Chapter Four

Styles and types of video

There are SO many different kinds of videos you can make for your organization. From how-to content to case studies, explainers, and beyond—the possibilities are practically endless.

Plus, for every different type of video you can make, there are multiple different styles you can approach it from and different orientations you can shoot and share it in.

Wondering how to know which ones are right for your business and goals?

Learn more about the possibilities and test ones that seems like a good fit to see what works and what doesn’t.

How to choose the right video style

It’s highly likely your business will make lots of different kinds of videos.

Choosing the right video style for each one means thinking about your goals for that video, whether it’s evergreen content or a campaign. Some styles tend to pair better with some video types than others, but feel free to experiment—you don’t know for sure what will work for your audience until you try.

Live action video

Live action constitutes any video comprised of real-world footage, typically including real live people.

It’s one of the most common video styles, likely due in part to its sheer accessibility. Live action videos can range in production quality from smartphone clips up to professionally-produced films.

A lot of different types of video can be made using the live action style.

Animated video

Often used for explainer videos and brand stories, animation can be an incredibly engaging video style.

Sometimes as entertaining as your childhood favorite Saturday morning cartoons, and other times as practical as an illustration of a concept, there are a bunch of different video animation styles, including:

  • 2D animation videos
  • 3D animation videos
  • Motion graphic videos
  • Animated typography videos
  • Stop-motion animation videos (including cutout animation and claymation)

When it comes to different styles, 2D is typically the most classic-looking animation style, while 3D lends a more Pixar-type feel to characters.

Motion graphics are popular for explainer videos as they illustrate a concept in a clear, often minimalist, style. Animated typography works nicely for quotes and other videos where the text is the most important element.

Stop-motion involves using real objects and capturing movement one frame at a time. It can be done with a variety of materials, but some of the most popular are clay or plasticine (as used in claymation) and paper (as in cut-out animation). It tends to lend a whimsical feel to whatever is being animated.

Animation can even be combined with real-life footage, like HarperCollins Publishing did in a video promoting the latest edition of the Collins English Dictionary.

Text overlay video

Social media users often view video without sound; as much as 85% of Facebook video is watched on silent.

This has led to the rise of a style of video that pairs overlaid text with B-roll and/or still images (usually with a pan or zoom effect applied).

These text overlay videos are typically accompanied by a music track, which doesn’t fundamentally change the nature of the story but does enhance it for those who turn the sound on.

Well-suited for how-to videos or telling simple stories, text overlay videos were popularized by publishers like BuzzFeed. Their Tasty page makes frequent use of the format for sharing recipes, where ingredients and simple instructions appear as text overlaid on clips of the recipe being prepared.

Learn from the pros

Social media management platform Hootsuite shares text overlay videos regularly on social media.

Often based on information found in the company’s larger content pieces, the videos provide quick tips in text over a slow panning still image.

Live video

As the name suggests, live streaming video is broadcast as it happens so that viewers can watch in real-time.

Thought it’s available on a number of social media platforms, Facebook has been a big driver of the format.

Considered a distinct content type by the network, live video gets six times more interaction than regular Facebook video. Plus, notifications prompt users to watch live streams from pages they follow.

Live video is available on Instagram, YouTube, and a number of live-focused platforms (such as Twitch, which is popular with gamers).

A variety of video types can be broadcast this way, from live interviews to real-time announcements to as-it-happens tutorials.

Learn from the pros

Benefit Cosmetics made creative use of the live format with its Tipsy Tricks series. Each week, two hosts drank wine, shared a makeup tip, chatted about products, and fielded questions from viewers.

The broadcasts have received thousands of views.

360 degree video

An immersive video format, 360 degree video records a view in every direction at the same time using an omnidirectional camera or collection of cameras.

They can even be viewed through a headset that shows a viewer different parts of the scene depending on which direction they turn their head or on a standard screen, where the audience clicks or taps to change the view.

