A guide to video content marketing – part 1, how to create perfect video content

by Woven Agency on Thursday August 15, 2019 @ 03:30PM

This is part one of a two-part guide to video content marketing. In this part, we’ll take you through why video content marketing is so important to your brand and how you create video. In part two, we’ll talk about how you should use the video you’ve created in your marketing channels to achieve your objectives.

The case for creating video content
In understanding the importance of video content marketing to your brand, let’s open up with a graph:

Video Marketing

And now let’s review a few key statistics:

  • 55% of people consume video content thoroughly – the highest percentage of any media. (HubSpot, 2016)
  • Product videos can increase purchases by 144%. (Neil Patel, 2017)
  • Video content drives a 157% increase in organic traffic from SERPs. (Wordstream, 2018) 
  • 41% and 45% of marketers plan to add Facebook and YouTube respectively to their content strategy in 2019. (HubSpot, 2018)
  • Companies using video enjoy 41% more web traffic from search than non-users (Source: SmallBizTrends)
  • Video in an email leads to 200-300% increase in click-through rates (Source: Hubspot, 2018)

At this point, in the face of such overwhelming evidence as to the benefit of video marketing, we wouldn’t blame you if you stopped reading now and went off to shoot a series of videos for all your channels.

But the stratospheric rise in the use of – and thirst for – video content marketing has created a problem: noise. A lot of brands are using video these days (and not all of them well). Which means for your message to stand out in the brave new world of selfie Spielbergs and branding Brandos, you’ve got to do it right.

Before you think about shooting video, first think about why you want to shoot it.

How to make video content for your business

Planning your video

Before you set up and record a single second of video, you need to start with the always-important question – why? Just like any marketing campaign, every decision made during the video creation process must have your end goal in mind and the action you want your target audience to take. 

So spend time getting the why firmly in your mind before you do anything. Trust us, defining a clear purpose before you start shooting will save a lot of time in the editing suite afterwards…

In planning your video, typical questions to ask would be:

  • Who’s your target audience? 
  • What buyer persona are you targeting? 
  • Is this targeting the top, middle or bottom of your marketing funnel? 
  • What’s the goal? Brand awareness? Sell more event tickets? Launch a new product? What do you want your audience to do after watching the video?
  • Where’s the video going to live? On Facebook? On an email or landing page? Begin with your top-priority channel and then repurpose the video for secondary channels.
  • When’s the deadline? Have you got everyone you need for the video booked in on the video shoot, whether that’s in front or behind the camera?
  • What’s the budget? Video content can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. How much it costs will depend on its purpose – is it a gotta-be-super-slick brand video or a rough-and-ready social media vid?
  • What are the potential creative roadblocks? Do you have the skills, hardware and software to do the best job? Don’t worry if you don’t have the best kit; you can do great things with a smartphone and low-cost mic these days. In fact, these limitations can make your video more creative and authentic.
  • What does success look like? Get some SMART objectives in place and measure your video’s success against them. Benchmark against other types of content you produce and see which wins out.

Writing your script

Most business videos need a formal, well-thought-out script – especially if it’s a brand, product or instructional video. (To find out the types of video marketing, read our ‘What is video content marketing?’ blog.) Take your time writing your script, ensuring you don’t miss out anything important, as this will save you time in the editing stage.

Occasionally, for less formal, more spontaneous pieces, a script can be a hindrance and diminish the immediate nature of the delivery. In such cases, instead of writing a detailed script, put together a rough topic plan focusing on the key messages you want to relay to your audience.

When scripting, use the two-column approach employed by the screenwriting pros. Write your script in the left column and insert matching visual ideas in the right.

Content video marketing

Be sure to include a hook that grabs attention right from the beginning. A strong headline, a statistic, a question… something that’ll stop those thumbs scrolling on. And be sure to get your video’s proposition – the benefit to the viewer – across as quickly as possible. Don’t hang around to get your point across because viewers won’t hang around if they’re not getting something out of it. 

Your script should be relaxed, clear, conversational – no matter how dry or serious the topic is. Avoid complex sentence structures. Instead, connect with your audience by writing in first person and using visual language. Keep the language concise and accessible, avoiding jargon and buzzwords.

Video scripts aren’t long – a speaker will read about 150 words per minute. But don’t worry overly about the length of the script (within reason); instead, just be sure to keep it relevant and interesting to your buyer persona. 

A good copywriting tip is to read your words aloud – and scripts are no different. This helps you catch the bits that don’t sound natural. If possible, involve those who’ll be reading the script in your any test reads so they can get comfortable with it and suggest any improvements. 

Getting the right camera

From budget-busting DSLRs to the humble smartphone, there are many ways to shoot video.

