You’ve got the numbers. You know how many views your latest video racked up, and how many times it was shared across your social media channels.
Maybe you’ve seen an uptick in sales, or your email click-through rates doubled once you embedded a video in your message. Maybe your share rates on social media shot through the roof.
If you’re on top of your marketing data, you know to expect these kinds of results, too. According to HubSpot, including a video in your marketing emails can increase click-through rates by up to 300%.
Facebook’s Newsfeed loves video, and that’s not going to change anytime soon. In fact, it’s going to increase. Facebook knows engagement on video is huge, especially in the mobile arena, and the more video it can show you, the more you’ll use it.
A bigger question to ponder, as marketers, is why would not you post videos to Facebook? Since videos have higher engagement than any other medium, and you’re producing them anyways, it isn’t any more effort than posting to YouTube. This begs the questions, what’s to lose? And if you’re audience is on Facebook, you should be posting and having them share your content for you.
70% of marketers fail to track ROI.
And since 92% of all mobile video consumers will share that video with a friend, developing a video with compelling, shareable story isn’t exactly a hard sell for your brand.
But if you want an accurate picture of your video marketing ROI (return on investment) that looks beyond views and shares, you’ll need to widen your net.
After all, this information alone won’t justify your budget with higher-ups in the C-Suite. You need a detailed picture of how dollars spent on a video asset correspond with the number of new leads generated by your marketing team, or how many sales they closed by the end of the quarter.
And aligning that picture with the data you have on your video is complicated.
It might make you feel better to know that calculating ROI can be so complicated that many marketers just, well, don’t. In 2013, more than 70% of marketers failed to track meaningful ROI for their spending across the board.
Crazy, right? We know that marketers who shy away from ROI calculations miss out on crucial data – but we still don’t make the time to set and track financial goals against our media buys the way we should.
Even more telling? 45% of small businesses indicate that ROI for video marketing is an obstacle to increased spending.
I have a hunch that this obstacle is closely related to the need for marketers to track video marketing metrics more rigorously – which is why I’m going to help you peer behind the curtain.
With so much data vying for your attention, how do you accurately measure the success of your new video? What kinds of metrics do you set in place, and how do you track them?
TAR works with clients who integrate our videos into every facet of their marketing campaigns, so we have unique insight into which strategies leverage real dollars and which might send you back to the drawing board.
Somebody’s gotta run those numbers upstairs to impress the boss – it might as well be you.
The Basics: How to Calculate ROI
Assessing your investment in video can help you defend your video budget, direct the output of your creatives, and inform future purchasing decisions.
Before you start crunching numbers, though, you need to know which numbers to crunch. Sometimes that’s easier said than done.
Unless you want to measure the effectiveness of an explainer video in your sales funnel or whether a product video boosts your online revenue, following the trail of views to clicks to sales can feel like trying to untangle a stubborn knot.
My suggestion? Use the planning process to identify marketing goals you can tie to specific outcomes.
Once you identify goals and associated metrics, it’s much easier to set tracking methods in place and analyze how successful your campaign actually is.
Here are a few examples from our clients:
Video: “Active Life Goes On”
Goal: Introduce Peter Harsch Prosthetics to new U.S. markets and increase client base
Outcome: Millions of dollars in new business, and an international government as a client
Video: “Helping Haitian Angels”
Goal: Explain the mission of Helping Haitian Angels to potential donors and cultivate donors for an ask
Outcome: A direct increase in donations to the organization, including six-figure donations
In both of these cases, the basic formula for ROI works well:
Our clients integrated video into their existing fundraising drives or in-person meetings to help explain how they made an impact on their communities.
For Peter Harsch Prosthetics, this resulted in winning an incredible new contract with a foreign government and millions of dollars in revenue. Helping Haitian Angels saw an amazing increase in donations over a 4 year period, including multiple six-figure donations after prospects watched our video.
Of course, measuring your video ROI isn’t always this straight-forward. That’s where setting additional metrics around engagement comes in handy – especially when it comes to painting a compelling picture for your boss.
Measuring Audience Engagement
In video marketing, the term “engagement” is closely linked to the world of social media. Marketers trot out the term to talk about views, social media sharing, and click-through rates.
