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4 Ways to Convince Your Boss to Make Episodic Video Content

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Back in the day (approximately three short years ago), we wrote a little blog post about how to convince your boss that you need video in your marketing mix. Flash-forward to the end of 2019, and the value of video is simply a no-brainer. However, some businesses are still sticking to the same old strategies, and truth be told, the times have changed yet again. In today’s marketing landscape, you can’t depend on e-books, video email signatures, or one-off videos for social media to help you stand out amongst the competition and grow a strong, well-loved brand.

Getting people to genuinely like your brand through traditional marketing strategies and digital advertising is harder than ever, and we need a new way to engage an audience that’ll truly foster an affinity for our businesses. So, what are we getting at here? Well, as you may have noticed lately, we’re going all in on episodic video content (and we think you should too!). Most of us dedicate entire Saturdays to binge-watching series like Stranger Things and The Handmaid’s Tale because the content is just that good. So, why can’t businesses get in on the game?

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We’re not saying your company should shell out millions of dollars to create an original series with A-list actors. But luckily, creating an episodic series for your company within the constraints of a marketing budget is not impossible, either. We know a ton of businesses from a wide array of industries are doing that as we speak, and we even did it ourselves at Wistia with our docu-series, One, Ten, One Hundred, and our latest talk show for marketers, Brandwagon. While this may sound like an ambitious venture, an episodic video series is an evergreen piece of content that can generate a ton of different benefits for your brand and your business.

If you’re already completely sold on this idea, that’s great! Now, it’s just time to get your boss on board. In this post, we’ve gathered the evidence you need to support your pitch for making an episodic video series and why it should be your company’s next big marketing move.

Content strategies

To be seen as a leader and an innovator in your industry, ranking at the top of search queries with traditional content strategies isn’t as easy as it used to be. The sheer density of written content today is overwhelming when you look at the numbers. For example, according to 2018 internet statistics, over four million blog posts are published every single day. When you take a minute to assess that stat, differentiating your brand through written content on the web seems like a shout into the void for many businesses, unless they’ve already established a loyal fan base.

Patrick Campbell, CEO of ProfitWell, a subscription software company, is someone who has dwelled over the decreasing effectiveness of e-books and blog posts for his business. This influenced the company to shift its strategy to creating episodic series for niche audiences, which has become one of their primary marketing vehicles. With his background in data-science, Campbell uncovered that the average cost of creating a written e-book cost more for ProfitWell than their new strategy of creating shows like Pricing Page Teardown. And as a result, Campbell proclaimed that this episodic content strategy is having an incredible impact on the business while building their brand in unprecedented ways.

“Campbell uncovered that the average cost of creating a written e-book cost more for ProfitWell than their new strategy of creating shows like Pricing Page Teardown.”

Advertising strategies

In terms of traditional advertising, we’re no stranger to seeing a campaign we put our hearts and souls (and a couple of million dollars) into not meet our expectations. For a brief overview of what happened a few years back, our co-founders, Chris Savage and Brendan Schwartz, explained at our live-streamed event “Change the Channel” that Wistia spent $2 million on an ad campaign consisting of web ads, billboards, and NPR spots. The campaign got us 43 million impressions. However, it got us no more traffic than one relatively successful blog post.

This was one of the most expensive mistakes we’ve ever made. What was the main problem, you ask? Well, we underestimated the fact that digital advertising doesn’t actually make people like you (regardless of how cute the ad is) and no one wants to be bothered by unsolicited ads. Your chances of building brand affinity with a witty tagline or targeted 10-second video ad won’t convince people to become loyal advocates of your brand.

Want to learn more about Brand Affinity Marketing? Check out our new four-step playbook for all the nitty-gritty details.

Furthermore, creating compelling and entertaining video ads powerful enough to garner new brand fans like some of the best Superbowl spots is unattainable for most small and medium-sized businesses. Even a well-known brand like Nike can’t consistently maintain virality or a positive image with their creative campaigns in the minds of consumers. For small and medium-sized businesses out there trying to compete with the caliber of Superbowl ads, it’s time to think about casting your net around niche audiences and getting them to spend more time with your brand. And the best way to do that is through valuable and entertaining episodic content.

Another strong case for creating a video series is based on the way users choose to consume media. In this binge-watching era, users are embracing the trend of watching video content for several hours straight when it’s worthwhile and engaging.

