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Achieving Online Video Success in 6 Steps

Joshua Hardwick

It doesn’t take much Googling to reach the conclusion that video marketing is expected to be one of the biggest online marketing trends in the coming year.

As companies start to realise they need an effective content marketing strategy in order to be successful online, video marketing will become more and more popular. It isn’t only with large businesses: SMEs are also part of this trend.

The problem is that so many business owners are jumping into the world of online video without enough planning – they are simply getting their video produced, uploading it to YouTube, embedding it on their site and expecting magic to happen.

Unfortunately, it really isn’t this simple and without creating an effective strategy, it’s likely that your online video will fail to generate a significant return-on-investment. In my last article, I wrote about 11 common online video mistakes, so to build on that I’ve created a six-step guide that will help you avoid those mistakes.

The Key is to Work Backwards

Rather than heading straight into the production process, you need to start by deciding what you want your video to achieve and then work backwards.

Defining  aspects such as your target audience, end-goals and budget before production is of paramount importance in creating a successful online video.

If you’re running a multi-national corporation with a huge video production budget, doing all this is pretty straightforward: just hire a leading advertising agency to create the concept and then a video production company to make that idea work. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have such a large budget so if you’re looking to do things yourself, follow these steps.

1 – Decide What You Want to Achieve

Most businesses are now viewing online video as something that they simply need to have in order to stay in the game. Many will see their competitors producing online videos and quickly come to the conclusion that they also need to have one – often without stopping to think what the aim of their particular video might be.

Identifying your goals is a hugely important step as failure to do so will make the video production process much harder. Here are a few thing you might want to achieve:

  • increase brand awareness
  • increase landing page conversion rates (this informative video from DropBox does this well)
  • educate potential customers about your business
  • educate potential customers about the market (i.e. why they might need services similar to yours)
  • build trust

You may have slightly different goals to these, but the important thing to remember is that you must identify them as they define the overall style and content of your video. For example, a video that increases brand awareness (like this one) will probably have a different style to a video that increases landing page conversion rates like the one from DropBox.

If you’re struggling to identify your goals, keep it simple. You just need to figure out what is likely to bring the most revenue for your business (as this should be any business’s end goal – online or offline). If you think building trust will lead to an influx of customers, opt for this. If you think you’d have more customers if they understood your business better, opt for an informative video.

2 – Identify the Target Audience

This is a hugely important factor that a lot of businesses (big and small) often forget or get wrong. So many businesses try to make their online videos far too generic and often, this can backfire, leading to a video that doesn’t effectively appeal to any target audience at all.

Often, the target audience for a video is anyone that may be a potential customer, so think about whether these people are:

  • predominantly male or female
  • young or old
  • customers or clients (i.e. general public or business-minded customers)

Your target audience will have a dramatic effect on the content of your video and the style in which it’s produced so it’s important to identify them.

3 – Budgeting

Creating a video that achieves your goals and effectively engages your target audience would be an easy process if money was no object but unfortunately, this is rarely the case.

The reason it’s important to decide your budget at this point is because your concept may or may not be limited by it. There’s no point moving onto the next stage and creating a hugely ambitious, expensive concept if you aren’t going to be able to afford to produce it.

Video production costs can vary quite a lot depending on concept but for most short web videos, you’ll be looking at a minimum of $1,000 – $10,000 unless you hire a freelancer. A viral concept will often be considerably more if there are locations, actors and lengthy production schedules involved.

The important thing is that you define a budget at this point and stick to it.

4 – Idea/Concept Creation

Essentially, your video is the vehicle that drives potential customers to the next part of your sales funnel. Creating a successful concept for your video defines whether or not this process happens effectively.

In order to create a successful concept, you need to keep in mind your target audience and end-goals. It’s possible that your online video might have quite an elaborate concept, especially if the idea of the video is to raise brand awareness as, often, these kind of videos are more “ad-like”. It’s also possible that it might be quite straightforward. For example, it might be a simple explainer video with the aim of informing the visitor so that they are more inclined to make a purchase.

A good example of this done correctly is the DollarShaveClub.com viral video (view it here). Not only did they effectively identify their target audience (almost any adult male) but they also kept their goal of raising brand awareness in mind throughout. The video is informative but not boring and the fact that it’s funny led to thousands of people sharing it on social networks, increasing brand awareness even further.

Sure, not every concept will be this elaborate and if you have a particularly low budget, then it shouldn’t be this elaborate either. You may just want a simple video that builds trust, but the point is your concept is defined by your target audience and end-goals.

5 – Production

Only at this stage should you seriously start thinking about who is going to produce your video. Because you now know what you want your video to achieve, who the audience is, what your budget is and hopefully what the concept will be, you can target your search for a video production company more effectively.

Always search for companies that specialize in your particular video style. For example, if you’ve got a viral concept, hire a company that has a proven track record of producing effective viral videos. If you want a corporate style video produced, choose a company that specializes in this style.

No matter what style your video is, you need to ensure that it’s high quality, well-produced, consistent with your brand and not too lengthy (otherwise it may alienate your audience).

6 – Distribution

So, you’ve created your video and it looks great. Now what? Surprisingly, this is where a lot of businesses ‘slip up’ which is unfortunate as they’re often so close to success.

Once you’ve produced your video, you only need one thing: viewers. As a bare minimum, you should embed your video on a relevant page of your website and upload to YouTube as it has a huge audience and it’s free. You should also consider uploading to other video sharing websites such as Vimeo and Dailymotion as this will only increase visibility.

Remember, your video is an embeddable piece of content which makes it extremely shareable. Try to share your video on social networking websites so it gains traction. You can do this by posting a YouTube link on Facebook/Twitter and other social networks. You can share it on your blog and forums by copying and pasting the YouTube embed code.

Try and think outside the box, as the more ground you can gain for your video initially, the more chance it has of being a success (especially if it’s a viral video concept).


By working to the steps outlined in this post, you can ensure that you never lose track of why you’re producing a video in the first place.

This will help you produce something that your target audience will love and that has a much better chance of being successful online.