Grow your startup with video marketing! Learn all the ways your startup can use video to attract customers, retain them, help them grow, and stay within your budget.
March 24, 2020
Marketing & Brand Manager
No matter where you are at with a product, video can be an important part of an effective marketing and sales strategy for your startup. This guide will help you focus on how to use video for different parts of the customer journey and stay within your budget.
Turn an audience into customers
Depending on your product, the average sales cycle can vary from minutes to months. That's why utilizing an impactful tool such as video can help create awareness, increase engagement, drive a purchase, and build a system of customer support to retain them.
Even if your product doesn't exist yet, start looking into ways you can use video to connect with potential customers. If you can be helpful with content before a product launch, people will be more willing to purchase when the product launches.
"As you focus on one audience, and you keep solving their problems, you'll build momentum. Your audience will grow, and when it's time to launch a 'serious' product, you'll be ready." - Justin Jackson
Budgets aren't excuses for not starting
Don't let a smaller budget hold you back from starting any creation and promotion. Producing video content doesn’t have to be high-end. All you really need is your laptop, tablet, or phone to get started. As you gain evidence for the impact video has, you can hire someone in-house and invest in what works best for your product and iterate along the way.
Check out this survey by Wistia on how most startups are producing their own videos.
To start, let’s talk about how to approach video strategy so you don’t waste time and money on types of video that may not provide the outcomes you are looking for.
Understand your product, market, and customers to create videos that performs well
Research, plan, execute, learn - repeat
There is no magic recipe for everyone to follow with video marketing, because every product or industry has different needs, customers, and habits for consumption. That's why it's important to test different video approaches and see what works best. Using success stories from other companies as a blueprint is a great place to start, but be mindful that it may not work for you.
"Just doing what you see someone else doing won’t necessarily work for you." - Emmet Connolly, Director of Product Design, Intercom
How do you make your content stand out when the whole world is making all these awesome videos already?
Stop worrying about getting a million views or likes. Make content for the right customer. Concentrate on conversions and the audience that matters to your product. Is the content attracting new customers, creating new sales, or helping retain customers? Focus on the results and how they align with your business goals, not the vanity metrics.
Define your audience using customer personas
In order to see better results, you’re going to want to create a customer persona that best defines your target customer. A persona is a fictionalized representation of your target customer that has a personal background, behaviors, motives, and problems that they face. It is not an exact representation of every customer, but it is a general definition for most of your ideal customers. A product may have more than one persona, but just start with one or two to get things moving.
Customer Journey Mapping - Create a better user experience
Once a customer for the product is defined, it's time to define where to connect with them. This allows video content to be helpful or inspiring before they even use your product. Based on your customer persona, what social channels do they spend the most time on? This helps you understand where to publish.
Publishing content to every single social platform is not always necessary. There is nothing wrong with providing content to other platforms in order to experiment and discover opportunities, but be smart about how you spend your time with them. Are they providing results?
Customer journey maps also help define the questions customers have when dealing with a problem that your product can fix. Creating how-to videos on YouTube is a great way to be a part of that journey with a customer. YouTube is the second most used search engine on the internet. Think about it...when you want to solve a problem, you either search on Google, YouTube, or end up at a YouTube video because a search engine brought you there.
When these potential customers finally buy your product, they will have new needs - so different types of video content will be required to retain them. This is a different part of their journey that will need to be discovered through customer journey mapping.
This customer journey map will help define everything - how they can become aware of the product and benefits, what the onboarding experience should look like, and how a customer will get help when they need it. At what points in this journey could video improve their experience with the product?
When it comes to the actual video content, make sure it is communicating to them with words and ideas that they connect with. Using vocabulary that is unfamiliar can leave them confused and unlikely to click or purchase. Also keep this in mind when titling videos, to improve the chances of discovery through search results. Don't worry - we'll talk about video SEO later.
If you’re looking to gain a better understanding of your customer’s language, download our free Startup Guide.
Benefits of different video hosting platforms
Below is a list of different platforms where you can upload video content. Each one is unique with different features to help achieve different results. While it can be useful to post to all of them, be careful not to burn yourself out trying to keep up with all the different avenues. Understand your product's need for video content and where the audience is active in order to reach specific goals.
