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Marketing insights: Video editors on how to improve engagement rates

US SaaS video platform SundaySky revealed that 89% of businesses they approached plan to continue or increase their current level of investment in video in the future.

We talked to those responsible for making video marketing content and got their insight into improving the basic product, alongside clicks and engagement.

Get to the point fast, or don’t bother

Noel Mellor, lecturer & programme leader in digital video production and marketing at Salford University, is a big advocate of factoring in attention spans and the deluge of video content available.

“I think the main thing people underestimate with video content is audience attention spans. There is so much content being thrown at people these days, that if you don’t get to the point immediately, you might as well not even bother.

“Every second counts, especially on social media, so if you spend the first five seconds setting the scene with slow building shots or corporate logos, chances are half your intended audience will scroll on by.”

Create a hook in the first ten seconds

Hannah Kimuyu, managing director of Brave Bison Performance, echoes the need for immediacy.

“Create a hook – the initial ten seconds can make all the difference. And length is important. Are you creating a one-off message, or do you want your customers coming back for more? Less than one minute for fun, interesting moments, announcements, or teasers. One to three minutes if you’re developing a narrative.”

Visual effects and 3d animations can make your video stand out

Ryan Burnham, director & co-founder at The Berry agrees on creating that initial hook.

“Creating instant impact and the ‘what’s going to happen next’ factor all happens within the second. Tiktok in particular is a powerful – and addictive – tool that, if approached in the correct creative manner, provides endless, organic results and engagement.

“Our recent learnings prove that standing out immediately is key. It’s all about those first 25 frames of video.

“One way to grab attention is through visual effects (VFX) and 3D animations that instantly retain an audience through ‘stand out’ creative; something that ultimately propels a brand, product, sport, story and the like into big-hitting views and clicks.

“The vibrancy and originality of short form VFX and 3D content really work, not just in the UK but also for global reach, international platforms and vast audience engagement.”

Concentrate on what the viewer wants

Rather than assuming you know your audience, many of our experts recommend relying on a set of insights into what the audience actually wants.

Rob Steeles, creative director, at Eleven Miles boasts 20 years’ experience in the video industry.

“The holy grail of creating videos is to make it so good and relevant that it gets shared. An audience reached organically proves your films are cutting through and whoever is watching is generally interested in what you’re serving up. And they will be hungry for more.

“It’s staggering how many brands are creating content which is just about them. Brands assume the audience wants to hear from them or their latest products or services. It’s the wrong approach, for pretty much any medium, but more so with film.

“So flip this, let’s make a story about a truth in your audience’s lives. Let’s bake that into a story and create a moment within that where the brand has a positive impact. Less selling, more telling. This approach gets the viewer emotionally involved in what your brand has to say, making it harder to skip past, and more likely to be watched, liked and shared.”

Set out clear objectives

Likewise, George Hughes, creative director at Small Films, has years of experience having been a producer and director for the BBC and Channel 4.

“To truly unleash your company’s potential with video, you need to start with a solid bedrock for your video campaign. This is formed by having a clear understanding of your objectives, the audience you are trying to reach and the outcomes you want to deliver. This will help you to not only create video content that resonates with your customers, but also allow you to optimise your video campaign to deliver more impact and connect with them on a deeper level.

“Without it, all the best camera work, clever editing and whizzy gimmicks will be ineffective. This bedrock will enable you to choose the right video production company to partner with so you can come up with the right creative ideas and execute your videos to the highest standard for the budget available.

“Make sure you always take your viewer on a journey by telling a compelling story that will keep them engaged throughout. This story could be verbally communicated with voiceover over a few minutes or it could be through just a section of shots that lasts just six seconds.”

Luke Batley, head of marketing at Progeny, concurs with the audience-first approach.

“Getting the most out of your video marketing is essentially about really understanding your target audience and tailoring your content to them. Traditionally, businesses have tended to focus on what messages they wanted to broadcast but they really need to be focusing on what problems their customers need solving and what questions they need answering. It has to be a customer-first approach when it comes to producing engaging video marketing.”

Ask the audience and know your medium

The measurable aspects of video marketing, such as click-through rates and engagement, can also be tweaked and improved by call to actions and aspect ratios.

Alicia Van der Meer, digital marketing manager of Monumental and video expert offers some practical tips.

“The most effective way to improve your video engagement is by asking viewers a question. Tell users to comment by answering the question, and your engagement will rise.

“Also, use a strong call to action (CTA) to increase clicks – using annotations and CTAs will help you tell the audience what you want them to do by the end of the video. It’s important to do this throughout the entire video, not just at the end or beginning, to get leads, subscribers, or other details from your audience who engaged with the content but perhaps didn’t watch the whole video.”

Hannah at Brave Bison Performance advocates concentrating on mobile-first.

“Ninety percent of consumers watch videos on their mobile first. The first three seconds are critical to avoid being missed. Consider both 1:1 (square) and 9:16 (vertical) ratio to make the most of your mobile real-estate and get close-up shots. And 69% of consumers watch video with sound off in public places, yet 80% would watch a video to completion if captions were available.”

And if you are looking for an immediate practical solution, then Replai, a video analytics platform for creatives, may have the answer.

According to their research, videos with the loudest intros have the fewest impressions in terms of display ads. The best CTR came from ads with a moderate volume intro, contrasting with noisy intros, which suffer with the worst click-through rate.