When you invest in creating long-form content that offers value and entertainment for a niche audience, the increase in time spent with your brand for one engaged individual is significant. There’s no comparison when you think about someone who willingly watched 10 minutes of a single 25-minute episode of your show and someone who was forced to watch a 10-second video ad upwards of seven times on social media. Echoing the last argument we made, people often show disdain toward unsolicited ads on social when they go there to be distracted, entertained, or informed.

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Dan Slagen of ThriveHive, a SaaS company providing guided marketing solutions for small businesses, is someone who can attest to episodic series’ positive impact on time spent with a brand. Based on data from analyzing peoples’ viewing habits of their series Locals, which brings you behind the scenes of local businesses, ThriveHive has found that people who make it to the three or five-minute mark of an episode are most likely to watch all the way through. That simply means that when the right people in your audience discover your series, they have the potential to watch a ton of it. Tell that one to your boss!

“ThriveHive has found that people who make it to the three or five-minute mark of an episode are most likely to watch all the way through.”

Binge-worthy content is also the most scalable type of product your business can offer your audience. Follow the lead of media companies who’ve developed an effective social media advertising strategy that doesn’t get on people’s nerves. For series like The Good Place, media companies create trailers that are optimized for specific platforms they’re distributed on. When folks are on their favorite platforms and are looking to be entertained, distracted, or to learn about something, these trailers reach people at the right place at the right time. Audiences that find these trailers or snippets entertaining and worth checking out are then directed to the full episode to watch at their leisure.

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If your business creates an episodic series, you can scale your marketing assets just like media companies by creating a trailer to tease the release, extracting clips from the actual series to promote it, engaging people with behind-the-scenes footage, and much more. Investing in producing an episodic series is investing in an evergreen piece of content for your business that’ll support your brand indefinitely. And you’ll be able to reuse and re-create marketing assets from your series far into the future.

For example, a year ago we released our four-part docu-series One, Ten, One Hundred and created a bunch of marketing assets to get people excited and interested in watching. One year later, and we re-marketed the series on social and posted behind-the-scenes footage to reach new audiences. As a result, we saw new people access this evergreen piece of content and spread the word to others that it’s worth watching, too.

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Even after we’ve stopped promoting the docu-series, we’re still seeing One, Ten, One Hundred bring in about 5,000 new people every month. The original campaign also permanently increased brand search (queries with “wistia” in them) by 11%, which has stayed steady. Lastly, it brings in more than 100 leads per month.

With an episodic series for your business, you’ll be surprised by how many times you can tie it into conversations you have and the marketing assets you need to support your brand long after its release.

The final (and arguably most compelling) piece of evidence to show your boss and stakeholders when pitching episodic content is simply the fact that other businesses in your space are already investing in it. Sounds pretty simple, right? The truth is, sometimes you need to just prove that the trend is already well under way in order to get your boss bought in on doing it. Remember, there was once a time where people thought Instagram wasn’t really a social platform for businesses, and clearly over the years that theory has been proven wrong.

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Businesses in unexpected industries are experimenting and taking risks with episodic video to build an engaged audience for their brand, so chances are you’ll have some examples to point to in your own industry. But regardless of the space you’re in, your boss is most certainly paying attention to what your competitors are doing, so you should leverage that when making a case for creating an episodic series. The last thing you want for your business from a marketing perspective is to seem outdated and behind the times. Showcasing how other companies and competitors are making this content is a great way to prove that you’re not alone when it comes to believing in this strategy.

We’ve already mentioned two businesses that are completely bought-in on developing shows — ProfitWell and ThriveHive — and they’re definitely not the only ones! One business producing a short-form series is ezCater, the world’s largest online catering marketplace. We chatted with Sarah Gurr, ezCater’s Head of Content Marketing, to get the inside scoop behind their strategy. Their series, Restaurant Roots, features unique stories from their partners such as SA PA and Modern Thai Cuisine in Boston. Instead of taking a conventional approach to written customer testimonials, this engaging episodic video series showcases the heart of each restaurant with narrations from respective founders to establish a deeper connection between ezCater and prospective customers and other restaurant operators.

