In 2017, 63% of businesses were using video as a marketing tool. In 2018 that number rose to 81%. And in 2019, 87%. This is part of the reason why we jumped on the bandwagon in 2018 and started publishing videos consistently. And it’s led to over 100,000 YouTube subscribers, millions of views, and thousands of new paying customers. So today, I’m going to show you how to use video marketing to grow your business, even if you’re in a so-called “boring” industry like SEO.
Video marketing is powerful no doubt. And a lot of it has to do with accessibility. We watch videos on our computers, mobile devices, and TVs. In fact, go to a metropolitan area like NewYork, Las Vegas, Hong Kong, or wherever, and you’ll likely see videos playing on billboards. And the numbers speak for themselves. In a 2018 study, it was reported that 85%of US internet users watched online video content every month. So with such high demand for video content, how do we use it as business owners and marketers to actually drive revenue?
To answer that, let’s first define video marketing. Video marketing is using videos to promote and educate your target audience. It’s also used to increase brand awareness and social engagement, allowing you to reach new and bigger audiences. Now, video marketing doesn’t mean you have to create shows or be a personality that people fall head over heels for. A report from Hubspot Research shows that 54%of consumers want to see videos from brands, which was higher than any other content type.
Video is powerful for a few reasons. First, it allows you to demonstrate concepts faster and more clearly. For example, as you’re watching this video, you’re using your sense of hearing and your sense of sight together, creating a rich learning experience. Whereas text-based content limits you to just sight. For example, if you wanted to learn how to do the reverse overlap putting grip, you might read this blog post.
There’s an image showing the grip and it says… “Apply your left hand to the putter grip and then, just beneath, rest your hand around the putter grip. Link both your hands by lifting the index finger of your left hand and wrapping it over the fingers of your right hand.” Good luck doing that and getting it right. But watch this video for 30-seconds and you’ll master the technique in no time. Second, video allows you to create a personal connection with viewers, which shouldn’t be undermined.
For example, I was creating videos for the Ahrefs’YouTube channel for around 6 months and then went to visit the head office in Singapore for the first time.
And when I walked into the office, the first thing someone said to me was… “I feel like I already know you.” A few of the other people around us laughed and agreed. Now, creating that effect through a blog post is much more challenging. Third, you can reach audiences in places like YouTube, where video is the only way to play the game. Now, as powerful as video can be you’ll need to create them so they a) resonate with your target audience; and b) ideally feature your products and services.
So unless you’re making money through ad revenues, views alone won’t pay the bills. So let’s go through four steps to create great video marketing campaigns. Step one is to define your audience.
And to do that, start by thinking of who your product or services serve. Knowing who your audience is in terms of gender, age, profession, interests, or whatever information you can dig up, can help you shape the format and content of your videos. So if you have an existing list of customers, start there. Define who they are, what kind of problems they face, how they found you, and why they chose you. You can do simple customer surveys or one-to-one calls and ask them those specific questions. Get to know their business and the problems they face. If you don’t have any customers yet, you can use audience research tools like FacebookAudience Insights.
You’ll need a Facebook Ads account for this, but this tool is completely free. Just fill out the information in the sidebar of who you think your audience is. For example, let’s say I’m starting a new tabletop games reviews channel. I’ll set the Country to the United States assuming that’s my target audience, and I’ll set the Interests to tabletop games. And now you can see some insightful things like the majority of people being between 25-44. And if we go to the Page Likes tab, you’ll see some interests like electronics, collectibles and video games.
Below are specific pages they like, which can give you a good place to start for reviews to create. The next step is to define a primary objective. And there are three main categories for objectives. These are brand awareness, education, and entertainment, aka. BEE. Brand awareness videos are usually short, and the purpose is to just make people aware that you exist. Think of commercials you see on TV. It can be anything from McDonalds promoting $2 Big Mac week or something like Slack’s Animals commercial, where they show a team using their software to create a flying umbrella. The main point is that the viewer should know the brand name and have an idea of what they provide. Educational videos are like the ones we create on YouTube.
Most of our videos are tutorials on SEO and marketing strategies. And as a software company, we show how our tools make these processes easier and more effective. And entertainment is self-explanatory. Think of shows or series. They’re often created as stories. For example, Red Bull does a really good job of this. They create series and videos around extreme sports, which draws in their target customers. Now, just because you want to entertain, it doesn’t mean you can’t educate or vice versa. But in my opinion, you should choose a primary objective based on what you want to achieve. After you’ve defined your objective, it’time to create the content.