YouTube is powerful and free. The greatest part about YouTube is that people are already on the site searching for answers and things they are interested in. Providing content that is helpful or valuable to an audience can potentially gain traction over time - plus there is potential to build a following on this platform as well. It is also extremely beneficial for SEO, and helps a product or brand to start ranking higher for search terms relative to the product or industry.
Vimeo is minimal and clean with no ads. Its focus is more on the filmmaking and storytelling community. With more creative video content that has higher production, Vimeo might be a good fit. It would be a great space for sharing stories that connect people to your brand. Vimeo starts with a free plan and has premium subscriptions available to unlock powerful tools. Vimeo also acts as a publishing tool for social platforms.
Wistia isn't a social platform like YouTube or Vimeo, but Wistia has amazing tools for startups. It is available with limited use for free, but the true power comes from their premium plans. Their integrations with sales tools are unbeatable. Not only is Wistia great for hosting creative or educational content, their Soapbox platform is a great option for your sales team, with new features being added every year. They do a great job of educating small businesses on how to make better videos - from how to be on camera to even explaining what gear you need. They allow publishing to social channels from Wistia as well.
Facebook is more social than it is about hosting. While you can share videos from other platforms to Facebook, native videos (video files uploaded directly to Facebook) get more attention within Facebook. So consider uploading videos to Facebook that you have uploaded elsewhere. Facebook is less about hosting video content for embedding and more about connecting with your audience on a personal level. Document your startup's story through Facebook stories and even host live Q&A's to start having conversations in real time with customers.
Instagram is a no-brainer. Again, like Facebook, Instagram is not a platform for hosting videos, but it can easily connect with and grow an audience through location tags, hashtags, stories, live streams, and influencers. Even for a B2B SaaS company, Instagram is a powerful tool for startups. You can even link Instagram stories to IGTV videos or external links once you gain enough popularity.
Again, not ideal for hosting videos on a website, but a great way to connect to an audience. The cool part about IGTV is that followers of an account on Instagram don't need to follow the account through IGTV in order to access the content since it is in the same network. Plus people can access the content right from Instagram. IGTV is a complement to stories and enables accounts to create long-form vertical video content. Think of it as a vertical YouTube for an Instagram audience.
Native videos on LinkedIn are gaining traction, especially vlogs. LinkedIn actually favors native video rather than you sharing a link from YouTube. If you have the source file, try uploading to LinkedIn to see what kind of results you can get.
For a startup founder this is a great place to document their journey with other professionals. If customers can gain trust in people leading a product, they will gain trust in the product. It's also a great place for a sales team to share videos and interviews with people on how a product is helping them succeed.
Twitter is a great place for sharing news and education about a product or a company's culture. Videos uploaded here can be much more candid in sharing the story of your product. It allows customers to have a short conversation about a product, provide feedback, and even find partnerships within an industry. Tweets with visual content tend to get more attention than tweets without them.
Align business goals with video types that will make the biggest impact
Before you start making a bunch of videos, create a plan that complements achieving your business goals. That could be awareness, creating leads, increasing sales, improving retention of customers, or even automating a process to reduce the time your employees are spending doing a specific task such as educating or answering questions.
Once your business' goals are defined for the next quarter or year, go through the video types below and decide which ones will be well suited for your strategy. This guide is basically a starting point to get your feet wet into video, or maybe new types of video, if you currently feel stuck with the videos you are creating.
Using video for every step of the customer journey
Now that you have a better understanding of the audience and business goals, we are going to cover all the different types of videos to use in different parts of a customer's journey. This includes everything from awareness, to using a product, to customer service, and more. Every step of the journey is an opportunity to create excitement, confidence in your product, and happier customers. And happy customers are going to talk about your product on your behalf.
1. Types of videos that create awareness
A customer journey always begins with a person being unaware that a product even exists. They may not even be aware of the problem they are facing and how your product can solve it. Potential customers may not know there is a better way to do things yet, so if a video can show them what they are able to do with a product, it can gain their interest in becoming a user of that product.
A person's first interaction with a new brand can take many different forms. So the more control you have over how that looks and feels, the more it will increase the chances of them becoming a paying customer in the future. While almost anything created can be inviting to new customers, here are some key categories to grow an audience effectively.
You'll see key metrics mentioned under each type of video. I define them further down in this article so you understand what they are and how they apply to each type.