Customer engagement with video can also lead to more substantial actions, like subscribing to a newsletter, purchasing a product or service, or spending more time on a brand’s site consuming content. High-performance engagement means your video is pulling its weight: your audience is growing and your sales are up.
As with all metrics, define what type of audience engagement you and your team would like to see, so you can track it accordingly. Here’s what you can look for to discover whether your video has hit the mark:
- Clicks, sales, and other actions: If your audience sticks with you to the end of a video, chances are you’re doing something right. When an audience member completes an action compelled by your CTA, you can get a great picture of how many leads the video generated or how many sales the video led to. (These are great numbers to include in a straightforward ROI calculation, like the one we discussed above.)
- Audience growth: Are you gaining a steady number of followers on your YouTube or Vimeo channels? This is an indication that your audience finds your content valuable. Look for similar growth in your newsletter or marketing emails when you use video content; A/B testing should give you a good indication of what’s working and why.
- Drop-off point or retention: Most video platforms will provide accurate user data about the attention span of your audience. You want to know exactly when users “drop off” your video – and how many stay until the very last second to see your CTA. If your audience consistently clicks away from the video in its first few seconds, you’ll need to rethink your approach and analyze what’s happening. Is it the music? The thumbnail? The title of your video? Testing each of these variables can lead to dramatic increases in retention and ROI
- Demographics and behavioral insights: Generally brands have sophisticated insights into their audience demographics and behavior before they purchase targeted ad buys. Tracking audience demographics with other insights – like video drop-off or sales – can let you know how well your video stacks up for a particular demo.
Looking Beyond Engagement
Usually when you’re talking ROI with a marketer, you’re talking about a tangible connection between ad buy and revenue. It’s a lot of data – and a lot of “show me the money.”
But I think using professionally produced video totally changes the game. If your new video showcases your company’s larger mission or purpose, it energizes your audience and can impact data points beyond leads and sales.
That’s why it pays to look at other types of growth across your organization, from bumps in web traffic to an increase in job applications. If you open the net a little wider, this is what you might see:
- Better SEO: If you’re using video marketing effectively, you should see a real bump in SEO. Want to nab a front page Google result? Using a video will make that 53 times more likely.
- Decrease in bounce rate: If a customer lands on your site, it’s in your best interest for them to stick around so you can close the sale or nab their email address. According to client surveys from Brafton, videos help convince customers to stay on a brand’s website and engage with other content.
- Increase in job applications or volunteer interest: When you use story-driven video to connect with your audience, volunteers and potential employees feel good about sending in their application. Online recruitment firm Jobcast found that a brand bolstered by video brings in 2.5 times more applications per job post. As markets become ever-more competitive, recruiting and retaining top-notch talent at your company can be your best asset. Check out this awesome recruiting video by VSCO to see how video can help you reach the best talent in your industry.
- Decrease in cold pitches: Because video helps establish trust in your brand, more customers, volunteers, and potential job applicants will seek you out. This isn’t to say you should throw your marketing funnel out the window – just that the right video content should make jobs in sales and recruitment easier.
How Video ROI Stacks Up In Your Media Buys
With the rise of social media and email marketing, most companies have renewed their focus on digital – and it’s no wonder. It’s notoriously difficult to track the impact of your investment in print.
You might know how many subscribers receive a magazine like Fast Company, but without the metrics available to you in the digital sphere, you’ll never calculate accurate ROI for placing a print ad.
Perhaps this is why the majority of C-Suite executives surveyed by HubSpot in their annual inbound marketing survey named print advertising as the “most overrated form of marketing.”
This perception also extended to VPs, directors, and managers. In fact, across all decision-maker categories, print was the least favorable marketing medium.
The same decision-makers pinpointed video and social media marketing as top areas for growth and investment. They cited interest in increasing their presence across YouTube, Facebook Video, and Instagram – despite lingering worries about how to accurately calculate ROI.
Two things jump out at me about this study: On one hand, execs understand the power of video assets and think video makes a bigger impact on the bottom line than print ad buys. On the other, marketing directors and their video production teams can do a better job making the case for video by setting intentional, measurable goals that help assess ROI and demonstrate the real value of video for their company.
Overcome the doubts of your higher-ups by putting a plan in place to measure ROI – and leverage the impact of ad buys you do make by using your video assets to your best advantage.
