8 Steps to a Great Web Video

Brett Stevenson Blog, Digital Advertising, Online Marketing

above pic of people planning at a table

 It all starts with an idea: you want a video to promote your business. Your idea starts small…just a little something on your website.

But then you spend more time thinking about it and start dreaming of seeing your business on TV, or dream of a viral video online, getting millions of hits—then your business will really start booming! Rein it in! Let’s learn to walk before we run.

Producing quality videos to represent your business is absolutely doable. You just need some guidance and a plan to follow. The great news is setting goals is the first step! We are here to help guide you through the process and understand how a well-produced video will provide better results than a quickie video shot on a camera phone in the backyard.

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A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a video is worth a million. Video brings in results that pictures and text can’t. Businesses that use video as a marketing tool see an average of 51.9% return on investment according to eMarketer, which is very hard to beat.

Website videos and television commercials can be as simple or complex as you want them to be. If cost is a major factor, opt for simple. Your website is the virtual storefront for your business. Consumers check out your website before they buy. It doesn’t matter if you have a brick and mortar store or just an online store, your customers visit your site before they make any purchases. Putting on a good, digital face is key to bringing business in the door (or to the online shopping cart).

Every business is different and your website should reflect the unique image you are trying to convey, and set a tone for your business model. Adding video to your website gives potential customers a true taste of what your business can do for them.

Video can create interest in products that customers may not know about. A video of a product in action is more engaging than a static picture and allows you to show the product’s best features. Plus, many consumers prefer to see a video of how a product works or looks instead of reading a paragraph or looking at a still photo. Video is a way to show off what you have, why it is great, and why a customer should buy it.

Web videos are a great way for your customers to get to know your business and feel confident and comfortable with your company, products, and staff. Video can set the tone and create a welcoming atmosphere as well as answer questions that customers may not have even thought of yet. Everyone likes to feel valued and comfortable. Create that feeling before a customer ever sets foot in your store. It’s easy with video.

In this digital age, everything is online, and shopping is an inextricable part of that. Customers expect more when visiting a website than just basic hours and information; they need to see why your business or product is better than the competition. Using videos on your website will help bring your site higher up in search engine results and bring in traffic from other venues such as YouTube. Video is easier and less expensive than you imagine and really amps up your website to visitors. Video can be shot in a variety of ways depending on the level of quality that needs to be displayed. The videos can be as basic or complex as the business wants and is a way to keep the content on your website moving.

If you want to promote your business with video, try the following – 8 Steps to a Great Web Video

1)  Set your goals.

  • What do you want your video to accomplish?
  • Are you trying to show the benefits of your product or service or is your goal simply to demonstrate the product in action?
  • Are you trying to sell the product with the video with a call-to action, or just to introduce the product?
  • What are the other goals of your video?
  • Are you trying to generate leads?
  • Are you trying to generate re-sellers or reps?
  • Write your goals down and then plan a strategy that will focus on them.

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2) Plan a video to reach your goals.

Develop a concept and start to plan on how to make your idea a reality. In pre-production you need to identify your audience (i.e. who buys what you are selling?) and determine what scale you will judge your success with.

Are you aiming to develop sales leads with your website, foot traffic to your actual store, online purchases through a third party, or connect with your customers in some other way? Determine how to you will measure your success and focus your video efforts on achieving your success goal.

Along with determining how you will measure success, also set a completion date. A project like this can start out with a lot of steam and fizzle out, which will just result in a wasted effort. Know your audience. Figure out how to demonstrate the value of your product, and define the message you are sending to them and why.

There are two types of videos: branding videos and call-to-action videos.

The goal of a branding video is to establish an image in the consumer’s mind of your business, products, or services. Branding establishes what you stand for and what you are trying to say. Call-to-action videos usually want to compel the viewer to respond immediately…give their contact info as a lead, or actually buy the product right now. Both videos are valuable; all businesses need both branding and a call-to-action.

Once you have decided which type of video to create you need to think about logistics.

How long will your video be? A :30 television commercial is different than a 2 minute video for your webpage.

What will be featured in your video?   Who will be the talent?   Will you have a host on camera or just a voice-over announcer?   Will it be you, a staff member, a hired actor, or an animated cartoon character?   Where will the video be shot?   Who will shoot it; do you need to hire someone?   Do you have a script; do you need help writing a script?

There are so many questions that need to be answered before you begin.

above pic of people planning at a table

3)  Develop a Script

The script is the blueprint of your production. It dictates whether you will need a studio to shoot your video or if you will shoot outside. Will you need actors, makeup, props, etc., or just a voice-over talent? The script tells you how many scenes will be in the movie, whether you need lights and how long the shooting will take.

