Want to use video marketing more effectively? Looking for a proven video strategy?
To explore how to develop an effective video marketing strategy, I interview Ben Amos on the Social Media Marketing Podcast.
Ben is a video marketing expert and host of the Engage Video Marketing Podcast. He coaches video marketers and video producers and his course is called the Online Video Strategy Blueprint.
Ben shares why marketers should focus on developing a video strategy, the key elements of the customer journey when it comes to video, and more.
Getting Started With Video Marketing
Developing a Love for Video Production
Ben’s interest in video production began when he was a kid. His dad had a big, old VHS camcorder, the kind that sat on one shoulder and needed a battery pack that sat on the other shoulder. From an early age, Ben began tinkering with the camcorder and got hooked on creating videos of his own. He edited the videos from VHS to VHS and was fascinated with video as a form.
His interest in video led him to a job as a film and television teacher and eventually to starting his own video production company. After 7 years of teaching high school students how to make videos, he wanted to actually get out there and start making videos for himself. He’s run his production company for 12 years and has seen the world of video change a lot over this time.
Starting a Video Production Company
When he started his company, YouTube was just barely becoming a thing. The videos he was creating were for weddings and local businesses in Queensland, where Ben is based. Over time, most of the videos he created for businesses started being posted online. Companies wanted people to see their videos and were often uploading this content to YouTube.
Ben noticed a shift in the industry 5 or 6 years ago and it became clear that change was needed. His company was regularly producing video content for businesses across Queensland. His clients were pleased with his work but the videos weren’t providing results once they were uploaded to YouTube.
In one particular case, a client spent $5,000 for a video and was stoked with the final product. It was a great video. Ben’s company was proud of it, got paid, and moved on. Six months later, Ben checked back and found that it had only garnered 34 views on YouTube. This was the only place the video was available and it clearly didn’t provide a return on investment.
Creating a Strategy-Focused Video Marketing Agency
Business owners don’t really want to create videos. They want results from their videos. They want their businesses to grow, change, or reach more people. This insight made Ben realize that he needed to understand the marketing side of video production so he could provide better results for his clients.
Now, 6 years later, Ben’s company positions itself as a video strategy agency. They help businesses define the strategy behind the videos that they’re creating and produce content with that strategy in mind. Then they manage the distribution of that content across all sorts of digital channels as well.
Ben also helps people understand how to do the same thing for their own businesses. He launched Engage Video Marketing Podcast 2 years ago as a way to connect with awesome people across the world doing amazing things with video marketing.
Why Marketers Should Focus on Video
Ben cites findings from the latest Social Media Marketing Industry Report as proof that people are focused on and pay attention to video. According to the report, 60%–78% of marketers plan to increase their use of video on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram this year.
Marketers know that attracting the attention of their ideal audience and engaging them long enough to communicate an idea from the business or brand requires a video strategy. Video has a powerful one-two punch that attracts and draws attention.
People are more engaged with video than any other form of communication, especially the written word. Ben finds that people would much prefer to watch a video than to read something. Even audio content like podcasts can get engagement but it’s harder to maintain someone’s full attention with audio. Users are often multitasking when listening to audio so their attention isn’t 100% on the information being shared. Video ticks all of those boxes.
Biggest Video Creation Challenge Marketers Face
The Democratization of Videos
When Ben started his video production company, he invested more than $30,000 in video equipment such as a decent-quality camera, editing tools, and other items. At the time, specific equipment was needed to create quality videos.
Today, the ability to create and use video in any communication and marketing strategy is in everyone’s hands. It’s their smartphone. There’s no need to invest a lot of money in video equipment that you probably have no idea how to use. Anyone can now create a video with something that’s right in their pocket. As a result, video is everywhere.
Every social platform now has native video and almost all have video ads. Some have a short-form video format too. With such a variety of possibilities, social media channels, tools, and ways to create a video, many marketers are overwhelmed and stick their heads in the sand. Some don’t do video or take action because it all seems too confusing and difficult.
Defining a Video Marketing Strategy
Another major challenge marketers face is creating video that’s effective. They’re merely “creating video for video’s sake” and are in no way setting themselves apart from the avalanche of average video content that’s already online.
Some marketers are willing to experiment with video or dabble with the latest video tools simply because somewhere along the way, they were told to focus on video. Perhaps they’re simply creating video because everyone around them is creating video. Maybe they’ve been told that they have to create video to stay relevant.