While I can’t tell you exactly what to create or how to create it, we can talk about a few sub-categories under the umbrella of video creation. So let’s talk about optimal lengths, formats, breaking through common struggles, and how you’ll get these videos in front of the right people. So let’s talk about how long your videos should be first. Content length will usually be determined by your primary objective. For example, a brand awareness campaign can be as short as 15 seconds, and usually won’t exceed a couple of minutes.
Again, think of commercials or those ads that play before you watch certain YouTube videos. Educational content will be anywhere from5 to 120 minutes. Our videos are usually 7 to 20 minutes, while something like a webinar can easily go over an hour. As for entertainment, this will also vary in duration. But I like to think of these kinds of videos as shows. This can range from 10 to 180 minutes depending on the format. Speaking of format, this is where you’ll see quite a bit of variance as it depends on your audience, objective, industry, and the message you want to get across. Meaning, there are no set rules. But there is one format that I’ve seen work for all audiences, all objectives, and all industries. And it looks something like this.
Problem, teaser, and solution or story. Whether it’s a commercial, tutorial, or blockbuster film, there’s always a problem. Problems make content interesting and its something I recommend leading with. Next is the teaser. The point of this is to show that there’s a solution to the problem, without giving it away. Finally is a story or solution. And this will often depend on your objective again. For example, educational videos will usually have a clear-cut solution.
Whereas videos that go the entertainment route will likely have stories that lead to the solution or conclusion. Let’s go through some examples. In the 2019 Super Bowl, Bud Light aired this famous commercial.
The problem starts when a giant barrel of corn syrup is delivered to their factory. But since Bud Light doesn’t use corn syrup in their beer, they tease the answer that it must be one of their competitors’ shipments, like Miller Lite. The story goes on to show the journey of delivering corn syrup to their competitor. Once they arrive at the castle, Miller Lite says they already received their corn syrup, and suggests to deliver the barrel to another competitor, Coors light. Bud Light gang heads over to the Coors’ castle, and they gladly accept the corn syrup.
As for educational videos, it’s easiest if I use our tutorials as an example. With this video, I started off by sharing how important video marketing is. I then go onto tease the solution by showing how we’ve used video to get over 100,000 subscribers, millions of views, and thousands of new paying customers. Right now, we’re in the solution stage whereI’m sharing what we’ve done and a step-by-step way to use video marketing for your company. Finally is the entertainment route. Just think of your favorite sitcom. There’s always a problem, they often tease what could be if the problem were solved, it leads into the story which is the bulk of the show, and ends with some kind of solution or conclusion.
Now, I’m not saying that this formula is what all successful videos follow. But if you’re struggling to find your own unique format, try it because it works. Alright, let’s talk about some very real struggles that come with the territory of being a video creator. Even though some of these roadblocks might seem like huge problems at the moment, I promise that you can overcome them. So let’s break down the problems and solutions.
Struggle #1: I’m not good in front of the camera. This was and still is one of my greatest struggles. I don’t feel natural standing here talking toa lens, knowing that thousands of people are going to watch it. But the beauty of video is in editing. As you’ve seen from this video as well as others, we use B-roll like screencasts, animations, and text screens to take the attention off me while creating better educational material. Another way to combat the jitters is to use a teleprompter. This is what I use because it helps me deliver as much information as possible in a short period of time rather than going off on tangents.
Struggle #2: I don’t have the equipment or the budget to buy it. Listen…video production quality is overrated. Yea, we spend a lot of time trying to produce quality stuff, but at the same time, it’s not a necessity to create impactful videos. You probably have a camera in your pocket everywhere you go. It’s called a smartphone. In fact, when Tim started Ahrefs’ YouTubechannel in 2015, he created all his tutorials on a GoPro which is far from Hollywood equipment. But those videos took our channel from 0 to2,600 subscribers in 5 months. No fancy cameras, microphones, or backdrops. This brings us to the last common struggle.
Struggle #3 is that English is not my first language. Tim is originally from Ukraine. And if you’ve watched any of his videos, you might have noticed that English isn’t his first language. Being a child of immigrant parents myself, I know there are personal struggles in terms of how you think others might perceive you. So I thought it’d be best to have Tim share his experiences on how he was able to power through and overcome this challenge. Hey guys! So Sam asked me to share my experience of creating video content while not being a native English speaker. Should I also say, not being even a fluent English speaker?