Depending on the script and your budget limit, you can decide whether you will be shooting on a sound stage, outside, or in your own home or office. Most professional videos are scripted and don’t allow the actors to “ad lib” their lines. But some productions, like documentary-type videos, simply shoot people talking and then work some of the comments into the script.

Which is best for you will depend on the goals and style of your video. Remember that in video production, “less is more.” Get to the point in your script and end it. Most people’s attention span for a web video is two-minutes or less.

Web viewers often abandon a five-minute video part way through, because you haven’t held their attention. Don’t try to tell them everything in one video. Tell the viewer the main, most important points, and keep their attention. Also, review your goals for the video and make sure that it helps meet those goals.

Is there a call-to-action in the video? Are there any goals that the video doesn’t address? As part of your script, create a “shot list” which is a plan of what you will be shooting. It can be as detailed or simple as you want, but the more detailed you make the list, the easier it will be to stay on track and for others to follow.

There are many shot list templates for download online, or you can make your own. A shot list that is written down and organized before shooting day will end up saving you a lot of time and effort.

 

4) Shoot Video

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Using your script and shot list as a guide, set up and shoot your footage for the video. Remember to pay attention to the audio portion of your script and know what will be on the screen when the announcer is talking.

Good videos don’t make the viewer stare at the same shot for long periods of time. If you have a person on-camera talking, you can cut away from the shot of them, while their voice continues, to show other, relevant
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For example, if your speaker is talking about boats in a marina, you can cut to footage of boats while the speaker discusses boats. This footage used to illustrate what the speaker is talking about is called “b-roll”. B-roll is simply footage that is relevant to the speakers copy. It is important that your script outlines the b-roll you will need so that you get it shot from your shot list.

Make sure you also pay close attention to the lighting in all of your shots. Use the standard three-point lighting set up whenever you can. Before you shoot each scene, use a film slate, also known as a clapperboard to mark the scenes. The info written on the slate will help the editor find the correct shots when it is time to edit. The clapper, (the stick that comes down and makes a clapping sound) is the way the editor syncs the video to the audio, if you recorded the audio separately from the camera.

5)  Record Audio

micWhen creating a video, there are a number of different ways that you can use audio. Your audio can come from people on camera, or it can come from an off camera announcer. This narrator-style audio is called a voice-over.

Many videos use a combination of both types of audio. If you use a voice-over announcer, this audio can be recorded using a separate mic at an earlier or later time. In the editing process, it is standard to lay-down the voice-over track first, and then add footage using the voice-over as a guide.

6) Edit Video

After you have a script, lighting, and footage you will need to edit it together into a video for public viewing. Taking all the elements from your video shoot and audio recording and bringing them to the editing studio is called post production.

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Hopefully during your shoot all the different parts came together correctly and you have great footage, and a lot of it. Editing the footage together might be easier for a professional than an amateur, but can be done by anyone with patience. Start by watching all of your footage and making notes on the best shots, the best version of each shot, (called the best take), and what order you want them in the video.

Compare the footage to your original script and plan, to see how they match up. As you edit the shots together, make sure that you pay attention to the rhythm of the piece. Do the scenes change enough to keep the viewer from getting bored? Are the transitions between scenes clean and not annoying?

A transition is what happens in the space between the shots. A straight cut, is simply cutting from one scene to the next without anything between. You can fade out and in to the next scene, you can dissolve, or you can do something wild like spin the other scene away like a book being thrown.

This is another case where “less is more.” If you do something wild between each shot it will detract from the scene. In a professional video, transitions are not noticed. In amateur videos, it looks like the editor wanted to play with all the toys in his editing program. Think clean and professional when it comes to editing.

7)  Graphics, Music, and Final Touches

Once the video is complete, you may need to add graphics and music. The graphics may simply be an opening title and an end title, or you may need text, logos, and effects throughout the video. Most video productions also have some kind of music in the background to help set the mood for the scenes.

Remember not to use copyrighted music in your video!

Don’t use commercial songs, television or movie themes, etc. no matter how small or limited your viewership will be. There are plenty of royalty free music sites where you can get almost any kind of music for a very small fee, or even sites where use is free.

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8) Format Your Video

Depending on how you plan to use your video, you can save the final version in a number of formats for use. The first step is to make sure that you archive all of the footage, the editing software’s timeline, and a high resolution version of the final video. Once this is done, you can save the video in a form you can email, put up on YouTube, Vimeo, or your own website. Many websites use YouTube to embed their video, because YouTube does a great job of making sure the video will run correctly for the viewer.

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