By Michael Litt published February 16, 2014

Optimize Your Video Content: A Simple 5-Step Process

video box-colorful skyscrapers-cloudsDespite the popularity of video, there’s still a common misconception that you can create tons of video content, throw it up on YouTube, and pray to the marketing gods that it attracts attention. However, this kind of wishful thinking is crazy. Video marketing involves more work. It has to be timely, relevant, memorable, and most importantly, optimized if you’re going to see any return on investment.

Just as you optimize landing pages and build full campaigns around a piece of written content to ensure it performs, you have to do the same with videos. In other words, you can’t bank on “going viral,” but you can add some leading-edge customization to video content to make sure it drives business. 

That said, here are five steps to make sure every video you create is fully optimized for maximum performance once it’s released into the wild:

Step 1: Design videos with the goal in mind

Before the concept of a video marketing platform existed, everyone seemed to think a video could only be used for brand awareness. However, a strategic and purposeful video can actually guide leads through the sales funnel and enhance conversion — you just have to align your video’s concept to specific goals right from the start.

To plan a purposeful video, first determine:

  • The emotions you want to evoke and why (fear, excitement, and greed are a few that work especially well)
  • The target buyer personas to which the video will appeal
  • The actions you want your leads to take based on the content they consume

These considerations lead to a more focused, actionable video. For example, if you evoke an emotion such as fear or anxiety (e.g., “Oh no! My current solution doesn’t offer that critical feature!“), you can appeal to the pain points of your audience and get your prospects to take the actions you want (e.g., “Yes, I want to register for the webinar!”)

There are many companies that are doing an especially good job evoking emotion through storytelling for exactly this purpose. One of my favorite examples is Adobe’s Click Baby Click video ad. This video showcases an overzealous CEO of an encyclopedia company getting excited about a massive spike in web traffic and online orders for his product:

As you can see, the end of the narrative cuts to a baby tapping furiously on an iPad, and Adobe cleverly asks, “Do you know what your marketing is doing?” It successfully uses a funny story about misinterpreting data to evoke a fear and imply we’re all missing something if we don’t use the advertised product. This is the kind of emotion you need to drive with purposeful video content.

Step 2: Build calls to action — and a way for leads to follow up

How many times have you reached the end of a product video only to find it fades to black? Although marketers know the importance of a call to action, they seem to be missing from a lot of today’s video content.

Before you release your next video, make sure you have included specific calls to action.

Such CTAs could include:

  • A series of YouTube annotations pointing to different resources
  • A direct prompt from the video’s host
  • A short link at the end of the video directing viewers to a landing page

Some CTA best practices: As an example, when marketing a recent event, we created a video and embedded it on a landing page. Directly beside this eye-catching video we included three different calls to action:

vidyard at dreamforce-cta example

You’ll notice that our CTAs:

  1. Prompted event attendees to set up a call
  2. Prompted a product walk-through via schedule a demo
  3. Prompted viewers to visit our product page to see more related content

This example demonstrates that your CTAs should not only be direct, but they should also include different ways that your buyer personas might want to reach out to you.The point of conversion might not be a demo (the decision maker might not be ready), so use at least two CTAs — one for leads ready to proceed and one leading to more of your persuasive content.

Step 3: Set up a lead-capture method

Another feature that’s moved directly from the written content world into the video content world is the email gate and lead-capture form. Once you have your video ready to go, it’s important to consider including an email gate because these will go wherever your content is shared on social networks, providing a simple way to find out which leads are interested enough to willingly give you their personal information.

Additionally, some video marketing platforms let you build contact forms to include at the end of your videos. Basically, you can collect multiple fields of information in addition to the viewer’s email address.

Here’s an example of what an email gate might look like:

email gate-example

Best practices for video lead capture:

  • Use email gates on content that targets users who are lower in the funnel (like highly detailed or lengthy product demos). Because an email gate requires some buy-in from viewers, you’ll want to make sure you’ve warmed leads up with quality un-gated content before asking for their info.
  • Don’t use too many fields when setting up an end-of-video contact form — you don’t want to fatigue your potential prospects before they complete your form.

Step 4: Add key information for SEO

SEO can be a tricky beast, in part due to the frequent algorithm updates from Google; but making your videos more search-friendly is easy if you focus on these three things:

  1. Keywords and descriptions: Using Google’s Adwords Planner, do some initial research on the words you’d like to rank for within your industry and use those words in a clear phrase format for your video’s title and in your meta descriptions. Choose something people are likely to search for (e.g., “world’s best invoicing and payments software“) instead of something you think sounds clever or catchy (e.g., “payments for pals!“)
  2. Transcripts: Because YouTube and Google don’t extract all of the words from your videos, search engines can’t be 100 percent sure of the subject matter in your videos. To help with video SEO, try transcribing your video (or use a service) and turn the video’s accompanying text into a blog post. This way the blog post featuring your video will alert search engines about the context, and Google will qualify your relevant content.
  3. Multi-platform promotion: After you have embedded your video on your site, put it up on YouTube and other distribution outlets with a different title. Because YouTube and Google are the two top search engines, you don’t want to cannibalize your SEO efforts, so tweak your content just slightly to take advantage of both.

