Engagement and learning should be the goal of interactive video marketing
In a recent LinkedIn discussion of content marketing, a commenter noted that “there’s not a lot of demand” for interactive video marketing. That’s been my experience, too. Clients for our short videos get interested in call-to-action buttons, chapterizing long videos, even quizzes and branching, but they don’t follow up.
Why marketers don’t do interactive video marketing
Demand Metric recently released a Brightcove-sponsored report on interactive video. Participants were Brightcove partners and customers, many of whom are large providers of video (broadcasters, publishers, big companies in healthcare, travel, etc.) In otherwords, a savvy survey sample. But, even among this crowd, a third of respondents asserted that their reasons for not using interactive video are:
Don’t have the budget
Don’t have the skills
Don’t understand how it works
And 25% admitted that they don’t understand the benefits.
The 1970 New York Transit Authority graphics standards manual widely considered the standard-setter in this peculiar genre. Shown here are standards for space between characters in in subway signage. See the brilliant reproductions at http://standardsmanual.com
Most companies we do business with publish comprehensive graphics standards manuals setting forth guidelines akin to those in the classic New York Transit Authority manual of 1970.
These manuals set rules for trademarks and logos, typography, advertising, and web publishing. Many provide guidelines and PowerPoint templates for presentations. Some attempt to provide a visual language of images and diagrams relevant to specific technology solutions and customer business drivers.
Why no standards for marketing videos?
But I’ve never seen one with standards for marketing videos, or any sort of motion graphics. (I’d very much like to, if you know of any.) It’s not hard to think of historical reasons why this should be so, at least for technology marketers.
Marketing videos are relatively new tools and are still viewed as exotic or luxury items in some companies
Video production tends to be ad hoc, as in “Hey, we need a video!”
There are all kinds of videos — webinars, demos, testimonials, slide show recordings, etc.
Every “producer” has his or her own aesthetic preferences and ideas about who the intended audience is, and what they’ll respond to.
There’s a lot of turnover in marketing departments. Producing a video that looks different from what your predecessors created is a high-visibility way to make your mark.
In developing marketing videos, we usually start with a script — that is, words on paper. This is a sensible and congenial way for technology marketers to work, since most of us spend a lot more time dealing with text in various forms than the do with video.
But the spoken words of a video script needs to be looked at differently from the way you look at written text. It’s easy to overlook how every single spoken word will increase the length of the video. If they’re the right words, spoken persuasively, they’ll also add to the video’s meaning and its success. Wasted words add length, even as they subtract from the message.
1. Count the words
Every word adds to the length of a video. That’s why it’s so critical to make every word count. “All the logistics” takes up about 1 second.
Many smart people who write well have trouble converting the number of words they write to the length of time needed to say the same words aloud. If your aim is to write a video that’s 60 seconds long, your first draft should contain about 125 words.
Yes, you can say more words than that in 60 seconds. I, myself, normally speak about three words per second when reading aloud. But if you listened to me — or James Earl Jones, or Scarlett Johansen, or anyone else — rattle on about a technology solution at 180 words per minute — well, you wouldn’t listen. No one would.
Sentences need rhythm. Viewers need time to absorb what is being spoken and the visual storytelling. If you want to keep your message short and understandable, you need to be an implacable word counter from the get-go.
2. Talk the talk
Another consideration marketers are apt to overlook is that the narrator needs to talk the way people talk. Industry jargon may be a big plus. On the other hand, marketing-speak,
In a short essay commemorating the recent 100th anniversary of the General Theory of Relativity, Einstein biographer Walter Isaacson describes how Einstein depended on visual thought experiments to advance his own thinking — before he could advance the rest of ours. Science and technology ideas are almost always easier to explain to ourselves and others with visuals. In technology marketing videos, we might consider storyboards as being the rough thought experiments that lead to productions that can change how people think about your solution.
For one thing, misconceptions are easier to catch in storyboards than in text. Here’s a scene in the script of a recent video of ours. Visuals on the left, narration on the right. Seems clear enough.
Here’s an early storyboard visualization.
You’ll notice that the original script describes things being
When we first started producing 2-Minute Explainer videos for companies in 2004, we resisted the idea of putting music in technology marketing videos under the narration. It seemed sufficient to “bookend” the video with music in the opening (usually a “logo spin”) and closing. It seemed to us that if you’re trying to explain a serious concept like Business Intelligence or Service Oriented Architecture, the background music makes the video less serious and more commercial or “sales-y.” And background music can become tiresome after a couple of minutes.
Sales pitch or explanation?
On the other hand, if you’re making a straightforward product pitch, particularly one that runs only a minute or so, well-chosen music can significantly enhance the viewing experience. For example, here’s a sales pitch where the overall tone of the narration and visuals is casual and whimsical. It seems to need music.
Here’s an example of a fairly serious and technical video we created for Cisco which did not use music. The version on the left is straight narration. The narration in the version on the right is backed by some fairly serious music (Prelude in F-Major from Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier).
No music. This rather technical Cisco explainer video doesn’t really need music.