The problem is that many have no defined strategy behind what they’re doing. They also don’t really understand why they’re making video and what they intend that video to do for their business. Nor do they consider how that video is going to make a particular member of their audience take a particular action.
The world of video is a noisy place. Video without a good strategic point of view behind it isn’t going to cut through the noise. It just adds to it.
Starting With a Business Goal in Mind
Most people who are focused on creating video for video’s sake adopt a form approach to their video content creation process. In this case, the form is the video format. They start by asking what they should make a video about. They brainstorm ideas with a team, set out to create the video, and then just stick it somewhere online, hoping to get eyeballs and attention on it. They count the views and move on to the next video.
Taking a more strategic approach to video means starting with the question, “What do we need to improve in our business?” Identify all of the things that will move the needle for the company. Then decide if making a video is the right way to accomplish these goals. If so, define the technical and creative approach to make that happen.
This should inform how to use the video to improve your business. It also determines which metrics and data will prove that your video is achieving the desired outcome.
How Video Improves Business
To get started adopting a strategic approach to video described above, look at the full marketing funnel and the customer journey for your product. Your typical customer goes through a process of making a decision that hopefully ends with buying from you.
In most cases, the decision-making process starts with some kind of emotional trigger or realization. This is characterized as the Awareness phase of the customer journey. From there, customers move through Awareness to the Consideration phase, where weigh their options and compare their different choices. The next phase is Conversion, when they make a rational decision to part with their cash in the final purchase.
The fourth and final phase is Advocacy, or loyalty. This is where customers are so pleased with their purchase that they’re not only willing to buy from you again, but to talk to other people about you, too. The stage after a purchase is an important part of the full-funnel video strategy and the goal here is to delight.
Analyze all four stages of the entire journey a customer goes through to buy from you. Look for places within each of these phases of Awareness, Consideration, Conversion, and Advocacy where there might be a breakdown or gap. As you work through the funnel, identify how you can plug the gaps in your customers’ journey with video and consider these to be your campaign goals.
To illustrate, ask if you need more cold audiences to be familiar with your brand, come into your ecosystem, and better understand what you sell. If that’s the case, then you know to start developing video content that builds awareness or positions your brand. If you need to tap more of your warm audience, then produce videos that will expand this kind of reach.
Key Elements of the Customer Journey in Video
When developing a video marketing strategy, examine all four phases of the customer journey: Awareness, Consideration, Purchase, and Advocacy. Video can work beautifully in all four stages of the customer journey, but you don’t necessarily have to use video in every single stage.
Focus on the areas of the funnel that need the most attention or that can make the biggest difference for your company. Then create videos that are specifically designed for that phase of the customer journey.
In the case of Social Media Examiner, we have a large, engaged audience of people who are already aware of the brand and consume our content. For our goal of getting more people to buy tickets and attend Social Media Marketing World 2020, Ben advises that most of our video marketing content should focus on the Consideration, Conversion, and Advocacy stages of the customer journey.
Listen to the show to hear Ben further discuss how video marketing content that focuses on the bottom of the marketing funnel could have the biggest impact on selling tickets and increasing attendance at Social Media Marketing World 2020. He also shares ideas for what kind of content we should develop.
Stage One: Building Awareness
The ultimate goal of awareness videos is to get the most eyeballs on them. Get them out there in the right way and post them natively on the platforms where it makes sense.
In most cases, it isn’t possible to directly track that someone watching your awareness video has converted to a client or moved further down the funnel. Think about awareness videos as a necessary part of your branding like your website, logo, signage, and similar things.
Ben shares an example from one of his long-time clients who used his company’s video marketing strategy across the full funnel throughout all four stages of the customer journey.
This client runs a local property management company in a small town. One of her key goals upon initially launching her business was obviously building awareness among the local community about who she is and what sets her over and above her competition. The video content created in this first goal of brand positioning sought to get people to emotionally buy into “who she is” before asking them to buy from her.
People buy with emotion and then justify that decision with logic. All purchase decisions, whether it’s a doughnut or the services of a property manager, begin with some sort of emotional trigger.
The first videos Ben’s agency created for his property manager client told her brand story. She used these early videos to share testimonials from her clients and the rental property owners themselves.
