Online video saw explosive growth in 2014. Every month, YouTube attracts more than one billion unique global viewers spending a collective six billion hours watching videos. Users upload an average of 100 hours of video every minute.
The market shows no sign of slowing. Today, an estimated 45% of internet users watch at least one video online each month. One source forecasts that by 2016, online video will make up 55% of consumer internet traffic. Another predicts that number will grow to 74% by the following year.
Not only is video popular for entertainment and leisure purposes, it’s proven remarkably effective for businesses. In today’s on-the-go, hyper-connected world, multi-tasking is the new normal. Parents send work emails while cooking dinner and playing with their kids. Teens scan the internet on their laptops while doing geometry homework and scrolling through Instagram on their phones.
Video has the unique ability to cut through the digital noise. By engaging multiple senses, video can command a viewer’s full attention. In seconds, a video can effectively convey a complex message that would take paragraphs to get across in a blog post or text email.
Blog posts that include videos attract three times as many inbound links as those that only contain text. Sixty percent of audiences prefer watching videos to reading text. A single minute of video is worth 1.8 million written words. People who watch videos tend to stay on a website two minutes longer than those who don’t.
Many brands have already figured out how best to engage audiences with video marketing. In 2015, we’ll see a maturation of the space as marketers focus on using videos to drive revenue. Here are some trends to expect in the coming year.
1. The enduring drop in the cost of making video
Any brand can hire an agency and spend tens of thousands of dollars to create a few minutes of high-quality video. But it’s no longer necessary to shell out that kind of cash. Skilled video freelancers can often do the same work as an agency at a fraction of the cost. It’s also possible to go DIY. While there may be a learning curve, software has improved to the point that marketers can create their own videos without sacrificing quality. Consider using screencast or animation software to cut back on talent and production costs. Check out this guide from Hubspot for beginner tips for production and marketing. Blogs like ReelSEO, The Content Standard, and Vidyard are also helpful resources for getting started.
2. The rise of metrics
More than half of marketing professionals believe video is the type of content with the best ROI. Why? It comes down to analytics. With a blog post, marketers can see how many people viewed the content and how long they stayed on the page. But they have no way of knowing if a viewer actually read the article, or just kept the tab open while doing other things. Video is different. And we’re about to see a big maturation in video metric sector.
Marketers will have access to more and more data measuring engagement. They’ll be able to see exactly how many people viewed a video, up until which point; how many times they watched it; and how many people clicked on the video’s call to action. These granular insights provide brands with actionable feedback to improve their videos and tactics. As predictive analytics gain steam in the industry in the coming year, businesses will use these metrics in new ways to target the most promising prospects, communicate more effectively, A/B test, and increase revenue.
3. The prevalence of video CTAs and lead capture
No content marketer would think of leaving a call to action off a landing page or blog post. What’s the point of having someone read something if they don’t do anything afterward? But until recently, many companies overlooked the CTA in video, underestimating the medium’s power to move customers through the sales funnel. No longer. Carefully-crafted CTA’s will become increasingly more effective in a video—enticing viewers to watch something else, visit a new page, sign up a free trial, or buy a product. Adding CTAs with links in videos is now easy, thanks to tools like YouTube’s Call-to-Action Overlays and video hosts like Wistia.
Lead capture within the video player will also increasingly become a valuable tool for marketers. This contact information can then be passed seamlessly into marketing automation platforms like HubSpot and Eloqua, so marketers can store the email addresses of video viewers in real time.
4. The (belated) reliability of video inside emails
People love seeing videos in their inboxes. Merely using the word “video” in a subject line has been shown to increase open rates 19% and click-through rates by 65%. But in many ways, email is the Wild West of video marketing. Only some email clients support video playback within emails (Outlook does, Gmail doesn’t; Hotmail does, Yahoo doesn’t; etc.)
We’re due for improvements on this front, but they’re not likely to happen all at once. In the meantime, there’s plenty of software that makes it easier to optimize your emails for all audiences. Solutions like Mailchimp can automatically convert video embed codes into a screenshot that links to a landing page for viewers who can’t stream directly in their inboxes. You can also do this manually with video merge tags. To improve the user experience, autoplay the video once the viewer clicks and is taken to your landing page (this is your one and only excuse to use autoplay!).
5. The video-centric landing page
The stats are in: videos on landing pages are a clear win. Marketing Tech Blog found that adding video to a landing page resulted in a 130.5% increase in leads. Wistia found that landing pages with videos were clicked 38% of the time, compared to 12% for pages without video. Videos can increase the length of page visits by conveying information in an interesting and seamless way. Videos also have a unique opportunity to humanize brands (try featuring employees in your video to increase customer trust). As high-quality video production becomes increasingly inexpensive, more companies will use videos on landing pages.
Marketers should produce videos exclusively for each specific page. Targeting the video to a specific keyword will be worth the investment. To increase views and conversions, keep the video short, and make sure that the landing page design emphasizes the play button and call to action.
6. The forthcoming dominance of mobile screens
Nearly 40% of YouTube watch time comes from mobile devices. Fifty million people in the US regularly watch videos on smartphones and tablets. By 2016, mobile video viewing is predicted to comprise half of all online viewing. As these numbers continue to grow, mobile will become a key part of brands’ marketing strategy. Mobile audiences are often watching while killing time commuting or waiting in line, and tend to watch shorter videos than those watching on laptops. When using text within a video, make sure it’s big enough to read on a smartphone screen. Include links directly within the call to action—mobile viewers shouldn’t be expected to type URLs into their browsers.
7. The continued YouTube diaspora
YouTube, which was founded in 2005, spawned an entertainment revolution by making it possible for any user to upload and share videos with the world. It also revolutionized video marketing for brands, by offering companies a free platform to host video content and drive awareness. But nearly 10 years later, the honeymoon is over. YouTube is still a great place for young companies to get started with content marketing. But established companies should invest in hosts with more robust capabilities. Do you really want to send your easily distracted audience to YouTube, land of cat videos? Alternative platforms like Vidcaster are specifically designed for businesses. By allowing you to host your content on your own site, they help viewers stay focused on your product. This increased focus means more time-on-site for customers, yielding more conversions.
Then there are the SEO benefits of hosting videos on your domain; video players signal high-quality content to the Google Search Bots. Of course people tend to share videos more often than they share articles — and all these social shares and embeds will also help your SEO rankings.
8. The ascension of animation
One of the best parts of video is how much there is going on: there’s a narrative, interesting camera angles, dramatic lighting, emotional audio, inviting text, and so on. But this is also what makes video hard to produce. Good talent costs money; cool lighting requires special equipment; outdoor sets require perfect weather. Animation makes it easier to communicate your narrative, without sacrificing visual interest or quality. No need to hire actors or wait for that Nor’easter to blow through. With animation, include as many people as you want in your video; film a beach scene in January; and feature scenarios that would never be feasible in live action (think characters jumping out of airplanes or chatting with the president). And if you think producing animation is complicated — it’s not. There are great do-it-yourself platforms out there; even marketers unfamiliar with traditional video product software can produce high-quality videos in a short amount of time.
9. The maturation of thumbnails
You wouldn’t put your high school class picture on your online dating profile. So why let a blurry, boring, unflattering, or just plain ugly screenshot represent your compelling marketing video? Videos have been found to get far more interest than text in emails, landing pages, and search engine results. Capitalize on this interest by choosing a representative and appealing thumbnail. Using a close-up of a person’s face is a great way to stir emotional interest. But if your video is actually about plum pudding or deep-sea diving, then make that clear in the image as well. As metrics-based platform become more accessible, A/B testing of video thumbnail images will grow in prominence.