Every brand should be investing in video content marketing. This isn’t some new industry trend—it’s a fundamental shift in how brands reach their customers. Visual search is the future.
According to Google, 6 out of 10 people would rather watch an online video than TV. By 2022, Cisco predicts 82% of global internet traffic will be attributed to video. By not investing in video content marketing today, you risk fading from the consciousness of your audience.
We don’t want that to happen. So in this guide, we’re going to show you the ins and outs of video content marketing so that you can get the ball (and camera) rolling on your own video content strategy. By the end, you should have a complete understanding of what video content marketing is, why it’s important, and how to do it yourself.
What is Video Content Marketing?
That's me in the above video. In a former role, I headed up video content marketing for a FinTech company. By this I mean I identified video content topics designed to resonate with my audience, wrote scripts for the videos, filmed myself reading the scripts, edited the videos, and promoted them on Youtube.
And that’s more or less what video content marketing is—the creation and promotion of educational and interesting video content designed to market your product or service, engage your target audience, and foster brand affinity.
It can take the form of a video log (vlog), product overview, explainer, webinar, interview, presentation, testimonial, tutorial, live stream, branded content, or any other format you can think of. If it’s a video that moves your audience through your marketing funnel, it’s video content marketing.
And as you can tell from my video, it doesn’t take an expert to do video content marketing. If you have an iPhone or digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera and a quiet place to film, you can start pumping out videos for your brand. All the other stuff—like creating graphics and lighting shots—can be learned later.
If you create topics that answer questions your audience has, you can start seeing a return on your investment fairly quickly. Most of our videos surpassed 1,000 views in the first 1-2 months, and once we started publishing on a regular cadence, we were adding hundreds of new channel subscribers each week. This was all done with just a few hundred dollars worth of camera equipment and the free Apple iMovie editing software.
We’re going to show you how to do the same. But first, let’s learn a bit more about the importance of video content marketing.
Why Video Content Marketing Matters
We could bombard you with stats all day long about why video is essential to content marketing. Here are just a few examples:
- 78% of people watch video content online every week, and 55% do so every day (HubsSpot).
- Youtube is the second most popular website in the world after Google (YouTube).
- Viewers retain 95% of a message they watch through video, compared to 10% they read via text (Invisia).
- A website is 53 times more likely to reach the front page of Google if it contains a video (Invisia).
- A video on your landing page can increase your conversion rate by 80% (Unbounce).
As you can see, videos can drive traffic, improve SEO, increase sales, and a whole lot more. And why's that? For starters, videos are more personal than other forms of content. In most cases, a human is talking directly to you. This transforms your brand from a nameless, faceless organization to somebody your audience can potentially relate to.
"Videos engage more senses than written content so there is potential to connect with a wider range of people who learn in different ways. For marketers, that means a wider audience," says David Hoos, director of marketing at The Good.
Good videos also tell stories, which helps you communicate your brand’s values while also fostering an emotional connection. This will allow your audience to remember you long after they’ve finished watching (more on this later).
But don’t just take my word for it. Knotch compiled data on over 500 videos produced by a wide variety of enterprise brands across multiple industries over the last three months in order to understand viewer sentiment towards these videos. Here’s what we found:
Furthermore, video content appeals to people of all age groups:
And all genders:
For all of these reasons, it's important for brands to start developing their own video content. Here’s how.
How to Create a Video Content Marketing Strategy
There’s a couple approaches to video content marketing. Some brands opt to host videos on their own website using video hosting software like Brightcove. These videos are typically product overviews and tutorials that aim to educate the viewer on the product and company or help troubleshoot any issues.
Many brands also publish videos on YouTube. You can think of YouTube like the content hub for your video content. You can upload your videos on YouTube, then embed them in a blog post on your website. While some brands republish hosted video content on YouTube, many more use Youtube as a traditional content marketing channel, meaning they publish top-of-funnel content designed to be educational—not transactional.