This format is a good choice for brands looking to put an interactive spin on their content. It works best when there is an immersive scene that includes points of interest in all directions.

Brands have used it effectively to provide a unique perspective on an activity, showcase a space or place, and to give viewers the experience of “being there.”

Learn from the pros

Antiperspirant makers Degree Men put viewers on the court with Stephen Curry in a 360 degree video that showcased the athlete’s signature move from a rarely seen perspective.

VR video

Virtual reality (VR) videos, though often confused with 360, allow the viewer not only to choose what part of the scene they view, but to interact with it as well.

Viewed through the same headset as 360 video, VR requires additional accessories—such as joysticks, gloves, and even suits—to make interaction possible.

Learn from the pros

Home improvement brand Lowe’s offered a virtual reality experience that allowed customers to learn how to tackle a DIY project by engaging in a VR tutorial.

Available in select US stores, the “Holoroom How To” resulted in 36% better recall from customers than watching a standard how to video.

Choose your own adventure video

Choose your own adventure video is an interactive format that lets the viewer have input regarding the direction of their story.

In online video, this effect is typically achieved by using annotations or CTA screens and a video chopped into pieces and grouped together in a playlist.

In 2017, Netflix started offering interactive streaming TV content. It started with children’s content—including shows like Puss in Boots: Trapped in an Epic Tale—and evolved from there. Notably, Netflix is creating a choose-your-own-adventure episode for sci-fi anthology series Black Mirror‘s fifth season.

How to choose the right type of video

Your organization’s video library will include all different types of video content. Start out by choosing a few formats you think work well for your brand and the story you want to tell, then test to see how your audience reacts.

Do more of what works, keep iterating, try new things, and don’t be afraid to mix and match different styles and types to find something that fits your vision—and meets your goals.

How-to videos

Good for: easing people from the discovery phase into the real meat of what you deliver.

One of the most popular types of educational videos, how-to videos explain to the viewer how to do something. These step-by-step tutorials can be entertaining as well as informative.

Since question queries are incredibly common in search, creating content that addresses them (and optimizing it) is a great way to show up in search results.

Consider creating this type of video to answer important customer questions in your industry. You can then use the end of the video to prompt the download of a piece of informative, mid-funnel content to help keep your viewer moving through the buyer journey.

Learn from the pros

The content marketers over at Kapost do a terrific job with helpful how-to video snippets. In short, informative blurbs they answer questions related to their specialty.

By becoming the experts who can answer the question clearly in just under a minute, they become the folks people want to do business with.

Jacob Collins, Video Producer at Kapost, explains: “We use video strategically by tying every single video into a campaign, event, or product feature. To maximize potential, we shoot only what we need, and put time into quality over quantity.”

Their videos include great calls to action prompting the download of another piece of content. This guides people to the next stage of the funnel where they’ll learn more about the Kapost solution.

Thought leadership videos or vlogs (a.k.a. talking head videos)

Good for: building thought leadership within your industry, establishing expertise on a given topic, educating your audience about a particular subject, and making a human connection.

Talking head videos are pretty much what the sound like: a person talking to the camera—either looking directly at it, or gazing slightly to the side (known as interview style).

Because the focus is on a single person, talking heads are great for establishing expertise on a topic and building thought leadership.

Talking head video tips

While this type of video is good for creating a connection with your viewers, the lack of visual stimuli means it’s not always engaging enough to hold audience attention for long.

Try mixing things up by using more than one camera and cutting between different perspectives (such as a tight shot and a wide shot), including B-roll, or shooting in front of a compelling backdrop.

If talking head videos are produced as a series, then they can be classified as a vlog (video-based blog in which individual videos replace blog posts).

Many companies use vlogs to answer FAQs, share updates, and introduce new products. The subject matter available for vlogging can be as wide and varied as it is with blogging.

When creating a company vlog or shooting talking head videos, be sure to think about who will be the face. You might choose one person or a small team who will trade off episodes.