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Another business we believe is leading the way with this audience-building strategy is Mailchimp. Mark DiCristina, the Head of Brand at Mailchimp, described how the marketing automation software platform has decided to invest in creative content over brand advertising. The company has been releasing short-form video series, films, and podcasts out of their own new content studio, Mailchimp Presents. With content that inspires, motivates, and makes people feel like they’re not alone, Mailchimp Presents has developed a valuable platform for an audience of entrepreneurs, while increasing the amount of time people spend with their overarching brand. When DiCristina sat down with Chris Savage on the first episode of Brandwagon, he also shared that “ … the people who engage with this content are paying us more quickly. And when they pay us, they pay us more money, which is just completely mind-blowing.” This fact isn’t mind-blowing because he’s surprised people like the content — it’s because the content isn’t about the Mailchimp product at all.

“The people who engage with this content are paying us [Mailchimp] more quickly. And when they pay us, they pay us more money, which is just completely mind-blowing.”

If you want more examples of companies with episodic video strategies, look no further than our blog. Prove to your boss that other businesses are ahead of the game, and they just might be on-board to take a bigger creative risk for growing your brand.

We understand approaching your boss and company stakeholders with an idea to create an episodic video series might sound absurd, but hey, it’s almost 2020 — anything can happen! All jokes aside, the future of marketing has shifted and brands need a new way to stand out amongst the competition. It’s time to convince everyone that episodic video content will help you cut through the noise and build better brand affinity in the long-run.

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3 Lessons From Marketing’s Top Creatives about Building a Successful Career

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“I’m not seeing very many marketers anymore,” says Cole Schafer, the Founder of Honey Copy, a creative copywriting agency that works with technology startups. “I’m seeing a lot of data scientists and growth hackers obsessing over metrics. And very few marketers who are coming up with big, hairy, audacious, creative marketing ideas and finding the courage to execute on those ideas.”

Schafer is one of the most passionate and outspoken advocates of creativity in marketing today — and for good reason. At just 26 years old, he runs Honey Copy, which has generated over $300,000 in revenue in only two years and boasts a newsletter with over 6,000 subscribers.

Living the professional life of someone who could list “VP of Marketing” on his resume, Schafer can surprisingly only tout numerous freelance copywriting gigs and a 2016 undergraduate marketing degree. So how did he pull it off? According to him, his reliance on creativity and intuition has helped him reach success.

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“I’m using the word art here over ‘content’ because art is something that’s pretty, adds value to someone’s life, and is unconditional. Content isn’t,” Schafer says in his article about running a successful copywriting agency. “Honey Copy has seventy 2,000+ word articles on its blog and countless newsletters to its name. They’re pretty, they’re valuable, and they’re unconditional.”

In other words, crafting a truly original, emotionally resonant piece of art can impact your audience and, in turn, your bottom line much more than churning out cookie-cutter content can. And this prioritization of creativity over optimization can make all the difference between building a fulfilling, creative career and simply coasting through a lackluster one.

“Crafting a truly original, emotionally resonant piece of art can impact your audience much more than churning out cookie-cutter content can.”

“Creative marketers can start building careers they are proud of when they can turn around and point to something they’ve proudly created,” Schafer says. “Keyword: created. Not optimized. But, created.”

To build a successful creative career, though, you need better advice than just “be creative.” That’s why we asked four other marketers who have built thriving creative careers — Jay Acunzo, Eddie Shleyner, Jimmy Daly, and Ben Goldman — how they’ve managed to find success.

People often forget that creativity is a skill. Just like a professional athlete, building a thriving creative career requires constant refinement of your skills. And the only way to get better is through practice.

“Our jobs are NOT to ‘be creative.’ Our jobs are to create,” says Jay Acunzo, the Founder of Marketing Showrunners. “We spend too much time debating, researching, hopping between processes and tools, and coffee meetings to ‘pick your brain.’ As a result, the most important thing goes missing: creating stuff all the time.”

However, if you’re not experiencing the gains or results you expect, sharpening your creativity can take its toll on you. Eddie Shleyner, the Founder of VeryGoodCopy and Senior Copywriting Manager at G2, knows this all too well. “Creative work is incredibly taxing, physically, mentally, emotionally,” he says. “It can drain you, especially if you’re not finding outward success.” His advice? Keep creating. “Just know that this frustration is normal, that all creative professionals feel tired and discouraged from time to time, especially in the beginning,” he says. “The only way to find success is to continuously study your craft and never quit.”