This is usually the first type of content people consider producing when it comes to video. They are short and attention-grabbing videos that promote a product or business. They tend to have a clear call to action at the end to get a viewer to go to a website or try their product.
Distribution - Paid advertising on social with audience targeting.
This format is used to promote a specific service or product your company provides, and could be incorporated with a sale or limited time offer. It can create a sense of urgency to motivate customers to purchase or start a free trial. With paid advertising channels like Facebook or Instagram, be sure to A/B test different videos and audiences for the same campaign to see what gives the best results. Check out this article on simple A/B testing for some guidance.
Distribution - Paid advertising and email campaigns.
Entertainment and connection
This type of content focuses on entertaining viewers and provoking emotions with them. This could be inspiring, comical, or light and heartfelt. The key is to build an emotional connection by highlighting common values with customers. Find a topic or discussion that is important to a product and industry. This is a great first step in developing trust with an audience.
Distribution - YouTube, blog, and social media.
Educational and how-to videos
Educational videos are a great way to create authority with people that may not know about a product. Education can be impactful because if it solves a problem for people, they are probably searching for it (on YouTube or Google) and will come across your content organically vs. you competing to get a product in front of them with ads.
If you upload videos to YouTube, make sure to use strong and descriptive keywords to help with search. Be thorough with the descriptions and make sure you link to any other available resources.
Distribution - YouTube, social, and paid social ads that target demographics
Videos with influencers
When it comes to influencer marketing, Instagram is one of the best platforms for brands to partner with influencers on to reach new audiences quickly. In fact, it’s the best performing channel for social action, with an average 3.21% engagement rate (compared to 1.5% across all social networks). - Later
Influencer marketing is a great way to share your product effectively with an already targeted audience. An influencer is a person who has the ability to impact purchase decisions of others because of their authority in their field and the respect they have from their audience. The great part about working with an influencer is that if they love your product, it is very likely that their audience will love it too.
Influencers can have audiences of all sizes depending on the industry and focus they have. The key is to find people that would find your product useful and have an engaged and strong audience. Some influencers will work with you in exchange for free products, but others may want more compensation. Always use a contract when working with influencers to keep terms clear for both parties.
More than ever before, we’re seeing brands and businesses investing a high portion of their budgets to influencer marketing —simply because, when done right, it works! - Later, 2020 Influencer Report
A basic way to start with an influencer video is to have them review or simply talk about your product in a video format. Letting them have creative freedom allows them to connect with their audience in an honest way and usually has a greater impact than a formal video you try to create for them.
Distribution - Posted by the influencer and shared by your brand.
2. Video ideas to engage potential customers
Once you have some attention towards a target audience, it's time to keep visitors engaged and turn them into buyers. Now is the time to provide valuable content that continues to build trust and is enjoyable to consume.
A brand video is a high-level overview of your company's brand, mission, and voice. Who are you as a company? What does the product and organization believe in? How does your team or product make things happen? It's a great way to get people up to speed on how your company helps others and the culture that supports it within one video. Don't make it a sales video - think of it as a brand mission and vision statement.
Distribution - Homepage of your website, company social media pages
Product or feature videos
Product videos will highlight the features and benefits that your product can bring to a customer. If your product is already released, educate your customers on specific new features that are now available and how they will benefit. These can help drive sales and turn current customers into power users.
Distribution - Website, emails, social media, and the onboarding process.
While these can be very similar, don't get this confused with customer testimonials or case studies. Customer Stories focus more on storytelling and less on selling your product. Try to focus on telling a story about one of your customers. Let your product just be a part of that story, rather than making it the main story. These stories are meant to inspire, build trust, and leave a positive feeling with an audience.
Distribution - Website, email campaigns, social media, and paid advertising.
Broadcasting live is becoming more popular and creates a great opportunity to engage in real-time with an audience. Most social platforms, including YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, offer the ability to broadcast. Find the platforms your audience tends to engage with and see what the results are. After a video is broadcasted, you can usually post it to that platform or download it for future posting.
