If you're in any way interested in marketing your website, there's a good chance you've heard that video marketing is the way to go. Naturally, with YouTube being the second biggest search engine in the world, it would make sense to get a video on there, but how do you do it?
When I've suggested it to clients, they've usually recoiled, thinking that they'd have to stand in front of a shaky camcorder, discussing their latest product while pointing out the features.
If you've ever done that, you'll know how utterly soul destroying it can be. And the results look terrible. Even a professional has trouble making some subject matter seem interesting, see how Telly Savalas makes Birmingham look, well, like Birmingham:
These types of videos work well if you have incredible production values, and you know how to present in front of a camera, but it's expensive and, let's face it, not everyone takes to it.
In most cases, it looks awful.
But there are ways you can get in on the video craze without going to all that effort and without embarrassing yourself in front of the camera.
Why Should You Bother with Video Marketing?
Before we go into the “how” of video, let's just consider the “why”.
Nip off to Google and type in “how to buy from amazon”.
You'll notice some video results right at the top. Why?
This isn't an especially high volume search, but it gives an example of how video can quickly reach the top of the results, and with little effort, to boot.
Take a look at the videos and you'll notice that, to put it bluntly, they're not very good. The first one doesn't even have any sound.
But they worked.
Now, do a search for a product or service that you want to be found for. Are there any videos? If there aren't, then you have a clear target – create some.
If you can create videos that explain “how” or “why” or “what” in direct response to the type of questions your customers have, then you will have a better chance of getting it ranked well, especially if nobody else is bothering.
So how can you do it?
If you offer some kind of software package or website service, then you can always record the screen to explain what it is your product does. Maybe if you have an e-commerce store, you could explain to people how to buy, how to get in touch and how to raise a support ticket.
All of these things sound simple, but some may be in need of that kind of information, and it helps.
There are a number of ways you can record your screen while you're explaining something, but the best software available is Camtasia.
This package allows you to record the screen while at the same time recording a voiceover. But if you like, you can add audio later, so you can record the screen then get someone else to do the voiceover for you. You just have to match them up in the editing process, and believe me; it's easy.
It's not cheap, though, at around £240 it will put a dent in your marketing budget, but if you decide to use video a lot, then you should seriously consider it.
Want a free option?
If you wish to test the water, then you can use a package called CamStudio. See what they did there?
This is entirely free and does an excellent job of recording screen and sound, although it doesn't give you the video editing options that Camtasia does, so you need to make sure you get it right first time.
However, if you just want to start out, give it a go. You could always record some video and then download the free trial of Camtasia to edit it.
It used to be that animation was tough to do. It took hours of work, and you need experience in all kinds of high-end software packages, it was frankly overkill for most small business use. However, there are now many options that will give you professional results without having to be Ardman Animations.
One such package is PowToon.
This is a web-based system that allows you move items onto a stage, say how you want them to appear, add effects, video and other fancy bits before creating it as a PowerPoint presentation or a video.
Here's an example I created very quickly for a service I'm not supposed to tell you about yet (so keep it to yourself, yeah?!)
I know that looks simple, but it only took ten minutes. Just think what you could do if you had an hour?
However you create your video, the next thing is to get it uploaded so people can see it. Lots of websites will discuss secret tactics with you, but it's actually really easy, and the killer technique is to use closed captions.
Closed captions are essentially subtitles. They appear at the bottom of the video, and they're useful beyond just making it so those with partial hearing can see what's going on. If you've ever tried to watch a video on a bus, you'll know that even with headphones it can be difficult to hear everything in a noisy atmosphere.
But there's another reason to add them.
Google indexes text. Text is easy for it to pick out from a web page and work out what's going on. When we search, we use text, so text it the way forward. Video obviously can't be indexed in the same way though.
Closed captions can. They are text files that are stored alongside your video and Google says, and I quote:
“We don’t use the automatic captions today. I hope that we will down the road, but it’s a trade-off with the quality. If you upload captions yourself to any YouTube video, we do index that. That is searched.”
It's also really simple to do.
Go to the YouTube video “Creator Studio” and click on “Video Manager” and then “Videos”. Choose a video from the list and you'll notice one of your new menu items is “Subtitles and CC”
Then click on “Create new subtitles or CC”.
You can move along the video and type in the subtitles as you go.
When you're done, save the video and the subtitles will be saved.
When to Create a Video
Video takes longer to create than straight text, but it's a very powerful method of marketing, so you should include it in the mix. To make the most of it and to ensure it doesn't become a huge burden, you should choose some articles you've already created, and see if you can turn some of those into videos.
The research and script writing is already done, and it's then simply a matter of generating a PowerPoint, a screen recording or an animation and maybe even recording some words to go on top.
Even if you don't want to go to the trouble of recording your own voice, a small “how-to” video with some incidental music could make the difference between ranking for a keyword or not, so it's worth investing a bit of time to try video marketing out.