Moz does this with their Whiteboard Friday videos, which often feature Rand Fishkin, but are sometimes hosted by other members of the Moz team.

We do it with our Chalk Talks. Tyler Lessard, VP of Marketing, is usually in front of the camera, but we sometimes feature other employees who are subject matter experts.

Learn from the pros

Software company Moz has built a brand for itself as being experts in search engine optimization through their highly-popular Whiteboard Friday videos.

A member of the Moz team explains a concept in front of a whiteboard that’s been filled with supporting material. Sometimes the whiteboard includes illustrations, sometimes it’s more of a summary of points.

Product explainer videos

Good for: the early, discovery stages of the buyer journey to educate buyers about your product or service and illustrate why they need it, generating leads, and nurturing prospective customers.

Product explainer videos are a useful format for explaining complicated products or services and increasing brand awareness. They are typically a high-level look at how the product solves a problem.

Because they’re high-level, explainer videos don’t need to show the actual product or service to be valuable, which means animation is a popular choice.

Explainer videos have the potential to be shareable content assets, so aim to make them engaging and try to connect with viewers on an emotional level.

You can create overview videos for each vertical or product line you offer. With these, you’re not looking to make a hard sell or pitch, but rather outlining the problem you know your customers have.

They should answer the question “what’s in it for me” from the perspective of your buyer.

Learn from the pros

Companies like Box.com have discovered that a play-by-play walkthrough of your audience’s actual tasks can be a pretty effective introduction to the product.

Rather than being about Box.com directly, the video focuses on how a marketer can use Box to solve everyday problems and make their job easier.

By calling out familiar scenarios (like a marketing budget cut) and how their solution helps, this video is all about observable utility and serves as a terrific demo which could be used in follow-up emails to leads who want to see the product in action.

Demo videos

Good for: helping buyers justify their decision to purchase, email follow up, lead generation, and addressing the end of the funnel.

Similar to explainer videos, demo videos explain how your product or service actually works. However, because they come in later in the marketing funnel (typically somewhere from the middle toward the end), they need to be more detailed about specific features and functions.

Product demo videos show viewers the value of your product, rather than just telling them. In the retail industry or other spaces with physical products, this could even include unboxing videos that showcase the packaging and product, showing potential customers what to expect.

Your audience should be nodding along in agreement with you at all times—your goal is to show them you understand their world.

Interested in an online video platform? Check out Vidyard’s six-minute demo.

Learn from the pros

Employee advocacy platform PostBeyond has a two-minute product tour that explains what their product is, what it does, and why you need it.

Brand and culture videos

Good for: reaching new audiences as well as building brand awareness and affinity.

Brand and culture videos are ones that tell your audience about your brand and what you stand for. They’re an opportunity to have some fun and get creative. Creative holiday, about us, and company culture videos can all fit into this category.

Learn from the pros

For their 200th anniversary, HarperCollins Publishing took viewers through some of their most notable titles in a nostalgia-inducing video that acquainted viewers with the brand’s long history.

Case study videos (a.k.a. customer stories or testimonial videos)

Good for: the justification and evaluation stage of the funnel when buyers are considering whether you solve their specific pain points.

Arguably, case studies are one of the most important video types in your collection. Lots of B2B buyers will search for customer testimonials when they come to your website.

Hot tip

Don’t have the budget for a high-production case study video? Never fear, powerful customer stories are still within your reach.

Try asking happy customers to record a short testimonial video—answering a few basic questions you send them—using their webcam.

Vidyard GoVideo is an easy-to-use free tool that makes it simple for anyone to shoot a simple video of themselves.

A testimonial is the stamp of approval from other businesses and filming a great one is the perfect way to showcase how your solution fits into multiple industries, how it solves common customer problems, and how you go above and beyond (even post-sale) to deliver customer success.

When developing a testimonial video, never underestimate the power of B-roll, ask leading questions versus the typical Q&A, and always find a way to position your customer as a the hero of the story.