After all, as Marcus Andrews points out at HubSpot, targeted ad buys also only work when you have amazing content to share:
“Ads act like a megaphone to amplify your marketing campaigns and content. The more complete and well developed your campaigns are, the better your ads will perform.”
If you’re not telling compelling stories, your content marketing efforts won’t help you close sales – no matter how many ads you buy on- or offline.
Integrating offline and online marketing channels more effectively can make a big impact on your marketing ROI – and I can show you exactly how to do this with your video assets.
Make the Most of Your New Video Asset
Unlike print ads or TV spots, which have defined run dates based on your purchasing power, video is the asset that keeps on giving. All you need is hosting on a platform like Vimeo or SproutVideo – and a killer marketing plan.
We’ve seen clients use our videos to launch new products and elevate the presence of their company online, in addition to making the piece the center of its own campaign.
From sales to HR, here’s where you can put your video to work to maximize your ROI:
If you’re rolling out a new marketing campaign, nothing will help you capture more leads – and close more sales – than video.
Whether you’re announcing your campaign via email, developing a new landing page for your website, or both, video converts:
- Video in an email can increase click-through rates by 200-300%
- Video on a landing page increases conversion rates by 80%
It’s no wonder that 84 Lumber, one of the brands that received the most attention at Super Bowl LI, used their provocative ad to send customers directly to a landing page on their revamped site.
But what drove viewers to the website – eventually crashing the page! – wasn’t just any old ad. Without delving too deeply into politics, the ad told a compelling story: a mother and her daughter making the long trek over land between Mexico and the United States.
As a viewer, you wanted to know what would happen to this pair. Would they reach their destination? Why was the little girl picking up scraps of plastic along the route?
84 Lumber used classic storytelling elements to capture the attention – and imagination – of Super Bowl viewers. And because they’re great marketers, the brand was totally ready for what happened next.
At the end of their video, the brand encouraged viewers to watch the rest of the journey on their website. Online, curious audience members could finish the story, learn more about the company, search for open jobs, and shop.
But it wasn’t the thought of shopping that propelled viewers to 84 Lumber’s website. It was a compelling story about a mother and daughter that excited people to step away from their TVs and open their browsers. Remember: this audience was already watching one of the biggest sporting events of the year!
That’s the power of story – and it’s about more than numbers or ROI. It’s about getting your audience excited to engage with you and your company and create a lasting impression.
When you break down their strategy, 84 Lumber’s ad spot is a sophisticated way to integrate TV advertising with a video campaign launch. By using a landing page to track a spike in web traffic, sales, and even career interest, 84 Lumber’s digital campaign most likely helped the company track more specific metrics about the success of their video.
Key insights from these metrics can make or break your next campaign. But you only acquire the data if you give your audience a reason – like story – to explore and engage online.
Generate excitement around an event, spark interest in a sale, or build an audience for a keynote speaker with a video that uses story.
Take this 2013 short from Apple, which combines sophisticated animation and storytelling to promote the company’s purpose.
This video opened Apple’s annual event for developers, WWDC, where they release innovative new products. Everyone attending is already sold on Apple – but that doesn’t mean the video is any less effective. Apple’s video strategy re-engaged consumers with their brand, helping them remember why they purchase Apple products – and not a competitor’s – in the first place.
Of course, most content creators get stuck worrying about a different kind of “pre-roll” – the five-seconds of ad time marketers have to convince YouTube viewers to keep watching.
Since 94% of viewers will choose to skip the ad altogether, marketing directors need to find stronger, more compelling content – something that’s actually worth it for audiences to watch.
Hint: The answer’s in storytelling!
Whether you’re pairing your video with a product launch or an event keynote, this strategy is an incredibly effective way to grab your audience’s attention – and keep it.
Futures Fins wanted customers to understand that this new manufacturing process was not only innovative, it was a way for the company to keep jobs in the United States.
In addition to using new materials and new technology, Futures Fins produced their brand new product at a lower price point by keeping production in the U.S. The new fins – branded Project Morpheus – quickly became their best-selling product line adding millions of dollars to their bottom line.
Because visual storytelling is one of the best ways to communicate complicated information, Futures Fins could educate their customers about multiple, complex changes in their company all at once.
