Anyone can become a video marketer thanks to smartphones, fast internet and other technology advances. But just because you can do it, should you? Here are seven video marketing mistakes that I regularly see brands making and some advice for avoiding them.

As I said, access and opportunity often don’t always result in success, and you may now be wondering why no one is watching your videos. And that can be true whether you spent thousands hiring a video production company, or you created your marketing videos in-house.

Seven mistakes businesses are making with video marketing

Here are seven video marketing mistakes businesses are making and how you can avoid them:

  1. No planning
  2. Short-sighted promotion
  3. Howard Hughes Syndrome
  4. Poor optimization
  5. Too long
  6. Too salesy
  7. Now What?

Video marketing mistake #1: No planning

The first video marketing mistake I often see is lack of planning.

Too often, the idea to produce a video comes too late in the planning of a campaign. And that is true whether you are a tech startup, a local real estate agent, or an enterprise business.

The result is that you may not have the time to get a video produced before a campaign launch; you probably missed some opportunities to leverage other work being done; and you could be spending more money than needed.

When you are thinking about a marketing campaign – a that could be planning a webinar, preparing for an Open House, planning a sidewalk sale, or launching a new product – you should ask yourself whether a video should be included (the answer is usually yes).

You can then start mapping out what you want to say in a video, or how the video would look and create a workback plan for getting it produced. This may help answer questions such as whether you can create this in-house or if you need to hire an outside agency, or rent special equipment.

For an enterprise company launching a product, this may be the time you decide to pony up another $3-5 milllion on a big TV campaign (such as the Super Bowl).

For the rest of us, it is a time when we can identify how we can leverage resources. For example, by deciding early to produce a video for a campaign, you could use the audio for a podcast, and transcribe it for a blog post, data sheet, or eBook.

Image quote for a post about the seven common video marketing mistakes and tips to avoid them.

Video marketing mistake #2: Short-sighted promotion

This is one of the biggest stumbling blocks for most businesses that are including videos in their marketing mix. I often see businesses simply take the produced video and upload it to their hosting platform (YouTube or elsewhere) and leave it. And later, they wonder why it only has a few views (let’s assume the video is otherwise worth watching).

Back during the planning stages, when you are considering creating a video, you should also be asking how and where are we going to deploy the video? Will it be embedded on your website? Where? On the home page, or a landing page or on the blog? And why not all three locations?

Will you be creating special edits of the video that can be shared on social media, such as creating a square or vertical edit for Instagram/Facebook or Twitter? Speaking of special edits for social, you should also consider uploading the video directly to those platforms rather than embedding a link. Doing so on Facebook, for example, can get you twice as many views than just adding a YouTube link.

Do you have the budget for promoting the video on LinkedIn and other platforms? Also, create different edits of the video, and different headlines and other copy and share those multiple times on those social channels. The percentage of your audience that likes or follows you on social and who will see your original posting is pretty damn small, so you need to repost several times.

And let’s not forget email, which dollar for dollar is still one of the best marketing tactics. Including your video in a newsletter will increase click-thru- rates 200-300 percent. And like social, consider repackaging your videos into different newsletter formats. For example, it could originally go out in your regular newsletter, and then later in the quarter or year as part of an email compilation of you best videos from the year.

So avoid this video marketing mistake by thinking of ways you can re-use and repurpose those videos.

Video marketing mistake #3: Howard Hughes Syndrome

Did you ever see that movie about Howard Hughes that featured Leonardo DiCaprio? I made it at least part way through before losing interest. But one of the things I remember and took away from the film was Hughes’ obsession as a director and producer with some questionable details of the filmmaking process, often resulting in delays and cost overruns.

This may not be true of Hughes, but it is how I think of past clients who got too caught up in the “filmmaking” of their marketing videos that we ended up with a muddied product that cost too much money, didn’t meet deadlines or otherwise left everyone wanting. Just because you can make a video with the tools you have in your pocket or purse (namely, your smartphone) doesn’t make you a director. Now, as soon as I hear a prospective client talking about their vision or the “aesthetic they are trying to realize…” I run for the door.

