Crafting Customer Engagement Part Two
Welcome to article two of four, focusing on how you can use video to create the perfect customer engagement experience. You can find lots more great information in part one.
The application of video to brand communication does not require re-inventing the wheel. Many of the principles that go into compelling copy, good visual design and clever UX will help you produce high-quality video content. The key to video production relies on pulling together elements of other mediums and executing the best practices of each simultaneously.
With that said, there are unique elements to video. For example, you will have access to visual elements (the timing of cuts, the length of the video and the incorporation of movement), along with extensive capabilities to play with sound design that just aren’t present in other forms of communication.
If you want to succeed with video marketing, there are six important principles that you should follow:
1. Keep it short
For online videos, one of the most important considerations is length. One-fifth of viewers abandon a video within the first 10 seconds. That's the amount of time you have to engage your audience. Your video should immediately address its viewer's first concern: "why should I watch this?" Whether because it will inspire them, make them laugh, or answer their burning question, give them the confidence that it's worth it from the first second.
Get to the substance of your video right away. Keep your opening logos and theme music as short as possible — think in terms of microseconds. This is important to grab your viewer’s attention, and if you want them to watch a number of your videos in a row, the longer your opening matter is, the more they will resent its repetition.
2. Match the pacing with the audience
Related to length is the question of pacing. This will, of course, depend on the amount and type of information being covered, but the proper pace is always a major consideration. Effective videos move quickly, but not so quickly as to be confusing.
Usually, you’ll want to prioritize speed. Your videos should never bore the viewer, and a slow pace or dragged-out opening is the surest way to make that happen. If you can’t move through the material quickly enough without it feeling cluttered, you probably have too much in there and should try to streamline it.
3. Engage with the senses
The major strength of video is its ability to engage multiple senses at once. Don’t miss any opportunity to do so. Movement, light, color, sound, music, and the speed and rhythms of editing are all assets to be considered for every video project.
Audio, text, and graphics should be used to provide incidental information without interrupting the flow of the video. For example, rather than having a character recite a statistic, which consumes valuable screen time and often sounds unwieldy, that statistic can be superimposed as text or an infographic. This allows you to streamline what the viewer is supposed to be paying the most attention to, and leave the asides where they belong: on the side.
4. Make it feel real
With few exceptions, allow your characters’ natural speech to be used as much as possible. Video excels at showing real people, realistically. Especially today, as we encounter more and more candid video material, viewers can spot when dialogue is overly written or heavy-handed. What looks natural on the page often sounds wrong when spoken, especially if you’re using non-professional actors. Today’s consumers are savvy, and especially dislike disingenuous or fake-seeming material. Very often, it’s a good principal to let people speak for themselves.
5. Never be boring
Not every subject is most effectively handled with a light touch, but remember: people typically want nothing more than to be entertained, and are constantly on the lookout for ways they can achieve that satisfaction. There are many varieties of entertainment, and you should ensure that your videos always contain at least one of them. In a plugged-in world with thousands of choices vying for attention, to be boring is to go unheard.
6. Tell a story
Storytelling is key to not being boring, and it’s also key to connecting on an emotional level. Contemporary marketing psychology understands that it is stories, far more than facts or figures, that influence buyers' decisions.
The basic elements of a story will be familiar to you: a person with a desire or goal must overcome conflict to achieve it. The most mundane scenarios can be made interesting by embedding them into this structure. Whenever possible, tell a story in your video. Video is perfectly optimized for storytelling.
A story and its parts: brand storytelling explained
Brand storytelling is a way of marketing that uses the art of narrative to reach your audiences and give your brand a recognizable, relatable character. Obviously, video excels above other forms of communication for telling stories in the modern age, as attested historically by the gradual dominance of first film, then television, and now online videos over competing media.
Besides the possibility of showing a literal “plot” for customers to relate to on-screen, video offers a variety of subtler storytelling techniques geared towards expressing mood, atmosphere, feelings, and the all-important aesthetic sensibilities for your audience to recognize and relate to.
Light, color, sound, music, and the speed and rhythms of editing combine into a multi-sensory experience, and each of these various components of the video medium is an opportunity to strengthen your client’s brand. Moving the viewer to recognize your brand in the essence of the video is key, and every design decision involved in your videos — from shot composition, colors, fonts, voices, music, actors, the general sensibility or aesthetic — contributes to driving a ‘brand’ home for the viewer, making it a name they’ll remember.
Whenever possible, take the opportunity to subtly remind viewers whose video they’re enjoying.
Building the right narrative
Picking all of the lighting and tempo choices required to convey a brand is an evolving process. A lot of those choices come down to the narrative and story that you want to tell — it comes down to deciding what that brand stands for and who it serves. Consult with your clients about the image they want to portray.
