When planning your B2B video content, there’s no shortage of variables to take into consideration. What topic should it cover? How long should it be? Where should you promote it? How long should it be? Is animated or live action better? For Pete’s sake … how long should it be?!
While all of these questions are extremely important – and can have a big impact on your video’s success – it seems like you have one particularly pressing question regarding the length of your video. And you’re right to be asking that question, because if your home page video is eight minutes long, it doesn’t matter if you have puppies, fireworks, or your charismatic CEO taking the lead role, you’re still going to see the majority of your viewers drop off pretty quickly.
B2B videos on YouTube and Google with hits in the hundreds of thousands, or even millions, tend to be 90–120 seconds in length. But that’s a pretty generic range and a statement that should be considered carefully. Among other things, video length is dependent on the video’s ultimate goal and the target viewer’s funnel stage (and therefore a viewer’s level of investment and commitment to you). Also … those view counts don’t necessarily equal success (did that viewer reach out to you? did they convert?).
But hey, while our filing cabinets may not be busting at the seams with hard science on the optimal length of videos for different stages of the funnel (we’re workin’ on it!), we do have some best practices and guidelines that will help you address the pressing ‘video length’ question.
A Word on Distribution Channels
Before I dive in to video length, consider this: no two distribution channels are created equal, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a video that has the same optimal length on every channel. According to Cisco, their B2B content caps out at 60-90 seconds on YouTube, but can go as long as 2-3 minutes on their homepage. Ever wondered why Vine caps its video length at 6 seconds, and Instagram videos won’t go longer than 15 seconds? Time is contextual, and experimentation is key.
A great example of short, sweet video content designed for a YouTube audience is Cisco’s TechWiseTV trailer. TechWiseTV is a 45 minute gated piece of content, but this quick sub-60 second trailer is enough information for most viewers to decide if they want to watch the full deal.
Short, sweet and informative – everything your top-of-funnel viewers need.
Educate, Inspire, And Engage – Top-Of-Funnel Videos
Cisco’s YouTube strategy is an excellent segue into the first step of your marketing funnel – early-stage content. This content doesn’t have a sales message, in fact, your prospects may not even know they have the problem you’re out to solve … yet. So the point here is to build awareness about that problem, and let potential customers come to you.
Top-of-funnel videos might include:
- animated explainers
- culture videos
- fun, promo style videos showcasing other content assets
The general guideline for top-of-funnel videos is 30-90 seconds.
The more entertaining or engaging you can make this content, the better chance there is that it will capture and hold attention (and maybe even shared!). GE’s Datalandia is a stellar example of this:
You may not want to purchase any of GE’s Enterprise-level data connectivity software or hardware right away – and that’s not the point – but you can’t help but laugh at the content in this video … and so the journey begins.
Viewers at this stage of the funnel aren’t hooked on you or your product yet. In fact, they’re really just passing by. So make it catchy and keep it short. If you do this well, you’ll have time to get into the heat of things later on.
Dive Deeper Into Your Solution – Mid-Funnel Videos
By the time a prospect has made it to the middle of your sales funnel, it’s safe to assume that they know enough about the problem to actively engage with your marketing materials. Mid-funnel content is ripe for diving into why your solution works.
Mid-funnel videos might be:
- helpful how-to snippets
- thought leadership pieces
- recorded webinars
The general guideline for mid-funnel video length is between 2 and 10 minutes. (The list above is organized from shorter to longer appropriate lengths).
Using longer video content for mid-funnel marketing isn’t a bad thing – webinars are a great example of content you can gate that interested prospects will dive into. As is Cisco’s TechWiseTV: you watch the 60 second trailer, express interest via their web form, and are given access to the 45 minute targeted video. Beware of making your content too long though, as the chance even an interested prospect will sit through an extra long video is slim. For example, here’s an engagement graph for a 60 minute webinar:
As you can see, there is a dedicated audience willing to stick around for about 10 minutes, but after that it gets pretty dicey. Use 10 minutes as an informal cut-off point, and chop a 50 minute webinar into 5 smaller 10 minute videos. You’ll see a much better engagement rate on the short videos, and if a prospect watches all 5, then you have a very qualified lead on your hands!
Some Final Notes on The Final Stage
Late-stage video, much like other content, is highly targeted, and very specific.
Some bottom-of-funnel videos are:
- customer testimonials
- detailed product tours
- step-by-step video tutorials
- customized sales presentation videos
- pricing videos
Timing can range significantly here, but viewers are certainly more apt to consume 5, 10, or maybe more minutes of video.
In this stage of the funnel, videos are often used more for conversation support than independently consumed pieces of content. However, having made it this far, you can bet that leads are interested in you and find value in the content you produce. As a result, they’ll have more time to dedicate their attention to helpful video content.
Give your buyer all the information they need to go from viewer to customer, and you’ll be on your way!
Find Out What YOUR Audience’s Preferred Length Is
Keep in mind that these are just general guidelines. It’s important to remember that your audience is just that: yours. It’s crucial to experiment and measure what your target’s preferred length is.
One way to do this is to measure attention span on your own videos. Where are your viewers dropping off? Categorize your videos like we did here: for their funnel location and/or the type of video and analyze your videos in aggregate within each category. Do mid-funnel videos consistently start to lose their audience between 100 and 125 seconds? Then you should keep all videos below that 100 second mark.
Remember to test this in aggregate, as testing only a single video may lead to conclusions that are actually influenced by other factors like content, script, quality of production, and the hundreds of other attributes that can contribute to video performance!
Have you found success with optimizing your videos’ length through the funnel? Share your experiences in the comments!