12 Common Online Video Marketing Mistakes

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More businesses than ever are incorporating online video into their marketing strategies; and for good reason too. There’s a ton of statistics out there underscoring many of the potential benefits online video can bring to a business. In real-life terms, all these statistics boil down to one simple fact: people love watching videos online and, clearly, would much prefer to watch a video than sift through pages of boring text about a company.

The fact many people don’t realise (or perhaps forget) is that simply producing and uploading a video isn’t enough. Millions of videos are uploaded every day and, sadly, a huge percentage of these are ineffective, usually because easily avoidable mistakes are made when it comes to the production or implementation of the video.

I see these mistakes far too often and so, with the aim of helping SMEs around the word find greater success with their online videos, I’ve compiled a list of 12 common online video marketing mistakes, plus some tips on how to avoid them.

1 – Overly Promotional

Believe it or not, people don’t visit websites to watch ads; they get to see enough of those on TV. While it’s important that a video effectively promotes a product or service, it’s just as important that it’s not overdone. No-one likes a salesperson who gives the hard-sell, so why would anyone want to watch an online video applying the same techniques?

If you’ve ever seen any of those annoying ads on shopping channels, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Similarly, if you’ve ever seen the commercial for Windows 1.0 featuring the current Microsoft CEO; Steve Ballmer, you’ll also have a pretty good idea what I mean.

How do you avoid this mistake? Focus on entertaining the viewer and/or educating them, rather than forcing your product or service down their throats. Treat your viewers as intelligent individuals and show that you care.

2 – Not Promotional Enough

Although overly promotional videos are much more common, a lot of videos actually aren’t promotional enough for their intended use.

For example, if you’re producing a video for a landing page, it needs to quickly demonstrate the benefits of the product or service and effectively lead the visitors to make a purchase.

How do you avoid this mistake? Take the time to understand the goal of your video and decide how promotional it needs to be. Ideally, work with a copywriter for landing page videos.

3 – Too Lengthy

The competition to hold the attention of people on the web is intense. If your video is too long, the fact that other more interesting content is just one click away will often lead to visitors navigating away from your content.

How do you avoid this mistake? Unless you know your audience is happy to watch lengthy content (as is often the case with educational websites, for example), keep your video 30-120 seconds long.

4 – Poor Website Placement

Even if you’re working to a tight budget, video production isn’t cheap, so what’s the point in spending a vast sum of money producing a great video that people never see? I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen great videos embedded on website pages that people rarely visit and aren’t well-indexed, such  as most deep-linked pages.

Sure, online videos often have slightly different objectives from a marketing point of view and therefore, some videos might be better suited to pages other than the home page (an informative video on an ‘About Us’ page would be an example) but in most cases, it pays to place your video where most visitors will be looking; on the home page.

How do you avoid this mistake? Simply embed your video where people are going to see it. You can use analytics data to see your most visited pages.

5 – No Clear Audience

Trying to appeal to too many demographics is a common mistake, especially with online ads. Any online video needs to be focused and produced in a way that effectively appeals to your target market (like this one).

How do you avoid this mistake? Do your research and then really think about who your target audience is – prior to commissioning your production. Don’t let yourself get sidetracked by creative ideas before you know they will appeal to your target market.

6 – Boring

Think about it. How many times have you clicked away from a video simply because you became bored? If a video isn’t interesting enough, people aren’t going to watch it. It’s as simple as that.

How do you avoid this mistake? Think about what your target audience wants to see, not what you want to see. This might be an area where you realise you’re stepping outside your field of expertise. Talk to a creative production company and listen to their ideas: they’re the professionals.

7 – Information Overload

It’s easy to pile far too much information into a video and this is often one of the major contributing factors leading to boredom.

Keep the message clear and direct, and include only the most important information in your video. Otherwise, even a short video will end up feeling long and boring.

How do you avoid this mistake? Brainstorm ideas and pick only the most important points for inclusion in your video.

 8 – Too Much Focus On “Going Viral”

Every company seems to love the idea of their video “going viral” but, often, too much emphasis is placed on achieving this, even when it doesn’t make sense commercially.

Hits (or video views) are often used as a metric of success but from a marketing point of view, this is a poor way to define success. A video could rack up millions of hits but only bring in $1,000 of revenue whereas a more targeted video could see just 10,000 hits bring in $20,000 of revenue.

It’s also important that you consider whether or not a viral video would suit your business. For example, a video produced for a small-town plumbing company is unlikely to lead to an influx of business even if people around the globe see it.

How do you avoid this mistake? Don’t let “going viral” cloud your vision. Try to stay focused on a clear marketing message that appeals to your target audience.

9 – Only Uploading to YouTube

YouTube is the most popular video sharing site in the world but a lot of people forget there are plenty of others too. If you don’t upload your video to other video sharing sites, you’re very likely restricting the reach of your video significantly.

How do you avoid this mistake? Upload your video to any other video sharing sites with a large audience including Vimeo and Dailymotion.

10 – Confusing Concept

Not every online video is a straightforward promo; sometimes videos revolve around a certain concept. It’s important that this concept is clear and doesn’t confuse people.

Some of the most successful online ads and viral videos have revolved around a central, simple concept that is effectively linked to a brand. If you’re running a global distribution company, a “cute cat” video is only going to confuse people and most likely won’t promote your company effectively.

How do you avoid this problem? Work with a creative marketing agency to create an effective concept. If you don’t have the funds for this, just make sure the concept relates to your brand in a clear and concise way.

11 – Poor Quality Production

Finally, you need to ensure that the video used is of a high quality; both in terms of content and the way it’s presented onscreen.

The quality of the online video production will affect people’s perception of a brand. Poor quality video creates an instant perception of “small time” and does more damage than all the other mistakes combined. That’s true even though sometimes a hefty sum of money has been invested.

How do you avoid this problem? If you want a professional product, hire a professional. While plenty of enthusiasts throw some very amateurish video up on the web, it also has the effect of making well-made video stand out. But remember, more expensive doesn’t always mean better.


The main point to take away from this is that getting real benefit from the use of online video requires a pragmatic, considered, professional approach. A poorly produced video can have a very negative effect. If you can’t provide that detailed approach yourself, you should consider hiring a professional.

Do you use video on your sites? Have you seen any of these mistakes in action?

Joshua HardwickJoshua Hardwick
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I'm Joshua Hardwick, founder at The SEO Project. I spend most of my time building links and "doing SEO", but I also love a good red wine (or cup of tea).

Online Video
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