If you work in digital sales and marketing, you’ve probably been told a few hundred times in the last year that video is a good investment. I could rattle off a few statistics that will blow your mind as to the volume and power of video and what it’s doing to the digital marketplace, but odds are, you’ve heard them all before.
You get it -- video is indispensable and you’re convinced it’s worth investing in. Now comes the important (albeit even harder) question to answer: what about ROI?
Are you supposed to just pay some video agency a few thousand dollars to create a video, send it around to your prospects, share it on social media, and embed it on your website (and then watch the sales come rolling in)?
Obviously, it’s not that simple. What’s less obvious, though, is how to make sure when you carve out space in your marketing budget for video production or training for your internal video team, you can see a reasonable path towards ROI.
What kinds of videos do you want to create? How are you going to use them in your sales process? Where are they going to be viewed?
Most importantly, what are your goals? Are you creating a product explainer video for your homepage to be viewed by everyone who visits your website, or are you creating a sales video to be used tactically in an account-based marketing (ABM) campaign? Different goals will dictate different definitions of ROI.
The video creation process lives in three phases (pre-production, shooting and post-production). To maximize ROI from your next video project (and every one thereafter until the end of time) follow these steps and seek answers to these questions for each stage of the process:
How to Maximize ROI in Pre-Production
If you’re going to ultimately look back on your video project and feel good about the money you spent, you have to start with the end in mind.
What are your goals for the video you’re going to create? Spoiler Alert: creating new, better videos isn’t good enough.
While the creative direction is an important part of the pre-production process--where is the shoot going to happen, who’s going to be on camera, what camera and sound equipment will be rented or used--what’s more important from an ROI perspective is the strategy behind the videos you plan to create.
What need are you solving for in your sales and marketing process? Are you hoping to shorten the sales cycle? Document social proof? Explain your pricing structure? Give people an opportunity to see and hear your key people before they take a meeting with them?
Where are these videos going to be viewed? As Phil Nottingham brilliantly pointed out in his talk at WistiaFest 2017, not every platform supports the same type of video. Don’t make the classic mistake most businesses make of uploading the same video to YouTube, Facebook, embedding it on your website, and expecting it to perform well in all of those places.
People have clear expectations around the experience they expect to have on the platforms on which they consume video. Finding and watching a video on Facebook or Instagram is a very different experience than it is on YouTube, so don’t expect the exact same video to perform well in different places.
Once you have a clear sense of what problem(s) you’re trying to solve, you can plan to create videos that address them. Nobody wants to spend a bunch of money on a set of videos and then have their sales team react like they just got a fruitcake at Christmas.
If you’re going to see ROI from the videos you’re creating, you need to have a clear sense of what gaps you’re trying to fill in your sales and marketing other than “lack of videos.” With that knowledge, you can plan what videos you’re going to shoot and how you’re going to shoot them.
How to Maximize ROI in Shooting
When it comes to getting ROI out of the time and money you invest in production, it all comes down to efficiency. Think about it: you’re paying for a production company to travel to your location, rent their equipment, and film. It’s in your best interest to do everything you can to maximize their time on site.
At the very least, make sure you’re ready to go when they arrive. If it takes the first hour of them being on site to clear out the conference room or back office where the shooting will happen, then you’ve wasted an hour you could’ve been collecting B-roll or troubleshooting issues that might arise throughout the day.
Be organized. Don’t get stuck chasing your subject matter experts or trying to wrangle them to be on camera when you need them. Prepare your on-camera subjects as much as possible, especially if they’re not used to public speaking. Give them some advance notice and time to rehearse their talking points, so they don’t waste time getting comfortable or figuring out what they want to say.
Most of all, make sure the production company you hire bills you by the day (or allotment of time they’re onsite). That way you and the company are incentivized to collect as much footage as possible for the limited time you have them there with the cameras running.
So many companies make the mistake of hiring someone to shoot one or two videos, having the videographer onsite only for a few hours to collect the necessary footage, and miss the opportunity to build a repository of high-quality video footage to be used down the line.
If you simply book a video crew for the day, you can collect as much footage as possible in that time span, and whether you use it right away or anytime in the next several years, you’ll always have it as material for b-roll or repurposable content for future videos.
How to Maximize ROI in Post-Production
This is the point in the video creation process where the rubber hits the ROI road. While there are certainly pitfalls to avoid when it comes to managing the editing and delivery process (not consolidating feedback and running into extra charges for additional rounds of approval), the biggest factor for proving ROI on your videos comes once the final cut has been delivered.
You’ve probably spent thousands of dollars having these videos created on your behalf (or in the hiring and training of your staff and purchasing/renting of equipment), so measuring the success or failure of those videos is a critical next step to determine ROI.
Keep in mind, when you invest in videos for your digital sales and marketing efforts, you’re not investing in television ads. That may sound obvious, but you shouldn’t apply the logic of running tv ads, measuring the difference in sales, and determining ROI.
We live in an age where measurement tools for video marketing are abundantly available. There are a plethora of ways to determine how successful a video is in driving traffic, leads and sales, but leveraging software tools like Vidyard or Wistia is indispensable for that measurement.
How many people are viewing your videos is a great place to start, but don’t be afraid to dig a little deeper. What percentage of your videos are being watched on which pages? Did embedding a video on all of your landing pages drive an uptick in conversion rate on those landing pages? Run some A/B tests. Are your salespeople sending videos to leads and prospects during their sales process and is that driving better close rates?
Is the activity around your videos connected to your marketing automation tool to help you reach the right people at the right time? Can you trigger a workflow when a hot lead watches 50% or more of a video to alert the sales rep assigned to that contact to reach out (or simply increase their lead score)?
Then there’s the effect video can have on your social and paid media efforts. Did you see your organic engagement increase when you shared your videos on social media and did that have a positive net effect on your quality score for paid acquisition? Did you see a positive effect on the conversion rate of your PPC ads after you worked video into them?
If you can answer all of these questions with data, the next time you go to the powers that be within your organization to ask for more capital to invest in another round of video production (or to create/expand your internal video team), the answer will more than likely be “yes.”
It’s All About the Numbers
Hopefully reading this article inspired a few forehead slapping moments for how obvious some of these things are (but hopefully not too many). At IMPACT, we evangelize the power of video all the time, but only if it’s done well and with the right strategy in mind. Like all things in sales and marketing, we tend to overvalue the things we can measure and undervalue the things we cannot.