For the sake of simplicity, this guide uses YouTube for many of the examples, although the points are applicable to other video content marketing platforms. Here are the steps you need to take:
Step 1: Determine Your Goals
There are plenty of good reasons to invest in video content marketing, but determining what your brand wants to get out of it will help inform all future decisions. Without a clear goal in mind, you’ll find yourself producing videos that serve no particular purpose.
You need to figure out who you’re trying to reach, where you want to reach them, how often you want to publish, what you want your videos to look like, how much money you’re willing to spend, and what success looks like.
For example, when I developed my former video content marketing strategy, our brand was overreliant on lead generation from organic search. We decided video would be the best way for our business to diversify lead generation because it allowed us to generate content for the second largest search engine on the internet—Youtube.
Success would be determined by the number of unique visitors and subscribers to our channel, as well as how high we could get our videos to rank in YouTube search results.
Step 2: Develop a Video Content Calendar
A content calendar for video is arguably more important than a content calendar for editorial. That’s because there’s a lot more prep work that goes into creating a video. You have to write a script, prepare a space to film, and set up equipment. If you’re going big on your video content strategy you may even decide to rent out studio space and hire professional videographers.
A video content calendar helps you stay ahead of the curve. To get started, you need to perform keyword research. This means systematically finding and analyzing Youtube search terms for their search volume and competitiveness.
To do this, I used a free Youtube plugin called TubeBuddy. With TubeBuddy, you can punch in keywords and get a basic understanding of how popular the keyword is and which videos rank highest.
Once you have a handful of keywords, you need to write scripts. This will help your video shoots go a lot more smoothly than if you were just speaking off the cuff.
Most scripts can be written like blog posts with more natural language. This means focusing on a few key points or tips and talking about them in a casual, relaxed manner. Unlike blog posts, your video scripts shouldn’t have big words or complex sentences, because normal people don’t talk like that, and you want to be perceived as relatable.
Explain exactly what you’ll be talking about at the beginning of the video, but keep it short and sweet. Also be sure to put your keyword in the script early on, and repeat it multiple times throughout the video (without it sounding forced).
Here are a few other tidbits to keep in mind while writing your video script:
- Touch on each topic for 30-60 seconds, then move on.
- At the end, provide a recap, examples, and a call to action (i.e. “subscribe to my channel”)
- It takes roughly 2 minutes to read 250 words. Keep that in mind when writing your script to make sure your video isn’t too long.
- Write in short paragraphs so that your talent has time to pause. These gaps will become helpful during editing.
Step 3: Arrange Your Shoot
For those without a film background, this will likely be the most challenging aspect of your video content marketing strategy because it requires a bit of technical know-how. We’ll try to make it as easy as possible.
To start, you need to understand the environment you’ll be filming in. If you don’t rent a professional studio, that environment will likely be your office. If so, we recommend finding a closed off location within your office with the least amount of natural light possible. Ideally, that would be a windowless office.
If you don’t have a room without a window, make sure to cover the window while filming, as you’ll want complete control of the lighting. Next, pick the backdrop for your shoot. I used seamless paper to create a clean background behind me, but you can experiment with different backdrops that you feel compliment your brand.
Now you need to arrange your lights around the subject of the video. That means purchasing professional camera lighting equipment, which can run a few hundred dollars (these GVM LED video lights work well). This is well worth the expense—good lighting makes all the difference between a high quality video and a low quality video.
You're going to want to arrange your lights using the three-point lighting technique. This means positioning two lights in front of the subject on either side, and a third light behind the subject to either the left or the right (this is the backlight). One of the lights in front of the subject will be the key light. This is the light that will be used to illuminate the subject of the video. The other light is the fill light. This light is used to lift any shadow being cast on the backdrop by the subject.
The backlight illuminates the edges of the subject on camera to make all the lighting look even.
