Once your video fades to black, there are two preferable outcomes (one more ideal than the other).

You can either impress your audience, (“wow, that video was neat!”), and then they go about their business; or you can inspire real action (i.e. “Yes I want to start a demo right now!” *click*).

As a marketer, there are times when either option is well and good, but a lot of the time you’re hoping to make helpful content to generate leads or guide prospects through the sales funnel. Unfortunately, while including great calls to action in your videos can help you prompt meaningful engagement from interested viewers, a lot of marketers are forgetting to use them.

In this post I roundup six examples of effective CTAs to help you decide which actions you’ll prompt with your next video. By connecting your content to a clear CTA, you can be sure you’re being especially strategic in your video marketing efforts.

1. Promote your epic content pieces

Larger content offerings like gated eBooks and white papers take a lot of effort to produce and, as valuable pieces in your marketing mix, you should extend their lifecycle for as long as possible. One of the best ways to do this is to use a short preview video to prompt a download.

ExactTarget uses this approach in the video below. Created solely to promote their mobile behaviour report, the video shares a few stats as a way to get your overall buy in. Not only does the video act as a qualifier for their written content (ensuring those who download the report are interested), but the video can also can be shared well past the release date to keep promoting the piece.

Next time you have a mega piece of content to release, consider creating this type of preview video to get your audience’s initial buy-in.

2. Suggest another video

When your brand makes a commitment to video as part of the marketing mix, sometimes you’ll create multiple video assets as part of a larger initiative. Such is the case with the ‘Rally the World’ campaign from Volkswagen.

In efforts to drive viewers through more and more content on their elaborate landing pages, the brand has included end-of-video CTAs that direct you to even more videos (two are suggested with built-in thumbnail images in the final moments of each video in the series).

Your brand can use this type of CTA to lead viewers on a strategic content journey or path. To learn about what’s involved in setting up a content journey or a video product tour, check out this post.

3. Get ’em to a campaign landing page

When using YouTube as a distribution channel, it’s important to drive viewers back to your website to watch more of your content, avoid potential distractions, and eventually convert.

That said, when you create video campaigns, it’s critical to have a dedicated landing page to direct your audience to. As you’ll see in this funny AT&T video, the end prompts you to visit pets-talking.com (which the brand presumably purchased for the duration of the campaign).

When you release a video campaign, create a dedicated landing page where all of the videos can be seen (similar to the Volkswagen example), and use your YouTube video’s CTA to direct your audience to the page to see additional “directors cut” content unavailable on YouTube. Give viewers an incentive to jump over to your site where they can be nurtured (and tracked via your video marketing platform).

4. Get ’em back on your site

Don’t have an entire campaign with a dedicated landing page? No problem. Prompt viewers to head on back to your website. Best Buy uses YouTube annotations to do this in each of their how-to Geek Squad videos. During every moment of learning how to turn your phone into a remote control, you’re prompted to “click here to learn more” with a simple annotation. It’s a quick way to make all of your YouTube videos a portal to your site.

Use annotations to direct audiences

5. Get ’em to subscribe!

A subscriber base is very important for content marketers because it’s made up of people who have given you permission to market to them. Give your audience a way to opt in to your new releases at the end of your videos.

French Connection does this with each of their pieces of content very simply:

End of a French Connection video

6. Ask to contact your viewer

Including a contact form at the end of your video is a great way to capture new lead information after you have qualified a viewer’s interest with your content.

At Vidyard, we’ve found this approach works especially well as a CTA in videos promoting your company’s presence at an event or conference. In a video promoting our attendance at Eloqua ’13, we used a pop-out CTA at the end to get viewers to fill in their information if they wanted to meet up with us while in San Francisco (and, let’s face it, we really wanted to show off how cool the pop-out CTA is).

Check it out!

Overall, these six examples are great starting points for giving your video some purpose. As you plan out your next brand video, consider what action you want viewers to take and build your content around that action. Do you want them to view more content? Give you their information? Sign up for a demo? Get back to your site from YouTube?

Even if you simply want viewers to watch more of your content, a CTA is a powerful component to strategic video marketing and you can improve every asset with a simple, direct prompt.

Share your video CTA best practices and examples below to get the discussion going. What’s been especially effective for you?

Jennifer Pepper