The video gives audiences a sense of the company’s commitment to innovation and product design, while also giving them a peek into their job creation ethos.
As far as product promotion goes, that’s a winning combination. (No surprise here: the Morpheus product line quickly became Futures’ highest grossing product.)
Social Media Engagement
In the crowded noise of social media, video helps your brand stand out. As YouTube audiences grow by about 100% year over year, so do your opportunities for engagement.
In fact, according to HubSpot, audiences are 10 times more likely to engage with video on a social media network, increasing your chance of getting more shares, likes, and comments than any other kind of content.
This kind of engagement can lead directly to sales. One of my favorite examples? The craft brewer Saint Archer, based in San Diego, which used creative video content to drive interest in their brand.
This strategy worked because the company’s owners include pro skaters, surfers, and filmmakers. These tastemakers already had huge social media followings they could leverage in favor of their business.
In less than eight months, the new company had “more than 20,000 followers on Instagram,” reports San Diego Magazine. “That’s slightly less than industry icon Stone Brewing (30K), but more than Sierra Nevada (15K) and Ballast Point (5K).”
By releasing video content on Instagram, the brand’s owners and ambassadors generated excitement around the Saint Archer lifestyle with their fanbase. They developed entire films showcasing daredevils like Paul Rodriguez, Jr., a pro skater, and Taylor Knox, a surfer.
Given Saint Archer’s incredible social media strategy, it should come as little surprise that the company wound up selling to MillerCoors for tens of millions. No small part of that is due to the way Saint Archer transformed their social media audience into a consistent, engaged, and vocal consumer base.
If your social and content team isn’t working closely with your current video production partner, it’s time to bridge the gap and start accumulating those clicks.
If you have a video story on your hands, chances are it’s perfect for your HR and recruitment teams.
According to Entrepreneur, “best-in-class” companies are “75 percent more likely to use video tools for employee branding, enabling them to attract top talent.”
And for good reason.
Unlike ad spots, video storytelling conveys the purpose of your company directly to your audience, appealing to their emotions and forming what can often be a lasting connection.
This is exactly the kind of connection you want to make with future employees – and anyone who doesn’t identify? Well, they’ll self-select out of the hiring process, making your job that much easier.
That’s a totally different sell for most engineers – and will attract a very different kind of applicant: someone who’s not just solutions-oriented, but collaborative and creative.
As words on the page – or in the job description on your website – terms like “collaborative” and “creative” almost feel like white noise. (How often have you read a job description that includes the phrase “team player”? Too many times to count, I bet.)
But pair your job description with a video that gets to the heart of your company’s ethos, and your future employees will know exactly what your culture’s like – and whether or not they’ll fit in.
Ultimately, a strong story from HR about company ethos leads to better talent and a more focused work ethic. When you reach the right talent pool, you hire employees who do better work, reach their goals more quickly, and leave a lasting impact on their industry.
That can translate into a rock-solid industry-wide reputation, higher stock prices, or even a better valuation. You just won’t get that kind of return from a plain, old job description.
Like a recruitment video, a company profile video can tell your story and share with customers why you do what you do – and how you do it better than anyone else.
(Pro tip: if you read the first post in our series on video marketing, you know why explaining your purpose is essential for reaching customers.)
Unsurprisingly, Apple are experts at this kind of storytelling. Their company progress report on green technology is an homage not just to Apple’s values of innovation and style, but to the way “going green” adds to these values and helps define their product design strategies.
Since they already have killer brand recognition and customer loyalty, this video’s main purpose is to energize and inspire Apple’s base. Their customers feel an increased sense of trust and appreciation supporting a company that works in support of their shared values (environmental protection) – and feel even better buying Apple’s products.
It’s easy to find examples of these introductory and explainer videos all over the web, especially at service-based organizations. 86% of colleges and universities use YouTube to communicate with prospective students and demonstrate what makes their campus stand out – a trend small businesses are just catching up with.
As Apple and other tech companies continue to demonstrate, there’s plenty of room for major retailers to expand their use of video in this direction, too – and take advantage of all the insights video has to offer.
Let’s Get Technical: Behind the Scenes with Video ROI
Amazing video storytelling: ✔️
Multi-channel marketing plan: ✔️
Metrics and measurements: ???