The advice here shouldn’t be new to you: don’t let perfection get in the way of good enough. The goal is to create this content and get it out in the field so it can start making you money. It should be serving your customers and prospective customers, not earning you an invitation to the Academy Awards.

Video marketing mistake #4: Poor Optimization

This is very similar to dropping the ball on deployment or trying to over produce the video in a couple of different ways.

First, getting the right title, video thumbnail, tags, description are steps that get overlooked once the video is produced. I often see this with companies – and some really big companies at that – who have hired an outside agency to create the videos. These third-party vendors often are suffering themselves from Howard Hughes Syndrome (HHS) and aren’t going to be thinking about your best interests after the final edit is made.

The second way is that you may not like having a certain SEO-friendly title, or having text or your picture in the thumbnail because they don’t jive with your HHS vision. Again, the videos should be about serving your business and making you money, not your HHS vision.

Testing has shown that a well-optimized video gets more search engine results from Google and Bing and other SERPs than those that are not. And a compelling thumbnail that includes a quick description of the video and a picture of a person gets higher engagement (clicks to play) than those that don’t. For more optimization tips, check out this post on Wordstream.

Video marketing mistake #5: Videos are too long

I tell clients that the optimal video length is whatever it needs to be to tell the story. Why some videos end up being too long is because they either are not telling a story, or they are trying to tell too many stories. Avoid this video marketing mistake by making sure your videos are tightly focused with one main point.

Yes, we live in a world of small-attention spans. And typically, you should be thinking of video lengths inside two to three minutes, and maybe even target 90 seconds.

But your videos can be longer. I have often been caught up watching a 15-minute or 20-minute YouTube tutorial on one subject or another (a couple recent examples: how to build a concrete countertop, and how to set up and fly the DJI Mavic drone). In those examples, I wasn’t going to learn what I needed to know in 90 seconds. They needed 10+ minutes to show me what I needed.

When you are planning your videos, you should consider tightening the focus to one thing per video. For example, your About Us video may mention that you specialize in three areas, but you should go into details about those three areas in your About Us video, rather they can be breakout videos that are 30-60 seconds each. Similarly, producing a video that is just a data dump of all your product’s features. Instead, break those out into separate product/feature demonstrations that are more engaging.

This serves two points. First, it keeps your viewer’s attention focused. And, if they click on those other videos (and you happen to be using a marketing automation platform), you’ll be able to track and measure their increasing engagement with you and your product, getting you one step closer to a qualified lead.

Video mistake #6: Too Salesy

I am not aware of when and where the hard sell is appropriate, so you should probably be avoiding it. Rather, think first about adding value for your viewers. And that could be in educating your prospect about you, your product or service; or how to use your product or service; it could be in providing research in a comparison of products or services or in explaining something about the industry. Or it could be in making them laugh. You get the idea.


Video mistake #7: Now What?

Your videos – and all your marketing content – should be directing your viewers and prospects to the next step. Too often, I see videos that lack some sort of call to action, even if it is just to direct the viewer to visit your website or a specific landing page.

Back in the planning process, ask yourselves what do we want our viewers to do after watching this video. I’m betting you’re probably saying “We want them to buy our product…” or hire us, or something along those lines. But try to be objective and ask whether the viewer, after watching that video, would be at the contract-signing stage in their journey. Maybe, they need to see another video that is a client testimonial or case study, or it is a video that explains your post-sales customer service.

Just as you should be mapping all your content to your customer’s buying journey, you should be mapping what videos are needed along that journey and make sure to appropriately direct your viewers to the next step at the end of each video.

So, there you have it. Seven reasons why your video marketing may be failing and some ways to turn that around. Let me know your thoughts, or any questions you may have.