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If you’re among the nearly 90 percent of U.S. consumers taking in more media now than you were pre-crisis, you’ve probably also seen a barrage of new video ads from brands hoping to get your attention (and your purchasing dollars). Can you name one of them? How about two or three? Although social media videos can be an amazing way to connect with customers at a time of limited in-person interaction, it’s increasingly difficult to create a memorable and effective video ad campaign that’s relevant to today’s consumers.
Meanwhile, entrepreneurs worried about long-term sales trends need to make those connections more than ever. There’s opportunity there: Online sales could increase 18 percent this year.
It’s never been easy for an ad campaign to deliver the delight demanded by consumers and the engagement expected by brands. It’s tough enough to create a funny, on-trend video, let alone one that also moves product. We know because that’s been the focus of our agency for the past seven years, and with more than 1.4 billion views on videos for clients that range from Fortune 500 brands to scrappy startups, we’ve learned a few things that work:
Create a compelling script
A good script contains four elements:
Hook: You have just a few seconds to capture someone’s attention when they’re scrolling their news feed, but it’s important to make sure that opener relates directly to the product you’re selling. For a video we created for Purple Mattress, for example, we opened with a video of an egg-covered, 330-pound pane of glass dropping onto the mattress without breaking the eggs. If the connection isn’t totally clear, consumers think you’ve pulled a bait-and-switch and tune out or skip the ad.
Related: Everything You Need to Know About the 5 Changes Roiling Digital Advertising
Problem: Sometimes the problem you’re solving is obvious, but sometimes it requires some education. When we created the video for Squatty Potty, for example, we needed to quickly explain why using a standard toilet could lead to long-term health problems. You want to not only identify the problem for viewers but also empathize with the issues it presents.
Solution: This is your opportunity to explain how and why your product is the best remedy for the problem you’ve just outlined. If there are other products available aimed at solving the problem, you’ll want to educate viewers on why yours is better. This is the section of the script where entrepreneurs excel — it’s the elevator pitch that you should already have down pat.
Call to Action: Many marketers think of video as more of a brand-building form of content than a direct-response vehicle, but we believe that it can be both. When you deliver the call to action in a brand-friendly, tactful way, you can build your brand and create sales at the same time.
Test the content with a soft release
A limited release of your video allows you to try out different options to see which one resonates the most with your audience. We recently tested a video using four different intros. The best performer had a view-through rate of 25 times that of the worst performer.
That’s incredible intelligence, well worth the cost of the test. We also test other elements of our videos to find the best combination of story structure, thumbnail, title and copy.
Related: 7 Fresh Aspects that One Should Know About Digital Marketing
Be strategic about your release
It’s amazing when a video organically goes viral, but that shouldn’t be the main mission of your release. A better strategy is to give it a nice push out the gate, leveraging any audiences or lists that you’ve built along with potential collaborators and a smart paid media strategy that hits multiple platforms simultaneously.
With ad rates down 10 percent to 30 percent right now, there’s an unprecedented opportunity to stretch your advertising dollars. If you can spend $1 to put your content in front of people and get $2 back in revenue, that’s a repeatable model you can scale into tens or hundreds of millions of views.
Make your content modular
You want your campaign to live on all platforms — Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, podcasts, television, radio, all of it. But you want to make sure that the content that appears on each of those platforms makes sense for that audience and that format. The most efficient way to do that is to make your original video modular, so that you can slice it into smaller bits of content.
For example, you might have a three-minute video that allows you to pull out little 15- or 30-second cuts that can play on Instagram or as a commercial on TV. You’re on every platform, but it all directs back to a central landing page, which has the three-minute video and the full educational experience.
This also allows you to get more longevity out of a video, because you can re-release bits and pieces of it with different audiences in mind. We have campaigns that are still running four years after we launched them — and they’re still producing results. Modular video helps establish the brand, increase the lifetime of each asset and sets you up for long-term success rather than a hot, short burn.
Delivering a sincere message — with humor, if possible — is more important than the production value of the video itself, especially right now. If you’re questioning the return on investment of advertising videos that you’ve created, then you’re not doing it right. When you simultaneously drive sales and increase brand awareness with a video you can outperform — and then outspend — your competitors and win market share.
Related: The 7 Top Video Tools You Should Be Using Now