“To the victor go the spoils,” is a truism in politics, love, war, and video marketing.

You see, while video will soon account for 82 percent of all internet traffic, its gains are unevenly distributed. A few champions enjoy the lion’s share of views, engagement, and outcomes. The rest of the videos—the great majority of them—languish in obscurity on the lonely side of the bell curve.

Just look at Luis Fonsi’s Despacito, the top YouTube video at the time of writing. It has over 3.8 billion views—that’s 62,000 times more than the average YouTube video. He’s among an elite 1 percent of video creators who attract 93 percent of all views on YouTube according to Digital Music News.

Now, as we know, views aren’t everything. Actual engagement and impact matter a whole lot more, as does how you promote it and who you’re promoting it to. But when a video doesn’t get views, it’s unlikely to hit those other metrics, and that’s often due to a common mistake.  

Here are the top 8 reasons almost all videos fail:

1. The video wasn’t relevant

Your videos shouldn’t try to be everything to everyone. Your buyers expect a high degree of personalization from your video marketing and if they don’t get indicators that the video is specifically for them, they’ll tune out. If you can tailor your videos to verticals like healthcare startups and BPO providers, replete with images of hospitals and call centers, they’ll see far greater success than videos targeted to ‘businesses.’

The solution: Break content up into multiple, targeted videos. Or, use video personalization to personalize elements of each video and make it appear bespoke to each viewer. Click here to see your own personalized video!

2. The video was entertaining, and nothing more

Have you ever laughed really hard at a commercial and then thought, “Who was that for again?” If so, that advertiser wasted a tremendous amount of money. In this age where most marketers are trying to stop interrupting people and instead become what they’re interested in, they can overdo it. If your video doesn’t drive viewers toward a goal, it isn’t marketing. It’s just entertainment.

The solution: Devise a video strategy so that your videos drive viewers toward goals like engagement, shares, leads, or pipeline.

3. The video’s goals didn’t match its budget

You must make a choice with each video: high budget or low budget? As long as you pick one, it will resonate. If you don’t, the video will appear to be trying to be something that it’s not. This happens when marketers try to fake big budgets with lots of animations and over-wrought intro music, or when they cram otherwise simple videos full of actors, settings, and effects that don’t add any value. Sort of like most movies directed by Michael Bay.

The solution: Think about your video library as a pyramid. At the top are high-cost, agency-produced videos. Spend money on those. The rest of the pyramid—the vast majority of your content—make do with a low budget. Just look at our chalk talks, which are each the cost of one pack of colored chalk.

4. The video was cringeworthy

Approval processes exist for a reason. There are plenty of inside jokes and zany video plots that sound like flashes of inspiration but which shouldn’t see the light of day. Many are released anyway because teams protect their idea—sometimes to avoid criticism, sometimes for the sake of surprise—to disastrous results. (Looking at you, Pepsi.)

For an example you probably haven’t seen, look at Mellow Mushroom’s commercial below. What sounded funny on paper ends up visually associating their pizza with indigestion.

The solution: Run unusual video ideas by executives and trusted customer advocates. As is often the case, if you have to ask, you probably already know the answer.  

5. The video was boring

It can be difficult to assess how interesting your audiences will find your videos. Sometimes, it’s due to subject matter. You’re the expert, after all, and you’re bound to find things like lead de-duplication and neural networks fascinating. Other times, it’s due to execution. Slow pacing, predictable dialog, artificial emotions, and canned lines can leave your film looking like it came from the high school drama department.

The solution: Conduct user research to ensure that your video topics actually get prospects and customers excited. Then, use storytelling techniques to make sure that the excitement comes across.

6. The team didn’t measure deeper analytics

As with so many fields, in video marketing, ‘data-driven’ is often more of a mantra than an actual practice. Despite the fact that videos are linear and can track user behavior in a uniquely insightful way, not all companies are using a video analytics platform. Of those who do, not all are actually basing decisions on the data.

The solution: Use a video analytics platform to see precisely where views are interested, where they drop off, and use this data to optimize future videos.

7. The video was too long

The data is definitively in: people want shorter videos. Only the top 5 percent of videos retain 77 percent of viewers until the last second. The average video retains only 37 percent of viewers right up until the end. People trail off gradually starting at the beginning until almost no one is left. That means if you want something to reach the greatest number of eyeballs, you have to put it at the start.  

The solution: Shorten your videos, yes, but also front-load value. Like Quentin Tarantino, start with the middle or the end and then work back. Turn it into a mystery, but get that information out when you have the greatest number of eyeballs.

8. The thumbnail or title didn’t scream, “click me!”

It’s not uncommon for marketers to spend hours scripting and shooting a video only to allow their video software to choose the thumbnail. The result is often a still that doesn’t include any text or context, or has someone sneezing. That’s like writing a novel and forgetting to give it a cover, or writing a play and forgetting to sell tickets.

The solution: Make your thumbnails click-worthy by turning them into ‘movie posters’ for the video. Use a headshot of one of the main actors (especially a highly expressive one) and text that hints at the content but raises questions. Then, A/B test and optimize for click-success.

Hungry for even more video marketing tips? Read 50 video marketing stats that prove you’re doing it right.

Chris Gillespie