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More than 1bn unique users visit YouTube each month and upwards of 6bn hours of video are watched each month on the site, almost an hour for every person on Earth. 

There are lots of gigantic numbers and impressive looking stats to look at with video content, but to many brands these figures don’t bear much relation to the eyes they’re seeing on their uploads.

Once you take away the cats and fails (and the cat fails), the viewing figures are often far from impressive. It’s not a case of film it and they will watch.

The Every Tech Commercial and Generic Brand Video parodies have clocked up more than 2m views between them, mainly as they get it spot on. Many businesses have been put off by past experiences and huge invoices that haven’t delivered what they were after.

But some smart brands are seeing that video can play a pivotal part of your content strategy if used correctly.

How to create videos that do offer ROI

Think carefully about what the ‘R’ you want is 

It's often referred to as an ‘engaging’ medium, however video is a broadcasting format.

The message that sits within it is what can give you the return you’re after, and you can encourage people to take particular actions (visit your site, buy your products, share your content, create their own content, etc) by what you present and where it’s placed.

Include unique URLs, landing pages, hashtags or other calls to action that you can track back to the source, and plug in the details to your analytics tool of choice so you can keep track of how it’s going. Rather than totting up the ‘views’ on your video, make direct connections with your conversions and other KPIs.

As with every single piece of content you create, you need to have thoroughly researched the intended audience considering their perceptions of your brand, your products, what they’ll expect from the video and how they’re likely to react to the topic.

Don’t just stick your TV ad on YouTube and expect it to be an instant online hit.

Ask yourself – does your audience need something explaining? What’s their current level of understanding? How long do you think you’ll be able to keep their attention for?

What is giffgaff? You can find out pretty much all you need to know in 90 seconds.

The infamous Will It Blend campaign wasn’t just created to get 700,000 YouTube subscribers, it shifts actual units for Blendtec. Sales are up 700% since the campaign began.

Think carefully about how much ‘I’ to put in

Video can be a notoriously expensive format to produce...the difference between knocking up a video and investment in a specialist production team is vast - and you generally get what you pay for. 

But for some events and activities, there’s just no need to splash the cash - buying a decent camera, microphone and training for a few people in your organisation to use the equipment correctly may allow you to create content that gets the job done.

The YouTube channel of Kiddicare certainly isn’t up to Hollywood standards, but it had lots of people tuning in at a crucial stage in the buying process.

There are of course instances where you need to call the professionals in, but don’t dismiss video as being automatically beyond budget.

Make it recognisably yours

Brand consistency is something that often gets forgotten in the video briefing process. Yes, it’s an opportunity to show off the arty side of the business, but long term benefits will come from integrating it seamlessly into the customer journey, and for that it needs to feel a part of everything else you do.

Remember, if your video is hosted somewhere other than your own servers, this may be the first piece of content people ever experience from your business.

Take a glance at your list of videos on YouTube. Could people tell they are yours straight away?

Which of these has the stronger visual identity?

LateRooms.com YouTube Channel

Lastminute.com UK YouTube Channel

Make it timeless

Creating your video once is costly enough, but having to go back in and make edits to visuals or voiceovers always creates annoyance, and another invoice.

If you’re putting together a video including screenshots of your homepage or mobile app, what happens when it gets a redesign? Do you have the budget to redo it? What if your company merges with another, or gets a new logo, or moves location, or changes phone number? 

Obviously you can’t plan for every eventuality, but before getting into production, look through your storyboard and script and work out if there are any areas that are likely to be out of date before you can afford to go through the process again.

Is there a way to demonstrate your product without actually demonstrating your product?

Make it clickable

Tools such as wireWAX show what can be achieved with video content and how we may see the future of not just online video, but mainstream TV. There are hyperlinks and there’s video - it’s been named hypervideo.

Behold, the world’s first interactive shoppable music video from ssense.com. Launched in 2012, the phenomenal 31% click-through-rate to store inspired many other brands (Debenhams, Target, Visit Portland to name a few).

Now that’s engaging!

Photo Credit: Gordon McDowell


Published 30 April, 2014 by Danny Chadburn

Danny Chadburn is Content Strategist at iCrossing and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

17 more posts from this author

Comments (2)


Joseph Rogers, Marketing Assistant at SO15 5NA

So in 6-7 months EVERY PERSON ON THE WORLD EVER has visited youtube?

over 2 years ago


Danny Chadburn, Content Strategist at iCrossing

My only source is YouTube itself - https://www.youtube.com/yt/press/en-GB/statistics.html

You can take it with a pinch or a handful of salt!

over 2 years ago

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