Amazing promotional video production
for technology companies - in 4 parts
Revised July 2021
Part 1: Why a technology company or startup should invest in promotional video
A promotional video is the top-of-page video your potential customers see the moment they first land on your webpage.
The video engages by quickly outlining your technology proposition in a way that’s immediately & emphatically relevant to their needs.
If it’s an amazing video it'll deliver:
- more leads
- more subscriptions
- more mailing list opt-ins
- and overall deeper, measurable engagement.
Looking broadly, these are the main reasons why 86% of companies use video
- and why 99% of marketers who use video expect to continue using it.
It’s all about the ROI.
Consider that almost every aspect of your video performance can be measured in Google Analytics, which means you can firmly quantify your return on investment, an approach that must be central to your video marketing strategy.
ROI is what an amazing promotional video delivers.
And to be amazing - you have to think a bit differently.
Why is video best for technology content?
Technology solutions are more difficult to explain compared to many other types of product or service.
An amazing top-of-page video will make your sophisticated solution seem simple & obvious to the customer
- and also simpler & more relevant than your competitors’ top-of-page videos.
Customers will quickly understand why your proposition could work for them.
Also consider that B2B technology companies need marketing video because clients expect it.
Clients don't want a lengthy text read to win their initial interest, no matter how relevant the content.
Clients expect an explainer video top-of page, at the beginning of their journey, something between 60 and 90 seconds long,
- though there are exceptions where a longer video can also work well (more later)
This is what engages them to read your explanatory text.
Generally you can expect to spend anything from:
- $50 per month for a DIY online animated video production package if you’re really broke
- to around £1,000 a minute for a production company to deliver a professional job that clearly differentiates you in the marketplace
- to the sky's the limit if you really feel you need the ultimate in creativity.
What's the most important quality of an amazing promotional video?
The most important quality of an amazing video is its ability to achieve your goals.
An example is hitting quarterly sales targets.
As a secondary benefit, the right video will generate more engagement and increase brand awareness, which is critical in the early stages of your sales funnel.
- those important first visits from naive customers.
Your video goals can be set in Google Analytics, so you can accurately measure & compare increases in:
- Subscription form completions
- Contact form completions
- Time spent on site
- Number of pages visited
- Reductions Bounce Rate
Bounce Rate is the measure of visitors who come & go without even looking at other pages, such as who you are, where you’re from, what you cost, or further technical details.
As every marketer knows, a bounce is a wasted visit.
If you're using Google Ads, your ad agency or freelancer can also show you a Cohort Analysis, which indicates how many visits it takes to make a sale, win a subscriber, or signup for your webinar.
The best route to effective video is a systematic, data-driven approach at every stage in the production process
- using the available data and hard evidence to support your creative decisions
- instead of relying on intuition, emotion, personal appeal, what your friends all tell you, simply guessing, or copying competitors.
And it doesn't take a degree in digital marketing to do it.
Harnessing data and evidence gives your video a greater chance of achieving its goals.
This is how you become amazing.
Part 2: What kind of video do you need?
First you need to know what you want your video to achieve.
So set measurable goals in advance, such as a 15% increase in subscriptions, or a 20% reduction in bounce rate, or whatever metric shows how well you've achieved your video goals.
Write your goals down, so you can later measure your video’s effectiveness in achieving these goals.
Whatever style of animation, filming or screencasting you choose, it must achieve your goal.
And there's no single video style that's right, only the one that works for you.
To see the range of styles available, any decent production company will have a video portfolio where you can view samples suitable for a technology solution company.
Who are you trying to appeal to?
Knowing your different types of client and why each audience segment buys from you is central to video success.
- do you need to appeal to all types of customer?
- or should you focus on a specific high revenue customer segment?
- or a customer type that derives above average benefit from your application?
ie, do you need a broad buckshot approach to win them all
- or a sharpshooter’s sniper rifle to pick off a special high value target?
