When we ran into the Content Queen Ann Handley at Inbound ’13, we were excited to talk shop and get her take on video calls to action.

As Ann mentions here, the best videos all have calls to action, but not every marketer is remembering to include one.

Neglecting a CTA is a major disadvantage because it’s your opportunity to tell your viewers exactly what you’d like them to do next. You can prompt a demo, a download, a trial, or even direct folks on a content journey to engage with more of your marketing assets. If you don’t use a CTA, it’s likely you’ll lose a viewer to other distractions such as competitors videos or suggested content on YouTube.

So if not CTAs, what are marketer’s focusing on?

Unfortunately a lot of people are focused primarily on getting their video marketing ‘just right’ when it comes to production value, but this Goldilocks mindset isn’t helping when it comes to connecting videos to ROI. Ann sums up the issue perfectly with her insight that,

“the point is not to get good at video, the point is to get good at video that drives business”.

Ultimately you want to create videos that prompt viewers to perform another action, such as download a white paper or ebook, for instance. This way you can track how many downloads occur as a result of your video, and attribute the pipeline generated from the download to the video campaign.

Using Strategic Calls to Action

In terms of businesses who are rockin’ the call to action, Ann gives props to Cisco. After creating a research paper, the company made a video to market their report.

As Ann tells us, Cisco used YouTube annotations as CTAs throughout their “Consider the Cupcake” video and they prompt viewers to download their content on a landing page listed at the end of the video.

This video-as-a-trailer-strategy works especially well if your content happens to be gated, as the video becomes a content preview that acts as an incentive for leads to fill out a form to download.

Cisco makes use of CTAs and annotations

Not only does Cisco gives their audience a clear path of action, but, as Ann notes, they also “market their marketing” with the use of video.

Key Ways to Rock the CTA

  • Based on Ann’s example, next time you’re creating a large text-based piece of content, create a short video as a trailer promoting that content. The video can reveal a few key points contained in your ebook or white paper and it’s call to action can prompt a download.
  • Care for more comments or a larger subscriber base? Get your video’s host to ask for this engagement directly within a video.
  • Be direct and use a strategic moment: Use clear language starting with a verb (i.e. “download the white paper”, “Click to learn more”, “Subscribe to our content”, etc.), and consider a pop-out CTA for a particularly opportune moment. If you’ve just announced a new product, for example, a pop-out CTA could direct viewers to where they can buy this product right away if interested.

For more practical ways to become a call to action pro, check out these awesome tips from Michael Litt.

Jennifer Pepper