It's no secret that video marketing has exploded in a BIG way. Experts reckon that video now accounts for at least half of all internet traffic, and there are suggestions that by 2018, that will have soared to a phenomenal 79 percent.
And, with 93 percent of marketers using video for online marketing, sales and communication, it's clearly a tactic that the industry is putting a lot of faith in.
But does it work? As someone who lives and breathes video marketing, I strongly believe that it does...but, despite the availability of industry benchmarks and statistics like the above, we were really surprised by the sense of confusion and lack of strategy among video marketers when we conducted our own research earlier this year.
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While 78 percent of respondents told us that video was an important part of their marketing strategy, well over half told us that they simply don't measure the ROI of their video campaigns. What's more, more than three-quarters of them said they weren't sure how to quantify their return on investment - meaning that even those marketers who were tracking ROI found it difficult to provide specific numbers.
In an era when marketing has become more data-based and scientific than ever before, it seems totally incongruous that businesses would simply do video 'just because.' It's made all the stranger by the fact that 61 percent of respondents told us they were planning to increase their video marketing spend in 2015 as opposed to last year.
In recent years, we've seen video become more accessible and affordable than ever before. And perhaps organisations are simply taking the chance to use video because it's an expected norm in the industry because their competitors are doing it, because industry experts tell them they have to, or simply in hopes that they might strike lucky.
Relying on a marketing tactic to achieve key goals, without validating its success - and actually increasing spend on said tactic? It all seems a bit mad, doesn't it? So you'd have every right to ask the question - why does video continue to gather such phenomenal momentum?
Well, our research suggests that marketers do generally feel extremely positive about video even if it's purely based on their own gut feelings as opposed to any particular analytical data. Eighty percent told us they felt video had led directly to a greater understanding of their product or service, 55 percent said they felt it had generated increased organic traffic, 57 percent said they believed it had improved conversion rates on their website, and 30 percent said they felt support queries had been reduced by video.
To reiterate, I'm a firm believer that video drives serious results for businesses of all shapes and sizes. But come on, it's 2015 - soon to be 2016. You shouldn't have to take my word for it - and you certainly shouldn't have to rely on your own vague gut feeling.
So, with all that said, here are a few tips for getting more certainty when it comes to understanding the impact of video in your own business.
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Set your goals
As with many marketing techniques, the first step is often the most important. Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals - specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timely - will be a huge help in assessing video ROI, while also giving you the tools to create content that's clearly focused towards a clear purpose. You may choose to focus on enhanced user understanding, increased time spent on site or full-on lead generation. (Get more great insight around video and lead-gen here.)
Either way, get specific about exactly what you want to achieve with each video. This will give you clear barometers against which you can judge the success of your campaigns.
Measure your Results
Measuring the effectiveness of your video marketing, of course, depends on your goals. If you're looking to achieve a subjective goal like increasing user understanding, perhaps the best way to find out would be to perform market research. It doesn't need to be particularly formal - just speak to your customers and ask them questions about how video slotted into their journey. Did they watch it? Did it help them understand your product better? What could you do to improve it further? Ask a representative sample of your customer base so you can be sure you get a fair reflection.
Time spent on site, impact on conversion and other objective metrics are much easier to gauge. There are many on-page and UX analytics programmes out there that can help you measure your progress here.
There's good old Google Analytics, as well as tools like Crazy Egg and ClickTale which let you visualise your users' experience with heatmaps and even video recordings of user sessions. Are they watching your video? Is it influencing conversion? These platforms offer an easy way to gain real certainty over these questions and more. No more guessing!
While marketers generally seem to feel positive about marketing and the impact it has on their business, we were really surprised and interested by what we found in our survey earlier in the year. We believe the next step in the world of video marketing is for marketers to establish a clear model for tracking and improving the ROI of their campaigns - and the steps I've outlined in this article are a great starting point towards that end.
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We're hoping for similarly illuminating stats in our latest annual State of Video Marketing Survey, which seeks to understand the ever changing video industry in more detail. This year we're looking to gather a dual perspective on video marketing, not only to understand how video is regarded in the world of business but how it really resonates with us as consumers. The survey closes on Friday 4th December - but we'll be announcing the results shortly into the new year!