Friday, February 15, 2013

The Science & Art Behind Successful Online Videos

With attribution to:

In an age of dwindling attention spans, online marketing is trickier than ever. Here’s the truth: People may find your company online, but most of them will leave your website in about eight seconds. (And, if they actually read what you’ve written, they’ll only remember 10 percent of it.)
There’s a better way to use your marketing budget. Putting your company’s message into a video means that you can share more information in less time, and your audience will remember more of it — 58 percent more, in fact.
Essentially, you have two choices: Very few people can remember 10 percent of what they read on your website, or many more will remember 68 percent of what they saw in your video. The choice is simple. But why does it work?
The Science Behind Memory
Information you receive verbally is coded one way, and information you receive visually is coded differently. When you read or listen, you’re stimulating the auditory sense; when you watch, you’re stimulating the visual sense.
Using audio and visual stimulation together is the best way to reach the most people. Why? Because when a person receives information verbally and visually, he’ll have a retention rate of 68 percent.
That’s why, to put it simply, video is the optimal form of communicating information: because it stimulates the auditory and visual senses simultaneously. After a person watches your video, you’ve got two paths in the brain leading to the memory, rather than just one. A video functions like a worm, burrowing itself deeply into multiple recesses of the brain.
Building an Effective Video: A How-To
Most people won’t watch a five-minute video, and even if they do, it’s highly unlikely they’re really absorbing the information. So what’s the best way to hold their attention in a short timespan?
1. Keep it simple. Simplicity is the key to a good script — and it’s surprisingly hard to achieve. Most of the time, business owners have difficulty simplifying their companies’ purposes into short, digestible summaries. It’s just a matter of perspective. But, in order to appeal to someone watching a video online, you need to find a way to make your story simple and memorable.
At my company, Switch, we had to produce more than 200 videos before we became experts at this, for one reason: It’s hard to be simple! Find someone in your network with an outside perspective, or find an experienced company to help you distill your thoughts down to the essential, simple idea that describes your business. A good example of this can be found in our Opinion Lab portfolio clip. It doesn’t appear to be simple, but there were many more complicated ways to tell the same story — try to think of two and compare them to the final product.
2. Use powerful metaphors. The first way to simplify your company’s message is by using metaphors. That means that you’re describing your product or service with a relationship that people are already familiar with. Dropbox’s video does a wonderful job of doing this; by comparing leaving your wallet in your other pair of pants to not being able to access documents from a specific computer, Dropbox has pulled you in by reminding you of a similar frustration.
A strong metaphor — especially when it’s one that the viewer already has emotional ties to — activates large areas of memory quickly. If you connect your message with the viewer’s long-term memory in the first five to 10 seconds, he’s much more likely to reach out and become a customer.
Brainstorm with people inside and outside your company to find metaphors that help other people understand what your business does. Here’s a question to ask yourself: When you’re pitching your business, which metaphors connect, and which ones don’t? Once you’ve come across one that’s accurate and relatable, make it the center of your script — and focus on how your company works, what problem it solves, and why it’s important.
3. Stimulate the auditory and visual senses with simple images. Make an animated video that’s simple. Using visual metaphor will help you tell your story, and simple visuals will help you communicate it effectively. While having a flashy, dazzling 3D video may look neat, it will only distract from your message. Choose a style that matches the simplicity of your script, and focus on making your brand’s message and function as clear as possible instead.
Our Avvo video used simple images to isolate the story and make it the focal point of the video’s pitch. While sparkly pictures and graphics may seem captivating, simple images, paired with a great story, are much more so. The story becomes twice as memorable.
Simple is Stronger
Here’s a breakdown of the winning equation for a successful web video: a simple script, clean visuals, and a strong metaphor. People relate to a story. Make sure that you’re telling one that fits your company’s purpose, goals, and functions.
Then, when you find the right balance between audio, video, and emotion, you’ll finally be able to fully hold your viewers’ attention — and you’ll find a way to turn your marketing budget into an asset that truly makes a connection with your customers.
Andrew Angus is an author, speaker, and founder/CEO of Switch Video, a video animation company that produces simple videos that “explain what you do” in an engaging and compelling format. Andrew is a thought leader in the online video industry, writing and speaking about the brain science behind making your company’s story stick. He welcomes people to reach out to him on Twitter or Google+ and can be booked to speak on Speakerfile.
image courtesy of Google and Sinnott Productions