Is your video data trying to tell you something?

As a creative director and videographer, it’s my job to make sure our marketing videos appeal to our audience and drive action.

Instead of simply guessing what people might like, I’ve found it’s a good strategy to look at video engagement data after each video we release to get a sense of what’s working and what’s not.

By looking at how much time our audience spends with our videos, and how they interact with the content in general, I can find patterns and see where we can improve.

For example, your video viewing data might showcase high drop off rates (a signal that your video is too long). It could also show you that the second point from your guest speaker’s talk was where your audience dropped off out of boredom. By paying attention to engagement, you can see where to improve, which topics typically perform best, and how long your audience will stay with you for. Overall, you can learn a lot about how to tie your videos to actionable goals if you review how your audience interacts them.

Here are three practical lessons I’ve taken away from our video data that you can incorporate into your strategy going forward:

Observation #1. Use a fast-acting punch line

Because the first few moments of your video are critical to getting your audience to stick around, a great trick I’ve discovered is to incorporate a quick punch line – or the equivalent of one – at the very beginning of your video, teasing at what’s to come. Kinda like a cold open in a sitcom (the part just before the opening credits where they focus on just one joke).

I’ve used an outtake to do this in a video of our CFO:

What the Data Tells me

Anytime I use this sort of technique I’ve found I can keep attention span very high. In the case of this pirate video, just over 70% of the audience stuck around to watch the entire piece of content (as seen in the data below).

attention span data for our pirate video

As a metrics goal when making your own videos, you should always aim to keep more than 60% of the audience right ’til the very end of the video where they can complete a call to action. Using a fast-acting joke at the start really works to grab and hold people’s attention. Remember to keep it short and include a clear action viewers can carry out at the end (e.g. the end of the pirate video had a contact form for viewers to fill out for more information).

Observation # 2. Walk viewers down memory lane

One of the best ways to make videos that resonate with your audience is to use pop culture references your target market will recognize. Whether it’s a reference from a childhood memory or a popular movie, or an actor people will recognize, nostalgia does the trick.

I really liked the Dr. Seuss SlideShare from Marketo “Oh the Content You’ll Create”, for example:

Marketo uses nostalgia!

This plays on content marketer’s nostalgia and the illustrations are awesome.

When it comes to campaigns we’ve done in the past, we made a video featuring our sales guy Karl Ortmanns as Karl Farley (a play on Chris Farley’s sales guy in a little coat) and this trip down memory lane for our target demographic kept more than 75% of viewers watching until the very end.

our own Karl Farley

In our case, the solid attention span data and contact info we collected in the campaign showed us that Karl Farley was a hit with our target, and we got great feedback when Karl was recognized by “fans” at our trade show event.

When creating your next video think about what your target market watched or listened to growing up and spoof their old favourites. By experimenting you might find out that they stick around when you parody Saved by the Bell, but that same target maybe won’t watch a video about the Blues Brothers. It’s all a matter of discovering what works for your target market.

Observation #3. Use real people in your videos

When deciding on what type of video to make, a lot of the time I have to choose between animated motion graphic videos and live action videos featuring people talking to the camera. When I looked at the data between some motion graphic videos compared to live action, I’ve found that the attention span is typically higher for videos with people in them.

This is probably because audiences can connect and relate with a person on camera and are likely to give more attention to real people than pictures synched with a voice over.

Taking a look at some of the metrics, our Eloqua Experience live action video had about 74% of people watch to the end, whereas our Eloqua motion graphics video had only 30% of people watch until the end.

motion graphics had increased drop off

Although this isn’t a rule by any means, I’d say that in general we get a lot of success with using real people in our videos and it seems to help in making a human connection. Live action isn’t perfect for every video, but it’s interesting what we’ve seen with the data. I would need a larger sample of videos to test if this is statistically significant beyond our video collection, but it does influence how I tend to think about live action versus motion graphic for certain projects.

What have you learned?

Based on your observations in video marketing, what are some tips you have to share? Any particular type of video work best for your company? What has your video engagement data been telling you?

Blake Smith