Ideas for live video
AMA (Ask Me Anything) or Q&A Sessions
Interviews with Industry Experts
Interviews with Your Customers
Live Event or Speaker Presentation
Distribution - Live broadcast, publish to other platforms after broadcast, email campaigns, website landing page, and social media
Documenting your story
Gary Vaynerchuk always says "Document, Don't Create." When it comes to sharing the story of your product and your brand, be candid about it. Share short clips of what you're working on each day or each week. You can start this easily with Instagram or Facebook stories. You can also share candid conversations showing what you're learning on LinkedIn. Just be yourself and create opportunities for people to not only get to know your product, but also get to know the people behind the product. That's where great relationships can start. Think of it as a behind the scenes approach to everything you are already doing.
Distribution - Everywhere.
These can sometimes be a little tough to catch, but can be a great way to gather unique attention based around a holiday, an event, or industry news. Traffic and attention to these tend to be short-lived, but trend-based videos do create an opportunity to engage with a targeted audience. It's a great opportunity to have fun and be creative.
Distribution - YouTube, social accounts, blog posts, and email campaigns.
Podcasts with video
Creating a podcast is a great way to build up an audience over time and create a sense of authority over a certain topic or industry. It can be as simple as interviewing other people or having cohosts drive a discussion around certain topics that potential customers would be excited to learn about. YouTube is the best place to start to gain subscribers. You can also take the audio from the videos to distribute the content to other channels such as iTunes, Spotify, and more.
An excuse to talk to people
One of the hidden values of hosting a podcast is that you create opportunities for yourself to talk to other people of influence and build relationships with them. While many people focus on subscribers and views. Creating stronger connections can have a big impact on your business too.
Transcribe your podcast for SEO
You can use Otter to easily transcribe your podcast audio so you can share all the dialogue in blog posts.
At Headway, we have two podcasts. Seaworthy is about building successful software through design and Even-Keeled us about the craft of creating software and effective development teams.
Distribution - YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Soundcloud, Pocket Casts, etc.
Augmented reality, virtual reality, and interactive 360 video content has been around for a little while now, but it's not something that most brands are utilizing. Part of the problem is that equipment or production can be expensive or not well executed - so audiences may not want to take the extra step to interact with it. Creating an engaging experience beyond the "cool" factor is important. And how does it generate sales? If you have the resources to experiment with these new formats, don't be afraid to give it a try!
If you plan on investing time into these new formats, utilize an expert and make sure that no matter how the content is delivered, that you are tracking the results. Always align content creation with desired outcomes.
3. Nurture your leads to purchase
After initial awareness you'll want to keep connecting with potential customers. This includes providing more value to them and building trust. This is where your relationship grows deeper with them so they always think highly of your product and what it can do for them. They'll begin to talk about your product often and it's the perfect opportunity to ask them to buy. This is also the beginning of creating customer loyalty.
Case study videos are great for showcasing a specific problem that your product solved for a customer. This is a powerful way to create trust because it provides social proof about your product. When interviewing customers it's important to ask about the problem they were facing, how it made them feel, how your product helped them defeat that problem, and how the success feels with your product. Make your customers the hero in their own story. Your product just helped them be victorious. Try to find different cases to highlight different industries or personas. This creates more opportunities to connect with a specific niche.
Distribution - Website, blog, email, and social.
Testimonials share a customer experience. This is great for highlighting how your customers have found the product beneficial, or showcasing your entire product's benefits in their own words. Testimonials are another way to create social proof and trust. Having call to actions within or below these videos helps convert leads because viewers want what they have. Less problems and more success.
Distribution - Website, blog, social, email, and paid advertising.
Product or Company Updates
Sharing important news about your company and products allows customers to learn more about what's going on internally and where your focus is. Letting the world know that a product or company is making progress, sharing insight on changes, and why they are happening creates trust and reflects the quality of leadership for a product.
Distribution - Website, blog, social, email and public relations.
Tips and Tricks
Videos that provide tips or tricks for a product is a simple way to add perceived value to that product. This can also include how a product can be useful with other products a customer may already use. This creates an opportunity to educate customers and turn them into power users. Try to focus on ideas that they can easily recreate themselves.
Sometimes the only difference between a user staying or abandoning a product is the awareness of what they can do and how it helps them. The more they can achieve with your product, the more they will stick with it, praise it, and are more likely to help if you ask for feedback or testimonials.
Partner with influencers or other brands that love using your product to make tips and tutorial videos. This can expand your audience and build up stronger relationships within your brand's community.