She made the videos personal by genuinely and authentically revealing her big “why” behind her agency, how she treats her clients, and what gets her out of bed in the morning and fires her up. The idea was to allow her brand to be positioned alongside the emotions her potential customers are likely already feeling.
Create content that talks to the emotional pain, excitement, or other feelings your ideal audience has at the Awareness stage of their journey.
Use the Power of Storytelling
The power of storytelling is critical in the Awareness stage. Creating an emotional connection is necessary for drawing people toward your brand and into the next phase of your marketing funnel.
In the case of Ben’s client, the storytelling approach allowed her to say what she’s all about, position herself as the guide or mentor to her clients, and spell out exactly how she’ll make their lives better. Her brand story videos showed that she’s trustworthy, experienced, and can drive positive outcomes.
Ben notes that it’s critical that the brand is never the hero of the story. The brand should be seen as the mentor or guide that helps the customer—who’s actually the hero—achieve a better outcome.
The story must also be relatable. You need to know who’ll hear the story, how it’ll make them feel understood, and what pain they’re feeling. Most importantly, you’ll have to show that you have the answers they need to make their life better and easier.
Overcoming Discomfort With Video
It’s natural to feel discomfort and awkwardness when you’re on camera to tell your brand story. There are many resources to help you overcome this fear. There are also many ways to approach telling a story on video.
A business owner doesn’t necessarily have to be the one on camera. Nor do they have to pour out their heart or tell their story. This is especially true if the feelings around it aren’t authentic or genuine.
To visualize this, Ben’s video production company works with its clients through an extremely relaxed interview process that’s unscripted and as easy as a conversation. He then pulls all of the content together and edits it into the right story structure.
Start With Why
If you’re at a loss about where to start creating video content for the Awareness stage, Ben suggests creating content in its simplest form—start with the “why.”
Ben references Simon Sinek’s idea of starting with the why—why you exist, why you do what you do, why you love what you love, and so forth. In its simplest form, it can be “Look, this is why I do what I do.”
For Ben’s property management client, that could be a 30-second video on why she loves property management. She could tell viewers why it fires her up to achieve outcomes for people, get better results, and attract the right tenants so that their property investments return over the long-term. She could tell viewers why their property journey is going to be smooth sailing if they work with her. Whatever your “why” might be, it emotionally positions you with the right people. That resonates with people.
Stage Two: Consideration
Ben shares that once the videos in the Awareness stage were created for his property management client, they were rolled out in various ways across different channels. He then moved to the Consideration phase and created social engagement content.
Recognizing that the goal in the Consideration phase involves social engagement, the focus is on social media as one of the most powerful tools to use to get people to pay attention to you. You want them to come on a journey with you. You want them to build a relationship with you as a brand or business.
When it comes to video, social engagement content comes down to good content marketing. It can be helpful content that addresses frequently asked questions or a how-to video that positions your business as an expert with information. Approach the content in a way that benefits and provides value to your ideal customer.
Relationships don’t happen with one pretty video and then you’re done. They happen gradually. For this reason, Ben proposes doing a series of weekly video blogs like he continues to create for his property management client. Each week, the company produces a video blog that focuses on educational, how-to content for their clients.
These weekly videos don’t have to be highly produced or look like short films. They simply provide value in a way that builds trust and positions the business owner as an expert long-term.
Often the questions are common ones that can be answered anywhere else online. Responding to them through video allows the business owner to connect on a more emotional and personal level with her customers. The power of video is that people are connecting with the brand on a more human level than they can ever do with a written blog, for instance. It provides information and entertainment at the same time.
There’s also an added level of reciprocity in play when you freely provide value to your audience without the expectation that they buy from you. When they’re ready to buy, they’re more likely to choose your company or your brand simply because of the trust you’ve established over time.
Determine the Best Placement for Social Engagement Video
Social media is the best fit for social engagement videos but you do have to decide on the primary social platform for these videos. This might be YouTube or Facebook. It might even be Instagram and IGTV or LinkedIn. Whatever platform you use as your primary channel for your video, create content with the native considerations in mind.
For example, videos primarily created for YouTube will look and be sized differently than videos shared on IGTV. Of course, videos can always be repurposed for secondary and tertiary platforms, too. However, Ben advises brands to focus on a primary video platform and use the other ones to drive views and engagement to it.
