Is written content dead in the age of video marketing?

25th October 2018

With the focus increasingly on a video-first strategy, the question of whether the written word is dead in content marketing is cropping up more often. Of course, the short answer is no – we’re blogging right now. But certainly, for most brands, video is already an essential part of the marketing mix in order to compete.

Interview with our  MD Jon Mowat for WeContent conference

Just as with written content, video needs to be audience-focused and creatively crafted to cut through. So read on to discover our MD, Jon Mowat’s take on how video can boost your content marketing strategy. This interview was first published in Romanian by WeContent conference, which Jon has been invited to speak at in November.

How do you think content marketing has changed over the last years?

One of the biggest changes in content marketing has been sparked by the success of content marketing itself. As there is so much content out there, it is now increasingly challenging to cut through. In this vast content soup (as we call it at Hurricane), it is vital to pin down your objectives and identify how your content will achieve them. Content is not a silver bullet in itself; if you are not offering emotionally-driven, relevant and useful content, then there is little chance of beating the competition.

In the race to gain traction, the rise and rise of video in content marketing cannot be overstated. By adding video to your content strategy, you can certainly help to attract and engage your consumers. Now there are more videos reaching audiences every 30 days than major US TV networks have created in three decades. It really is a video-first content marketing environment.

Which strategy do you think will prevail in the future for content marketing?

A winning content marketing strategy needs to be all about creating content that meets your brand objectives whether that’s growth, increasing sales, customer retention and so on. My background is in TV, where I was always focussed on how best to tell the story, the narrative arc and of course how to bring viewers back for more. This “pull” model has put me a good position to develop long-term content marketing strategies for brands.

Brands are in an “always-on” marketing environment; rather than broadcast messages, they need to direct regular, compelling content to their audience at a time and place that suits those viewers. Google’s HHH formula for creating YouTube video content is useful here:

  • Hero content – the big ticket videos to raise awareness, which often will have more time/budget allocated to them.
  • Hub content – that builds a community around shared passion points and helps to increase retention.
  • Help content – which drives SEO and engagement by tapping into the questions your audience are asking for online by providing useful answers.

I also add Go or Action content, which is designed to push your audience over the line to buy. In terms of video, it could be the short film you watch on an e-commerce site just before clicking on the shopping cart.

What does it mean a “video-first” strategy? Does a video strategy abandon written content?

By 2021, 80% of the world’s internet traffic will be video, so if you’re not yet integrating video into your strategy, it’s likely that your competitors are. All the social channels are backing video with the algorithms skewed to moving content. To quote Facebook’s Nicola Mendelsohn when asked about the future of the social giant:

“If I was having a bet I would say video, video, video… Video is happening even faster than mobile and we’re seeing the exponential growth of video on mobile.”

For CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, “We see a world that is video first, with video at the heart of all our apps and services.”

So does this mean the end of written content? Well, I hope not as I’ve just penned a book all about video! Blogging and written articles are still a vital piece of your SEO content strategy to reach audiences as well as to give context to video content and engage via a variety of touchpoints. But you need to add video as a vital part of the mix.

Why is video so effective in a marketing strategy?

Video really encourages viewers to take an action. In a recent study on Facebook advertising, around 70% said they visited the brand’s website after watching the video. Another 60% said they visit the brand’s social media and 58% said they react to the videos they watch online.

But why is this? When I’m explaining why video is so effective I turn to basic human psychology.

In brief, there are two parts of the brain – system 1 which is based on instinct and emotion and system 2 which is much more deliberative and logical. As marketers, we tend to aim for the emotional system 1 to attract our audiences’ attention and connect with them. Then we back up their initial feelings with facts to satisfy the more thoughtful system 2 brain. It’s been shown in the lab that when viewers watch an emotional story, a chemical reaction is sparked in their brain, which can actually inspire them to take action – share, donate or buy. (If you’re interested in this, check out researcher, Paul Zak).

How do you help brands to tell their stories with an effective video marketing campaign? Give us some tips.

I’ve developed a formula for helping brands to create an effective video marketing campaign.

Story / Planning x Activation = Great Content

To sum this up, you need powerful stories multiplied by an effective distribution plan. These two essentials should be built on a strong base of planning; researching and understanding your target audience and creating content that chimes for them. If you get each of these areas right, you will have achieved the holy grail of content marketing – great content that brings home ROI.

My biggest tip is to be clear on the aims of the campaign and how your video strategy is going to help you overcome those problems. This really helps set you off on the right track to define the messages of the campaign, the emotional drivers that will push your audience to take action, and the format of the video (a social ad, a how-to video, an explainer). Successful marketing managers also monitor the success of any campaign against their objectives, so that they can continually learn and improve.

I’ll be sharing more in my talk at WeContent …

What advice would you give to marketers who are about to start a video strategy with limited time and budget?

It’s important to look at your budget and timeframe and then what you want to achieve. You could spend a big budget on an amazing film, but if you have not allocated an activation budget, then you may not even meet your ROI.

For me, an effective way to raise awareness with a new audience is the how-to video. It allows brands to reach relevant audiences with useful content without a high activation budget. The filming of how-tos can be DIY too and shot simply in-house. Brands should ensure that they choose a topic which their target audience will be interested in, then add a keyword-rich description to the film and seed via owned channels or with digital PR if relevant. When done well, it’s a great example of strong content marketing in action.

Technology is evolving very fast. How do you manage to adapt the rhythm and how have technological advances changed the way you work?

Improved analytics are helping us to assess our content’s performance at an increasingly granular level and subsequently to review, adapt and create even better content.  Programmatic advertising allows us to target more effectively, but of course, we need to be careful of brand safety issues and ad fraud. In fact, speaking of advertising, with adblockers at 41% usage in the UK, content marketing is more important than ever to connect with our customers.

We regularly work on projects where high-end production meets technology solutions, including 360-degree video, AR, AI, interactivity, such as hot spots and branching, and personalisation. With personalised videos, we’ve seen huge improvements in email marketing – on average a 300% increase in open rates and 76% clicking play.

What are the next video marketing strategy trends for 2019?

Facebook is investing big in AR working with brands to use it to promote their products on Messenger and testing its usage in the news feed advertising. We’ll be keeping an eye on this for our clients as brands see its potential for e-commerce and engagement.  

Video is already great for SEO but with closed captioning becoming easier with AI, video content can be even more searchable. In addition, closed captions are useful to maintain engagement if viewers are watching with the sound off.

I’ve already mentioned interactivity and personalised video content, which I think brands can leverage more to get ahead. Shoppable video brings together the bottom line of e-commerce with the power of awesome content which can really prove the ROI of your content marketing campaign.

Ultimately, the fundamental strategy will remain the same; combining creativity, analysis and activation to meet brand objectives.

Delegates at WeContent can benefit from 20% off Jon Mowat’s “Video Marketing Strategy” book. Grab your copy now with code: VMK20

Jon will be sharing more about video at WeContent on 1 November in Bucharest.

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