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10 Things Your Online Video Must Have in 2014

As we welcome in the new year, many businesses and organizations are looking to online video as a vital part of their marketing game plan. If you’re thinking about doing just that, check out these tried and tested tips for making a video that turns casual viewers into interested buyers.

1.  Keep it Short

Studies show that shorter videos perform better when it comes to viewer engagement. Wistia found that the average 30-second video is viewed 85% of the way through, while a 2-minute video is only viewed 50% of the way through. A huge difference! And while the shortest video is not always going to perform the best (it depends on the content, purpose, and audience), it’s always a good idea to try to keep your video as concise as possible.

You also want to advertise the fact that your video is short (under 2 minutes) so that people will be more likely to watch it. If you promise them brevity, you’ll get them interested enough to watch the whole thing and less likely to abandon mid-way.

2.  Say the Important Stuff First

You want to put your hook – what your company does and why viewers should care – right at the beginning of your video (within the first 30 seconds if possible). The hook should be a sentence that piques audience curiosity and keeps them engaged for the duration of the video. If you wait too long to get to the important stuff, viewers may stop the video and move on without an understanding of your business.

3.  Make it Specific and Personal

If you know who your ideal customer is, this part should be a cinch. The key here is to identify one single buyer persona – everything from a buyer’s age, gender, and income, to family status, lifestyle preferences, job, etc. This helps you identify who you are talking to and narrows your focus to a specific type of customer.

Just speak to him or her in a friendly conversational tone. When you address people in a personal and direct way, you’ll have their attention and their interest.

4. Put your Story in Context

Where you put your story matters! Most companies put their explainer video on their homepage. You can do this too, but also consider what else is on that page.

To increase conversions, your homepage should have relevant and corresponding text and images. You should provide some enticing information as to why people should click on your video like “Watch our brief 60-second video to see how Product X can add hours to your day”.

Your video’s position on the page, its description, its thumbnail and its surrounding data all contribute to its context and help optimize it for conversion.

5. Write a Conversion-Friendly Script

A script that gets people excited and entices them to take the next step is full of action words and benefits. A script that converts talks about how the product will benefit the customer and what the customer has to do to attain this benefit. The action that the script encourages is usually something simple (like signup) and fast (30 seconds).

One method to write a script that converts well is to survey your existing customers about the problems they have, how your solution helped, and why they decided to buy. You should also talk to your support team to figure out what topics customers ask about most. Knowing exactly what causes confusion about your product will help you identify what issues to address in your script.

6. Use Visuals that Don’t Suck

You don’t need flashy visuals and Pixar-level animation to make an effective explainer video. You just need to go with visuals that enhance your script and reinforce the message without detracting from your brand image. Keep your visuals simple, uncluttered and aligned with your branding.

If you’re making a live action video, be sure to use good lighting and professional quality video and audio equipment. You’re better off with no video than a “home video.”

7. Put in a Clear Call-to-Action (CTA)

Your explainer video shouldn’t end leaving your viewer wondering what to do next. An effective video will always ask for the sale at the end. This could mean encouraging viewers to buy or sample, sign up, subscribe, request a quote, or call-in. So long as you know what action you want your audience to take and you articulate it at the end of your video, you’re on the right track to a well converting video.

A CTA could be in voice over form, but it could also be a clickable button placed on or beneath the video itself. A CTA can also be strengthened with social proof and testimonials like “These Fortune 500 companies use our product – you can too. Just sign up for a free trial today”.

 8. Get Quality Video Hosting

You wouldn’t launch a business without a plan, and the same should be true for an explainer video. Selecting the right video host and developing a solid promotional plan is essential to a successful video campaign.

The online hosting solution of choice is usually YouTube and Vimeo for those looking to get maximum visibility for their video, especially for B2C firms whose aim is to produce a highly shareable video.

But if you’re in the B2B space, you’ll want to drive visitors to your website. Most B2B companies opt for a professional third party hosting solution, such as Wistia or Vidyard. The benefit is that visitors stay on your site to watch and convert. It’s also better for search engine optimization (SEO). If Google rewards you with a rich video snippet in search results, that link will help drive targeted traffic your way, and not to someone else, like YouTube.

9. Use Professional Voice Over

There’s no two ways about this – you need a professional voice over for your explainer video. When hiring a professional voice artist, be sure to listen to plenty of samples first to make sure they’re a match for the tone and style of your video. You’ll want to choose someone whose voice sounds polished and professional. If you’re just getting started, you can choose from hundreds of VO artists at

10. Promote your Video

You may have the best explainer video in the world, but if you don’t promote it, no one is going to see it.

For starters, embed the video on your website. Be sure to place it “above the fold” (the area that users don’t have to scroll to see) if you want maximum visibility. Don’t relegate your video to some obscure page deep inside your website where few people will ever see it.

Share your video through all of your available marketing channels – blog, email newsletters, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIN, tradeshows, company presentations, webinars, etc. Have everyone add a link to the video in their email signature.

 Additional Explainer Video Tips

Written by Salma Jafri
Salma Jafri is Chief Dragon over at She specializes in helping her content marketing clients get more value from their content – be it online videos, social media or blogging. And yes, apparently Dragons and Ducks do get along! Follow Salma on Twitter and Google+ for a dose of zany marketing nuggets.