If this is your first time looking beneath the hood of online video platforms, don’t worry. We’ve been down this road a time or two and can help you locate all the data you need to call your campaign a success.
While there are plenty of online video platforms to choose from, including YouTube, Wistia, and Brightcove, my personal favorites are Vimeo and SproutVideo, which have robust, built-in analytics tools.
Both platforms offer basic insights, like tracking views, engagement, play rate, and drop-off points, which can give you a general idea of your video’s performance. Here’s how to break down what you’re seeing for each of these metrics:
Views and plays: Everyone likes to see a high view, or “load,” number. But while a big number in this column might make you feel good, it doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story.
Most online platforms count a “view” as anytime the video loads across each of your channels. That’s right: you could be racking up a view anytime someone scrolls past your video on their Facebook feed – without clicking play.
The number of plays your video has is much more important. This measurement tells you how many times your audience engaged with your video by clicking that play button. They may not have watched until the very end – but at least they clicked. Something about your video captured their attention, if only for that initial moment of engagement.
Use this insight to determine which channels are giving you the most mileage. Does your video have a high number of plays on Twitter? How about Instagram? What about your campaign landing page or your email marketing sales funnel? Take note, so you can use this information to make the most of your next campaign.
If you take a look at the example screenshot of a SproutVideo dashboard above, you’ll notice that the number of times the video loaded is high – more than 2 million! The number of plays, on the other hand, is much smaller – closer to 95,000, though that’s far from insignificant.
Remember: the number of video loads will give you a good idea of your video’s reach – how often people come in contact with it – while the number of plays gives you a better sense of audience engagement.
Play rate: Both Vimeo and SproutVideo will calculate your “play rate” by dividing the number of plays by the number of times your video loads.
Have a less than desirable play rate? You may want to reconsider how and where you’re distributing your video, changing the video’s title, or trying out a new thumbnail. Maybe your audience watches more videos on Facebook than Twitter, or maybe your video thumbnail isn’t grabbing the attention of your audience as they’re scrolling through YouTube. Changes to any one of these elements can drastically impact your play rate. It’s worth experimenting with an A/B test, if you have that capability.
In the example above, you can see that the play rate is only 3%. At first glance, this might seem like a small number. But consider the high engagement rate (84%) and the total number of hours the video played (more than 1,500). That’s a great return for a video that’s less than two minutes long!
Engagement: When it comes to measuring ROI, clicks are your bread and butter. Tracking how many viewers click play or share the video with their network will give you a good idea of the value of your content.
You should also keep tabs on engagement with your video CTA, as well as the performance of CTAs on the page where you host your video. This may require setting up extra steps, like a landing page hosted on your website, that will help you measure engagement more effectively. Both Sprout and Vimeo offer features that allow you to include text or a static image after the video finishes playing. Advertising an exclusive discount code here is a great – and easy – way for companies to track engagement. If you’re filming a product video, you may also want to track how many times the video is viewed on your product page and whether that increases sales or lead conversions.
Most video dashboards will also allow you to see individual user engagement. Take a look at the user data In the screenshot above. The user with red and orange sections in their engagement bar watched the video several times, while the users coded in green only watched the video once.
If you have several users who repeat a watching behavior – like re-watching a specific section of the video – it could suggest this part of the video is unclear. Maybe the script needs to be reworked, or you should check the audio for clarity.
Drop-Off Rate: Last but not least, it’s crucial to measure your drop-off rate, or the point at which viewers stop watching your video.
This number starts at 100% and can only go down. It’s very similar to engagement, but offers additional insight. Are too many viewers clicking away from your video less than half-way through? It could be a sign your video’s too long – or maybe a talking head just didn’t hold your audience’s attention. Whatever the reason, your drop-off rate is a great measurement for adjusting campaigns and content. Working with a video team over the long-term will also help resolve these issues as you plan for the future.
Both Vimeo and SproutVideo present drop-off rate as a percentage measurement of the audience who watched the video all the way through. You’ll most likely have a high percentage rate for the first few seconds of your video. Remember: the majority of viewers will watch the opening of a video – after that, competition for their attention is steep.
Don’t worry too much if you see a decreasing drop-off rate as the video continues, although a steep drop-off rate is most likely a cause for concern. In our video for Futures Fins, more than 73% of viewers watched until the end. While the engagement steadily declines, it’s important to note that the decline is very gradual. (As a rule of thumb, anything over 50% is a great drop-off rate.)