Using your smartphone

First off, make sure your device has enough storage and engage your ‘Do not disturb’ setting, so you don’t get any Snapchat updates ruining your soliloquies.

Once you open the camera, flip your phone horizontally to create the best possible viewing experience. Then, move close enough to your subject so you don’t have to use the zoom feature, which pixelates the image.

To stop your phone’s camera lens continually adjusting and re-adjusting as you move around the scene, lock the exposure before you press record.

And if you’re shooting on the move, it’s a good idea to invest in a gimbal. This is a handheld device that clamps your phone in place and keeps your shot steady and in focus as you move around.

Trading up

At some point, you may feel ready to graduate up from the smartphone. With all the digital cameras on the market, there are a ton of choices to pick from, so set your budget, do your research and take the plunge. 

The first choice you make will be between purchasing a “prosumer” camera and a professional camera.

Prosumer cameras bridge the gap between basic compact cameras and more advanced cameras. They’re great if you want to shoot more video content but want the option to just press record. 

Professional cameras, like DSLRs, allow you to fine-tune your control over the manual settings of shooting video and allow you to achieve shallow depth of field (background out of focus) that gives your video a sense of professionalism. While they’re primarily used for photography, DSLRs are small, work great in low light and pair with a wide range of lenses, so they’re ideal for video creation. 

The downside of DSLRs is that they take time to learn the manual settings. From frame rates to aperture sizes, shutter speeds to ISO sensitivity, there’s a lot to get to grips with. But if you’re planning on shooting a range of video styles and want to keep everything in-house, it’s definitely worth getting to grips with all the settings at your disposal. 

Setting up your studio

Unfortunately for your budget, the cost of being a video content marketing ace doesn’t just stop at buying a camera. You’ll also need:

  • A tripod. Unless you’re shooting on-the-move gonzo style, you should never be without a tripod. 
  • An external microphone. Internal mics are often, to put it technically, crap, so it’s essential to invest in an external mic. We recommend this one from Rode. For your DSLR-type cameras, you could invest in a shotgun mic like Rode’s VideoMic, which clips onto your DSLR and plugs into the camera body.
  • Lighting equipment. To get a perfectly lit shot with sufficient depth, adopt the three-light approach, for which you’ll need: 
    • Three lighting stands.
    • A key light placed at 45 degrees to the left or right of the subject.
    • A fill light placed at 45 degrees to the other side of the subject. This should be a dimmer light than the key light.
    • A backlight placed behind the subject and that separates them from the background, giving a fully 3D effect.
content and video marketing

Now that you have all of your equipment, you’re ready to build your photoshoot set. For most videos, this means grabbing a conference room. If you can bag a dedicated space for shoots then so much the better, as this will stop you having to dismantle and reassemble your gear every time.

Speaking of sound, pay special attention to the hum of the air conditioning. Find a room with minimal noise or turn down the fan during recording. If your background is a plain ol’ white wall, consider getting hold of some photography paper to create a background that’s more appealing.

Preparing the presenter

Getting in front of the camera can be a daunting prospect. To boost your video star’s confidence, give them plenty of time to go through the script – and reassure them that they don’t need to memorise it. 

When it comes to the shoot, put a laptop or tablet below the eye-line of the camera and display short paragraphs of the script on it. Then record section by section until you capture a perfect take of each. 

During the shoot, the videographer turns into a coach, providing positive and constructive feedback after each take. Put your presenter at ease by not taking things too seriously and not worrying when a take goes wrong (which will happen) – remember, a relaxed presenter is a more confident presenter, and this will come across much better on screen. 

At the same time, always be vigilant. Pay attention to detail, shoot lots of takes, make sure the mics are clipped on properly. If the presenter grows in confidence through the shoot, re-do the earlier takes, which are vital in keeping your audience engaged.

Shoot for the edit

As the pros say, don’t just shoot for the moment, shoot for the edit. Whilst filming, always have in mind that your footage will need to be edited later on. Follow these three shoot-for-the-edit tips to save you time in the editing process and create a more interesting final video:

Leave a buffer

Shooting for the edit means leaving a buffer at the beginning and end of each clip. In the biz, these are called handles. They give editors room to breathe, removing the pain of having to cut too close to an important shot. 

Shoot B-roll

This is extra footage that differs from the main ‘story’ you’re shooting. So, if you’re filming a talking head interview, you would use B-roll to show related footage of what the interviewee is talking about. This helps the editor bring the story to life with additional material and makes the final cut more interesting, so that the viewer isn’t just looking at one person talking the whole time.

B-roll also helps an editor mask jump cuts. If you’ve used a number of short clips to piece your video together, an editor might struggle to smoothly transition between them. In such cases, B-roll acts as a binding agent to blend two pieces of footage seamlessly together.

