your servers cry uncle), you’ll be able to replicate the results. Likewise, if the campaign fails to meet expectations, you’ll have a detailed set of notes to pore over, analyze, and otherwise use to create a more successful second campaign.
We hope that this article answered any question you might have about starting up your own web video marketing campaign. If there’s anything else you’d like to have us here at WVMC discuss, or if you have any further questions, please let us know. As always, we’re proud to be the online source for all of your web video marketing needs. Thanks for reading, and check back soon for more great articles!