Step 5: Analyze your performance, and plan future content

The final step to getting the most out of your video content marketing is to take a look at some analytics. If you’re creating lots of videos, you’ll want to consider investing in a video marketing platform that provides access to this detailed data. Interpreting your prospects’ digital behavior is the key to making informed decisions about future content. It’s only by analyzing who is watching specific videos, and for how long, that you’ll see which topics are resonating, and you’ll start to understand ways to modify your content strategy based on how your content typically performs.

For example, one of the best metrics to track is your average lead’s attention span. If you notice that prospects are dropping off 10 seconds into your videos, this could signify that that your intros may be too long, and so you might want to try trimming them down and getting to the main discussion more quickly.

Overall, valuable video marketing data is able to show you whether your leads are truly engaged, and which parts of your content strategy need work based on your audience’s digital behavior.

So try the optimization process

Next time you send your videos off to their various destinations, try implementing each of these five steps. By streamlining the process you use to make effective use of your content for lead capture, sales enablement, SEO, and measurement, you’ll notice a dramatic difference in how video performs throughout the buying cycle.

For more great tips for creating more engaging video content, read Epic Content Marketing,” by Joe Pulizzi.

Author: Michael Litt

Michael Litt is the CEO and co-founder of Vidyard, a video marketing platform helping marketers measure the impact of their video content. Thought leader, surfer, and serial entrepreneur, Michael is passionate about content marketing and changing the way we engage and purchase with video. Chat with Michael on Twitter or LinkedIn to learn more.

Other posts by Michael Litt

  • Caron Goode

    Thank you for this clearly written article of action steps. Very helpful!

  • http://www.notjustmedia.com/ David A Krauthamer

    Great information especially “To help with video SEO, try transcribing your video (or use a service) and turn the video’s accompanying text into a blog post.” This is not only great advice for videos but for audio podcasts as well.

  • dustindetorres

    Thanks for the tips Michael! One of the best articles I’ve seen to only supplement your Video SEO suggestions here are two posts by a guy named Matthew Woodward. You can see part 1 here: http://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/tutorials/youtube-marketing-optimization-part-1-channel-videos/ and part 2 here: http://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/tutorials/youtube-marketing-optimization-part-2-subscribers-views/

  • http://www.wordspicturesweb.com/ Buddy Scalera

    Good stuff. I like the specifics of this article. Gives me a few things to add to my process. Thanks.

  • Brendan Cournoyer

    Good stuff Michael – tho I think the whole “transcribe your videos for SEO” is a little old hat at this point (and it sounds like Google can actually crawl the “Closed Captioning” for YouTube videos now). For embedded video content, there is a lot more you can do to improve the search value of your videos through the creation of video sitemaps and adding structured data to the embedded player. This makes your embedded videos easier to crawl, improves page rankings for filtered “Video” searches in Google, and enables Google to pull video thumbnails with your webpage results.

    In this way, you can use the VIDEO to increase the search value of your text pages, rather than the other way around, which is really what you want when talking about embedded content.

    • Hudson Hornick

      Good additional info here, but I still think there’s a place for transcribing your video.

  • http://richardrbecker.com/ Rich Becker

    Great points to consider. I especially appreciated you thoughts on lead-capture and transcription. The only addition I might offer up is enabling G+ comments for additional exposure. Google has made it pretty clear that cross-platform commenting is part of their future.

  • http://www.it-sales-leads.com/ Barbara Mckinney

    Creating great content is the key component to successfully optimize your videos. Without that, it’s almost impossible to naturally generate good views and drive traffic to your channel. If your goal is to obtain a substantial amount of views, make sure your content is either engaging, entertaining or informative, and most importantly, shareable. Thanks Michael!

  • Wolfgang Digital

    Great! Hadn’t thought of using different titles for different platforms! Thanks Michael :)

  • 3Play Media

    Awesome! Here’s some great information on how to maximize YouTube viewership with the help of transcripts and captions: http://www.3playmedia.com/2013/04/12/how-maximize-youtube-viewership-help-transcripts-captions/

  • http://www.thewatersedge.com Deanna Waters

    An absolutely excellent article. I need to pay more attention to all the steps.

  • Loren Stone

    I enjoyed this article and it would have been very helpful last week. As I was required to enter a :60 second video as a finalist to climb Kilimanjaro. I certainly would like your vote, but more importantly feedback is what I need. As I have many video projects pending with my business in the coming months. Thanks for taking the time. Finalist video to climb Kilimanjaro http://ow.ly/vPA6o

  • http://faceonvideo.com/group/film-streaming/5f36d74c99c05fa604d0636666258ed4 Oren Carstensen

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  • Chase

    Great tips. For adding transcripts to your videos, you can use a service called DirectCaption.com. It’s the most convenient service out there as it allows users to log in using their YouTube account and choose the videos they want to have transcribed. It’s also very fast and affordable, only $1 per minute for high-quality transcriptions.

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  • http://90seconds.tv Dave Insull

    Great article. Regarding step #1, we constantly receive briefs from clients that fail to identify a true purpose. No amount of production value or polish can remedy such a fundamental step in the process. The guys at http://90seconds.tv run a solid briefing process that guarantees a purposeful video! If you are ever stuck for ideas, check them out.

  • Lara

    Pretty good article, thanks a lot for sharing 😉

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