Distribution - Blog, social, YouTube, and email.
Sharing recaps of an event that your company organized or participated in is a great way to connect with people and gain social attention. Live streaming events is also a good idea to look into. All you need is a phone to get started, whether you plan to live stream or not.
Before the event, share videos with footage from the year before or share that you or your team will be there this year. This is also a chance to get people to register for giveaways or a limited offer through a landing page. When sharing on social, be sure to post in a timely fashion before the hype dies down, tag the event and relevant people you met there, and add any relevant hashtags to get the most out of the conversations that can take place.
Distribution -Social, blog, landing pages, email, and paid advertising.
Product FAQ Videos
If there are common questions that an audience has, take time to create informative videos to answer them. These videos can be embedded on support pages on your website, but also share them on social channels and in email campaigns. These are also a great resource for a product's customer support team or even a sales team so they can be helpful to customers. Live streams or webinars are also an interactive way to share frequently asked questions to anyone that might be interested.
Distribution -Social email, support pages, and live streams.
4. Videos to retain and support your customers
Turn customers into advocates. Produce fun, helpful videos that will add more value to their purchase, provide support, and generally delight them. Show just how invested your product and team are in keeping them happy. Happy customers not only continue to buy, but they share your product with their friends.
Personalized video for sales or support
Creating short videos that are personalized for one customer can take your sales or support team to the next level. While FAQ and support pages on your website can be extremely helpful, taking a moment to create a video that speaks directly to a specific customer can have a positive impact on their relationships with you. This can also be used before a sale is made to help them understand that your team is here to listen and help them. It builds trust and makes your brand feel more human as well. Businesses may have a brand, but you and your team can speak truth into your brand as well.
“The emails with video were 52% more effective at getting a reply” - Intercom
Distribution - Email, support pages, and landing pages.
Guides to getting started with personalized videos
You can use a free tools like Soapbox, Loom, or Vidyard to quickly create these types of videos using your laptop or phone. No fancy gear is required to start making personalized videos.
Thank you videos
Thank you videos are a fun way to get customers excited about their purchase. Whether a person signed up, purchased a ticket for an event, made a donation, or bought a physical product, taking the time to thank them in a video can help them feel appreciated.
It also opens up opportunities to connect even deeper. Let them know your team is available if they have questions or need help. Tell them about something cool that they now have access to. This is where value can keep getting added.
Be creative and have fun with it. A purchase is a celebration for any business! Thank you videos can be personalized for one customer or generalized to be shared via email or on a post-purchase landing page.
Distribution - Email, Landing Page
Improve your onboarding experience and tutorials
Sure, your product might be easy to use - but sometimes customers need a little help to get started. Having a fun and supportive onboarding experience can help keep the momentum going as a customer learns the ins and outs of how to get the most out of your product. Including things like pro- tips can go a long way. Empowering your customers with the tools they need to succeed can help keep them from abandoning your product. Create opportunities to remind them of features or showcase new ones through social and email.
Distribution - Website, email, landing pages, and social.
Sharing special announcements about your company or updates on your product will keep customers, partners, and the industry in the loop. This could be everything from new hires, moving into a new office, promotions from within your company, or any news about your product that is worth sharing with the world. This could be called "transparency" for any startup, but it's just the right thing to do. Celebrate success or talk about the new directions your product or company is heading. Honesty and integrity go a long way.
Distribution - Blog, email, and social.
Just start creating videos so you can learn and adapt
With all of this new insight, it’s important that you pick one project or campaign, set some goals, and just make it happen. Encouraging a culture of creating video and open ideas can make the process a lot easier over time. Having a workflow and efficient feedback processes allow you to quickly make progress and more content.
Higher quality or bigger budget doesn't always mean better results
In this video production campaign case study by Wistia, they put that idea to the test. They created three different videos with three different budgets to see if the quality of production impacted the results of their ads. The answer was that better stories with clear communication is what drives better results. And that each online video channel can serve a different purpose when it comes to reaching your goals.
Keeping video outcomes driven with clearly set objectives allows you to measure success and make smart decisions so you can focus on content that actually works for you. Not all forms of video content work for everyone. In the beginning, take the time to discover what creates the biggest impact for you.
All you have to do is make a plan, start creating, track the results, and make improvements as you grow.
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