The next step depends on whether you’re shooting with an iPhone or professional camera. A newer iPhone may be good for shooting basic videos, but it doesn’t offer you much control over your shots.
Long-term, you’re going to want to use DSLR camera. For my shoots, I used a Nikon D3500 DSLR camera.
Other equipment you’ll need include a tripod and teleprompter. Both are relatively inexpensive. For a teleprompter, I recommend the Teleprompter Premium app for iOS devices ($12). For my shoots, I simply ran the app on my phone and positioned my iPhone next to the camera so I could read the script. You can also purchase a teleprompter that can attach directly to your camera, although these are a bit more expensive.
To arrange your shoots, you’ll need to manually configure a few settings on your camera. These are as follows:
- Frame rate: This is the frequency with which consecutive images called frames appear on display. We recommend 24fps (frames per second), as this gives your films a more cinematic look.
- Aperture: This is the size of the opening of the lens. It controls the amount of light reaching the sensor. We recommend adjusting the aperture until you’re comfortable with the exposure and depth of field of the shot.
- Shutter speed: This is the length of time when the film or digital sensor inside the camera is exposed to light. The amount of light that reaches the film or image sensor is proportional to the exposure time. If you’re shooting in 24fps, we recommend a shutter speed of 1/50.
- ISO: This measures the camera’s sensitivity to light. The higher the ISO, the more sensitive the camera is to light. A low ISO produces a crisper shot, and a high ISO produces a grainier shot. If your shot is well lit, you should use a low ISO.
- White balance: This tells your camera the color temperature of the environment you’re shooting in. Most DSLR camera’s have a tool that automatically white balances the shot for you. You can also white balance in post-production.
- Focal length: Your focal length is a measurement of how strongly the system converges or diverges light. The longer the focal length, the narrower the angle of view and the higher the magnification. The shorter the focal length, the wider the angle of view and the lower the magnification. Therefore, your focal length will depend on how far away your camera is from the subject. I filmed with my camera 5 feet from my subject and a focal length of 35mm.
The last step is to set up a microphone. Like lighting, good sound can really ratchet up the quality of your video. You should be able to purchase an inexpensive clip-on lavalier microphone (we recommend the Rode smartLav+) that plugs into your camera via an auxiliary cord. There are also wireless options if you don’t want to deal with an obtrusive wire.
With all of this in place, you’re now ready to film.
Step 4: Film Your Video
Speaking on camera is more art than science. Some people are very good at it, but most of us aren’t. However, there are a few tips content marketers can keep in mind to ensure a shoot goes well and their subject looks good:
- Film your subject from the waist up, and don’t worry if they’re not perfectly centered in the shot. This is something you can fix in post-production.
- If your subject is reading off a teleprompter, be sure to place the teleprompter near the camera so that it doesn’t look as if your talent is looking off-screen. If you film from farther back, it also becomes less noticeable if your subject is reading off a teleprompter.
- If your talent flubs a line during filming, be sure not to pause the recording. Instead, rewind the teleprompter and have them reread it. This will save you time while editing, as you won’t have to look through multiple video files.
- Provide a little coaching. If your talent blinks at an inopportune time or puts a weird emphasis on a word, ask them to reread it.
- Film multiple takes of your video. The more takes your subject has, the more comfortable they’ll be with the subject matter. And the more footage you’ll have the edit with.
- Experiment with angles. If you look at professional videos, many have establishing shots, medium shots, and close up shots. You can try switching shots while filming, or use multiple cameras to capture the video from different angles.
- Make sure you maintain continuity. This means combining different shots in a sequence so that they appear as if they happened at the same time and place. If objects change locations in different shots, for example, your viewers will likely notice.
These are a few things to keep in mind, but you can take a lot more liberty with your creativity. We recommend speaking with stakeholders so you get a good understanding of how they want the videos to look and feel. It also helps to watch competitor Youtube content and identify what works about their videos, and what doesn’t.