You need to decide this right at the start and stick to it.
What type of video would you like produced?
There are many different types of video from animation
- such as an explainer video with characters, or animated infographics & voiceover,
- right through to filming hardware with a videographer,
- or using stock footage clips to tell a story
- and all shades in between.
Whatever type of video you choose, it needs to fit your brand approach.
Animation often fits the bill
- but there is no inherently better style
- only the style that works for your customers
- while simultaneously defeating competitors.
It's important to keep this in your mind, as a goal-achieving, top-of-page video isn't like a brand video, or a video ad for Google Ads, or a even social media video - though you may well adapt it for Facebook. Twitter or YouTube.
It's a first point of contact top-of-page video designed to measurably help you hit a pre-specified goal.
This same rule applies whether your traffic comes from SEO, Google Ads or social media.
How can you differentiate your promotional video production?
If you don’t differentiate your video you’ll end up simply looking the same as everyone else.
Looking the same only works if you're the cheapest in your market, because the customer can say "same package, better price" and then buy your bargain.
To differentiate, start by looking at competitor videos and ask:
- what do they all have in common, or not?
- what do you think they lack, or not?
- what look & feel of video or animation would beat them, ie, engage more customers right from the get-go.
- look at your feature-benefits,
- the problems your solution solves
- the objections clients always raise
Try to see all this in the context of your competitors.
It’s a good exercise to make a list of the key differentiators to include in your video.
Our guide A 3 Step Method for Differentiating Your B2B Software Video from Competitors will help you here.
It shows how to systematically research the information you'll need to look & feel different in the eyes of your customer.
- and not end up selling the wrong features to the wrong people.
Matching your messages to your audience needs is a critical component to any amazing software promo video.
Back this up with a visual look & feel that serves your brand, using animation ideas that makes you look a bit different.
This is how you're remembered by your target audience
- and remembered in a way that makes you stand out as the best choice for them.
Part 3: What's the process for video production?
At each production step you’ll need to use the available data or hard evidence to ensure each component of your video is effective.
Neglecting the available data is a major reason why many videos underperform or lack lustre.
Expert video marketers know this.
Writing a video script
Your video script is important as it’s the spoken words your customer will hear as they watch your video.
Marketing videos can all too easily tend to drift into a repeat of familiar sales bullet points. You don't want this.
Counter this tendency by thinking:
"The script is the engine that drives my video"
Scripts are incredibly powerful if done well.
For example, a well researched low budget video can often punch above its weight and beat a less well researched higher cost video.
Either employ a professional scriptwriter or a production company for this
- or expect to spend some considerable time editing & re-editing your script - and showing it to others for their feedback.
Whichever route you choose, expect to go though 3-5 script iterations before you get a final satisfying result.
What are your competitors saying right now?
If you don't know exactly what competitors are saying & showing in their videos, it's possible you'll end up producing a me-too video.
A prospective client will spot me-too content immediately, as they've also been looking at your competitors.
And so will Google. Their algorithm has been updated to spot me-too content more easily.
You need to do three things to counter this:
1: Search on your keywords and look closely at competitors who also rank.
2: Browse each competitor link, looking closely at their videos.
3: List their key video messages and the visual style they use. Take screengrabs to help you remember.
You'll now have a picture of your marketplace from a customer perspective.
ie, you'll be seeing what customers see.
Use this competitor data to discover gaps in what they're saying or showing
- or discover who's using poor or outdated language, or weak visuals
- or otherwise failing in some way.
It’s surprising how many competitors do a partly-weak job, even those using a big budget production company.
These weaknesses are your opportunities.
Your newly-gathered marketing data will enables you to identify video content opportunities you mightn't have noticed otherwise.
Taken together, it'll motivate you to find something fresh & exciting to say, that's different & appealing in the eyes of customers
- the video marketers goal.
You’ll also need to consider your market segments, vertical markets & customer types.
Which marketing segment is your high level overview video aimed at?
