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8 Tips for Increasing Video Playthrough Rates

Posted on: February 23, 2016
By: Charlie Rall

There is an elephant in the room that requires our attention.

More and more business owners and marketers realize the value of video content in their content marketing plans, however as reported by Demand Metric, 72% of survey respondents say they are using no or only basic measures of video content effectiveness, giving them no way to determine ROI accurately.

One of the most basic measures of the effectiveness of a video is how much of a video customers watch before they close it.

Here are eight tips for increasing playthrough rates:

1. Keep the intro tight

The intro should be less than 3 seconds and then go straight into the topic of the video.

2. Create an eyecatching video thumbnail

With the amount of distracting content out there and the short attention span of pretty much everyone, the thumbnail or image users see before clicking any video is crucial.

Brands are competing with short attention span theater and stunt videos, from carpool karaoke with Adele to literal car wrecks, when a user is browsing Facebook or YouTube. Select a thumbnail that provides additional context to the video’s topic or something attention-grabbing that ties back to the actual content of the video such as a reaction shot.

For product videos on online stores, we’ve seen viewers like thumbnails showing the product in a different way than product photos. In other words, something as simple as a person using the product or the product in motion is a stronger video thumbnail choice than a plain shot of the item.

On videos uploaded for YouTube, people look at thumbnails more than titles and descriptions. It often helps to upload a custom thumbnail containing the title in the photo. Vat19 is notorious for their crazy, funny product videos. They approach playthrough strategy with loud video thumbnails that feature the product, human interaction, and titles designed into the thumbnail.

3. The shorter the run time, the better

Three minutes of a product video looks daunting unless it is a high priced item or service. They may watch it later- they may not. But they probably won’t.

As a general rule of thumb, for simple products where viewers already know what a product does but want to know more about the quality, 1 minute looks much better.

From what we’ve seen, video drop off is usually around 1:20 mark for more complex products that require consumer education. For efficient, simple product videos, the drop off is after 50 seconds.

Videos with entertainment value obviously skew any averages. And the numbers won’t lie if you decide to produce something with the primary intention of entertaining.

For content on YouTube, Beardbrand founder Eric Bandholz recommends keeping videos to two minutes if you are looking to increase playthrough rates. Beardbrand produces longer how-to and grooming tips for their fans because they know videos with highly specific content will keep a niche audience’s attention longer. Those fans are already on the channel actively consuming content. But they know to keep their more broad appealing content short and sweet to get their message across quickly to those just browsing the depths of YouTube or stumbling across a video on social media.

4. Create accurate, detailed meta descriptions

Videos appear in 55% of all keyword searches on Google with 82% of those videos not coincidentally coming from YouTube. Use Google Adwords’ Keyword Planner to find higher yielding terms that are synonymous with the video’s target niche audience. By default Adwords will suggest the highest search volumes so ideally you’ll discover keywords that are a mix of high volume and low competition, especially if the subject matter is specific.

5. Place Action Verbs in Video Titles

Longer winded titles for videos may help with SEO, but they do not help with click through rates.

A title with an action verb performs better than a phrase. “GoPro Hero 5 Product Video” is not super appealing, but “GoPro Hero 5 Captures Skiers on a Mountain” or “GoPro Hero 5 Catches all the Underwater Action” is strong.

Irrelevant titles only lead to viewers thinking the video is about something else. As soon as they realize it isn’t what they expected, they feel cheated and drop off.


6. YouTube awards engagement

Higher user engagement yields higher search results on YouTube. How does Google measure YouTube engagement? Some of the things Google factors include:

YouTube ultimately wants to keep users on their page so outbound CTA’s may hurt your SEO on YouTube so choose your CTA’s wisely. That said…

7. Include a CTA with your video

Any good content requires shepherding on the part of the content creator. If you are looking to increase your number of YouTube subscribers, consider adding a call to subscribe to the description and embed a snazzy subscribe link to the end of your video. If you are looking to direct viewers to your online store, link it up and track how many viewers click your CTA with a link-shortening tool like Bitly.


8. Integrate videos into your UX

Where you place a video on the product page can have drastic effects on viewership. Keep it above the fold on a page and not buried with photo thumbnails of your product to help provide customers with additional context for your product during the discovery phase.

Content Quality is Paramount

Content is king in a video too. You can have everything else (catchy title, stimulating thumbnail, tight video edits), but if the content is misleading or unsatisfying, people will move on.

As marketers continue to target their niches, developing content around highly specialized topics over general broad strokes keeps current customers engaged and builds trust with new viewers.

Ultimately the creative/story you tell along with the talent and visual composition are going to play the largest role in video engagement and increasing playthrough for videos. For eCommerce companies and startups we’re creating new stories every day. If you need assistance get in touch with us.


About The Author:

Charlie Rall is the Co-Founder and Head Producer of StoryCraft

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