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Honing your creativity might be one of the hardest endeavors you’ll ever embark on. But trust Acunzo and Shleyner — the benefits are definitely worth it. They might just help you launch your own creative agency one day!

One of the most frustrating challenges marketers face is not having total creative freedom at their jobs. How can you truly unleash your creativity if you work in a super-strict industry or if you have a miniscule budget? Fortunately, creativity is often born out of constraints.

Want to explore the relationship between money and creativity? Watch Wistia’s first-ever, four-part original series One, Ten, One Hundred today.

Committing to creativity forces you to use your resources in more inventive and novel ways. In other words, getting creative with limited resources can actually produce a more creative result. On the flip side, having access to a stockpile of resources doesn’t force you to make the best of what you have. As a result, you tend to use your resources in conventional ways, which can lead to cliche work.

Jimmy Daly, the Director of Marketing at Animalz, has learned that embracing his constraints, specifically time constraints, can lead to an explosion of creativity and a fulfilling marketing career.

“A long, happy career in marketing is one where creativity can blossom in a world of constraints,” he says. “All of us face constraints in our work: budgets, deadlines, dependencies, KPIs, etc. I personally find that the creative work — writing in particular — is what keeps me energized and excited about work. Still, it has to be done alongside spreadsheets and in between meetings.”

Constraints might limit your resources, but the very fact that they exist can help us generate better ideas.

Another crucial step to building a fulfilling creative career is developing a network of creative professionals. Not only can they give you honest feedback about your work, but you can also collaborate with them to create something that could only be accomplished together.

“In the world of creativity, nothing is as effective or as important as working with collaborators,” says Ben Goldman, the Director of Films at InVision. “Whether you’re making a movie, writing a book, or doing any serious work of creativity, having people you trust and collaborate deeply with is indispensable. Collaboration strengthens ideas, pushes you through hard times, and allows you to achieve more than you would be able to flying solo.”

As an employee, developing relationships with your creative colleagues is even more crucial. But the main benefit here isn’t to improve your work — it’s to help you make a case for your creative projects.

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“In marketing organizations, working with collaborators is especially important because it’s much more difficult to push major projects through on your own,” Goldman says. “And building alliances and relationships with others is the best way to gain buy-in on a creative project.”

Constantly raising the bar for yourself, innovating on your company’s brand, and truly impacting your audience will lead to a successful and fulfilling career — not sticking to the status quo. So, network with your fellow creatives. You never know how far a simple LinkedIn connection could take you!

We all have the potential to look back on our careers and be truly proud of what we’ve accomplished. As creative marketers, keep these tips in mind from the folks who have forged the path already and remember to practice your creativity regularly, embrace constraints, and keep your relationships with other creatives strong. Happy creating!



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The Differences Between Wistia Channel Subscribers and YouTube Subscribers

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Last month we launched Wistia Subscribers, a new feature that adds a simple subscription form to your Wistia Channel, allowing viewers to subscribe just like they would on…well … YouTube.

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While on the surface these two features may seem a lot alike, there are some critical differences between YouTube Subscribers and Wistia Subscribers. Here’s what you need to know about Wistia Subscribers (and why this data may be more valuable to your business).

When someone subscribes to a Wistia Channel, you, the content creator, receive their email address. When someone subscribes to a YouTube Channel, on the other hand, all you get is an extra number on the subscriber counter.

With YouTube, you have no idea who has subscribed to your Channel and no way to reach them directly other than via paid advertising. YouTube controls the communication with your subscriber and keeps all the details of who they are locked away.

This is a problem, because with both B2C and B2B marketing in the modern world, an email list of engaged subscribers is one of the most valuable assets you can build. Once you have an email address, you can communicate directly with potential customers, build remarketing lists, encourage word of mouth, or use email enrichment to understand more about who your subscribers are.

With Wistia Integrations, it’s a 5-minute job to ensure all of your new subscribers are integrated directly with your email service provider or marketing automation platform. This means that every new Channel subscriber you have automatically gets sent to your database of leads and subscribers, where you can bring them into your wider email marketing and lead nurturing workflows. With YouTube subscribers…you can’t do any of those things.

“With Wistia Integrations, it’s a 5-minute job to ensure all of your new subscribers are integrated directly with your email service provider or marketing automation platform.”