Is it dedicated to a specific vertical market or customer type?
Or is it a more general catch-all?
For example, if you've one or more vertical market pages on your website
- then you'll probably need a separate video for each of your high value verticals
- otherwise you'll end up writing something thin and less appealing for your specialist customers.
This applies equally to the different areas of your B2B solution. You need to explain each part clearly.
For example, a line manager may be interested in quite different benefits to a sales manager, even if they’re buying the same overall solution from you.
Use the marketing data you've gathered to help you decide what you need.
This is how to figure out your most effective message.
It's an exciting part the journey towards an amazing promotional video.
How long should a promo video be?
You need to know this before writing your content.
Current wisdom suggests 60-90 seconds runtime for an animated explainer video, but it's not always a hard and fast rule.
Short videos are popular because they're cheaper and quicker to make, and less demanding of the viewer's time
- while also reducing the risk of impatient viewer abandonment.
You can reckon 60-90 seconds is between 130 and 200 words of script, allowing for a spoken word speed of 130 words per minute for a promo video.
If you need a longer video, then consider making two shorter ones
eg, one video for the intro and overview
- and a second that digs deeper, or is specific to a high value vertical.
But also consider that B2B buyers will spend 3-5 minutes watching if the topic is one they're particularly passionate about.
Serious B2B buyers are generally less fickle than B2C customers.
How long does it take to produce a promotional video
Generally a short video project takes 4-6 weeks.
It can take longer if your client approval cycle is slow,
ie, your team, boss or partner delay in approving at each of the key stages.
It pays to set a production schedule right at the beginning so Approvers know when to expect something from you, and how long they’ve got to approve it.
This way you won’t get unexpected delays and possibly miss, say, your next virtual event or launch.
How quickly can a promotional video be produced
The short answer is 2 weeks using a production company.
But expect to:
- wholly dedicate yourself for a fortnight
- be immediately quick & decisive and not need to reference others for approval
- pay a premium for fast track with your video company, maybe 15% or more.
Experience shows that most customers who say they need it in 2 weeks still end up taking a month or more in the end!
Part 4: How much does a marketing video production cost?
It very much depends on:
- the style of the video. Some styles obviously cost more than others, especially within animation
- how long it is. Shorter is cheaper
- whether you produce in-house or outsource to a production company or freelancer.
If you need an instant video quote, here’s a guide to video production costs showing different styles and runtimes against actual costs.
If you're a developer you may also want to dig deeper into software demo video costs to help you understand where your money is going.
Should you create your own video content or use a video marketing service?
You can create your own video content using an animated video maker or possibly getting some help from your inhouse media department, if you have one.
But these in-house videos are more frequently used for internal presentations, rather then best impression, top of page videos.
For a top of page promotional video it’s better to outsource to a professional video production company, or freelancer who’s proficient with Adobe After Effects, as this is the technical standard you’ll need.
Also be aware that many video companies are merely vendors. They’ll do exactly what you say and no more.
All the intelligence behind the production is expected to come from you.
Even expert video professionals may cut corners by neglecting thorough research of data & hard evidence
- preferring to follow their own "tried & trusted methods".
Don't just assume "they'll know".
Often, It’s still all down to you.
Whoever you pick they should at least produce an illustrated storyboard as part of the project, so you can see - clearly - what you’re going to get before the expensive animation stage commences.
How to justify the cost, time, and energy required for video production
Whichever route you choose it'll take time & effort from you
- probably more than you might expect, even with the best video production company behind you.
Making a video is hard work and can take weeks or months.
But if you achieve your stated video goals, it’ll be worth it.
And you’ll be amazing!
For your promotional video production to be amazing you’ll need to do your research first.
You’ll need to set written goals and measure them.
Don’t make intuitional or me-too decisions. Reference the available data instead.
Use a professional video producer proficient in After Effects. DIY video packages aren’t usually good enough for top of page.