Step 5: Edit Your Video
The editing process will depend on the editing software you choose. iMovie is a simple platform that will do the job for most basic videos (it comes free with Mac OS). With it you can easily make cuts, adjust coloration and sound, and add graphic overlays and transitions.
However, if your videos are a little more technical, you can also look into an advanced software like Adobe Premiere ($240) or Final Cut Pro ($300). These products feature more precision editing tools and customization options. Adobe Premiere has been used to edit major Hollywood films like Gone Girl and Deadpool.
Regardless of which software you choose, there are a few things you’ll want to do first before you start chopping up footage.
- Color correction: Even if your shot is perfectly lit, you’ll likely want to tweak the coloration of the video to see if you can make it look even better.
- Synchronize sound: Your video will likely be uploaded with separate files for film and audio. When you import each into your editing software, be sure to synchronize them together so that they align. Having them off by even a millisecond will be noticeable.
- Record your voiceovers: If you have any audio overlaid on top of your video, such as narration, it’s important you add it in during the editing phase. You can then pull out the film audio and add in the voiceovers wherever appropriate.
- Crop the shot: Crop each of your shots so that the subject is positioned where you want them to be. Most videos abide by the rule of thirds when cropping shots. This means the shot is divided evenly into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, and the subject of the image is placed at the intersection of those dividing lines, or along one of the lines itself. It should look something like this:
Next you’re going to want to cut out all the chunks of footage you don’t need so that the video forms one continuous narrative without jarring cuts or long lags between sentences.
Earlier we told you to leave pauses between paragraphs in your script so that your subject has time to stop and recompose themselves. Once you cut out those pauses, you might notice the subject’s posture or facial expression changes abruptly. This is called a jump-cut, and it’s fairly common in video content marketing. I personally like jump cuts because it engages the viewer while speeding up the pace of the video.
If you don’t like having jump-cuts, we recommend filming from multiple angles so that you can switch back and forth when a jump-cut is about to occur.
If you want to embed graphics in your video, you can do so easily by importing a PNG file to your video editing software, then overlaying it on your footage. If you use Adobe Premiere, you can create graphics and custom animations in Adobe Illustrator and import them directly into your project.
If you’re looking to make simpler graphics, we recommend Figma, Apple Keynote, or Google Slides, all of which make it easy to create and export PNG files.
Step 6: Upload Your Video to Youtube
Once you’ve gotten your video to a good place, it’s time to export and upload to YouTube. Keep in mind that video files are very large, and may take several hours to process.
When uploading, there are several best practices to keep in mind. They are as follows:
- Include the keyword your video is targeting in the title.
- Create a custom thumbnail for your video. This will be the image people see when they find your video on YouTube search. Your thumbnail should be on-brand, eye-catching, and include the title of your video.
- Include a description of your video in the “description” section. Make sure the description includes the keyword you’re targeting. We also recommend including timestamps in your description so that viewers can jump to different sections of the video. At the end of your description, include a call-to-action.
- Mark your video with the appropriate tags so that Youtube understands what it’s about.
- Upload a transcript of your video so that Youtube can provide closed captioning. This is more important than you think, because a majority of videos are watched without sound.
- If you’re part of the YouTube Partner Program, be sure to embed links to your video. Youtube allows you to add up to five links throughout the video, as well as an end screen during the last 20 seconds of the video. In the end screen, you can embed additional videos as well as a subscribe button.
Step 7: Promote Your Video & Measure Results
Congratulations, you made a video! Now it’s time to get some eyeballs on it.
If the video is part of a corresponding blog post, be sure to embed it there. On the other hand, you could also build a blog post around the video.
Next, promote it on your social channels. I sometimes take 30-second cuts from my films and turn them into “trailers.” Then I’d upload them directly to Facebook and Twitter as teasers for my main video.
YouTube also has social sharing options so brands can post status updates, poll their audience, or promote new content.
