Online Video Marketing: How Long Is Too Long?

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Over at the Online Video Marketing Deep Dive blog, direct marketing veteran Gary Hennerberg and video marketing strategist Perry Alexander hold forth on all things video, mixing practical experience and current research to deliver useful advice. Gary’s recent blog advising how long a video should be is an example.

How long should an online marketing video be?

Conventional wisdom dictates that marketing videos be short – 30 seconds, 60 seconds. (Perhaps we’re trained by television commercials?) But Gary suggested that “keep it short” should be replaced by “keep it tight.” He compares video length to direct mail length, and points out that people will stick with your messaging as long as it interests them. (His video post clocks in a bit over 9 minutes, and it’s interesting all the way through.)

You don’t have to go by your gut to know whether your video is too long. Free YouTube analytics show you how people stick with your video, so you can get hard data about where in the video you lose viewers. You can then examine that part of the video, figure out why the drop-off happens, and edit.

Learn more: Register today for the webinar Online Video Marketing: Offer, List and Creative Strategies That Take You From Good to Great

Five types of videos and their recommended lengths

  1. Educational videos. These are intended to help viewers determine whether what’s on offer can help them. This educational material could be one video, running 5 to 15 minutes, or a series of shorter videos. In the case of a series of shorter videos, you can structure it so the viewer supplies opt-in contact information in order to see the whole series, with an autoresponder campaign managing the timing.
  2. Product demonstration. The length of these is often dictated by the product’s complexity. If you’re launching a new product, your video will be longer. If your prospective customer is already quite familiar with your category, maybe you can deliver your messaging in less than a minute. Gary recommends that you not fit your video into a time slot, but to take as much time as it needs to translate features into benefits – but not a second longer. You have to be brutal in editing; keep it clear, keep it compelling. If you can do it in 30 seconds, great; but you can keep people with you for up to 3 minutes, as long as your video is interesting – and tight.
  3. Video for nonprofit. To be successful, you need to have a great story, told by people whose lives have been touched. It’s not about the plea, or the ask; it’s about transforming lives. With a loyal constituency, a 5- to 7-minute video can work really well. In testing, 10 minutes was too long; 3 minutes was too short.
  4. Lead generation. Experience shows that lead generation videos should be shorter; their purpose is not to sell something, but to convince the viewer to share their contact information or to make a call. Under a minute is good, but you have to have enough time to motivate the viewer, to convince them to complete an online form or call. It’s a fine line; above all, remember to Keep. It. Tight.
  5. Case studies. Case studies are the most-watched format on video, and great opportunities to couple features and capabilities with customer views or endorsements. Garry and Perry suggest that you always weave in real customer interviews when you can. Case study videos can run 3 to 7 minutes.

The bottom line: Figure out your objectives for your video, and build your story line from there. Keep these length guidelines in mind, and…keep it tight!


Register: Online Video Marketing: Offer, List and Creative Strategies That Take You From Good to Great

Date: Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Time: 2:00 p.m. ET / 11:00 a.m. PT

Speakers: Gary Hennerberg, Direct Marketing Consultant/Copywriter, Hennerberg Group, Inc.; and Perry Alexander, Marketing Design Consultant, Success Messenger Group