If users subscribe to your YouTube Channel (and have notifications turned on) they’ll occasionally get an email that aggregates recent updates from all the channels they’re subscribed to. If you’re lucky, your video will be front and center in this email.

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If you’re unlucky, your update will be buried next to a review of an unappetizing looking chicken burger…or worse.

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However, with Wistia, you can choose to notify someone the moment a video is published, with your own branding, customized subject line, and copy, stipulated by you.

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The core difference between the two platforms is, ultimately, control. With Wistia, you pay for the product, but you retain all the value from each new subscriber. With YouTube, the product is free, but Google owns your audience and charges you for the privilege of trying to speak to them.

Social media can be a risky place, and YouTube is prone to changing its terms and conditions very quickly. The only way to futureproof your business from the whims of the biggest company in the world is to build the audience yourself.

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4 Show Title Structures That’ll Help You Name Your Next Video Series

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There’s an old adage in the world of copywriting that states, “The sole purpose of the first sentence in an ad is to get you to read the second sentence.” When crafting binge-worthy content, the same principle applies. In this case, your first sentence is your video series’ title, and your second sentence is your trailer.

Coming up with the right name for your show can be the difference between your audience tuning into your first episode and scrolling right past it. So to help you craft the perfect title that’ll grab your audience’s attention and convince them to hit play, we’ve analyzed seven popular TV show names and shared some key takeaways that you can apply when naming your next binge-worthy show. Let’s get going!

“Coming up with the right name for your show can be the difference between your audience tuning into your first episode and scrolling right past it.”

The showrunners of Black Mirror have created a futuristic (yet all too realistic) universe where society completely depends on technology to lead their lives. Each storyline features a visionary piece of technology that seems strictly utilitarian at first. But by the end of each episode, the tech ends up revealing a profound insight into human nature. And that’s exactly why Black Mirror is such a great TV show title. Your device’s black screen reflects much more than your mirror image.

When naming your video series, consider using a metaphor to shed light on what it’s going to be all about at its core. By doing so, you’ll help viewers quickly make the connection between the name of your show and its overall theme. Your show’s title is a great opportunity to give your potential viewers an idea of what’s to come if they tune in.

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Coined by the advertising men who worked on Madison Avenue in the 1950s, the term “Mad Men” was just a clever play-on-words they used to refer to themselves as. But the brilliance of this show’s title doesn’t lie in its historic roots — it lies in the irony that the ad men of Madison Avenue (or at least the ones that are portrayed on this show) actually live their lives like madmen.

The creators of Mad Men placed a hidden meaning behind the show’s title as it subtly hints at one of its most important themes. If you can do the same, your audience will immediately understand the double-meaning of your title after watching the first episode of your video series, which can play a big role in persuading them to keep coming back for more. Who wouldn’t want to tune in to see how mad these men really get?

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Another example of a show with a pretty explicit double entendre for a series title is the classic medical comedy, Scrubs. The show portrays the lives of young, ambitious doctors who are trying to climb the medical ladder at a bustling hospital. But even though they’re eager to succeed, these rookies’ inexperience leads to countless blunders and antics. They don’t just wear scrubs — they are scrubs.

Using a double entendre to highlight your video series’ external and internal narrative in your title is a clever way to grab people’s attention and retain it after they start watching your video series. For instance, when you see the title Scrubs, you immediately understand that the show is about being a doctor. But after you watch the first episode, you start to realize that the show is more about the struggle of being a young doctor than purely just saving people’s lives.

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Sometimes, straightforward titles are the best titles. For instance, How I Met Your Mother is exactly what it sounds like: A show about the lead character, Ted Mosby, meeting the mother of his children — his wife.

Clarity is one of the most effective ways to get your audience to understand and visualize your video series’ concept. So when naming your next show, consider starting with a working title that clearly describes your video series’ premise. From there, you can spice it up a bit, but, sometimes, the most straightforward title can be your best title.

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Regardless of whether or not your video series can compete with a big-budget Hollywood production, your show title still needs to be compelling enough for an audience to want to give it a shot. So be sure to give your video series’ title some serious thought before slapping it on there and calling it a day. Remember, you only have so many opportunities to grab your audience’s attention, so make sure you step out of the gates with your best foot forward!

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