Narration + Music. (music is a sample of royalty-free music from AudioJungle)
This is the third of a series of posts on how to tell a video sales story. Here’s where to see Part 1 and Part 2
How to tell a video sales story? At one time or another, everyone who has ever had a job has probably wished “to bring about a major change in the organization.” According to this OpenView B2B Buyer Insight survey, it’s one of the main reasons buyers reach out to salespeople, and one that many salespeople fail to take into account.
Obviously, this is a motivation that should be taken seriously by solution sellers, because just about every software solution promises to effect a major change — higher performance, better security, increased customer satisfaction, better user experience, and so forth.
You seldom see an explainer video that addresses this motivation directly, but we’ve made a few.
“Here’s something you can change right now” (vs. “Here’s what we can do for you”)
An opportunity for ambitious government agencies who want to make a difference.
Here’s an example intended to appeal to would-be game changers in government who want to increase citizen engagement. It assumes right from the outset that the viewer is an IT executive motivated to bring about change, and demonstrates the straightforward, yet innovative, Software AG AgileApps live solution for governments (there is a UK version, too).
Did you know about this opportunity for change?
Any time you’ve got a solution most people in the organization don’t know they need, you have a big challenge, and an opportunity to reach out to the innovators who want to “bring about a major change.”
This is the second of a series of posts on how to tell a video sales story. Here’s where to see Part 1 and Part 3
How to tell a video sales story? As noted last time, there’s evidence that a lot of salespeople don’t have a good handle on the circumstances under which buyers might want to reach out to them. That’s according to an OpenView B2B Buyer Insight survey.
One of the motivations salespeople tend to underestimate is “to replace a solution that isn’t working well.” For someone creating content for sales engagement, this suggests that it might be a very good idea to help out the sales team with with videos that anticipate the question “How should I replace my solution that isn’t working well.”
This audience is different — and it’s not you
Let’s take note of the following about the potential audience we’re trying to address with these videos
They know they want a solution
They are inclined to take action to learn about the solution
They may or may not know about your solution, and
What they think they know may be wrong
As a marketer, you naturally evaluate a video on how much you like it, and whether it keeps your attention. I think this is one reason that many “explainer” videos start out with a display of empathy for the viewer’s problems. Because, without problems, there’s not much of a storyline — and stories are what we all like.
This is the first of a series of posts on how to tell a video sales story. Here’s where to see Part 2 and Part 3
How to tell a video sales story? An OpenView B2B Buyer Insight survey points up some differences between what IT buyers and IT salespeople think motivates buyers to reach out to salespeople. I think it’s interesting that salespeople tended to underestimate the importance of these buyer motivations:
To research a market
To replace a solution that isn’t working well
To bring about a major change in the organization
It put me in mind of an issue we face every time we develop a technology marketing video — How do we frame the story? Even more important — What happens in the first scene?
Turns out, we have framed videos around these motivations — not deliberately — in the past, and the videos have worked well. But we’ll consider them with a little more deliberation in future projects. Maybe you should, too.
“Here’s what’s new in your market” (vs. “Here’s why we’re the next big thing”)
When everybody’s doing it — in IT today, “it” is cloud/virtualization, big data analytics, mobility, social media — solution providers tweak their solution to stay on top of the trends. A relevant video solution might be to feature these special tweaks in shorter-than-average videos.
For example, Cisco’s Workload Automation solution has been around for a while (as Tidal Enterprise Scheduler). Here are a couple of short videos
89% of consumers want control over ads they view online
64% of consumers are more likely to spend more time watching video if they have more options to interact with it
68% want to be able to control offers and updates they receive from brands via email
Videos with choice can triple viewing times and double conversions
This is comes from a recent survey by Rapt Media. It’s consumer research, not B2B. But don’t these numbers seem to seem in line with your experience watching videos online?
Pretty cheap interactive transcripts
The CaptionBox below the video contains social media buttons and acts as a navigation panel.
CaptionBox is a tool available from the inexpensive transcription service SpeakerText. SpeakerText does a good job of transcribing your video, which improves SEO as well as accessibility — and the first 5 minutes is free. Then, when you put the video into CaptionBox, your video becomes interactive – viewers can scan the content, and click to view the sections that interest them. It’s chapterization at a very granular level.
Quizzes and lists with video and potential virality
Have you ever clicked on one of those irresistible quizzes like “What City Should You Actually Live In?” Of course you have, and there’s a good chance it originated at PlayBuzz, the source of more Facebook shares than any other publisher. You can create all kinds of swipers, flip cards,
“…there are very few movies that wouldn’t benefit from losing twenty minutes and the inclusion of an exploding helicopter shot…” — Roger Corman
This quote, which I first heard on Mark Kermode’s BBC Film Review podcast, may not appear to have much to do with marketing videos, but I think it reflects an attitude video producers might consider adopting. True, we’re not going to be able to come up with the equivalent of an exploding helicopter, but I’ve seen very few marketing videos that couldn’t be improved with a little more explosive visual stimulation.
Not an exploding helicopter, but a stimulating graphic can help a text-heavy video make a big impression, nonetheless.
We recently produced several videos for use in the noisy VMworld Expo environment. Lots of text on the screen, no voiceover narration. Fortunately, our client, Cirba, uses a relatively stimulating visual metaphor to explain how their analytics solution makes virtual environments more efficient, and we were able to adapt their visual metaphor to good advantage.
As to the benefit of “losing twenty minutes,”
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