And how will you know if your video is performing well? Youtube is able to track some metrics for you, such as view count and time spent watching. Other metrics you’ll want to track include social sharing activity, click-through-rate, conversion rate, bounce rate, and time on page.
It’s also important to read and respond to all comments on your Youtube videos, as this helps you build an audience and add more channel subscribers.
What will help your video more than anything is investing in YouTube SEO best practices. We’ve already touched on several, including making videos related to keywords, and using your keyword in your script and video description. For more on Youtube SEO, we recommend this guide by Brian Dean.
Additional Video Tips
Now you know the basics of video content marketing. But mastering video content marketing requires continuous education and refinement of your techniques. It also requires a deep understanding of your audience and what resonates with them.
Here are some additional things to keep in mind as you develop your video content marketing strategy, as well as some video content marketing examples we love.
Tap Into Sentiment
As previously mentioned, videos can draw on emotion in ways that other content can’t. Music, visuals, and a carefully crafted narrative can tug on a viewer’s heartstrings and stir them to action. For example, in 2017 GE created a video called “What if Millie Dresselhaus, Female Scientist, Was Treated like a Celebrity?” It was an uplifting video that raised awareness for GE’s goal to hire 20,000 women for STEM roles by 2020.
Videos like these draw on the emotional part of the brain and increase the likelihood that viewers will take further action after watching. According to research, 31% of advertisers report a positive ROI from emotional campaigns.
Optimize For Mobile
A vast majority of people watch videos on their smartphones. Therefore, your videos need to be optimized for mobile. This means having closed captioning so videos can be watched without sound, and making them short and to the point. Buzzfeed’s Tasty videos on Instagram are a good example of a brand creating videos especially for mobile users.
Stay On Brand
Not all videos work for every brand. A heartwarming video like the previous GE example may not be what your customers need to make a purchasing decision. Consider what action you want your audience to take after viewing your video, and use it to inform your approach.
For example, Ford recently partnered with Real Simple to create a video called, “In Her Shoes,” in which a man wore a fake baby bump to experience what it was like to be pregnant. He then participated in everyday activities, like unloading groceries from the back of a car. The video subtly promotes Ford vehicles through a paid strategy targeting women browsing Real Simple.
Videos can utilize the “hub and spoke” approach to content marketing by creating campaigns around key pieces of video content. Say you’re publishing a really meaty product video that's 10-minutes long. If you’re worried your viewers won’t stick around to watch the whole thing, you can break out chunks of the video as part of a campaign.
To do this, pull out information from the video and include it in multiple blog posts, shorter videos, social content, or infographics, with all of the content pointing back to the main video.
This way, you’re interacting with your customer at multiple points as they progress through your marketing funnel while repurposing one piece of content into many.
Create Videos for Every Part of the Funnel
Most of what we’ve focused on is top-of-funnel video content. But videos can be used at every stage of the buyer journey.
Explainer videos are good for attracting leads and building trust with your audience, but it's webinars, testimonials, and product demos that are going to get viewers to convert. During the planning phase, be sure to consider which stage of your marketing funnel your video is best suited for.
Take Action On Your Video Content Marketing
You now know how to get started with video content marketing. My final tip is to start small and grow from there. Making videos requires a significant investment of time, resources, and budget. You don’t need to invest in top-of-the-line equipment until you’ve outgrown the basics.
Speaking from experience, it’s likely that you’ll make mistakes in the beginning. I’ve created poorly lit videos. I’ve created videos that were completely out of focus, and I’ve created videos with major continuity errors.
The important thing is to not get discouraged, and learn from your mistakes. Shoot as many takes as you need to in order to get footage you feel good about. Get feedback from your peers, and closely measure the performance of your videos to understand what’s working and what’s not.
Knotch can help with that last part. Our Content Intelligence Software can track who is engaging with your video content and how they feel about it, as well as other key insights related to your video content performance. For more information, visit our website.