How long should your video be?
Let’s start with some context. We are talking about the online videos you would use to promote your business or organisation, primarily in a business-to-business context. Although in some cases, these lined are increasingly blurred.
There is no universally correct answer that will apply in all cases, but there are some generally accepted principles you can apply to your own situation. These will help you start planning for your video content on the front foot.
- The key question is this: at which stage on their customer journey will the viewer encounter the video?
- A secondary, closely related consideration will be where will they view it: your website, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn etc?
It is much more likely your audience will be viewing videos on a PC or laptop at work. They will be on a quest, however casual, to find out more about a subject. They may not be specifically looking for a video (though increasingly people are), but they are looking for information, help, advice and guidance.
The underlying principle is to always keep your online video as short as possible. How short will depend on where the viewer is in their customer journey.
The optimal video length and the customer journey
The customer journey describes the stages someone will go through from never knowing about you to potentially buying from you.
There is a case for video production at every stage of the customer journey. In the perfect world, you would pull people through the stages in a scheduled organised manner.
The reality is that people may first encounter your business and your videos at any stage.
If your responsibility is to deliver warm leads to a commission hungry sales force, the bottom of the purchase funnel is the first place to start looking for video opportunities to promote yourself or product. If your job is to build brand awareness and educate the marketplace, you would start building your marketing strategy from the top down. (Read also: Video Marketing Tips: How to Improve Audience Retention)
Top of the Funnel – Short Videos for Gaining Interest
The less someone knows about you, the less time you have to grab their attention, let alone hold their interest and prompt them on to the next stage in the conversion process.
It is for this reason YouTube’s non-skippable video ad options are restricted to just 5, 15 and sometimes up to 30 seconds only.
The first objective any website video has to achieve is to hold attention for eight seconds.
Do this and it is reasonable to think you can go on for 30 seconds or even a minute with a video that is ostensibly presenting your business or your product in an elevator pitch kind of way.
Your video content has to provide enough information clearly and accurately to encourage the viewer to find out more. A strong call to action is always important in any video – people do like to be told what to do next.
The correct video duration will always come down to a combination of how relevant the video is to the viewer, how well it communicates key information pertinent to their situation and finally how honest it is. These are the same elements that apply all the way through the customer journey.
Mid-Funnel – Learning and Evaluation Videos can take longer
The next two stages in the customer journey to online purchase happen when interest becomes engagement. People can move from one to the other quickly. (read also: Top Video Engagement Measures)
The viewer starts investigating the options and choices available to them. They are receptive and open to more detailed descriptions and, if you hold their attention, they will invest the time required. They are likely to be finding out more about you as a business or about your products and services. You still have to get past the first eight seconds by confirming what the video is about.
Don’t forget that for many viewers this will be the first time they have come across your company and videos, so you still have to establish your credentials within the video.
At the learning stage the types of videos that will work best will be explainer videos, interviews, presentations, whitepapers extracts, annual report summaries, product launch’s … where you can have up to three minutes to tell your story. But again we say, brevity counts. If you can say it in 90 seconds then do so.
In the evaluation stage, the viewer’s attention turns to the question of how your product is going to solve their problem. You already know what these questions are if you provide FAQs and blog articles. You can convey a lot of information and show your credentials in three minutes with a well-constructed product demo or educational video, and if you can, do it in less!
Bottom of the Funnel – Justify and Purchase Videos
Your viewers are getting serious. If they have come through the purchase funnel from the top down you will know this and should have a good idea about what they are looking for. However, there will still be some who are encountering you for the first time at this stage. So the rules about brevity still remain.
Keeping it brief has been our theme throughout. When your potential customer reaches this stage they are asking questions of detail: about the product itself, what the risks are, how you will be as a supplier, do they need to buy now.
If you met them face to face you could spend an hour covering all of this. You wouldn’t make an hour long video, but you can make sets of shorter videos that deal with specific points of objections that commonly raised.
Where is your video viewed and for how long?
Throughout this article, we have described videos that will most likely sit on your website. Video lends itself to being easily re-purposed for showing on your relevant social media channels such as YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Vine, which are more likely to be b2c videos.
They all have different rules and ways of working and most of them prefer brevity. In the case of Instagram this is just 15 seconds, but what we really mean is that across all channels shorter durations works best for business videos.
Keep it short. Keep it relevant.