Learn from the pros

Google has a variety of mini-customer stories called Google Stories that show how real people use their technology. Most are less than two minutes long.

In one, an artist explains how he uses Google Street View to paint places all over the world—and how he’s created a community of others passionate about doing the same.

Webinars and recorded webinars

Good for: educating potential customers about issues related to your industry, generating leads to add to targeted email lists, and guiding prospects further along the funnel.

Most companies treat webinars as digital events with virtual attendees who have registered in advance to watch the session (generating a lead for the company).

Like standard webinars, pre-recorded webinars can be scheduled for a specific date and time. Or they can simply be published on your organization’s website, whether that’s on a landing page, in a resource hub, or embedded in a blog post.

When planning new webinars, think about how you plan to repurpose them from the get-go. If you want short videos, design your webinar so that the recording can easily be carved into bite-sized video clips to be used in ongoing content marketing programs.

If you build out topics strategically—mapping each to a particular question a buyer has along their journey with your product, for example—these videos can act as the perfect stepping stone along the buyer journey.

Interview videos

Good for: building your video library, brand awareness, content reuse

on various channels (blog, YouTube, social media, etc.), and attracting leads with

industry-specific interests.

Interview-style videos are a great way to give your video collection a boost and attract an audience who cares about your industry and what you have to offer.

They can have one fixed camera, or can be shot on multiple cameras and edited together for a more dynamic feel. They can have one person on-camera, talking head-style, who’s being interviewed with their interviewer off-camera.

They can focus on things like advice, trends, company culture, and more. Get creative: try filming an ask me anything (AMA) session with your CEO or a fireside chat Q&A with a partner company.

One-to-one videos

Good for: making personal connections with individual people.

One-to-one video—known as personal video and sometimes selfie video—is video created and sent by one person directly to another.

Unlike the one-to-many broadcast approach used with the majority of marketing video content, one-to-one videos are not content that’s created for a large group but rather an audience of one.

For instance, public relations professionals can use one-to-one video for:

  • Pitching stories to publications by creating individual videos for each publication they’re reaching out to
  • Responding to reporter requests
  • Pitching someone from the organization (such as the CEO) as a speaker for a conference or event

Learn from the pros

Vidyard’s own Sandy Pell, Senior Manager of Corporate Communications, adopted the one-to-one video approach in her pitching.

Her video pitches—including story and speaker pitches—have received nearly 50% higher engagement than text-based ones.

Promo videos (a.k.a. teaser videos)

Good for: brand awareness, increasing traffic to your blog or asset-specific landing pages, and lead generation.

Most companies already have text-based content marketing assets—like reports or guides—to promote, and one of the best ways to make the most of these pieces is with a fun video designed to promote more downloads.

Promo videos can work well for big events, virtual conferences, and more.

When brainstorming new content pieces, consider the bigger story you can wrap these up in, and the top-of-funnel video you could use as the asset’s promo or commercial, so to speak.

Personalized videos

Good for: surprising and delighting prospects and customers alike and making a personal connection.

Personalized video marketing brings the audience into the story by weaving personal details for each individual viewer into the video. Personalization can include things like:

  • Name
  • Title
  • Headshot or photo
  • Company name

Personalized video messages can increase response rates, wow customers, and help your business stand out from the crowd. Learn more about using personalized video to boost conversions in our Chalk Talk on the subject.

Learn from the pros

PortoBay Hotels used personalized video to help maintain their mailing list when General Data Protection Regulations (GDRP) came into effect in the European Union.

They needed to get people to opt-in to receiving ongoing communications from them and knew a basic email wasn’t going to cut it.

They ran a personalized video campaign that resulted in a whopping 65% of their database opting in for future messages from the brand. The example below has been personalized for Marta Uceda.

Now that you’ve got an idea of what types of videos you can make (and in what styles and orientations), it’s time to determine what to do with them.

Carry on to Chapter 5 to learn about video optimization and distribution.