Does it really matter to you — a humble HVAC contractor — if 188.7 million Americans watched 46 billion online content videos in September 2013? That’s the stat from comScore Video Metrix service, which also showed that, in the same month, video ad views totaled 22.9 billion.

Adams Hudson
Adams Hudson

But, seriously, what’s that got to do with you? Doesn’t that just mean a bunch of slugs sat around watching hilarious cat videos and courageous kid antics while you were busy working in the real world?

Maybe, maybe not; yet this mix of tremendous activity and uncertain benefit is certainly leading us to question the value of video marketing. Does it make money from its multiple views, or does it unclog a drain for the free flowing of money out of your view?

Let’s start with the basics here …

Why Online Video Matters

What does video have that other media doesn’t? Well, quite a bit, actually. This online avenue for communication has several things going for it that mere words on screen (or in print) can’t quite match, as psychologist Susan Weinschenk — aka the Brain Lady — makes clear in her own video: “Four Reasons Online Video is Compelling and Persuasive.” These reasons, she explains, fall like this:

• Face — What Dr. Weinschenk calls the “Fusiform Facial” area is that part of the brain that is sensitive to faces. So, if there’s a face in the video — such as a talking head explaining the risks of bad indoor air — it captures attention.

• Voice — Voice conveys a richness of information. The tone of voice, for example, communicates enthusiasm, sincerity, and amusement, making the audio one of the most important parts of a video. In your videos, you’ll likely be communicating authority by explaining what homeowners need to know to make their homes more energy efficient, comfortable, or safer.

• Emotions — Voice, face, and other video attributes communicate emotion, and emotions are contagious. You can transfer enthusiasm and create human interaction, even if the interaction is just one way. Communicating enthusiasm for energy bills that are 30 percent lower is an example. Communicating concern for family members with allergies and asthma is another.

• Movement — Humans notice movement and pay attention. Movement includes hand motion, head tilt, shoulder shrug — anything really. We don’t have to see it directly; we notice it peripherally. In fact, we were programmed back from the beginning of time to pay attention to movement — in case a tiger was sneaking up on us.

Engagement and Response

So, there’s no question that video is effective, but how does that effectiveness translate into the marketplace? One thing comScore stats have shown before is that visitors who view videos stay on the site an average of two minutes longer than those who don’t view videos. They create more engagement, in other words.

Furthermore, according to eMarketer, 51.9 percent of marketing professionals cite video as a content strategy with the best return on investment (ROI). Videos get a response, in other words. And yet video was also cited by 49.8 percent of marketers as being the content type that is the “most difficult to create.”

Therein lies the problem for most contractors. How do you create great video? Contractors aren’t videographers, after all. They’re contractors. So how can you translate your skills, leadership, and wisdom into a 60-second online video?

Video Length: As Long as It Needs to Be

Actually, setting a time frame is getting ahead of yourself. Let’s break down the video concept first by topic; what you want to communicate, how you want to lead.

For example, a 60-second video for why tune-ups are important would be a perfect fit. You can cover energy efficiency, equipment life, and indoor air safety pretty easily and speedily. However, 60 seconds on whole-house performance is nearly impossible. It’s too new a concept; there’d be too much to cover. In this case, you’d need a progression of one-minute ads that run in sequence, each one adding to message saturation.

While there aren’t any “absolutes” in how long a video should be, these are some well-applied guides:

• Tempt Videos — The length should be one to three minutes on each topic and should lead customers into another topic, seminar, webinar, book, service, discovery, etc. Get it? They “tempt” your customers to learn more. Shorter is better because you’ll lose a fifth of your viewers in the first 10 seconds alone.

• Short Format Training Videos — These are four to nine minutes long. While shorter is better in online video (six-second videos have nearly 100 percent completion rate, they say), if the topic is compelling, viewers will stick with you longer. As a matter of fact, four minutes, 11 seconds is the average length of the top 10 most shared video ads, according to ReelSEO.

• Mid Format Training — These are 10-14 minutes long. Again, all will depend on compelling, relevant content and valuable information.

• Long Format Training Here, you’re up to 15-20 minutes. These are your webinars, events, interviews, and presentations.

Sales Clips

Your sales videos are on the shorter side of this list — from tempt to short. How-to workshops can be on the longer side, no selling.

And then you bring in your ‘see more at’ plug, which has been done 78 million times and counting. Your best examples are the infomercial format that leads to additional techniques or something other than salesy or boring “more info.”

Best-case scenario; you do an info capture at this second step or you’re going to end up with unqualified window shoppers. A squeeze page is required to grab an email address. Just sending to an open format, non-squeeze is traffic vs. capture, leaving you great difficulty in calculating conversions. Good job if you have an activity request on site (download a report, request free estimate, schedule a service call, etc.) because the whole thing is a waste if you don’t.

In our case, we use a three-step process that guides viewers from smaller chunks of content into longer chunks. The viewer doesn’t detect a sale at all in video 1, hears a first mention in video 2, then gets the close at the end of video 3. That’s what we recommend for contractors.

What we also preach more than anything is integration. One medium is never a be-all, end-all. Online video is one piece of a tremendous puzzle that reaches your market, gets your name in view, promotes your expertise, creates your image as an industry expert, and continues to connect with customers long after the sale.

Integrated balance is especially critical when dealing with new concepts that have broad implications. Whole-house performance, as I mentioned, is just such a topic. We indeed created videos, but also two dozen other pieces, ranging from blog and social media tweets, to email/link to report/video to postcard/letter/newspaper ad (print) to billboard/yard sign (outdoor) to scripts (CSR/Tech/Comfort Specialist). See how integration works?

Publication date: 1/20/2014 

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