If you have the capability to track drop-off rate by customer, you’ll want to target the audience members who stick with you to the end of the video in your sales efforts. In particular, SproutVideo offers heat-mapping, a tool for tracking engagement at each point in your video. This means you can access data about when each of your customers watched, replayed, or clicked away from a video. With individualized data like this, you can optimize your sales funnel and strategy for each particular client – which makes closing the sale that much simpler. You can even combine heat-mapping insights with data collection using another Sprout feature: asking customers to enter their email in order to watch your video. Talk about upping those leads!
In terms of strategy, videos that run longer than a minute – rather than 30-second quick hits – help improve your drop-off rate, especially on YouTube. As the second largest search engine, YouTube prefers users who, for example, watch 50% of a 7-minute video over users who watch 100% of a 0:23 second video. (Hey, if your profit model depended on users to consume more content, including ads, you would prefer that user, too!).
Creating videos that run longer than one minute will not only increase your odds for success on a competitive video platform like YouTube, but it will also improve your relationship with your customers. If you’re not sure what we mean, just take a look at our last post on how video storytelling boosts sales and consumer confidence in your brand.
A Note on A/B Testing to Increase Your ROI
Before you head off to crack open your video analytics dashboard, I wanted to bring an important marketing step to your attention.
At TAR, we regularly run A/B tests of our videos, especially the video thumbnail and copy. Most marketing teams or video production companies will skip this crucial step once a video is out in the world, whether out of neglect or lack of understanding the value of this process. But I think you can’t afford to look past these insights.
An appealing thumbnail image and intriguing headline copy will create a desire for the viewer to click play, increasing your play rate. And we all know how important a good play rate is for ROI! If you don’t test images and copy, you’ll never know if you’ve optimized your video content – and potentially left sales on the table.
Take our original documentary of professional surfer Ricky Whitlock, for example. Ricky broke his back – twice! – while training for a surf contest in Hawaii, but that wasn’t our story. We wanted to document his excruciating road to recovery.
Not knowing any more about our story, which video still would make you want to click play?
The Back-Breaking Surfer
Ricky Whitlock: L-1, T-12 // The Surfer Who Wouldn’t Give Up
Each of these examples are frame grabs from the same story. But the one we chose wasn’t random.
By now you’ve guessed it’s the last still, right? Sure, we added basic design titles to give the thumbnail a more polished and professional look, but this still of Ricky helps you connect with the subject of the documentary before you even push play. The moody lighting from the interview also suggests the grit and drama of the story you’re about to watch. You can see his determination.
These elements helped us get tens of thousands of views, and we were also showcased in major industry publications for our work. But without testing our thumbnails and copy, we would have never been able to achieve that incredible reach.
All modern video players, YouTube included, have the option to upload custom thumbnails, yet brands still pick a randomly selected frame. Don’t waste this opportunity to test your audience! Part of telling an effective video story is convincing your audience to push play. More often than not, this decision comes down to a single, crucial shot. Make it count.
Worth It: Making Room for Video in Your Budget
At TAR, we understand that measuring the success of your video campaign can be technical. Sometimes it’s even downright complicated.
But, if you’ve stuck with us through this guide to video marketing ROI, you now possess all the information you need to make the case for video storytelling in your budget.
Not only is video one of the most flexible assets in your arsenal, you can easily integrate it into your existing marketing and social media campaigns. In fact, data shows your marketing campaigns will actually improve when you have valuable video content to share with your customers. So don’t forget to share the love with your social team or your events coordinators. Even HR and recruitment can benefit from video marketing dollars.
As long as you tell a compelling story, your video will rack up views and increase conversion rates across the board. (And if you need a refresher about why and how video stories sell, check out the first post in this series to get all caught up.)
Of course, when it’s time to measure the success of your new video, look at the hard data provided by online video platforms like Vimeo and SproutVideo. Those conversion rates will give you a pretty clear idea of how well video is working for your brand – and help you calculate ROI to keep the boss upstairs happy, too.
While tracking the success of your video can be a challenge for any marketing director, TAR is on your side. Let’s set up a time to chat about your next campaign and crunch those numbers together.