A simple way to collect enough B-roll footage is to shoot with two cameras – the main one filming straight-on to the subject and the secondary one angled at 30-45 degrees to one side. The editor can then flip between the two to create differentiation and interest to the final piece.

Mark your clips

Even if you’re recording a simple one-person interview, you might have to record each section five or ten times. This means you should help out your editor by visually referring to the best take. Do this by simply waving your hand in front of the lens so the editor can go directly to this take and save time during his footage review.

Editing 

Video editing can seem daunting but there are lots of tutorials to help, irrespective of your ability, operating system and budget. 

How you approach the editing software you use will depend on your video content marketing intentions. 

Will you be shooting big, beautiful brand videos? Do you need a professional finish and high-end production values? If so, getting to grips with an in-depth software like Adobe Premiere Pro will be worth your time, effort and money. 

We use Premiere Pro here at Woven as it’s a highly collaborative tool that helps you easily organise your footage and sync up with other Adobe platforms, such as After Effects. It offers a host of editing options and lets you shoot in 4K (and higher) resolutions. It takes time to get used to, but once mastered is a brilliant piece of video content software. 

However, if your video content marketing strategy is more focused on producing rough-and-ready, off-the-cuff-style footage (à la Gary Vaynerchuk), there are ample video editing programmes and apps out there, many of which are free. 

For iOS users, we recommend Apple iMovie for its elegant, easy-to-use interface, seamless Apple product integration and brilliant filters. Oh, and it’s brilliant green-screen feature lets you transport your presenter to Paris, Hawaii or New York at the touch of a button. 

For Android users, we suggest FilmoraGo. Again, it’s easy to use, allows you to preview clips in real-time and there are many templates and effects to experiment with. Its ability to import video from social media sites is also really useful.

“Your video has to sell your product or your brand – or both. But, most of all, it has to grab attention. If it doesn’t do that, you might as well not make it.”

Music

It’s tempting to think you can overlook music, but a well-chosen score can make all the difference in holding attention and evoking emotion. 

That’s why it’s worth the budget you’ll probably have to spend on it – because most music isn’t free. 

If your budget is a little too tight for comfort, take a look at Free Music Archive and dig.ccMixter, which offer thousands of free options for your video. With the latter, you can even try your hand at creating your own mixes. 

At Woven, we use AudioJungle, a thriving community of musicians providing royalty-free songs that you can use across all media channels. Please note, though, that royalty-free doesn’t mean free; you pay a flat-rate fee to the creator/curator. But it’s still a cost-effective way of sourcing music that few others are likely to use.

Next, consider your audience and the overall mood you’re aiming for. Is your audience niche and (please forgive us) ‘edgy’? Then avoid the mainstream in your musical choice. What about the tone of your video? Is it emotional, upbeat, reflective, grandiose? Consider the words and style of the video content you’re creating and inject the same intent into your music choice.

Finally, think about adding intro and outro music to your piece, which enhances the theme of your video content and grabs and maintains viewers’ attention.

Voiceovers

So, we’re nearly there. We have the content plan, the video’s been shot and we’ve got the music; now it’s time for the final piece of the video content creation process – the voiceover. 

First thing’s first, if you’re shooting a shorter video, you might not need one – brief text overlays introducing sections of your video can serve equally well. 

But if you’re shooting an explainer or brand video, a voiceover will help to relay the content in a more professional and fluid way. 

Here are a few tips to help you find your voice:

Find a quiet location

Not got access to a soundproof studio? Don’t worry, not many of us do. Just find a quiet room that won’t pick up any outside disturbances like sirens, footfall, opening and closing doors etc. And make sure the presenter’s voice sounds on point – your mic will pick up on echoes and muffled delivery. 

Prepare properly

Read through the script aloud a few times before the first take. Get to grips with any pauses, syntax or words that might trip you. If necessary, get the copywriter back in to clean up any parts of the script that don’t feel natural. On the big day, your reader should stay hydrated, not wear any noisy clothing or jewellery that your mic might pick up, and use a laptop or teleprompter to avoid the rustling of turning script pages.

Test, listen, repeat

It’s unlikely you’ll get the perfect voiceover in one take, so invest in good headphones and listen intently for any drops in audio quality. If (when) you hear them, ask your voiceover talent to do another take. After all, it’s easier to do a new take then fix it in editing. 

Summing up

So, there we have it – nine steps to video victory. Creating video content might seem daunting, but the more you do it, and the more process-driven you can make it, the easier it’ll become.

And by taking your time to understand how to prepare, shoot and edit your video content, your work will do the most important thing of all – cut through the noise and grab people’s attention.

This is part one (of two) of our video content marketing guide. Already keen for part two? Then grab another coffee and click right here.