Use these questions as a starting point:
- What is your brand offering?
- What need does that fulfill? / What problem does it solve?
- Who has this problem/need?
Having answered those questions, you have, in reverse order, the crucial elements of a story: a person, problem, and solution.
Step 1: Who is the customer?
The "hero" of your story represents the customer, and you must offer a character your audience can identify with. In a short piece such as a marketing video, a group of people can stand-in for the individual just as well. The important thing is that they look, sound, or act in ways that your audience can relate to.
This isn't limited to mirroring your audience in superficial details like age or clothing style (although this can be important). Any likeable traits can make a character engaging, even an outlandish one. Humorousness is especially effective. So, your characters should appeal to your audience as being either like them, or unlike them in a pleasing way.
Example: Doller Shave Club | Our Blades Are F***ing Great
Who doesn’t remember this ad coming out? It was a bit irreverent (maybe still is) and a shocking approach to advertising. But when you look closely, it successfully employs many of the above principles, while offering viewers that “hero” they can identify with. He’s a handsome guy with a great shave, informing viewers about a new way to purchase razors that, A) won’t break the bank, and B) relieves them of the need to even remember to purchase blades on their regular (or irregular) shopping trips. At a minute-and-a-half, it’s not terribly short, but it certainly does tell a great story and doesn’t bore the viewer from the second our hero starts speaking.
Step 2: What do they want?
This is where you address your customers’ desires and challenges. Of course, the desire of your characters could simply be whatever it is the product offers. Or, their goal could be something more abstract but still relatable, such as fitting in with a certain group, or having a lifestyle they’d prefer.
Simplicity is key to video marketing, so companies offering a product with more complicated or specialized uses might be advised not to lean on this straightforward story approach. The actual conflict of your video's story doesn't have to relate to your product in a literal way. It should, however, be relatable to your audience.
Example: Warby Parker | Oh Hi, We're Warby Parker
Another direct-to-consumer brand (and like DSC, one of the first), Warby Parker really changed the game by offering consumers a new way to purchase eyewear. In their introductory ad, they quickly address customers’ desires (trendy prescription glasses) and challenges (astronomical pricing for said trendy glasses). The ad does an excellent job of keeping it short at just 29 seconds, matching audience pacing (not too quick, not too slow), and engaging with the senses by using imagery that the viewer can relate to paired with a narrative that’s easy to follow.
Step 3: How do they get it?
By showing your character trying to achieve their goal, you strengthen the audience's emotional connection to your character as they become invested in the outcome. In other words, it becomes their own desired outcome.
It goes without saying that a positive outcome is crucial to a successful marketing video. So, the story comes to an end when the character either achieves their goal or has an unexpected gain as a result of their journey — in which case, the original goal has become irrelevant. The latter is an effective way to resolve a narrative in a surprising way.
Example: Volkswagen | Mini Darth Vader
We’d be remiss not to include a Super Bowl ad on one of these lists! This ad dates back to 2011 but is no less joyful to watch today. Interestingly, Volkswagen’s Mini Darth Vader ad follows the example of a positive outcome with an unexpected twist, but it gives the potential car-buyer what they need to know, regardless of the story’s “hero.” It feels real, giving viewers a glimpse into a life that is likely not far off from their own, or at least certainly believable. It tells a great story in a short amount of time, keeping the viewer engaged every step of the way. In the end, the child achieves what he (or she) is looking for, and the family has a safe and dependable car, with innovative new features to boot.
What is possible with a good story
There are an inexhaustible variety of ways to incorporate these story fundamentals into your video content. Even a video of a person simply speaking to the camera can be structured in such a way as to suggest a narrative, and become more engaging because of it.
For example, a representative from the company can explain why the company was founded in the first place: to address a need not currently being met. Similarly, consider a video wherein a customer explains a problem they were having and the solution they found: your client's product. In both cases we have a character/problem/solution story built-in, and with the right choice of details, this structure can be emphasized.
People want stories. Use your marketing content to provide them.
Speaking of good stories, we recently sat down with four of the world’s largest creative agencies - FCB, Wavemaker, GMR and Mustache - to learn how they’ve adapted to the new realities of producing video content. Thanks to the incredible insight each gave us into their remote video production workflows and customer successes, we've been able to create the go-to playbook and report for any creatives producing video right now;
Click here to head back to the main hub and read the rest of our customer engagement series. Or book some time below with Gabrielle to find out how Curator can streamline your production workflow and increase your ability to move, manage, and monetize your assets, leaving you free to spend more time creating. 👇🏼👇🏼👇🏼