Paid Retargeting Versus Organic Ad Strategy
Up until this point in our interview, Ben has described an organic video strategy for moving people from the Awareness phase through the Consideration phase. He acknowledges that businesses can begin running paid retargeting campaigns to drive people more directly and quickly through their marketing funnel.
He notes that a drawback of running paid retargeting campaigns is that they may rush people through the customer journey and not give enough time to properly position your brand. The idea behind running an organic strategy is that it allows customers to consume your social engagement content over time and it primes them for when they’re ready to buy.
Stage Three: Conversion or Purchasing
Just because your videos have made people aware of your brand and positioned it as the right choice for their needs doesn’t mean they’re ready to buy anything from you right now. It’s unrealistic to assume that people will directly go from watching a whole bunch of social engagement videos to making a purchase. In fact, there may be barriers preventing them from making a purchasing decision.
The goal in the Conversation phase of the customer journey is to get people across the line and to becoming a paying customer. To do this, consider all of the reasons someone might hold back from making a purchase, and then come up with rational ways to address these concerns. The way you use video in this stage must adjust as well.
Develop Client Onboarding Videos
Using the example of the property management client, Ben explains how their video strategy shifted toward more client onboarding-type content in the Conversion phase. Anyone who made an inquiry about her services in the Awareness and Consideration phases is now seen as being in the Conversion phase of the journey. The goal is to get them to sign the contract to become a client.
The business owner sends a relatively long video via email to anyone who has made an inquiry. The video is 10 minutes long and isn’t made public nor shared on social media. It goes directly to her customer leads and walks through what it would be like to be onboarded as a property owner with her company.
She explains the benefits of being a landlord working with her property management agency. She details the services she provides and answers questions about things like managing arrears or handling payments. She reviews how her company operates and any other information she would give in a sales call or face-to-face meeting.
By doing this through video, she’s practically automating the process, getting her face in front of leads, and addressing any final questions they might have. She shows them what they’ll experience if they choose to make that purchase. The call to action from the email is, “I look forward to meeting you at our signup meeting.” Since she’s eliminated all of the barriers through her video, the person is ready to buy once they come in for that meeting.
Tracking Watch Time and Views
Depending on how this type of conversion video is implemented within a marketing strategy, it can be really powerful to directly track engagement with them at the bottom of the funnel.
In the case of sending one-to-one video via email from the property management company, Ben can track what percentages of the videos are being watched. He uses different tools like Vidyard and Wistia to track an individual’s engagement with a video. The company knows if a person coming to a signup meeting to finalize a deal watched their video, how much of it they saw, and other metrics and data.
This information can also help adjust the sales conversation ahead of where viewers typically drop off.
Gathering Testimonials and Case Studies
The other types of content that work well for the Conversion phase are testimonials and case studies, which are different than the emotional client stories discussed at the top of the funnel. These videos focus on the experience and excitement around your product, service, or event. They’re meant to encourage people to buy from you and overcome any barriers they have in making that purchase.
Stage Four: Advocacy
Now that people have paid money and become your clients, it’s critical that you don’t let them go. In the Advocacy stage, it makes good business sense to do things to continue to impress your clients or keep them happy.
Identify Touchpoints Following a Purchase
Ben recommends injecting video into different touchpoints that a typical client would have after they purchase from you. Depending on the type of product or service you offer, you could re-engage them as part of an immediate onboarding process, or 6 or 12 months later. Look at those different touchpoints and figure out how can you use video to improve the experience people have with your brand.
Create Personalized Video
One of the best ways to use video in the Advocacy stage is to create personalized videos at scale where possible. Apps such as Bonjoro and Vidyard make it possible to record and share personalized videos with your smartphone.
Bonjoro will even alert you within the app when someone buys from your online store or website. It tells you who made the purchase and what they bought. You can then shoot and send a quick personalized video on Bonjoro. You could say something as simple as, “Hey Mike, thanks so much for jumping into the course! I can’t wait to learn more about you and your business. So if you’ve got any questions, let me know. But I’m so pleased that you’ve joined me here.”
Once the personalized video is sent, it overcomes any buyer’s remorse your customer might have felt. It assures them that they’re in the right place and made the right decision in buying from you. It improves the customer experience, increases retention, encourages people to refer you to others, and just builds better relationships with your customers.
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