So yeah, I did have my hesitations to start recording videos or audio content because of my strong Ukrainian accent.
So much so that I even recorded a video-question to Gary Vee Show asking him if my heavy accent would be a problem and if it would make people jump to conclusions and not listening to my content. Well, what Gary said was that it is true that some people would hate my accent and choose not to watch my content because of it. But on the other hand, there are tons and tons of smart, intelligent people all around the globe for whom English is not their first language So my accent is absolutely of no problem for them as long as the content is good. So here’s my advice for you.
If you want to start creating video content but you have an accent, don’t bother about it, just start doing it. If your content is good, you’ll find your audience and there will be many people who will appreciate what you’re doing despite your accent. And one last thing. Please, tell Sam that this t-shirt looks much better on me than on him. Type it in the comments, please. Thanks! The final part of this video marketing puzzle is likely the most important. And that’s how you’re going to get views to your videos.
And I’m not going to talk about things like TV, but I will focus on three online marketing strategies that I’ve used to get more views. First is through organic reach. And this means ranking your videos on youtube and Google as well as being recommended through other YouTube features like suggested views and browse features. To prove that we’ve done this, here’s a graph of our YouTube organic search traffic. We’ve invested a lot of effort into YouTube SEO, which has given us free and consistent growth over time. And here’s the fruit of our labor from our video SEO efforts. This graph shows free and consistent views that we get from Google search.
YouTube SEO works particularly well if your main objective is education. Naturally, people are and will always be searching for helpful tutorials on various topics. Rather than going deep into how to do YouTube SEO, we have an actionable tutorial on how you can rank your videos in YouTube, which I’ll link up in the description. Another way to get views is to embed videos on your blog or landing pages. If you have a website where you’re already getting consistent traffic, it’s worth embedding your videos in relevant places.
This is something we do regularly at Ahrefs and it’s probably one of the lowest-hanging tactics you can do. From what I’ve seen, embedding our videos on relevant posts have helped us rank these videos in Google’s video carousels, suggested clips, and video search tab.
Next is through other social media platforms. If you already have a following on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, I’m sure you’re already posting videos there. Now, if your goal is simply to get people to consume your content, you can try uploading the entire video to the social platform and see how they perform. But if your goal is to get people to your youtube channel, then I recommend creating short teaser clips and uploading them to the social platform. And within the description, add a link to your YouTube video. Every industry is different and every audience is different too. Try both of these tactics and don’t be afraid to throw a bit of money into social ads. A little can go a long way.
Speaking of ads, that’s the final strategy I recommend. With video ads, I’ve only tried them on Facebook and YouTube. And from what I’ve seen, Facebook tends to work well for brand awareness and lead generation videos. Lead generation videos are ones where you ask people to opt-in for a webinar or something else that’s free. From there, you nurture the lead and then try to sell your product. Facebook has arguably the best audience-targeting features. So if you know your audience really well, it can help you get engaged views fast. As for YouTube, we regularly use discovery ads for full-length tutorials. These are ads that appear at the top of YouTube’ssearch results as well as in the suggested sidebar.
You can target audiences or topics much like facebook’s interest targeting and layer in demographic profiles. You can also do keyword targeting, where your ads will appear when a user searches for specific words or phrases. Since our videos are mostly created to solve specific problems, I’ve found keyword targeting to work really well to get engaged views, meaning long ones. Finally are in-stream ads, which are those videos that play before a video. These work well if brand awareness is your objective. It’s important to take note of the format of these ads.
For example, people aren’t able to skip the first five seconds of the video. So two things you’ll want to do in the first five seconds are a) grab their attention enough so they’ll continue to watch; and b) make the focus on your brand. The second thing to note is that YouTube only considers it a “view” if the user watches at least 30 seconds of your ad. Or the full video if it’s shorter than 30seconds. This means, if your video is 31 seconds, and someone watches 29 seconds of that video, you won’t be charged.
So take that into account, too. At the end of the day, successful advertising will come down to your targeting, the quality of the video, and how relevant it is to your business and audience. I highly recommend trying out video ads. Even if you spend just $10 per day, you can get hundreds of views. So by now, I’m hoping you feel an urgency to start marketing with video. It’s insanely powerful and the fact that you’re still here is a testament to its effectiveness. Now, if you enjoyed this article, make sure to share and subscribe for more actionable marketing tutorials.